Enjoy winter adventures with urban amenities in the heart of B.C.’s wine country
Located in the arid Okanagan wine country of southcentral B.C., the city of Kelowna is an urban and cultural hub in a super scenic location right on the shores of massive Okanagan Lake. Surrounded by vineyards, farms and plenty of mountains, the greater Kelowna area (population 235,000) has all of the amenities you could want in a small Canadian city—including a thriving culinary, music, and arts scene—but with easy access to loads of winter outdoor recreation opportunities.
Ski or Snowboard Two Resorts from One Town
Top on the list is the city’s day-trip distance from two destination resorts that cater to skiing, snowboarding and Nordic skiing locals and tourists alike: Big White Ski Resort (just under an hour’s drive east) and SilverStar Mountain Resort (about an hour and a half drive north of town). In addition to world-class snow and terrain, both resorts have plenty of on-mountain lodging and lively and unique village culture, but by basing your trip out of Kelowna, you can explore both resorts in one trip from one hotel or rental home.
Cross-country Skiing and Snowshoeing Mecca
Serious Nordic skiers likely already know about the trails around Kelowna, but anyone who enjoys even the occasional quiet snow-gliding forays through snowy forests, whether on cross-country gear or snowshoes, owe it to themselves to become better acquainted with the Kelowna area. With over 200 kilometers of groomed Nordic and snowshoe trails both in town and up at the mountain resorts, there are definitely more trails to explore than you can fit in one trip.
In West Kelowna, the Telemark Nordic Club has over 50k of cross-country trails, and there are rentals available on site. In the foothills east of town, the Kelowna Nordic Ski and Snowshoe Club has 75k of groomed and track-set trails with rustic warming cabins. Up at Big White, you’ll find 25k of trails for Nordic skiing and snowshoeing with rentals available at the Happy Valley day lodge. And, finally, two Nordic meccas, the Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre and SilverStar Mountain Resort, are connected by trails that create the largest cross-country skiing network in Canada, with over 100k of groomed and track-set trails (lodge facilities and rentals available).
Urban Arts, Entertainment, Drinking and Dining
After a day of sliding, gliding or trekking through mountain snow, explore downtown Kelowna’s thriving arts, music and culinary scene. Start the night off with a drink and appetizer at one of the city’s many craft breweries, cideries, distilleries or wineries before having to make the tough decision of what amazing restaurant to eat at. Fresh, local ingredients dominate many menus thanks to Kelowna’s proximity to so many farms, ranches and orchards. After dinner, explore the many artist studios and galleries, catch a play at one of the theatres, or find a live music act at one of Kelowna area’s 50 live music venues.
If you haven’t had your fill of the great outdoors, take a stroll to Stuart Park on the downtown Kelowna waterfront. Watch the skaters at the free outdoor skating rink or join the fun. The park is also home to the signature public art piece Bear, a steel frame in the shape of a grizzly bear that pays tribute to Kelowna’s settlement on the shores of Okanagan Lake and “Kelowna” being an English translation of the Okanagan / Syilx First Nation word for “grizzly bear.”
Kelowna also has frequent events throughout the winter, including the high-energy, family-friendly Valley First New York New Years celebration at Stuart Park downtown Tourismkelowna.com.)
Cover photo by Darren Hull Studios and courtesy of Tourism Kelowna