Our mission (and the contents of this blog post) was to hit the road, explore Kelowna and share what you can do there and along the way, then give away an AMA Travel + Best Western Prize Pack so one lucky winner can replicate the trip! Happy to oblige, guys! :)
In this blog post you’ll find road trip tips, recommended stops to and from Edmonton and Kelowna, what to do while you’re in Kelowna (and the gorgeous Okanagan region), where to stay (Best Western, obviously lol), and enter to win an AMA Travel + Best Western prize pack!
Thank you to AMA Travel + Best Western for sponsoring this trip!
TRAVEL GUIDE: WHAT TO DO IN KELOWNA, B.C.
(including road trip tips: where to stop and more!)
Getting from Edmonton, Alberta to Kelowna, British Columbia
From Edmonton, Alberta, a drive to Kelowna is about 10 hours (not including any stops you might be taking). It’s a bit of trek and there’s a few different routes you can take—west through Jasper, then south, or through Nordegg south, or south through Calgary/Banff. All of them will be fairly scenic, but the most popular Edmonton to Kelowna route (based on conversations with others who have road tripped there, and the Internet), is the south route through Calgary, Canmore, Banff, Lake Louise, Golden, and Revelstoke.
There’s a lot of potential road trip stops on the south west route to Kelowna through Calgary, Banff and Lake Louise, Alberta, and Golden and Revelstoke, British Columbia so I’d recommend that route!
ROAD TRIP STOPS BETWEEN EDMONTON, ALBERTA AND KELOWNA, B.C.
Whether you stop on your way there or on your way back, there’s so much to see and do at points along your drive! If you are planning to road trip, I actually recommend you build out an extra day or two on both the beginning and or end of of your trip (if possible) so you can fully enjoy the different stops without feeling too rushed or tired after all that driving!
I’ll usually take any excuse I can to stop in Calgary, primarily for the damn good food!
Check out my past Calgary food blog posts for some suggestions on where to stop for eats, or see Tourism Calgary for their suggestions. Checking out their new library, visiting St. Patrick’s Island Park, shopping at the East Village Junction pop-up retail park or strolling 17th Ave. are just a few guaranteed good time options. My absolute favourite Calgary restaurant for sandwiches is Empire Provisions and I think it makes a great road trip stop because it’s on the south end of Calgary so if you want to avoid downtown traffic that might be a great spot to stop for a quick bite (or call ahead and pick up sammiches for the road!)
Canmore or Lake Louise, Alberta
You’ll note I am not suggesting a stop in Banff, lol. In the summer, Banff traffic is a bit hectic… We stopped for a bathroom break on our way and realized what a mistake we had made quickly, as the line-up for bathroom was 20 people deep, with maybe as many cars and RVs parked or trying to navigate through the gas station parking lot outside. It was not the greatest, lol.
So stopping prior to in Canmore or after in Lake Louise may be a better, less busier bet depending on the time of year. Either way, there’s a lot of wonderful, adventure-filled activities to do in Canmore, Banff, and Lake Louise, it just depends on how much time you’ve allotted during your drive. Just before you get to Canmore there is a there is the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary which is a super popular stop when driving down there (it’s been on my list to stop for some time!)
Check out my past blog post on A Few Things To Do in Canmore. In Lake Louise, there is a unique restaurant inside a heritage train car / train station that’s worth a visit. The Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park just past Lake Louise is often referenced as a stop to make on your drive to Kelowna. This waterfall is among the tallest in all of Canada!
We wanted the focus of our road trip stops for this visit to Kelowna to be B.C.-based, so we ended up doing a few stops near Revelstoke, British Columbia. There is actually a TON to do in and around the Revelstoke region, I’d love to come back there on a trip just specifically dedicated to exploring that area.
You should definitely stop at the Giant Cedars Boardwalk Trail in Mount Revelstoke National Park. This gorgeous stop features hundreds-of-years-old giant cedar trees with an easy, well-maintained boardwalk. The boardwalk takes you on a very short, quick loop, and there are a ton of photo opportunities along this trail, we spent probably more time here than budgeted because of all the photos we were taking!
