Unique Things to Do in Kelowna in Spring, Summer & Fall

Kelowna is a popular city to visit year-round because there’s so much to do. Its famous for its food and wine, great weather – particularly in spring and fall when it isn’t very nice in other parts of Canada, quick access to nature and outdoor activities – including biking, hiking, swimming and boating.

Over three days in spring I enjoyed a raft of unique activities in Kelowna from birdwatching to biking at a couple of beautiful locations, wine tastings, a coffee tasting, a fabulous traditional syilx plant use walking tour and an evening nature walk in a nocturnal preserve. Sure I missed zipping around the lake in a boat and checking out the beer scene – but truth be told, it’s wine I really love.

Kelowna is a great destination for a mini-vacation – when you’re looking for a recharge and change of scenery in a beautiful part of the world. Kelowna is easy to get to from many of Canada’s largest cities including Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, and Toronto. And really, there’s never a bad time to visit.

What a treat to visit Kelowna in spring with glorious Arrowleaf Balsamroot flowers in abundance!

Described in some detail are the unique things I did in Kelowna over a three day long weekend in early May.

Bike the Okanagan Rail Trail

The 48.5-km-long Okanagan Rail Trail travels from Kelowna to Vernon past Wood and Kamalka Lakes. Even though there is a 7-kilometre section of trail that is incomplete, it’s a magnificent bike ride and a must-do if you’re in Kelowna.

If you don’t have your own bike rent pedal-assist ebikes from Lake Country Cycle, located just minute’s away from the trail.

The prettiest section is along Kalamalka Lake but you can explore the rail trail in either direction from the bike rental location. Don’t forget your bathing suit on hot summer days!

Superlative biking along the Okanagan Rail Trail near Kelowna
Kalamalka Lake is a beauty
Enjoy some of the prettiest cycling in Canada along the Okanagan Rail Trail

Bike or walk Myra Canyon

One of the top things to do in Kelowna – with a high fun factor – is to bike 12 kilometres through Myra Canyon over 18 trestles and through two tunnels. If you travel between Myra Station – the starting point – and Ruth Station – a common turn around point, you’ll bike a total of 24 easy kilometres. You might want to check out my IG reel in Myra Canyon.

You can also walk Myra Canyon – and it’s a beautiful walk – but the fun factor isn’t nearly as high as biking it.

On clear days you can see Kelowna from some of the trestles – but plan to bike for the sheer fun of it and immersion in nature. As Ben Vos – co-owner of Myra Canyon Bike Rentals and Tours says “leave your phone at home and enjoy the animals and flowers.”

You can bring your own bike (I wouldn’t recommend skinny tires) but it’s also very convenient to rent bikes right at the trailhead. Myra Canyon Bike Rentals and Tours offers bikes in a ranges of sizes for both children and adults along with tandems, trailers and tag-alongs.

With some notice, they can rent tricycles and adaptive equipment. What they don’t offer is ebikes, because as they point out “the biking through Myra Canyon is easy.”

In summer RESERVE ahead to avoid disappointment. Reservations are open until 8 PM the day before you plan to bike. You’ll also find drinks and snacks for purchase at the trailhead – as well as pit toilets. Check their website for pricing and rental times.

Ben Vos – our guide and one of the owners of Myra Canyon Bicycle Rental & Tours
Biking the Myra Canyon section of the Kettle Valley Trail

Bike through two tunnels on the Myra Canyon section of the Kettle Valley Rail Trail

You can see Kelowna from some places on the Myra Canyon trail

Go birding at Robert Lake Regional Park in Kelowna

Meet Kalan Ocana – a 21-year-old birder extraordinaire – called the “birdman of the Okanagan” by some.

By the end of the day I’m in awe of Kalan – not just because of his ability to instantly identify any bird on sight – but his ability to flawlessly reproduce their songs. This is a man to watch. (He does take people out on private birding tours in the area too.)

Our group had the pleasure of going out with Kalin on two bird walks – though the first at Robert Lake Regional Park didn’t actually involve much walking because of high water levels. He tells us that over 329 bird species in the Central Okanagan area have been observed and that a stop at Robert Lake is a must, especially in April and May.

It didn’t matter that we couldn’t walk far as he was able to point out birds from shore – and give us their background. The first thing he does is exclaim that he sees a hybrid blue-winged and cinnamon teal. Meanwhile, the rest of us are focused on the Canada goose babies swimming by and the colourful though common yellow-headed blackbirds.

We see lots of yellow-breasted chats and American coots (his least favourite bird as the parents kill the young that beg for food) but didn’t spot the greater yellowlegs or the Wilson’s phalarope. No matter – it was fun to be with someone so young, talented, and enthusiastic!

Kalan Ocana in action birding at Robert Lake Regional Park

Enjoy an espresso tasting at Craft 42 Roasters

If you love a great espresso or latte, show up at Craft 42 Roasters in the morning to try their coffee tasting experience – whether it be a pourover, espresso – or even the same type of coffee prepared in three different ways.

