Our vision is to take you on day trips to cities around the world. Featuring the best local hangouts so you can experience life like a local on your adventures. Join us for A Day In The Okanagan, also known as 'Wine Country' in British Columbia.
Sparkling waters, hundreds of wineries, hip cafe, and funky hotels; that's just scratching the surface of what beautiful Okanagan has to offer. We spent one day driving around the area checking out wineries and hangouts and here's what made our list of things to do in The Okanagan.
STAY || Hotel Zed
1627 Abbott St, Kelowna
Hotel Zed gets our vote on where to stay in The Okanagan with its funky fresh vibe. The lobby houses several areas where guests can relax, including a vinyl-listening station with its hot pink record player, a private lounge area with plush gold booths, vintage typewriters with branded Hotel Zed paper for your perusal, and our favorite - the Selfie Disco station, where one can rock out to their favorite karaoke tune or have an impromptu dance-off with the multi-coloured disco lights and fog machine on.
A funky pink and green retro Volkswagen van sits at the entrance to the lobby, and several people were snapping photos of the photo op as we walked by. Cozy egg-shell hanging chairs and loungers sit on the balconies outside the rooms, offering yet more spaces for guests to unwind. There's also a pool and even a Ping-Pong Lounge if you fancy a friendly game of ping pong at the end of the day.
The hotel rooms are snug with colorful furnishings, a retro circular land phone, and comes in 14 different room types. Located across from the lush greenery of the City Park and looking out onto the water, the rooftop patio is the optimal place to watch the sunset or host an intimate wedding.
BREAKFAST || Esther & Sons
652 Cook Rd, Kelowna
A cozy neighborhood cafe with an enclosed glass patio, it was 8:30 AM when we stopped by and already the locals were pouring in for their morning coffee. The Strawberry Rhubarb muffin made us want seconds, and the Tumeric Latte is a healthy variation on the menu. Potted plants overflow their containers and hang from roped enclosures from the ceiling - a lovely setting to enjoy a casual breakfast.
WINE || Mission Hill Winery
1730 Mission Hill Rd, West Kelowna
Our first stop was at the largest winery in the region, Mission Hill Winery.
The tasting tour starts off with a refreshing Rosé, a brief history of the architecture on the property, including an explanation of why a bell tower can be found in the gardens, and a walk through their barrel cave, where barrels upon barrels of wine are stored to age before bottling. A moist environment with regulated humidity helps the wine to age, hence there are actually misters to keep moisture in the caves. After a visit to the wine storage, the tour finishes with a food and wine pairing, where you taste some of the premium reds from the winery.
WINE || Cedar Creek Winery
5445 Lakeshore Rd, Kelowna
At the entrance to Cedar Creek Winery we were surprised to see quite a bit of construction going on, but upon meeting Catherine, Dave and Michael, we discovered that the winery is in the midst of some exciting growth plans.
A new tasting room is in the works, a modern black steel structure that will be outfitted with floor-to-ceiling glass upon completion. We estimate at least 4 times the amount of space of the current tasting room. A full-service restaurant is also in the works, a handsome brick facade that stands ready for new adventures. Micheal, who recently moved from Vancouver to join the Cedar Creek team as the general manager of The Home Block Restaurant, was the Founder of the award-winning St.Lawrence restaurant in Gastown. The restaurant's Executive Chef, Neil Taylor, had been the Executive Chef of popular Vancouver restaurants Cibo and Uva, and was the Executive Chef and co-owner of The Fat Badger for three years. Neil is also the co-owner of Espana, a Spanish tapas and wine bar in Downtown Vancouver. The duo will now be sharing their culinary expertise with lucky Okanagan visitors.
We were treated to their Platinum Wine Club tasting experience, which was extremely educational and took us through a range of whites, Rosé and red wines, including the Meritage from their Platinum Collection.
We can't wait to see the new space after all the renovations have been completed and in the meantime, you can enjoy a scrumptious lunch in their covered Pavillion, where guests and wine club members can enjoy outdoor concerts from renowned Canadian artists, or house a beautiful wedding.
GET CRAFTY || Okanagan Lavender and Herb Farm
4380 Takla Rd, Kelowna, BC
If you are ever feeling stressed and need something therapeutic, we suggest you visit the Okanagan Lavender and Herb Farm and meet Andrea, whose soothing voice and demeanor alone will calm you down.