You are supposed to get a park pass to visit this and other areas in the National Park but for some reason when we went, we were just waved right through! (No complaints over here lol).
Crazy Creek Waterfall and Suspension Bridge
It’s an absolutely gorgeous 100 ft. tall waterfall and 240 ft. tall suspension bridge overlooking the roaring falls, easily accessible off the main highway, with cafe. Admission is just $12 (adult) or $7 (kid) (for just the bridge/waterfall access, there are also hot pools there that are a separate but probably worth-it cost).
The Pipe Mountain Coaster
Also in the Revelstoke region is The Pipe Mountain Coaster at Revelstoke Mountain Resort.
We didn’t get a chance to stop here but I’d LOVE to try it when I come back this way. This 1.4 km ride (where you’re sitting on a little cart) takes you on a high-speed rail with twists, turns and drops travelling up to 42 km/hour. I had a few Instagram friends recommending this coaster to me—they loved it!
Three Valley Gap Historic Town
Just 20 minutes from Revelstoke is Three Valley Gap Historic Town. They call it a Ghost Town but I’d describe it more as a heritage town with pioneer era historic buildings. If you’ve been to Fort Edmonton Park in Edmonton, Three Valley Gap has a very similar vibe. There is an old saloon, school house, black smith shop, trapper cabin, church, furniture shop, laundry house, jail and more. You’ll find a lot of history about the area and how people used to live during the railway gold rush days.
As you reach the northern end of the Okanagan, you’ll come to Sicamous, B.C., home to a very famous ice cream shop.
D Dutchmen Dairy is an old-fashioned dairy store and farm selling milk, cheese and ice cream (which in 2004, the Vancouver Sun had named ‘B.C.’s best ice cream!’) You can stop here just for the ice cream or you can take a bit longer and visit the cows and other farm animals on site.
The ice cream is very creamy and delicious! Worth noting though: no samples offered here!
A few other road trip stops we saw along the way but didn’t get a chance to stop or factor into our trip include The Enchanted Forest and SkyTrek Adventure Park (also near Revelstoke), The Starlight Drive-in Movie Theatre (in Enderby about an hour from Kelowna), and the Northern Lights Wolf Centre (where you can ‘Walk with Wolves’), near Golden, B.C.
Safe to say there are SO many sights to see and places to stay on the road to and from Kelowna/Okanagan and Alberta, you should really plan a day/night in Revelstoke so you can have some extra time to play.
It’s otherwise pretty challenging (and tiring) to do more than one stop on your road trip if you’re trying to get to Kelowna or Edmonton area in the same day.
Finally, before getting into what to do in Kelowna, B.C., here are some tips for your road trip!!
TIPS TO ENSURE YOUR ROAD TRIP IS A SUCCESS
- Communication is key! Are you a power-through-with-as-few-stops-as-possible kind of road tripper? Or is this trip going to include a few stops? Are the stops for food or sightseeing? Or both? And have you factored in enough time at each stop in addition to your hours being on the road? Most importantly, are the people you’re road tripping with on board with your road trip style or preferences? Have you talked about / agreed on stops (or number of stops, or lack of stops? And what stops?) Not all friends are good road trip (or just general travel) friends, and that’s okay. Everyone is going to have different preferences. Make sure as you are planning your road trip that your road trip buddy or buddies and you are all clear on what’s happening and what everyone is comfortable with (or comfortable with compromising). When everyone is on the same page, you’re going to have a great trip!
- Make sure you’ve got snacks. Especially if your road trip plan includes powering through! There should be a good mix of chips (of course), meats (pepperoni, beef jerky, heck—even garlic sausage if you like lol), fruits and vegetables (we probably could’ve benefited from more of this lol), and depending on your decisions around food stops, even some sandwiches or easy, on-the-road meals. Staying hydrated is also very important, whether that comes in the form of water or caffeinated drinks! We got our road trip snacks at Superstore (an AMA Travel Partner) and hey, if you get too many snacks, not to worry because leftovers make good home snacks too lol.