Aaron Moore, our espresso maker extraordinaire, tells us the coffeeshop is trying to educate people and show them the “parallels with winemaking as it relates to farming, handling, processing, fair wages…and yes even flavour notes.”

To that end we chose three of their coffees shown below in the photo. Because we could do side by side tastings, it was easy to pick out the differences – and to pick a favourite which for me was Crossroads.

If you’re simply after a delicious espresso, coffee or baked good – Craft 42 Roasters is a great place to try on your next visit to Kelowna.

A coffee tasting at Craft 42 Roasters with notes to help you identify flavours
You need a sophisticated and lots of practice to pick up some of the coffee’s flavour notes
Getting highly caffeinated as we work our way through a coffee tasting with Aaron Moore at Craft 42 Roasters

Kayak or SUP on Okanagan Lake in Kelowna

With a stay at the fabulous Hotel Eldorado on Okanagan Lake in Kelowna, it’s easy to enjoy an hour of SUP and kayaking right from the hotel, especially as a one hour rental of their “non-motorized watercraft” is included with each room every day of your stay.

My friend and fellow travel writer, Lisa Kadane, picked up a couple of plastic kayaks and enjoyed a leisurely paddle over to one of the beaches along the lakeshore. It was fun to be out first thing in the morning before most people were even out of bed, simply enjoying the sounds of the water lapping against the kayak along with the gulls. My idea of bliss!

Kayaking on Okanagan Lake from the Eldorado Hotel

Take a nocturnal walk at Johns Family Nature Conservancy

One of the more unique things to do in Kelowna – and a real highlight of my three day trip was an evening nature walk with park interpreter Rose Maunder and Kalan Ocana, our birding friend from the morning, at Johns Family Nature Conservancy Regional Park.

We started our hike at dusk – to appreciate and celebrate the night sky, especially as the Johns Family Nature Conservancy Regional Park is Canada’s third nocturnal preserve in the country – a designation bestowed by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

The regional park with over 400 hectares of land in south Kelowna features a trail system that connects to Lebanon Creek Greenway Regional Park, The Crags which are popular with climbers, superlative panoramic views up and down Okanagan Lake – and much darker skies than you’ll find just 10 -15 minutes away in Kelowna.

Now that the park has the nocturnal preserve designation, the goal is to keep it that way by limiting artificial light that in turn will protect the natural environment, wildlife and even insects.

Next time you’re in Kelowna visit the park in the evening to enjoy the beauty of the night sky without light pollution.

Rose Maunder – the park interpreter for the Regional District of Central Okanagan taking about native plants
A beautiful evening for a group walk in Johns Family Nature Conservancy – just outside of Kelowna
Light pollution is a big problem especially as animals need dark skies
Enjoy incredible views of Okanagan Lake from the Johns Family Nature Conservancy at dusk

Enjoy a traditional syilx plant use walking tour

As a keen gardener I loved learning about native plants on the traditional sylix plant use walking tour hosted by Jasmine Peone with Kelowna Museum – definitely one of the unique things to do in Kelowna. You can sign up for these informative two hour tours offered for $15 per person on average three times per month.

Our tour started with an easy walk from the Kelowna Museum down to the Rotary Marsh Trail. That’s when the fun began. Jasmine would stop at each wild plant she came across and explain its uses, especially as it relates to their culture.

Described are just some of the cool things I learned about native plants in the Kelowna area.

Rub your hand on the bark on an aspen tree. The white powder that comes off the tree can be used as sunscreen.

Use the wood from a maple tree for smoking meat and making arrow shafts.

Frog leaf plantain is edible though the younger the plant the better. Cook it like spinach. You can also infuse the leaf in oil which is good for rashes and burns.

Red osier dogwood is bendable and good for making fish traps and dreamcatcher rings.

Mash Oregon grape berries for dye.

Horsetail is an antidote for poison ivy. Rub it in your hands until juicy and then slather the affected area.

The spikes from the black hawthorne tree are used as fish hooks.

The fluff from cattails is used for diapers and in pillows.

White birch trees are used for birchbark canoes – which are best used in rivers as they are light and easy to portage. The bark is harvested for birch bark baskets.

The fun part of the traditional sylix plant use walking tour started at the Rotary Marsh Trail
Jasmine Peone shared her incredible plant knowledge and what they’re used for
Jasmine Peone pointing out the uses of the fluff from cattails on the Rotary Marsh Trail in Kelowna

Ebike the Boucherie Route from Grizzli Winery To Quails Gate Winery in Kelowna

One of the fun ebike experiences in Kelowna take you on the new 4.8 km Boucherie Multi-use Pathway to three West Kelowna wineries – Quail’s Gate, Volcanic Hills Estate Winery and Grizzli Winery.

Reserve ebikes from Lakeside Eco-Sports. Rest assured that they come with rear padded panniers that can hold up to a dozen bottles of wine, so if you taste something you like, you can buy it.

In my ebiking experience, this one is easy even with the hills – cue Lisa biking up the hills with no feet on the pedals but likely a thumb on turbo! But it’s fun and it’s certainly one of the unique things you can do in Kelowna.

