While wineries and lakeside activities have justly earned their place in the spotlight of Kelowna’s tourism industry, I learned that the city is also rife with art and cultural attractions.
When I first arrived in the city, I couldn’t help but notice all of the murals and statues that seemed to pop up everywhere. Soon enough I found out that they were all part of a larger public art display set up to create culturally-enriched public areas.
While in Kelowna, I made it a mission to visit as many of the 59 displays as I could. This mission not only allowed me to see some fantastic artwork, it also provided a good tour around the rest of the city centre. I toured around the Bear, Spirit of Sail and Ogopogo statues near City Park and Kelowna’s downtown waterfront.
In doing so, I also stumbled upon the Kasugai Gardens. These Japanese gardens were created to honour Kelowna’s sister city, Kasugai and provided a serene escape from the downtown core.
Steps from the gardens, I found the Rhapsody dolphin statue and the Kelowna Art Gallery. Luckily for me, I arrived on a Thursday, when entrance to the gallery is free, compliments of the Delta Grand Okanagan Resort. While the gallery was fairly small, it featured three fantastic exhibits by local and Canadian artists (no photos were allowed in the gallery however).
After the gallery, I was revved up for more cultural sightseeing and made way to the nearby BC Orchard Industry Museum. Another quick stop, the free museum featured displays about the packing, processing, home preserving, picking and marketing of orchard produce across BC.
After my previous wine touring expeditions, I couldn’t help but check out the BC Wine Museum & VQA Wine Shop, which was conveniently located right next door to the Orchard Industry Museum. My timing also could not have been better, as I arrived on the first Thursday of the month, when the museum holds a popular – and complimentary wine tasting from 4-6pm. I was able to taste several different wines from River Stone Estate Winery in Oliver, BC as well as learn a bit about the history of BC’s wine industry and be able to purchase over 600 listings of wine from over 90 BC wineries.
Next up on my cultural immersion expedition was a trip just north of the city to Kangaroo Creek Farm. While kangaroos aren’t exactly native to Kelowna, I was far too tempted with the idea of getting up close with some roos to pass it up. The farm has been breeding kangaroos and wallabies for over 20 years and as a non-commercial enterprise, operates 100% by donation. The farm is open from 9am-2pm and 6:30pm-9pm in July and August and 10am-2pm during the rest of the year.
While I was there, I got the chance to cuddle up to Django, a young kangaroo and get close to wallabies, emus, peacocks and capybaras. It was the ultimate petting zoo experience. All of the animals are kept in appropriate conditions suited for them all year round and have been gently trained to get used to human interaction. During the day, they get sufficient exercise roaming around open areas instead of being stuck in cages, like in zoos.
Altogether, Kelowna has a much more diverse spectrum of attractions than I originally imagined and I would highly recommend anyone to check out all that the city has to offer.