Kelowna is an adventure paradise, and you don’t even have to leave city limits to experience it.

I have something to admit: up until a few years ago, when my Southern Ontario-born feet finally stepped onto British Columbia soil, I had thought Kelowna was pronounced ‘Kel-oh-awn-a.’ I don’t know why or how my brain added in the extra syllables to the name, but it was my now fiancé, a B.C. native, who finally corrected me.

Another embarrassing fact? The first time I visited Kelowna–Kel-oh-na–I wasn’t all that impressed. To be fair, I was in town for a rainy 36 hours, and spent them living out of my campervan in an RV park. I didn’t see a single winery, nor did I break a sweat doing any outdoor activity.

Lucky for me, on my second and most recent trip back, my opinion was swayed by my adamant partner and dozens of others who swore I had it all wrong. I can now confirm that Kelowna is, in fact, an adventure paradise, and you don’t even have to leave city limits to experience it.

 

Here are five must-do activities everyone should try when visiting Kelowna.

Paddle the Kelowna Paddle Trail

Twenty-two buoys dotted along a nearly 28-kilometre stretch of Kelowna’s shoreline mark the city’s newly opened paddle trail. It’s a unique way to take in the area and get some exercise, too. Kayakers or SUPers (we opted for the former) can paddle from McKinley Beach all the way to Bertram Creek Park or drop in anywhere along the trail, including Rotary Park, which is an accessible option for novice paddlers, like ourselves. Unfortunately, we picked one of the windiest days of the year. The waves had whitecaps and the kite boarders were in heaven. The kayaks, however, didn’t make it off the roof rack.

Worth noting: MEC Kelowna offers daily kayak and SUP rentals, which includes all of the necessary gear including equipment to attach everything to a vehicle’s roof, VW Westfalia or otherwise. Take a look at all their rental options here.

Bike the Okanagan Rail Trail

The Okanagan Rail Trail at Myra Canyon is located a 25-minute drive outside of downtown Kelowna, but it’s worth the trip. MEC recently announced a $45,000 donation to support the retrofitting of the bridge between Kalamalka and Wood Lakes, and already it’s clear: this is going to be one well-used outdoor space. Wooden trestles connect the railway-tracks-turned-dirt-pathways, which can be biked or hiked. We opted to run 10-kilometres of the path that day.

Know before you go: Parking fills up quickly during peak season, so plan to arrive early and bring plenty of water with you as there isn’t yet a station to fill up once you arrive.

Hike Knox Mountain

Knox Mountain, a 766-acre park minutes north of downtown Kelowna, is packed with trails of varying degrees of difficulty–some are narrow, steep and winding, while others gradually ascend and descend, so there’s something for everyone. Whichever path you take, head to the top of the mountain–it’s about 300 metres up above the lake–for sweeping views of the city and Okanagan Lake.

Swim at Paul’s Tomb

Something of a local’s secret, Paul’s Tomb is somewhat off the beaten path. But if you’re planning to explore Knox Mountain anyhow, pack a swimsuit and hike along the gravel path to visit this innercity swimming hole. It feels remote, despite its two kilometre proximity from the paved parking entrance at Knox Mountain. The stony cove is large enough for several groups to enjoy at once, plus there are a few good rocks to sun on and/or leap from into Lake Okanagan, if the beachfront ever feels too congested.

Run along the Waterfront Trails

It’s paved and it’s wide, and everyone from runners to cyclists to rollerblader to dogs are welcome along Kelowna’s waterfront trail. The pathway traces the water’s edge and is well-marked, making it a simple excursion for visitors and locals alike to enjoy. We ran the waterfront trail on our first trip to the city, and it proved a memorable way to take in the views and get a lay of the land (and water) without getting lost.

MUST-HAVE GEAR

For digitally nomadic travellers like us–and for most Canadians–summertime means a lot of time spent on the road. Whether you’re in a campervan or a convertible, here are five items that will make the road less travelled more comfortable.

Cooler

 

You can’t bring your entire fridge full of condiments (and, really, why would you) on the road, but you can keep your essentials cool with a hard-top cooler. This lime green option gets bonus points for style, and also for doubling as fireside seating

SHOP: Buy it here.

 

 

 

Power bank

Even if you can charge your devices from the car, it’s nice to have a portable source of power in case you venture out via bike or canoe or jetski or paramotor…you get the point. Heaven forbid you should get to the summit and not have enough juice on the smartphone to get that epic shot.

SHOP: Buy it here.

Reusable gear tie

Don’t be surprised if you reach for one of these reusable gear ties several times in one day. They may be small and unassuming, but they’re in fact a travel MVP for versatility and can tie a tarp to a tree or hanging a lantern from your campervan or tent.

SHOP: Buy it here.

Sealable pot

This stainless steel pot will boil rice, soup, pasta or whatever’s on the menu, but it also acts as a container to safely store any leftovers thanks to its sealable lid that locks in place. Fewer dishes is a good thing.

SHOP: Buy it here.

 

LED light

Escaping the glow of the city lights and getting out into the darkness of nature is a great way to reset the circadian rhythm. But sometimes you need to read just one more chapter of that Gillian Flynn novel.

SHOP: Buy it here.

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