Kelowna is located in the heart of BC's wine country. It has a metropolitan population of about 180,000.
Okanagan Lake is the main draw in the summer. This 135 km long jewel is a big draw for boaters (power and sail), swimmers and kite-boarders. In winter, thousands of tourists come from all parts of the world to ski at Big White resort, located 55 km from the city. Tourists also come in the fall (mostly) to experience and taste the Okanagan's world class wines from various wineries throughout the valley.
Highway 97 is the major highway through Kelowna, with Vernon and Highway 1 to the north, Penticton and Highway 3 to the south, and Merritt and Vancouver to the west via Highway 97C. Highway 33 provides secondary access to points south and east.
Traffic can be quite heavy on major roads in Kelowna during the summer months, especially at the approaches to the bridge crossing the Okanagan Lake and the Ellison Overpass near the university and airport. A lack of advance left turn traffic lights contributes to accidents at major intersections.
Kelowna Regional Transit System, 250-763-6011, . Best times to travel are early mornings and late afternoons on weekdays. High traffic routes (such as Lakeshore #1, University #8, Rutland #10, RapidBus #97 are the most efficient and numerous routes). Bus drivers are generally courteous and will on request call ahead to your next bus to facilitate a timely transfer. Bus frequencies are reduced during the summer months when school is not in session, but when school is in session, expect to miss a bus (or two) due to over-filled buses. Check the user website for more details and schedules.
Kelowna has an extensive network of bike lanes. Cyclists are advised to use bike lanes (when not obstructed by parked vehicles) and intersections with caution. Cycling on local highways is not recommended. See the City of Kelowna website for a detailed map.
There are several boat launches along the lakeshore with parking facilities. Be prepared to queue in the summer months. As for the lake itself, it can get crowded out there, especially with small watercraft.
The downtown area is pedestrian-friendly, especially along the waterfront and Bernard Avenue.
The Downtown Core is easily accessible with public transit as well as taxis and bicycles, once downtown you have two major Parkades to choose from if you decide to drive yourself one is of Pandosy Street (The Verve Restaurant is in the first level) or at the Library by the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) Station, so parking shouldn't be a chore.
As in any city the Rush Hour (usually 4:30PM-6PM) can be a challenge in the downtown core as well as on the main transportation arteries: Highway 97C, Highway 33, Lakeshore Rd.
The Downtown City Park offers a great environment in the summer to sun tan play and enjoy yourself or with your family playgrounds as well as the water and skate board park offer for a great time in the sun.
Enjoy the half submerged playground at Gyro Beach; in summer you can let yourself slide along the rope into the lake within which you may come across our lake's resident the Ogopogo (we are not joking, Loch Ness isn't the only body of water with a lake monster [the term monster is used loosely]). If you see Ogopogo make sure to be friendly as it is his home you're swimming in ;).
One of the best kept secrets of Kelowna is Bertram Park at the end of Lakeshore Road, with beautiful beaches and grassy areas to picnic on it is one of the most idyllic places in Kelowna, it offers BBQ's as well as change/wash rooms.
Another "best kept secret" is a beautiful beach located off Lakeshore in the Mission area. To get to it, turn down Truswell Road and take a left on Martin Road. If you walk keeping on the right to the end of Martin, you will come to a river. Turn right down a narrow bank alongside the river and walk along it for a short distance and you'll find and absolutely gorgeous beach frequented mainly by the younger crowd. If you bring beer or "other things" BC is famous for, be careful, as this beach is certainly not a secret to the police. This beach is referred to by locals as "Hidden Beach", often reduced to "Hidden", or "Skim Beach".
Tour Mission Hill Winery, Quail's Gate Winery or Summerhill Winery, an organic winery.
Skateboarding/longboarding--the skateparks are average but lots of great hills
Or the best yet... just be lazy and lay at the beach... or in winter in a jacuzzi surrounded by snow.
Walk or Bike the Kettle Valley Railway Trestles, .. Recently rebuilt after being burnt down - They provide a unique and beautiful view of the Kelowna area, as well as the uninhabited areas surrounding it. These are about an hour's drive outside of Kelowna - up a dirt road
Hangout in city park and walk along the boardwalk.
H20 Adventure and Fitness Center (H2O Adventure and Fitness Center), 4075 Gordon Dr Kelowna, BC V1W, ☎ (250) 764-4040, . H2O Adventure + Fitness Centre is the largest municipally owned water park in Canada and features an Olympic length 50 meter pool, wave pool, river run, 3 water slides, children’s water play area, and an ocean wave surf simulator. And, for the fitness enthusiast, a 12,000 square foot cardio and weight equipment and exercise space awaits you.Facility Drop-in Rates $5.50-$9.70 depending on age.
The main industry in Kelowna is tourism, with its requisite offering of service industry jobs at or slightly above minimum wage. The local ski hill Big White offers winter employment for ski/board instructors, liftees, servers, and so on. With the recent boom in housing, there is a shortage of skilled tradespeople in the construction industry.
Lake Tai, 1958 Kirschner Rd (Near Hwy 97 and Spall Rd), ☎ +1 (778) 478-9931, . Awesome little Chinese vegetarian restaurant serving light, healthy meals even carnivores will love. Almost all dishes are also gluten-free. Also serves wide selection of teas, bubble tea. Incredibly nice people, great service. Accepts credit cards. Try the honey crispy bean!
Sub City Donair on Highway 33, and on Rutland road by McCurdy
Mad Mango's' cafe (try the curry and soups most under $7) across the street from the bargain shop on Bernard.
Siam Orchid Thai Restaurant, 279 Bernard Avenue (between Mill and Water street), ☎ +1 (250) 860-5600. A friendly place, with a small menu of delicious mainstream Thai food. All dishes can be prepared vegetarian, and in any spiciness from mild to very hot. Lunch specials include soup and spring rolls. Try the red curry!
Kelowna International Hostel, 2343 Pandosy Street, 250-763-6024, . The recommended of the two hostels in town. Interesting atmosphere, not overcrowded. It has a limited number of beds, however, so it's easiest to book ahead.
Kelowna Okanagan Lake Hostel, 730 Bernard Avenue (Intersection of Bernard and Richter Street Kelowna), ☎ 778-484-5868, . checkin: 2PM; checkout: 11AM. Newly renovated comfortable hostel located right in downtown. Great for downtown shopping and beach strolling.22-89. (49.8863558,-119.4876317)
Samesun Backpacker's Lodge, 245 Harvey Avenue, 250-763-9814, . Clean with good facilities and a very friendly party atmosphere. Outdoor courtyard area with DJs, BBQs and a pool in the summer. Daily activities year round.
Kelowna is a growing city and therefore has its growing pains, with these come the following recommendations; avoid Leon & Lawrence Avenues between Water and Ellis during night time. City Park at night is patrolled, however can be somewhat dodgy after hours too.
As long as you keep yourself aware of your surroundings, you will be fine.
In summer, the city is also prone to forest fires, having suffered large fires in 2003 and 2009. Depending on the season, there may be campfire bans or parks may be closed.