Easy biking up the hills in Kelowna when you’re on an ebike

Visit wineries in West Kelowna on the Boucherie Pathway

Quails’ Gate Estate Winery

Quails’ Gate Estate Winery is a beauty with the tasting room looking out over Okanagan Lake – at least in good weather. We particularly enjoyed our estate tasting experience with Taylor Poncelet as she’s very knowledgeable about wine (she passed all three WSET wine courses which speaks volumes!) but she makes it approachable too.

I ‘m pretty sure we tasted more than four wines – but with three wineries to visit – and not enough note taking, I lost track. I did love the Chardonnay with its aromatics and high acidity to keep everything balanced.

Wine tasting at Quails’ Gate Winery with the very knowledgeable Taylor Poncelet

Volcanic Hills Estate Winery

Volcanic Hills Estate Winery is a long time family winery with 60 years of history. Mehtab Gidda arrived in 1958 with a few dollars in his pocket a dream of farming.

We enjoyed a signature tasting at Volcanic Hills Estate Winery

Grizzli Winery

Grizzli Winery moved from Vancouver and opened in their present location in West Kelowna in 2016. The winery is well known for its fruit and ice wines and more recently their table wines – with all grape vines planted on sloping hills on volcanic soils on the west side of an ancient volcano.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the ice wine tasting (and took home a bottle of their Sauvignon Blanc ice wine), I loved how many events are happening on an ongoing basis at the winery. With a 60,000 square foot tasting room covered with local art, there is no shortage of space that caters to both locals and out-of-towners. Check out their event calendar and then catch one of the following:

Enjoy Happy Hour every Friday with live music from 5 – 7 PM featuring local musicians and a vineyard view.

On Saturdays from late June into August check out Golden Hour starting at 7 PM. One night there might be a magician, another a band – it varies from week to week.

On Sundays starting in mid-May local vendors show up for a farmer’s market type of event – where dogs are allowed.

New as of May 3, 2024 is a restaurant attached to the winery – 31 Charkay. They are open on a Thursday to Sunday basis for lunch and dinner. We sampled dessert only – vanilla ice cream drowned in Grizzli Cabernet Franc Red Icewine – decadence in a bowl!

The Grizzli Winery has large open spaces – perfect for hosting events

Take a hands on cooking course at Lakehouse Kitchens in Kelowna

Another one of the fun things to do in Kelowna is to sign up for a hands on cooking class at Lakehouse Kitchens. Our group made mushroom risotto – and while it wasn’t new to me, I did learn a few tricks – cue the lemon zest and final addition of creamy goat’s cheese.

Choose something new from their monthly calendar you’d like to make and then sit back and watch the chef make the dish before you’re let loose in the kitchen.

I like to cook with a glass of wine in my hand – something you can do here – and as you work your way through the recipe you’ll find expert instruction available should you need it. When your dish is finished, sit down at large tables to enjoy your meal with others from the cooking class. It’s a lot of fun in a group atmosphere whether – even if your dish is a flop – and risotto is hard to ruin.

Lots of cooking classes offered at Lakehouse Kitchens in downtown Kelowna
Having fun making a mushroom risotto at Lakehouse Kitchens in Kelowna

Where to eat in Kelowna

On my spring trip to Kelowna the focus was primarily on unique things to do in the city rather than checking out the finest restaurants.

On this trip I enjoyed a colourful, healthy meal at Maestro’s Mediterranean Restaurant (walking distance to Hotel Eldorado) – a delicious burger (see top left photo below) from Shore Line Brewing – while some of our group availed themselves of beer flights.

We all enjoyed a fantastic brunch in a beautiful setting at Quail’s Gate Winery that features farm to table dining.

Breakfasts every morning came with a lake view at Hotel Eldorado. I quite liked their overnight oats (bottom photo) and avocado toast.

A selection of meals enjoyed in Kelowna

Where to stay in Kelowna

TheHotel Eldorado at Eldorado Resortis a gem of a place to stay, especially with its location overlooking Okanagan Lake. This was my second stay at the Hotel Eldorado – one of the few places that instantly transports me to my happy place.

I loved leaving the patio door open in early May when I went to bed so I could fall asleep listening to the gulls. I took advantage of the floor to ceiling windows to enjoy a little people watching. Come the morning I was happy to sit and just be in the living room – enjoying the lake view with a fresh cup of Nespresso coffee

I didn’t have time to take advantage of the big soaker tub, but I di appreciate the large shower with an array of sprayer combinations.

I absolutely love the Eldorado Hotel in Kelowna for its beautiful rooms and lakeside location

Interested in exploring more of BC’s interior?

Head to the South Okanagan for more biking, wine tasting, kayaking, and exploring.

Visit Revelstoke in summer to experience SUP, hiking, rafting, hot springs, and a great food scene.

Glacier National Park in BC is home to some of the best hikes I’ve done in the Rockies – including Abbott Ridge Trail, the Glacier Crest Trail, and the Hermit Trail.

If you’re a fan of hot springs, I highly recommend a visit to three of them in the Nakusp area.

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

The post Unique Things to Do in Kelowna in Spring, Summer & Fall appeared first on Hike Bike Travel.