I have always enjoyed telling tourists where to go and how to get there—especially when it comes to them having fun and spending money.
Please hand this to your visiting relatives or out of town friends when they ask what to do in our town.
Welcome to Kelowna, located in the heart of the magical Okanagan Valley. As the pampered residents of this haven we are totally blessed in our lifestyle—yet still find the capacity to be a tad odd.
Here are a few local quirks you should be aware of, followed with a list of my favourite places to go, see, do, or eat.
First off, Kelowna folks are a finicky bunch at the best of times. (Finicky is my polite term for spoiled, pompous, self-absorbed.)
Kelownians are never fully satisfied, no matter the situation.
Our biggest complaints are about the weather and tourists. (Local definition of a tourist is a resident of Kelowna who has been here 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.
However, we usually end most complaints with a shrug of the shoulders and a comments such as, “Oh well, at least it beats living in Toronto.”
Tourist wise, we complain when there are not enough visitors, and then complain even louder when you finally arrive.
We have a useless HOV lane system running through Kelowna on Highway 97. (Don’t blame us, it was the provincial government’s idea). Locals totally ignore the HOV 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 expected.
Watch out for folks driving really big red trucks, there are lots of them here.
If you are lost or simply have a tourist-related question do not ask someone at the public beach, or the table next to you in most of the major chain restaurants.
They are likely tourists. (Locals hide in their yards, quiet beaches or pools, secret pubs, and favourite dining spots from July 1 to Sept 15).
Here are a smattering of additional thoughts and tips for travellers here.
The best thing about Kelowna is probably taking a casual stroll along the waterfront from City Park near the bridge to the Grand Hotel, or walking or cycling ‘The Greenway’.
There are also a number of enjoyable tours and art walks in the downtown as suggested in guides found at various locations in town.
I suggest you reserve the longer walks or cycles for mornings or afternoons as the heat of the day can be hard on you, family members, or pets. All of that wrapped in oodles of various size parks and beaches. Downtown and the art’s district are stuffed full of interesting and unique dining and shopping areas so…take a walk.
Here is a chaotic list of some of my personal favourites:
Best combination view/food Kelowna—Earls on Top, Cactus Club on Water, Quails Gate, Pyramid Winery.
Best combination view/food rural—Ancient Hills Winery
Best Kelowna restaurant for dinner:
1. Minstrel Cafe
2. Memphis House of Blues
4. Kelly O’Bryan’s
Best Kept Secret (funky place to eat)—Central (Central Kitchen and Bar—CPH)
Best Waterfront Pub/Food—The Eldorado, Rosie’s, Cactus Club on Water
Best Regional Waterfront Food—Gasthaus on the Lake (Peachland), Blue Rooster (Peachland)
Best Kelowna lunch—Grateful Fed,
Best Breakfast—Perkins, IHOP, ABC, Cafe Soleil
Best Chinese Food—Yum Yum Tree at Capri Centre
Best Soup—Grateful Fed
Best Italian—Momma Rosa
Best pizza/Greek—Olympia Greek Taverna in Rutland
Best Kelowna pub (small)—McCullough Station, Rosie’s
Best Kelowna pub (large)—BNA
Best regional pub—Turtle Bay Marina in Lake Country
Best sports pub:
1: Sturgeon Hall
2: Baxter’s Pub
Friendliest restaurant staff—Grateful Fed, ABC, Perkins, Yum Yum
Friendliest sales staff Kelowna: Extra Foods—Capri Mall
Best Butcher—Johnny’s Meats, Nesters.
Best Book Store—Robbie’s Rare Books, Mosaic Books
Best Music Store: Wentworth Music
Best Clothing Store:
1. Moore’s (Spall Mall)
2. Robertson’s Clothing—South Pandosy
Best Live Music—Minstrel Cafe, Grateful Fed. Blue Gator, O’Flannigans
Best rural live music—Blue Rooster (Peachland),
Best Concert Facility—Kelowna Community Theatre
Best Jam Night—Anything hosted by Jim LeGuilloux.
Best Free Outdoor Concerts—Music in the Park concerts at Island Stage in Waterfront Park or Kerry Park—listing on City web site.
Best Walk/Dog Walk—Mission Creek Greenway
Best Place to People Watch— Rosie’s Waterfront Pub, The Sails. Cactus Club.
Intersections to Avoid—Highway 97 and Spall, 97 and Gordon.
Favourite Hideaway—Maud Roxby Bird Sanctuary, Kelly O’Bryan’s Patio, my back yard.