I’ll admit it. I didn’t really know what was in the Okanagan Valley until Jordan and I spontaneously decided to head there this past weekend. I’d heard there were vineyards, so what more do you need to know!? I also knew that the climate was rather more desert-like than the rest of British Columbia, so we hopped in his Jeep and set off in search of wine and winding down.
Kelowna, Okanagan Valley
The Okanagan Valley is most famous for its wineries and fruit orchards thanks to the rich soils and hot summer sun. It’s around a four hour drive east of Vancouver, heading towards BC’s neighbouring province of Alberta. Our first destination was Kelowna, the self-proclaimed ‘gateway to the Okanagan Valley’. I had no idea there would be beaches with such gorgeous views. Slathering on the sun lotion and grabbing a bite to eat, we splashed into the cooling water of the giant Lake Okanagan in the heat of the desert landscape around us.
The Okanagan Valley’s primary city is Kelowna, with a prime spot on the Okanagan Lake. Kelowna’s waterfront downtown park is one of the things visitors enjoy the most. It’s also surrounded by pine forests and provincial parks which are perfect for exploring.
It was incredibly hot in mid-July, so the cool lake was most welcome. Once we soaked up the lovely desert mountain views and cooled off. Afterwards, we hopped back in the Jeep to find a more secluded beach. The West Kelowna beach was lovely, but sometimes it’s nice to find somewhere a little quieter.
Cherry Picking in the Okanagan Valley
Peeling off the roof, we sat back and hit the road. The Okanagan Valley is famous for it’s plump, juicy cherries (the most sought after in Vancouver). Driving around Kelowna, you’ll spot dozens of roadside fruit stands and orchards. It’s adorable, and I felt like I was on vacation. When we passed a cherry orchard, we had to stop off for a snack before our journey in search of wine.
It was so adorable! I’ve picked strawberries and raspberries countless times in the summer back home in England. Never before,however, had I come across a pick your own cherry orchard. The sun was beaming down and the trees around us bursting with cherries.
The hardest thing about picking your own is reaching the cherry trees. The step ladder certainly came in handy. They were the most delicious cherries ever, thanks to the fertile soil of the Okanagan Valley. Cherries taste even better for being slightly warm from the glorious sunshine. After a quick refuel, it was time to hit the road again, leaving a trail of cherry stones behind us.
Bertram Creek Provincial Park, Kelowna
Driving in the valley on the outskirts of Kelowna is just delightful. The roads are pretty empty, and the views are phenomenal. You can drive a fair way along the lake, with the glittering water ahead and the looming blue mountains in the background.
Despite having the roof off the Jeep, in the hot sun we longed once again to hop into the lake to cool off. Our next stop was beautiful Bertram Creek Provincial Park. The park is around eighteen hectares around Lake Okanagan. There are also several trails and swimming spots to enjoy. It’s truly beautiful, and we passed a party happening in the pavilion. The view is so incredible and there’s a beach right ahead after you park up. Just about to strip off into our swimsuits, we decided to hike a little higher to see what was around the corner.
We were so glad we climbed to get a better view. We discovered a super quiet little beach area with the most inviting crystal-like waters. Ditching our clothes at the top of the hill, we sped down and splashed in for the most invigorating swim ever.
We spent the rest of the afternoon lazily napping in the sun, catching the rays, and going back into the lake for a swim. This was a wonderful cycle for the next few hours.
As the sun dipped, we went back to the car, peeking on the most adorable groundhogs cheekily nipping at sunbathers’ feet. We were staying at a hotel in Kelowna, so settled in for the night with a bottle of local wine and dinner. A truly wonderful day.
Where are your favourite spots to visit in the Okanagan Valley? Which places do you also recommend I visit?