- Pre-load your playlist (or playlists) in advance. Discussing beforehand what type of music you like, or how long each person gets to listen, will also be highly beneficial. On this road trip, we created a playlist that included some bops we both liked, some bops only I liked, some bops only Brittney liked. On other road trips I’ve been on, the rule was we alternated who gets to pick each song and by about 1:30 of the track you were able to change to the next song if the song chooser allowed it! At other times, Mike will get to listen to his audiobook for his stretch of driving and I’d get my tunes if it was my turn to drive, or if the passengers are napping then driver can choose whatever for tunes. You can find the playlist we listened to on Spotify here.
- Plan, but be open to changes. Again, whether this works well depends on the travel styles and preferences of who you’re going with. This tip applies for the actual road trip but also for the activities once you’ve arrived at your destination. Some people are all day all night vacationers. Others would much prefer to sit at the beach all morning or afternoon. Some people want to sneak in a nap. Others need to unwind on their phone or laptop and get to bed early. Sometimes plans fall through, sometimes you’ll find something better to do than what you had originally planned. I like to have a general idea of what I’m doing on my vacations but also leave time for general exploration. Food-wise I like to know that I will be eating at a local spot but am open to just stumbling into a place instead of having a pre-picked restaurant for every meal. I think going into a road trip or vacation keeping in mind that some plans might change will help ensure you’re not the most upset when or if that happens lol.
- Let the road trip stops shine. As mentioned, if you can, add an extra day before or after your main destination (if that is Kelowna) so you can truly enjoy all the fun road trip attractions without feeling too rushed or exhausted. There are so many great places to stop and sights to see to and from Kelowna/Edmonton, I know the next time I road trip out that way I’m making sure I’ve got a lot of extra time to explore particularly all the sights in and around the Revelstoke region, but no matter where you’re headed, research stops ahead of time and give yourself a day just to drive, stop and explore!
- Don’t let yourself run too low on gas! Because that’s so stressful, why be stressed? On road trips I like to fill up whenever I get around the halfway to empty mark (lol but ironically just driving around home I sometimes push it til it’s almost on empty, oops). Thanks to Esso, an AMA Travel partner, we easily filled up using their convenient Speedpass App. AMA members can also get a reloadable Esso card that can earn you 5% back in AMA reward dollars whenever you gas up.
WHAT TO DO IN KELOWNA, B.C.
What do you do when you finally get to your destination (assuming you’re reading this because your destination is Kelowna, B.C. lol). There are so many things you can do in the beautiful Okanagan!!
Below is just a smattering of suggestions, really. I intend to return to Kelowna (Vernon, Penticton, and area) many more times in my lifetime to continue exploring this gorgeous region of British Columbia!
1. Visit a Winery (but make it an Art Gallery Winery)
Lots of people visit the Okanagan for its wine, the Napa Valley of the North, they call it. As such, there are many wineries to choose from, but during our AMA Travel + Best Western visit, we chose to try Liquidity Wines located about an hour south of Kelowna in Okanagan Falls.
Liquidity Wines is one of the most unique wineries in the Okanagan because it also doubles essentially as an art gallery!
So if you’re a fan of art, this winery is extremely up your alley (it certainly was up ours!)
Liquidity has permanent and seasonal sculptures and paintings. Each year they hold different art exhibits and also run art events, talks, and nights with artists. The winery itself has 100 pieces they rotate into the space depending on time of year.
Manager Ian MacDonald is incredibly passionate about art and curates all the artwork in the winery. We loved listening to Ian talk about Liquidity, its art and how it stands out from the other wineries—the entire winery is designed around art and the love of art rings through fully.
Liquidity has a lovely bistro with outdoor patio seating overlooking basically your quintessential Okanagan winery scene. Like you imagine the winery scene with rolling green hills and blue sky people in an art class would typically paint, this is the view you get on the patio of Liquidity Bistro.
Their Cubano sandwich is delicious but the star of the meal we had at Liquidity Bistro was the Chef Selection Charcuterie Board which was one of the best charcuterie boards I’ve ever eaten, honestly, featuring duck ham, tuscan salami, duck pate, truffled gouda and tiger blue cheese, pickled vegetables (including pickled strawberries!), and B.C.-grown grains.
