This postcard-perfect lake town is nestled in Canada's Okanagan Valley, home to more wineries than Walla Walla and better snow than Whistler. And you found it first.
Author Jacqueline Detwiler Photography Michael Hanson
DAY THREE It’s a struggle to leave the view from your room at the Eldorado, but seeing all the boats in their slips reminds you that Kelowna has free Sunday parking, so you drive downtown to check out the shops. On Pandosy Street, you stumble upon Pulp Fiction Coffee House, which provides you with a crumbly blueberry “scrumpet” and a creamy cappuccino to enjoy as you flip through covers of racy 1950s dime-store novels. Across the street is the winsome boutique Olive & Elle, where you pick up some French-style soaps and red plaid flannel blankets as gifts.
Outside, you meet up with a local who’s agreed to drive you around for the afternoon. You’re planning to visit a few of Kelowna’s famous wineries, and you want to be able to taste as much as you like. The first stop is Quails’ Gate, a homey oak-and-brick affair with a roaring fireplace and a tasting room overlooking the vines in their ranks. A friendly attendant pours you some delicate riesling and a rich, spicy pinot noir. Another specialty, you learn, is the Quails’ Gate chenin blanc, which was served to President Obama on his first visit to Canada, in 2009. You order a glass with your lunch of crab cakes and parsnip soup in the winery’s restaurant.
Next up: Mission Hill Family Estate, a grand Mediterranean-inspired hilltop palazzo. With vines located in five pockets all over the Okanagan Valley, Mission Hill can make anything from supremely light viogniers to heady bordeaux blends. You ask for a representative sample and then beeline it to the capacious courtyard to enjoy the view.
After returning to the Eldorado and indulging in a lengthy nap, you’re off to dinner at RauDZ, a restaurant that focuses on the bounty of the Okanagan, historically the breadbasket of British Columbia. You settle on venison carpaccio with apples and walnuts, and a veggie-stacked cheeseburger the size of your head. After all that wine, you’re thinking you might try something different to drink. Luckily, bartender Gerry Jobe has just the thing: the whiskey old-fashioned that won him the gold in a recent cocktail competition.
As he stands at your table filling a lantern with chocolate and tobacco smoke in preparation for mixing your cocktail, you marvel at the amount of time he’s spending on you. Come to think of it, you didn’t even make a reservation.
You wonder if the other kids really need to know that this particular playground exists. You take a sip of your cocktail. Let them have Whistler.
Brooklyn-based Hemispheres senior editor JACQUELINE DETWILER thinks New York City is like a giant playground that all the other kids have discovered.