Kelowna, Canada

Kelowna, which is in the Okanagan Valley, is the place to enjoy wine in Canada.  It’s a pretty accessible 4.5 hour drive from Vancouver, making it an ideal weekend getaway.  We had a friend working on one of the vineyards there, so it gave us the perfect excuse to visit the region.  We went there in the Autumn (or the Fall as the Canadians call it), and it was a really lovely time to visit.  The colours are beautiful, however it is definitely a bit too cold to swim, so if you want to hit the beaches on the lakeshores then be sure to head there in the Summer.  We stayed at Samesun Backpackers and it was a really good set up, plus it was right in the centre of town.  The drive itself is great, with a lot of mountain views. Stop at Hope, which is about halfway, and head to Rollys Diner for some delicious food and an authentic diner experience.

Obviously the thing to do here is to go wine tasting. Our friend Edwin was in the know so he took us on a tour around a bunch of wineries.  One of our favourite places was The Hatch because it had a relaxed vibe, the people there were really friendly and their white wines were delicious and affordable.  Another favourite was Off The Grid, an organic vineyard that do a fabulous rose and also have pygmy goats to pet! Tastings at all the vineyards cost about NZ$6 for varying amounts, and this is waived if you buy a bottle of wine.

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Other vineyards we visited that were really beautiful yet a bit commercialised were Mission Hill, Quail’s Gate and Cedar Creek.  We thought that Rollingdale, Little Straw and Summerhill had the best wines and should definitely go on your list! They all varied a lot and, combined, they all gave us a good taste of the wines in the region.  I mean who doesn’t love spending a day drinking different wines and staring at beautiful views?  We had a blast.

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This area has a lot of lakes and is surrounded by hills and mountains, so there is always some good hikes to be done. While we didn’t have much time to explore any of the longer routes, we managed to pull over occasionally when we saw a walk way and go for a stroll up some hills.  We saw some great views of the Okanagan Valley and you see a lot of deer roaming around.

The town itself is lovely and has a lot of really great restaurants. By far our favourite place was Atico Pizza Napoletana, which had the best pizza we had tasted in our entire lives.  I highly recommend you go for a meal (or three) while you’re in Kelowna.  There is also a brewery and a bunch of nice bars to wind down at in the evening.

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Our time in Kelowna was short-lived but a lot of fun. It is such a neat weekend trip to go on while you’re in Vancouver.  Cost wise, it really wasn’t that expensive.  We had to rent a car, which cost us about NZ$200 for the weekend, and we paid about NZ$200 for two nights’ accommodation in a private room.  Per day we spent about NZ$90 (US$60) for two people.

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