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The Okanagan Valley is what gives Kelowna special appeal along with golf, watersports, snow sports and wine, wine, wine. It sits at the halfway point on Lake Okanagan, a narrow serpent-shaped body of water that runs 111 km north to south through Canada’s only true desert region. At 230 metres deep, the lake could easily accommodate the legendary Ogopogo prehistoric creature that is fabled to lurk in its depths.

The first thing you notice when landing in Kelowna is how much warmer it feels, especially in Spring when the hills which surround the city explode with colour and fragrance from blossoming trees – apple, cherry, peach, plum, apricot and even kiwi fruit. Vineyards which pattern vast tracks of land above the lake, paint the land a soft green. Golf courses, and there are many in this area, are in mint condition.

The valley is protected from the west by the Cascade Mountains and to the east by the Monashees where most of the precipitation takes place and where the areas three major ski resorts are located. Of these Big White, with its own village, is the largest and closest to Kelowna.

Kelowna’s community of all season resorts, condo developments and vineyards has spread faster than a proverbial wildfire. Mild winters and tinder dry conditions in summer make a popular destination and the most difficult think will be deciding how to spend the day. Kelowna is Napa Valley North, with more than 65 vineyards and wineries in the valley, 12 within a few minutes drive.

Touring the vineyards and sampling excellent vintages is a great pastime. The other big attraction, besides watersports, is golf.

Kelowna lists more than 12 nearby golf courses of 50 within the valley and can boast of five championship courses.

Spring in Kelowna is wonderful and welcoming respite from the harsh brown prairie spring and dull gray winters of the BC Coast. It is also less crowded and except for swimming, visitors can partake in all the activities available in summer. That’s when markets and roadside stands are overloaded with freshly picked fruit. The tomatoes in August are addictive. A favourite family pastime is taking advantage of the pick-your-own farms and plucking fruit right from the tree.

Kelowna is festival city and in summer most of the events happen in the evening after sunset. The city boasts lots of galleries, theatres, craft studios, and good shopping at small boutiques and larger malls. Agri-tourist farmers offer growers tours and tastings. Within the city you can explore a lavender farm and a 100-year-old orchard that pioneered the region’s iced apple cider. Or you can travel a few miles away to enjoy a delicious lunch, superb wines in an elegant restaurant with a spectacular view of the Lake. With its predictable warm summer evenings, there are dozens of excellent places to dine al fresco, outdoor pubs and cafes and bars with live music.

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