Paired with their Viogner white or Chardonnay, made for an absolutely perfect meal.
Liquidity has a tasting bar in the main section of the winery but they also have a separate tasting room which is extra unique because your’e allowed to bring pets inside!
They find a lot of travellers through the Okanagan will bring their best fur buds with them and depending on time of year, heat makes it difficult for people to truly enjoy their wine experience if they’re also thinking about whether their pet is okay in the vehicle so this tasting room allows dogs!
It also features more amazing art. Seriously, there is so much great artwork and art eye candy to see at Liquidity. You’ll find beauty in the vineyard outside and beauty in the artwork inside!
If you’re planning a day of winery visits / a winery crawl, I would suggest starting with Liquidity as your furthest south option and then wind your way back north to Kelowna. Alternatively, if you’re not really into wine or winery, but still want to visit because it sounds like such a cool spot (and it is!) you could include Liquidity in your plans if you’re headed to Penticton for the day as it’s not too far from Penticton!
Visiting Liquidity Wines was such a perfect Okanagan experience, made extra special with all of its impressive artwork. Learn more about Liquidity Wines.
2. Do a Beach Day and Go Tandem Parasailing on Lake Okanagan
I was excited for some beach/water activities during this Kelowna trip. Grab a book at the Kelowna Indigo (they also sell beach floaties, blankets, towels and beach mats!) and lay out in the sand and water for a half day (or full day, or multiple days..)
I picked up a cute pink floatie for just $3.50 from the dollar store, a lovely beach mat for $20 at the Indigo (comes with head rest!) plus books (and snacks) and had an amazing time basking in the sun at the downtown City Park Kelowna beach (however there are many beaches to choose from in Kelowna!)
Side note: you can also fill up a floatie easily using the air machines at Esso gas stations!
If you want to be a bit more active and adventurous in the water then look no farther than Ogopogo Parasail! Parasailing is when you go up in the sky suspended by something similar to a parachute. The chute (and you) are attached to and towed by a speed boat. You go pretty high in the sky (50-100 meters up above the water!) and you get an incredible perspective of Lake Okanagan and the Kelowna harbour.
I have to say parasailing looks scarier than it is—really. Parasailing is essentially just sitting in the sky! lol in fact when we looked at booking, one of the things that ‘sold us’ was the description: “If you can sit, you can sail!” Truly, once you’re hooked into the harness, all you’re doing is sitting and letting the chute and the boat do the rest of the work.
You can spring for a photo/video package as well. and get GoPro video and photos from your time up in the sky too (just note you’ll need an SD card reader to download the images. We do not have this so I can’t share cool parasailing photos quite yet lol), or bring your own camera equipment!) The ride does not last too long (about 15-20 minutes) and it is cheaper if you do it tandem with a partner!
Parasailing Lake Okanagan was fun and not scary at all! Be sure to get your feet dipped in the water too.
3. Find and Photograph Instagrammable Walls
As regular readers will know, I love exploring cities by finding and photographing their Instagrammable Walls!
And Kelowna is home to some really gorgeous walls—some murals, some colours (including a gorgeous pink Instagrammable Wall!!) Some pretty closely located downtown (for easy exploration).
Although we did not visit ALL the Instagrammable Walls in the city, there were enough walls we encountered during our Kelowna exploration for me to create a Guide to Instagrammable Walls of Kelowna, BC! Check out the blog post for more wall photos, locations and. artist information!
4. Visit the Kangaroo Creek Farm
I was surprised to learn that the Okanagan (Lake Country, just outside of Kelowna), is home to kangaroos!
The Kangaroo Creek Farm is a lovely little farm in Lake Country home to kangaroos, wallabys, capybaras, emus, and other animals you wouldn’t necessarily find elsewhere in Canada (along with some you would—like goats at their petting zoo area).
The owner of the Kangaroo Creek Farm apparently rescued 10 kangaroos in 1989, brought them back to Kelowna, and since then has bred and rescued more ‘roos for the farm.
