Where Is The Second Best Place To Live or Visit in British Columbia?
It is the Okanagan Valley. Most maps show it running from Salmon Arm to Osoyoos on the US/Canadian border. The major towns/cities are Vernon, Kelowna, Penticton and Osoyoos. So what does a couple of tourism professionals do when they have time off. Well it is tough to leave Vancouver Island and Greater Victoria, the number one place of live or visit in BC. We have a rule that we don’t leave Victoria in the summer months because of our sensational weather, fantastic scenery, great food and a whole lot more.
We this year we decided to revisit the Okanagan for a week to see what is new. This area has tremendous beauty and a bounty of fruits and vegetables and vineyards. The fruits and vegetables are very reasonable when you buy from local markets. There are 200+ and growing. Pun there! So you can visit a new one everyday for 2/3 of the year! The grape is doing very well in the Okanagan! The local tourism brochures will point out something to do for everyone.
We love to stay in Bed and Breakfasts, so I did an internet search and found what I believe to be two of the best B&B’s in the Okanagan. As we have a cousin in Lake Country that we wanted to spend time with we started our stay in Oyama, a small community a bit north of Kelowna. This was our base for the first five days. Robby, our hostess runs the Country Ridge Bed and Breakfast high in the hills overlooking Woods Lake and Kalamalka Lake. Country Ridge BB is situated high on a hillside overlooking surrounding lakes, orchards and vineyards. Expansive windows and a magnificent wrap around veranda take full advantage of breathtaking views and the very tranquil setting.The views of the valley and lakes are stunning! Her home was built as a bed and breakfast and contains three well appointed rooms with very comfortable rooms. Each room has windows that overlook one or both of the lakes. The out door balcony has plenty of seating where you can enjoy the spectacular views and each room has private seating as well. This B&B has everything you would ever need in your room. Robby has thought of everything as far as we could see. At the entry, there is a ramp for people with movement challenges and the ramp even has a metal non-slip section. The main floor is spectacular. Upon entry through the front door you will observe a magnificent spiral stair case going to the living space of the home. The main floor has two separate rooms where you can watch TV, listen to music or talk with other guests. There is also a reading room with shelves of games to play. The dinning room is spacious and all guests share the same table, so you get a chance to meet the other guests at the 8:30 am breakfast. Robby serves excellent breakfasts. Her chocolate croissants are addictive! Each day were served parfaits of fruit, nuts and yogurt! They were delicious and nutritious! We also had eggs served in a variety of ways along with some of the best bacon I have ever eaten. Linda requires gluten free options and this was handled very well by Robby. Robby also brings out the tin foil, so that if you have left overs and we always did, you can wrap them up and take them with you for a snack later or put them in the common fridge in the foyer for later! Robby has lots of suggestions and information that will help you enjoy your stay in the valley. We heartily recommend a stay at this most excellent B&B!
While we were in the Okanagan we thought we would take in some golf so I looked for a couple of courses that fit our skill level. Those were not championship style courses! The first one we played was in West Kelowna. Two Eagles was well manicured and had par 3,4 and 5 holes. The length of the holes suited us just fine. The weather cooperated and we had a nice time and then visited old friends John and Diane, who live just up the hill. You might notice the wire protective fence that has a number of golf balls stuck in it, all stray shots! (not ours)
The 2nd course that we played was in Osoyoos at the NK’MIP Resort. The resort is a four season playground with a golf course, accommodations, camping, an interpretive centre showcasing their culture, dining and wine tasting. It is located at the south end of the Osoyoos Indian Band’s land, NK’MIP Resort encompasses over 200 acres of the ‘bottomland’ (NK’MIP). “NK’MIP” in the Syilx language refers to the area at the north end of the lake where the mouth of the lake meets the Okanagan River. Note the signing warning to watch out for rattlesnakes! No one wants you to step on them and hurt them!
While in the Okanagan Valley we did some serious research at many of the 200+vineyards and wineries scattered through out the valley. We covered Lake Country (Winfield and Oyama), Kelowna, Penticton & the Naramata Bench, Oliver and Osoyoos. I volunteered to be the designated driver so that Linda could deepen her research and for part of the time cousin debbie joined in! I am not sure how Linda came home with only 18 bottles of wine. Maybe her research was blurred!
Now the most important part of the research. The wine must be tasted. Linda did her best. She found a lot of really good wines and some that did not match her preference. Apparently the research was all good. Grapes are apparently good for many things! Some of the tasting facilities were amazing. Every place we visited made an effort to display their wines appropriately and the grounds and facilities were generally immaculate. Some served lunches and some did not. The staff were always knowledgeable and informative. As you will see below, Linda was deep into her research. Just to prove that the DD was protecting her I threw in a picture of the two of us at the Arrowleaf Vineyard, one of the finer operations in Lake Country. This one had beautiful views of Okanagan Lake, a nice lunch venue and a beautiful wine bar.
While in Lake Country we attended an annual event call Artwalk! The venue was at the high school and community venues across the street. It was to showcase local artists and artisans. There was a lot of variety and some excellent work displayed. The event was very well attended. It is important to ask about these type of events and others like local markets. Our host Robby directed us to this one and it was well worth the visit.