The farm is on an 8-acre plot of land, with some amazingly aromatic herbs to intrigue your senses. Asides from the Augustfolia Lavender, our other picks from wandering the gardens would be the Lemon Verbena and Spearmint herbs. It's one thing to pick up a bottle in a retail store to smell a scent, it's a totally different experience when you are holding the origin of the scent in your hands, where the freshness of the scent is intoxicating and invigorating.
You can opt to take a workshop here to learn how to create a herbal bath soak, blend Hydrosols mists, and blend essential oils. As we sat there snipping bushels of lavender and thyme, I discovered how therapeutic the whole process was.
After the workshop I ended up raiding the retail shop, bringing home a few gems which I will likely reorder via their online shop.
EAT || Bean Scene Coffee Works
371 Bernard Avenue, Kelowna
Whether you are looking for a breakfast wrap or a lunch bowl, we would recommend stopping by Bean Scene Coffee Works for a delicious latte or espresso to go with their healthy food menu. We opted for the breakfast wrap and Glory Bowl. The Glory Bowl with warm rice and chopped veggies were delicious and went perfectly with my Coconut Green Tea, which Al at the store tells me is sourced from Chaibaba Tea.
Their flagship store on Bernard Avenue houses three floors and was going to be a fine dining restaurant before Bean Scene swept in to take over the space. The first floor houses plush red armchairs, a vintage piano, and plenty of tables for friends and groups to gather. The second floor overlooks the entrance of the first floor, with benches and a long communal table for freelancers to work on their craft. A section with a couch and armchairs provide a quieter space for intimate conversation.
Step out onto the rooftop deck and a warm, red brick wall and polished wooden booths allow guests to soak in the sunshine. The patio is used for cool events like a Silent DJ Yoga session, where music plays over headphones while yogis stretch to their heart's content.
Local artists are featured on the walls on each floor, showcasing amateur to expert talents including even artwork from aspiring 6th graders. These artists commit to a 6-month term with the coffee shop, giving them great exposure and adding character to the cafe's decor.
WINE || Painted Rock
400 Smythe Drive, Penticton, BC
Here we met Jennifer and John, who took us through a wine tasting of their premium wines, which included a crisp Chardonnay, smooth Syrah, and full-bodied Red Icon (a blend of 4 different grapes). The winery and tasting room sits atop the hill overlooking the lake, a beautiful sight to behold on a summer day. Awards line the wall as the vines have worked harder in the past few years to finally break into the rock bed, taking the flavors of the grapes to unexpected levels.
John Skinner, the proprietor of Painted Rock Winery, talked excitedly about both the progress that Painted Rock has made in the past years and bringing recognition for the Okanagan region through his group Okanagan Wine Initiative. Painted Rock wines are now served in top restaurants in London, Beverly Hills, Tokyo and more. In blind taste tests with Master Sommeliers, John's Red Icon blend rivals the top Bordeaux wines in the world, and this is a step up for the entire Okanagan region.
WINE || Dirty Laundry
7311 Fiske St, Summerland, BC
We ended our day at Dirty Laundry so we could enjoy their Forni Pizza, along with a glass of their Secret Affair wine. During the wine tasting, the staff shares a story behind the inspiration for the brand name.
A hardworking railroad worker named Sam Sui, had come to Summerland in the 1800's but decided to pursue a more comfortable life that railroad work, and so started his own laundromat. Soon he realized he could be profiting off his patrons as they waited for their laundry by opening a "waiting room" on the second floor. Men who were waiting for their laundry would then wait on the second floor in the companion of beautiful ladies. Soon the community started referring to Sam's business as 'Dirty Laundry'.
The Founders of the winery liked the story so much they kept it for their own, and you can see the inspiration from the Iron in the logo, along with the steam floating up, where the outline of seven voluptuous female bodies are said to be hidden.
COOL DOWN || Parlour Ice Cream
1571 Abbott St, Kelowna, BC
Since it was 39 degrees on the day we visited, we gladly went for an ice cream fix before departing for the airport. Parlour Ice Cream's Lavender flavor uses the lavender essential oil from Okanagan Lavender and Herb Farm, and it's rich, dense, and milky texture is to die for.
You will also find here that the scoops are extremely generous, so we took our ice cream and walked along the water in the City Park, enjoying the last bit of sunshine before the sun set and we headed home to Vancouver.
What a whirlwind of a tour it was of the beautiful Okanagan region. We spent our last moments in the area at the City Park catching the sunset. What a beautiful place to be! We can't wait to come back for another visit next year!