Today there are over 50 kangaroo/wallabys at Kangaroo Creek Farm!
The farm is open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day, rain or shine. They are cash only and located down a fairly steep hill (just a heads up). There are farm rules to ensure the safety and happiness of the animals so be sure to read the signs (or read their website) before your visit.
We went on a weekday afternoon which is highly advisable—it was pretty busy during our visit but not really crowded in any given spot, and not too crowded around any one animal either. I can imagine it would get a bit hectic during weekends, so if you can. try to avoid that, why not? lol.
You can literally go right up to the ‘roos and pet them. It’s a really cool experience—they are SO chill (and used to humans).
All staff we encountered at Kangaroo Creek Farm were extremely friendly and knowledgeable about the animals (in particular, Brad! Thanks Brad!)
As mentioned, the farm / staff set solid ground rules about how you should be interacting with the kangaroos which is great, and if you’re lucky, you might get to hold a BABY KANGAROO!!! (called a “joey” lol). Holding a joey (or almost holding a joey, where they hold it by you and get out of your shot lol), depends on time of year, number of joeys available, and crowds.
Visiting the Kangaroo Creek Farm was a ton of fun and highly recommended for your trip!
5. Eat good, local food
I’m happy to report that our Kelowna trip was filled with good, local eats! Wherever I travel, it’s important to me to find restaurants you can only try in that area. Here’s some of the great food we had in Kelowna:
- Japanese food at Mabui Sushi Izakaya: highly recommend the Yuji cold noodle summer salad, fried angel hair pasta with sea salt appetizer, and assorted sashimi!
- Soup, sandwich and Mac n Cheese at Little Hobo Soup & Sandwich Shop. Affordable, adorable, with tasty food and generous portion sizes.
- Hand-crafted premium ice cream using locally-sourced ingredients from Parlour Ice Cream. We got matcha and mango but they have lots of unique flavours!
- Korean food at Bon Ga Korean Cuisine: The Budae Jjigae Kimchi Stew is perfect. The Jeyuuk Bokkeum barbecue pork with vegetables in spicy sauce is extremely spicy lol (even for us, spice fiends. Ask for less spicy if possible lol)
- Pea and mint, spruce smoked butter risotto, arctic char, stable fish and well, lots more from RauDZ Regional Table.
- Local B.C. fruit at any fruit stand! Do a U-Pick or just pop into a fruit stand, orchard or farm and grab 20 lbs of cherries like we did, lol. No shortage of spots for fresh fruit in B.C.!
- The charcuterie (Chef’s Selection of meat and Cheeses with pickled vegetables, breads and crisps) from Liquidity Wines!
- Free hot, complimentary, all you can eat breakfast from Best Western Plus Kelowna Hotel & Suites (more on that when I write about ‘Where to Stay’ below lol)
There’s a few reasons why I loved this Kelowna Best Western Plus:
- They have a truly gorgeous courtyard, and you can get rooms that overlook said gorgeous courtyard
- They have an eight-floor tower with balconies giving you nice city views of Kelowna. I feel like most Best Westerns I’ve stayed at are limited to a few floors, not this one!
- They have complimentary hot, all you can eat breakfast! All Best Western Plus hotels offer this so it’s a wonderful perk. My go-to is bacon, sausage, hard boiled egg, and hash browns, plus juice. All the juice
- There are fridges so your Kelowna food adventure leftovers won’t go waste, a pool (floaties welcome!) and hot tub, and there’s also a BBQ out in the courtyard if you just want to cook some meals in with your family. Oh and it’s pet-friendly!
- They are considered a ‘Green Hotel’ and have implemented a lot of sustainable initiatives, including having one of the largest and most advanced solar hybrid water-heating systems in all of Canada!
The Best Western Plus Kelowna Hotel & Suites is super conveniently located less than 10 minutes from downtown Kelowna, right off the main highway to get you to anywhere in the Okanagan, and also very close to the Instagrammable Pink Wall lol.
