Ecotourism has become the fastest growing segment of the travel industry, with the majority of travellers seeking eco-friendly experiences. BC is leading with way with nearly 100 tourism businesses certified by Green Tourism Canada. The Okanagan is rapidly becoming an ecotourism hotspot, with the creation of an electric highway, sustainability support from the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association and businesses that are committed to improving their environmental performance.
So if you’re planning a trip to the Okanagan this summer, here is a guide to having an eco-friendly vacation.
Where to stay
Start your trip by checking in at the Best Western Plus Kelowna Hotel and Suites located at 2402 Hwy 97 North, Kelowna, BC, Canada. Best Western Kelowna is the only Green Tourism Gold hotel in Kelowna, has a LEED Silver Environmental Wing, LED lighting and low-flow water fixtures throughout the 176 guest rooms and other facilities, a geothermal heating and cooling system, along with several other sustainability initiatives.
What to do
To have an eco-friendly vacation, you will actively be making choices to support businesses and organization that have sought out third-party sustainability certification or advice (like Green Tourism Canada), have taken steps to improve their environmental impact and are doing activities that tread lighter on the planet. You can do your part by carrying your own coffee mug, refillable water bottle and make a point to walk, cycle or take transit as much as possible. Now, for your Okanagan adventures…here are our eco-friendly suggestions.
Central Okanagan Day Trips
Enjoy a late breakfast at The Bohemian Café and Catering Co. downtown Kelowna on Bernard Ave, The Bo offers delicious local foods and homemade jams in a unique and eclectic environment. Ready to taste some wine? Stoll over to Andrew Peller Ltd. (Calona Vineyards and Sandhill) located at 1125 Richter St. Kelowna, BC. Producing wines for a variety of vineyards, all brands under Andrew Peller have a strong focus on sustainable farming practices. Then walk towards the lake and along Waterfront Park, all the way to Hot Sands Beach, admiring the marina and stopping to soak in the sun, sand and buskers along the way. Pop into Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery on Bernard Ave. for a tour and tasting and then stop across the street at Kelly O’Bryan’s Neighborhood Restaurant, located in a heritage building on the corner of Water Street and Bernard Ave. for a cold drink and some pub fare. As a Green Tourism Bronze member, Kelly O’Bryan’s is committed to reducing waste and are testing composting solutions.
While staying at the Best Western you have access to BBQs. Why not hit up the Kelowna Farmer’s Market on Wednesday and Saturday mornings for some beautiful local produce on you way up to Summerhill Pyramid Winery? The family owned winery has a deep commitment to organic and biodynamic practices (4870 Chute Lake Road, Kelowna, BC). Have lunch at the Sunset Bistro, and then stop at Codfathers Seafood Market on your way back to the hotel to pick up some certified Ocean Wise seafood (where all the local chefs shop). Cook up a delicious BBQ meal like a pro while enjoying the Best Western’s beautiful courtyard.
Start your day with a hike in Kalamoir Regional Park, then start the Westside Wine Trail along Boucherie Road. Make sure you stop at Little Straw Vineyards, a Bronze Green Tourism member that uses farm animals take care of the fertilizers and food scraps. Finish your day at Waterfront Wines on Sunset Drive downtown Kelowna. Voted Okanagan’s Best Restaurant eight years in a row by Vancouver Magazine Restaurant awards, Waterfront wines partners with passionate local food producers to serve the very best local and organic delights on their award-winning menu.
Where to bask in nature
It won’t be hard to find the numerous parks and beaches in the Central Okanagan. But no stay in Kelowna is complete without a hike up Knox Mountain or along Mission Creek Regional Park’s greenway.
North Okanagan Day Trip
Spend a day getting to know Vernon. Head north on Highway 97 and visit Planet Bee Honey Farm and Meadery. Pop next door to Davison Orchards, and take in some agri-tourism delights where you can meet some farm animals and try the homemade pies and apple juice. Don’t forget to stop for a dip at the gorgeous Kalamaka Lake.
South Okanagan Day Trips
There is a lot to see in the South Okanagan, so you may want to plan two day trips south. Here are our suggestions.
Penticton to Summerland
Drive south to Naramata to visit Jorg and Anette, owners of Maple Leaf Spirits. They use fruit “seconds” to reduce food waste while producing high quality spirits, see what’s green about Maple Leaf Spirits. Enjoy lunch at Local Lounge and Grille in Summerland, and finish up the day with wine tastings at Saxon Winery and Dirty Laundry Vineyard.
Oliver and Osoyoos
Head south to Oliver where you can visit Black Hills Estate Winery and Oliver Twist Estate Winery. Head further south to Osoyoos and visit the N’K’Mip Desert Cultural Centre. Built of rammed earth and concrete, the building design addresses the sustainability needs of the Great Basin Desert in which it’s situated. Finally, finish up your wonderful day at Burrowing Owl Estate Winery in Osoyoos. As one of two Gold Green Tourism Certified wineries, Burrowing Owl is doing an exceptional job operating as sustainably as possible, (with solar heating, geothermal and sustainable farming practices), and as leading advocates for local wildlife conservation through the Burrowing Owl Conservation Society. Watch the sunset while tasting the seasonal, locally crafted menu items in the restaurant and sipping the flavorful abundance of wines.
While you’re travelling, don’t forget to be a responsible guest and steward to the places you are visiting. Read WWF’s blog for more eco-friendly travel tips