Today’s column is for tourists and not for locals or regular HodgePodge readers.
Please pass this over to a friendly yet frustrated tourist near you who is obviously wondering what to do or where to go.
I have always liked to tell tourists where to go and how to get there. Today’s column is also about a month late, but I forgive myself.
Welcome to Kelowna in the heart of the magical Okanagan Valley. Here are a few local quirks you should be aware of before a list of my favourite places to go, see, do, or eat.
First, Kelowna folks are a finicky bunch at the best of times. (Finicky is my polite term for ‘arrogant, spoiled, pompous, self-absorbed…’)
‘Kelownians’ are never fully satisfied—no matter the situation. Their biggest complaints are about the weather and tourists. (Local definition for tourist: A resident of Kelowna for less than 15 years).
Weather-wise, we bitch when it is too hot, we bitch when it’s too cold, too wet, too windy, too stuffy…
Tourist-wise, we complain when there are not enough visitors and then complain even louder when they finally arrive.
We have a useless HOV lane system running through Kelowna on Highway 97. Locals totally ignore this law but we fully expect tourists to obey it. (We will honk and show you various body parts as we roar by if you do not do as you are told).
If you are lost or simply have a tourist-related question, do not ask someone at the beach or the table next to you in the restaurant. They are tourists. (Locals hide in their yards or secret pub from July 1 to Sept. 5.)
So then, here are a smattering of thoughts and tips I would like to pass on:
The Best thing about Kelowna is probably taking a casual stroll along the waterfront from City Park near the bridge to the Delta Grand Hotel, or walking The Greenway.
I suggest you reserve the walks for mornings or afternoons as the heat of the day can be hard on you, family members or pets.
The worst thing about Kelowna is parking meters and the generally rude ticket attendants downtown. The machines and meters both have many flaws and fail to take several coins.
Here are some more from my own Best of… list:
Best combination View/Food Kelowna—Earl’s in downtown Kelowna, Quails’ Gate Winery in West Kelowna, Summerhill Pyramid Winery in Upper Mission
Best combination View/Food Rural—Ancient Hills Winery in Kelowna
Best Kelowna Restaurant for Dinner—Minstrel Cafe in Kelowna, Kelly O’Bryan’s in downtown Kelowna
Best Waterfront Pub/Food—The Eldorado in Kelowna, Rosie’s Waterfront Pub in downtown Kelowna
Best Regional Waterfront Food—Gasthaus on the Lake and Blue Rooster, both in Peachland
Best Kelowna Lunch—Grateful Fed in downtown Kelowna (awesome soup).
Best Breakfast—Perkins, ABC Restaurant, IHOP all in Kelowna
Best Chinese Food—Yum Yum Tree at Capri Centre in Kelowna
Best Italian—Momma Rosa in downtown Kelowna
Best Pizza/Greek—Olympia Greek Taverna in Rutland
Best Kelowna Pub—McCulloch Station, Rosie’s both in Kelowna
Best Regional Pub—Turtle Bay Marina in Lake Country
Best Sports Pub—Sturgeon Hall and Baxter’s Pub, both in Kelowna
Best Regional ‘Sports’ Pub—Larry Lund’s in Summerland
Friendliest Restaurant Staff—Perkins, ABC, Yum Yum.
Friendliest Sales Staff Kelowna—Extra Foods (Capri Centre)
Best Bakery—Nesters in Kelowna
Best Butcher—Johnny’s Meats and Nesters, both in Kelowna
Best Service Station Attendant—Yves Beliveau who works at the Husky on Cook and Gordon in Kelowna, he never quits smiling and working
Best Book Store—Mosaic Books in downtown Kelowna
Best Music Store—Wentworth Music in Kelowna
Best Clothing Store—Moore’s at Spall Mall and Robertson’s Clothing, both in Kelowna
Best Live Music—Minstrel Cafe, Blue Gator, Grateful Fed
Best Rural Live Music—Blue Rooster in Peachland
Best Concert Facility—Kelowna Community Theatre
Best Sunday Jam Night—the Blue Gator hosted by Jim LeGuilloux; every Wednesday night; Music in the Park concerts at Island Stage in Waterfront Park or Kerry Park (check the schedule on City of Kelowna website)
Best Walk/Dog Walk—Mission Creek Greenway
Best Place to People Watch—Rosie’s, The Sails in downtown Kelowna
Intersections to Avoid— Harvey and Spall; Harvey and Gordon; Lawrence and Centennial
Favourite Hideaway—Maud Roxby Bird Sanctuary in Kelowna, Kelly O’Bryan’s patio, my back yard.