Okanagan Valley – ideas for free time

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Two of the main reasons for visiting this area are the scenery and the vineyards, and it’s very easy to get amongst both. There are many walking options in the region, from gentle lakeside trails to more challenging mountain hikes – often worth the effort for the stunning views over the lakes. The visitor information centres in the various towns are able to provide ideas to suit your ability. For wine there are simply hundreds to choose from and if you want to just pop in to one or two vineyards for a quick taster then we recommend asking your host or concierge which would be best suited to your tastes, or again visit the local tourist information office for a full run down of the local tipples.

Simply driving around the area can be a delight as well. Many of the highways are lined with photo inspiring orchards and grapevines and throughout summer they are also dotted with roadside stands selling seasonal fruit from the nearby farms (most notably between Osoyoos and Oliver in the south of the region). Each of the Okanagan towns has its own characteristics, from livelier Kelowna and Penticton to wonderfully laid-back Peachland and Naramata, however, they all have common characteristics in the pretty lakefronts and excellent selection of locally sourced food and wine.

Close to Kelowna Myra Canyon Park is home to a particularly scenic portion of the disused Kettle Valley Railway, now a walking & cycling trail which passes over 18 impressive trestle bridges and through two tunnels. To cycle the whole trail takes around four hours and bikes can be rented locally; alternatively it is possible to walk a shorter section.

In Oosoyos the award-winning Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre is well worth a visit. Operated by the Oosoyos Indian band it is a great place to learn about this desert region of Canada and the peoples that live within in. There are a number of state-of-the-art exhibits and interactive displays, both inside and out, along with walking trails that showcase the flora and fauna and aim to raise awareness of conservation in the area.

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