Summer in Alberta can be so short (my furnace was still on in early July) that, sometimes, we have to lengthen it with a guaranteed blast of heat in a spot like Kelowna, B.C., that boasts of 2,000 hours of sunshine a year. Not wanting to spend one moment indoors (here are two we love), we went to Kelowna on a weekend jaunt from Calgary. Lakeside terraces had us sipping wine slushies; downtown tap houses left us muscling in for a craft beer; a giant pool had us sampling wines in a cabana. Here are the top patios:
Not only does it boast of an organic winery, an organic restaurant, and a pyramid, but the views of Okanagan Lake from Summerhill’s outdoor patio is what makes it such a mind-blower. Perched high above the 135-km-long lake, framed by tidy rows of grapes, this is a fine place to unclip your bike shoes and relax over a jug of water and a flute of Cripes bubbly. Then, get down to business with a charcuterie platter (try not to horde the spicy bison sausage) and plate of Outlandish oysters (served with a little puddle of the vineyard’s own hot sauce) and you’ll be fuelled enough to finish cycling nearby Lakeshore Road. Or, and you wouldn’t be the first, you can join a tour of the winery and cool down inside the pyramid, to boot.
With the lake lapping the marina that’s smack in front of its 120-seat outdoor patio—Kelowna’s only heritage property—“The El” oozes white-washed Abercrombie & Fitch-like beach style as well as a signature cocktail, a Gewurztraminer Slushy. Set in a chubby glass, this ball of chilly slush fizzes with the wine that’s poured over it. Perfect for a late afternoon cool-down, this generous scoop of winey sorbet is best with a plate of their chili-spiced chicken wonton nachos, topped with caramelized onions and a smoky chipotle barbeque sauce and—if you’ve really burned a batch of calories—order a plate of crispy, curly calamari with fresh tzatziki.
Sometimes what you want at the end of a smokin’ bike ride in the hot, hot hills that rim Kelowna, is a chilly, tall beer. Nothing sweet. Nothing frothy. Just a tall, cold one — delivered to you under the shade of a market umbrella. The spanking new Mission Tap House & Grill on Pandosy delivers just that—20 craft beers on tap that look like vertical jewels in a glass. Ambers, rubies, black onyx and my favourite, a Lost Coast Tangerine Wheat Ale that not only looked slivered orange in a glass but tasted citrusy. Of course they have feature cocktails, from Strawberry Fields (with u-pick fresh strawberries muddled to perfection) to Absinthe Appletini (that uses a local apple cider) to a Celery Cilantro Cooler, but a tangerine beer and chicken burger (layered with a roasted sausage and fennel dressing plus a smear of cranberry jelly and lemon aioli) was precisely what this biker, who’d clocked 70 km in the heat, wanted.
This is the granddaddy of properties in Kelowna—the 390-room lakeshore Delta Grand that’s built over a series of dainty lagoons and a stunning pool. With a resort vibe that you find in Mexico or the Caribbean, the bars are lively with outdoor terraces at the Grand Bay Café, poolside, and at Vines. If you’re at the latter, try to find Paul Clark, a sommelier who has spent 24 years in the wine trade. He’s your go-to guy if you’re looking to take home a few bottles of wine. Due to Paul and his terrific pairings with a delicious dinner of small plates—we brought home:
- a bottle of See You Later Syl Brut
- 2006 riesling from ExNihilo, located just above the Okanagan Centre
- 2010 Sandhill One
- a cab franc from Hester Creek
- a pinot noir from Tantalus Ridge
- and another pinot from Cedar Creek