Where to eat, drink, play and stay in B.C.’s Okanagan Valley

Culture and cultivation converge in this sunny region known for its world-renowned wines and farm-fresh food

Nestled between the Cascade and Columbia Mountains, the Okanagan Valley deals in dazzling culinary and outdoor adventures. The region’s sunny and dry microclimates are ripe with all sorts of vegetation, but it’s best known for grape growing. As the second-largest wine-producing area in Canada, the Okanagan produces fruity chardonnays, sweet ice wines and plummy pinot noirs. Visitors can explore innovative tasting spots, like a vineyard tour that features 3D art (including the designs on the bottles) and a winery that looks like a monastery. Across the region, you’ll also find sustainable restaurants, biodynamic farms and transformative historical experiences. Here are our must-visit destinations for your next trip out west.  

(Photography by Grant Harder)

Best historical experience


1000 Rancher Creek Road, Osoyoos | nkmipdesert.com

Visitors walk through a reconstructed Okanagan village, built amid antelope brush and Ponderosa pine at the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre. There are fibreglass tipi replicas, a sweat lodge and two pit houses made of earth and wood. The village and other exhibits honour the Osoyoos Indian Band: multi-sensory theatres immerse guests in local archives and showcase the dynamism of Indigenous storytelling, while art exhibits examine desert ecology and the legacy of residential schools.



Best Indigenous cuisine


1200 Rancher Creek Road, Osoyoos bearfishrootberry.com

At The Bear, The Fish, The Root & The Berry, chef Murray McDonald serves up a vision: vineyard cuisine inspired by his Indigenous roots. With the blessing of the Osoyoos Indian Band, the restaurant name is a reference to the Syilx captik story of the Four Food Chiefs, who taught food security and reciprocity. The menu honours key elements of Indigenous cuisine: the Black Bear (leadership, self-sacrifice), the Chinook Salmon (perseverance), the Bitterroot (relationship to the land) and the Saskatoon Berry (growth, strength). Standout dishes include sage-basted elk loin and McDonald’s renowned Black Forest cake.



Best architecture hit


1730 Mission Hill Road, West Kelowna missionhillwinery.com

The best reason to visit Mission Hill Winery has nothing to do with the (excellent) wine selection. The place is a feat of showstopping art and architecture. The estate itself, designed by the firm Olson Kundig, is austere and monastic, with hand-chiselled stone archways and a 12-storey belltower. Come for the striking sculpture exhibitions and stay for a glass of spicy Jagged Rock syrah, which you can sip while watching the outdoor concert series at the open-air amphitheatre.



Best prix fixe


4315 Black Sage Road, Oliver | phantomcreekestates.com

This vineyard may be known for its hip wine club and tasting tours, but its on-site restaurant is the real gem. It showcases the Okanagan’s Black Sage Bench terroir—whose sandy soil and hot sun yield rich, flavourful crops—and its seasonal, multi-course menus (starting at $50) are attuned to the rhythms of harvests from nearby producers. Hearty root vegetables in the cold months, for example, give way to microgreens and pickled cherries in the summer. Chef Alessa Valdez’s regulars come from across the country for the Founder’s Cellar Experience (“a very exclusive, intimate, five-to-six-course tasting menu of whatever I want,” she says), created in collaboration with local farmers and fishermen. Valdez pan-sears and plates the Arctic char, for example, the same day it’s caught by her pals just up the road. 



Best cheap thrill


5983 Highway 33, Kelowna | okanaganadventurepark.com

Just follow the Tarzan yells down Highway 33 and then look up: that’s Okanagan Adventure Park. The treetop playground sits approximately 60 feet off the ground, attracting daredevils, third daters and birthday revellers alike. During the park’s open season, from May through October, you can fly through a canopy of Douglas fir on a 600-foot-long zipline, navigate a web of complex aerial obstacle courses or launch off the edge of a canyon in a swing that goes up to 100 kilometres per hour. Kids can find attractions here that match their thrill appetite, and even the most adrenaline-averse travellers won’t be able to deny the views of Kelowna and Okanagan Lake just beyond. 




Best Splurge 


1200 Rancher Creek Road, Osoyoos | hyatt.com 

Spirit Ridge Resort weaves elements of the valley into the guest experience. Rooms (from $199 per night) are outfitted with local art and sagebrush-scented toiletries, and offer dreamy views of Anarchist Mountain and Osoyoos Lake. The on-site vineyard supplies Nk’Mip Cellars, the first Indigenous-owned winery in North America. Guests can enjoy free tastings, bliss out at the hotel spa or play a game of golf at Sonora Dunes.



Best budget


9540 Chute Lake Road, Naramata | chutelakelodge.ca

The shores of Chute Lake look vastly different than they did a century ago. Where there were once loggers, railway workers and a sawmill, there are now e-bikes and luxury amenities. Chute Lake Lodge blends rustic charm and modern comforts, offering options that include campsites (from $50), glamper-friendly yurts (from $150) and original log cabins (from $180). With easy access to Okanagan Provincial Park, limited connectivity (cell service and Wi-Fi can be spotty), a sauna and campfires under the stars, it’s like an all-ages summer camp.

This article appears in print in the August 2023 issue of Maclean’s magazine. Buy the issue for $9.99 or better yet, subscribe to the monthly print magazine for just $39.99.