If you think that "wine country" and "British Columbia" have as much in common as "beaches" and "the Arctic," think again. The British Columbia region known as the Okanagan, roughly five hours east of Vancouver by car or one hour by air, is a significant wine-producing area. It calls itself the "Napa of the North," and although that's stretching the truth somewhat—Okanagan wine production is a literal drop in the bucket compared to that of the Napa Valley—the Okanagan is a magnet for wine enthusiasts, novice and expert alike.Add to that the region's arid summer climate, lake activities, golf courses, and abundant snow in winter and you have a perfect short getaway from Vancouver and the British Columbia coast.The Okanagan's wineries are concentrated in three general areas: around the city of Kelowna and north toward Vernon, along the Naramata Bench outside the town of Penticton, and in the area between Oliver and Osoyoos, just north of the U.S. border. If you're planning a short trip, you might want to stick to just one of these areas. Although it's only about 125 km (75 miles) between Kelowna and Osoyoos, it takes about two hours to drive between them. With approximately 200 wineries throughout the Okanagan, each area has enough to occupy several days of tasting.The Okanagan's sandy lake beaches and hot dry climate have long made it a family-holiday destination for Vancouverites and Albertans, and the region is still the fruit-growing capital of Canada.
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Things You Can't Miss
Begin at the British Columbia Wine Museum in Kelowna, then sample vintages by visiting acclaimed wineries such as Burrowing Owl and Mission Hill.
The Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre in Osoyoos interprets local First Nations culture and art, and includes hiking trails through sagebrush habitat.
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At 84 miles long, this scenic lake has plenty of room for boaters, anglers and water-skiers. Miles of sandy beaches offer great swimming and sunning.
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Find out why Samantha Brown recommends traveling with melatonin, comfy socks and other necessities.
A restored 1912 locomotive provides the power for a 10-mile trip from Summerland, a journey complete with music and a grand view of Lake Okanagan.
If you are willing to, well OK, fly by the seat of your pants, there are plenty of great last-minute vacation bargains to be had. Here are a few strategies to help you get the best deal on a fabulous trip.
Hop on a bike or don hiking shoes, and hit on the Kettle Valley Rail Trail. One popular stretch crosses several trestles in Myra Canyon near Kelowna.
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Alcohol and seat pockets are not your friends. Use this advice to avoid getting sick on a plane.
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