If you’re an AMA member, there’s some extra incentives for booking Best Western! AMA members save up to 15% on room rates at Best Western® Hotels in the U.S., Canada and Best Western hotels worldwide.
The Best Western Plus was a lovely spot to stay in Kelowna (and I really can’t rave enough about Best Western Plus’ hot complimentary breakfast). Our room was spacious, clean, had a heated towel rack (!!!) and depending on your room, balconies in the bedroom as well as off the main room. Staff are also very friendly!
Be sure to take advantage of those cheaper room rates with your AMA card!!
We had an amazing visit to the Okanagan, a great stay at the Best Western Plus Kelowna Hotel & Suites, and saw some really cool stops along the way. I hope some of what we did helps you plan your visit!
I’ll also be blogging about 24(ish) hours in Vernon, B.C. too so stay tuned for that! There’s many awesome things to do in Vernon and I would highly recommend you include Vernon in your Okanagan plans too!
Now for the giveaway!
** GIVEAWAY **
Enter to win an AMA Travel + Best Western Road Trip Prize Pack including:
- 25,000 Best Western Rewards Points to cover your stay*
- $250 Esso Gift Card so you don’t have to worry about gas**
- $50 Superstore Gift Card to cover your road trip snacks***
* Best Western Rewards is Best Western’s loyalty program where you can earn points that are redeemable for stays at any Best Western, gift cards and more.
Every $1 US = 10 Best Western Rewards points. These points don’t expire and 20,000 typically cover a stay however points required per stay will vary depending on what Best Western location you choose!
** Did you know: AMA members can get reloadable Esso cards at AMA Centres that earn them 5% back in AMA reward dollars. The cards can be used to purchase gas, car washes, snacks, etc. at Esso!
*** If you purchase Superstore gift cards at an AMA centre, you get 5% back in AMA reward dollars!
(An AMA Reward dollar is equal to $1 and can be spent on travel, movie tickets, memberships etc.)
NOTE: The winner of this giveaway must be or become a Best Western Rewards member in order to redeem your points.
TO ENTER FOR A CHANCE TO WIN THIS AMA TRAVEL + BEST WESTERN PRIZE PACK:
- Follow me + AMA Travel + Best Western on Instagram:
- Leave a comment on my AMA Travel + Best Western Instagram post telling me a “road trip tip” and tagging a friend you’d go on a road trip with
- Leave a comment on this blog post telling me that you’ve followed the three Instagram accounts and have left a comment on the Instagram post. You can also share your road trip tip in the comments here if you’d like!
Note: comments are moderated so if your comment does not appear on the blog right away, don’t worry about it!
Following me, AMA Travel and Best Western on Instagram, leaving a comment on Instagram and this blog post are mandatory to enter this give away.
You can also receive additional bonus entries by doing the following:
- Liking our accounts on Facebook: /AMATravel + /BestWestern + /LindaHoangBlog
- Following our accounts on Twitter: @AMATravel + @BestWestern + @lindork
- Tweet the following message: Headed to Kelowna, B.C? Check out @lindork’s Travel Guide on What to Do, Where to Stay, and What to Eat! & enter to win her @AMATravel + @BestWestern Road Trip Prize Pack too! Details: http://bit.ly/2GvyQNF #yeg #yyc #ylw #ExploreKelowna #ExploreBC
- Leave a comment on my Facebook post, tagging a road trip buddy to spread the word about the giveaway!
If you do any of the bonus entry actions, please also let me know when you leave your comment so I can include it in all entries received! :)
I will randomly select ONE winner from all entries received by Aug 18, 2019.
Good luck, and thank you to AMA Travel + Best Western for arranging this awesome road trip / hotel prize pack and for sponsoring my trip to and activities in Kelowna! If you found this post useful, please share it!
And be sure to read a few of my other Kelowna blog posts!
Disclaimer: My July 2019 visit to Kelowna was sponsored by AMA Travel and Best Western. This does not impact opinions stated in this post! We chose all of our food, sightseeing and activities and truly enjoyed each stop!! The Okanagan is gorgeous and I can’t wait to get back there to explore more!!