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Okanagan Wine Country

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Okanagan Vineyard

Okanagan Vineyard

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Vineyard Field

Vineyard Field

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Couple by Okanagan Lake

Couple by Okanagan Lake

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If you think that "wine country" and "British Columbia" have as much in common as "beaches" and "the Arctic," think again. The Okanagan region, roughly five hours east of Vancouver by car or one hour by air, has earned another moniker: "Napa of the North," for its award-winning blends. Admittedly, wine production is a literal drop in the bucket compared to that of the Napa Valley; but still, the Okanagan is a magnet for wine enthusiasts—novice and expert alike.Its lakeside and scenic vineyards aren't the Okanagan's only draw. Add to that the region’s arid summer climate, water activities, numerous golf courses, mountain trails, and abundant snow in winter, and you have a perfect short getaway from Vancouver and the British Columbia coast as well as a perfect setting for a longer stay.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, especially since each one has developed its own wine trail to accommodate visitors with time constraints. That said, with approximately 200 wineries throughout the Okanagan, each area also offers enough to occupy several days of tasting.As more urbanites, celebrity chefs, and city escapees discover the Okanagan's year-round appeal, the region's restaurants, amenities, and services are growing in sophistication, with wineries taking the lead. Many of them have created unique places to stay as well as spectacular destination dining on patios, in-house, and even safari-style, in the middle of the vineyards themselves.It may only be about 125 km (75 miles) between Kelowna and Osoyoos, but wine touring, when coupled with unexpected digressions such as visiting a garden in spectacular bloom, an art studio, or a historic site along the way, can turn a two-hour sojourn into a full day of meandering adventure. Just be sure to stop by one of the roadside stalls to pick up a pint of cherries, a box of apricots, apple chutney, peach jam, and honey.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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The Region’s Award-Winning Wines
The Region’s Award-Winning Wines

Begin at the British Columbia Wine Museum in Kelowna, then sample vintages by visiting acclaimed wineries such as Burrowing Owl and Mission Hill.

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Getty Images

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Original Residents
Original Residents

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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Rolf Hicker Photography/Alamy

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Lake Okanagan: A Summer Hot Spot
Lake Okanagan: A Summer Hot Spot

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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Arpad Benedek/Getty Images

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7 Travel Essentials

Find out why Samantha Brown recommends traveling with melatonin, comfy socks and other necessities.

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Kettle Valley Steam Railway: Ride Into History
Kettle Valley Steam Railway: Ride Into History

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.

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Andre Jenny/Alamy

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5 Tips for Booking Last-Minute Travel

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.

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Okanagan’s Finest Scenery
Okanagan’s Finest Scenery

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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Darryl Leniuk/Radius Images/Corbis

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Stay Healthy on a Plane

Alcohol and seat pockets are not your friends. Use this advice to avoid getting sick on a plane.

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