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Kelowna Facts & History: Getting to Know Our City

East-facing Aerial view of Okanagan Lake in Kelowna and the surrounding mountains.

The Okanagan is home to some of the most sought-after vineyards, beaches and vacation destinations in the country. Every year over 2 million visitors flock to the valley, some for the first time and many for their annual summer and winter vacations. Kelowna has something for everyone, and it doesn’t take long to fall in love with our vibrant city. 

To help get you started, we’ve put together some local knowledge. Here are some common questions we get asked, as well as some resources to help you find your way around.

Kelowna Weather

For those who love the outdoors, Kelowna is known as an all-seasons playground. We have over 300 days of sunshine every year, and in the winter are spoiled with some of the best snowboarding and skiing conditions in the country. That’s not to say the weather doesn’t change quickly or unexpectedly. Whether you’re making plans for the afternoon, the weekend, or even sometime in the near future, it’s worthwhile taking a look at the Kelowna weather forecast. 

The Weather Network Kelowna does a great job of providing a short-term forecast, as well as an outline of what’s expected for the coming week. Their 3-Day Severe Weather Outlook includes thunderstorm, snowfall, freezing rain, wind and rainfall risk. 

Castanet, one of Kelowna’s most popular news sites, also includes a Kelowna weather forecast. Their Scenic Cameras page is one of our favourites for checking out what the weather looks like across the valley, in real time. 

Kelowna News

In addition to having great Kelowna webcams, is well known in the community for providing up to date local news. You can also use their website to browse real estate, look through Kelowna classifieds, buy a used car, check out local events and more. 

Other local Kelowna news sites include:

  •  Kelowna Now – popular for their Best of Kelowna contest, which awards local businesses gold, silver and bronze titles voted by the Kelowna community every year.
  • Kelowna Capital News – with links to local news, travel news, cannabis news, updates on the COVID-19 pandemic, and more.
  • Kelowna Daily Courier – offering print newspaper subscriptions delivered 5 days a week, along with their digital offering.
The Kelowna Sails and the downtown waterfront.
A snapshot of the Sails and downtown waterfront from a Castanet Kelowna webcam.

For Kelowna Classifieds, we also recommend checking out Kijiji to buy or sell cars, campers, boats and watercraft, tools, home and garden, furniture and more. You can also browse houses, apartments and condos to buy or rent in the area. 

Kelowna Air Quality

Being located in the heart of the Okanagan Valley, reduced air quality from surrounding wildfires is not uncommon during hot Kelowna summers. To support those at risk and the general public, the Regional Air Quality Program was born. This program is a joint initiative between the City of Kelowna, the surrounding cities, districts and the Westbank First Nation community. It seeks to protect and improve air quality in the Central Okanagan through education, awareness and pollution prevention.

Part of this program is the regional Air Quality Health Index. This platform shows viewers what the air quality is like today and what’s expected for tomorrow. Viewers can use this information to make informed decisions about their intended outdoor activities. You can even set up alerts through the WeatherCAN app, to be notified when conditions change directly to your phone. 

Downtown Kelowna and the William R. Bennett Bridge on a hazy summer day.
Downtown Kelowna and the William R. Bennett Bridge on a smoky day.

Fun Facts About Kelowna

One of our favourite things about traveling to a new city is learning about its history and culture. While the City of Kelowna website has you covered for just about anything you’re wanting to know, here are a few fun facts to get you started:

  • Kelowna is located on the traditional, ancestral, unceded territory of the Syilx/Okanagan people (visit Tourism Kelowna to learn more about the city’s Indiginous heritage). 
  • Our current Kelowna population is 156,784 people, making it the 3rd largest metro area in British Columbia (following Vancouver and Victoria).
  • The average age in Kelowna is 41.1 years old, making it a relatively older population. 
  • The average Kelowna temperature in the summer months is above 24 °C, while the average winter temperature is below 6 °C. 
  • The best time to visit Kelowna based on the Tourism Score is mid-July to early August for summer activities, though June and September are great months for those who prefer milder summer temperatures. 

Okanagan Lake

Okanagan Lake with Highway 97 on the left.
Okanagan Lake is offers a wealth of recreational activities in the summer and scenic views year round.

Kelowna summer memories are often made on the lake. From playing in the water at a beach or sitting at a restaurant patio overlooking the water, to enjoying boating and exciting water sports, Okanagan Lake is an integral part of Kelowna’s tourist experience. Some questions we often get asked are:

  • How deep is Okanagan Lake? – The depth of the lake is variable, with an average depth of 76 meters and a maximum depth of 230 meters. 
  • Can I swim across the lake? – Though Okanagan Lake is large and deep, it’s relatively narrow (4 – 5 km wide); if this challenge sounds appealing, we recommend signing up for Kelowna’s Across the Lake Swim. This annual event is the largest and longest running open water swim event in Canada, and provides a safe and fun way to swim across the lake. 
  • How cold is the water? – Lake Okanagan varies in temperature by season; you can find the current temperature online at Lakemonster (in Fahrenheit) and SeaTemperature (in Celsius). 
  • What’s the best beach? – With over 30 beaches in Kelowna, there are plenty to choose from. Our favourite beach (and one of Kelowna’s most popular) is Boyce-Gyro beach, which happens to be across the road from The Shore Kelowna. If you’re looking for more great options, we’ve put together a list of our favourites in The 7 Best Beaches in Kelowna.
  • Where can I rent a boat, kayak, paddleboard, etc.? – For all the different ways to have fun on the water this summer (and where to find rentals), be sure to check out our post on Summer Sports in Kelowna
  • What is the Ogopogo? – The Ogopogo is commonly known as the elusive lake monster that lives in Okanagan Lake, similar to the Loch Ness monster that lives in the Scottish highlands. Writer Lisa Kadane does a great job explaining the legend in BBC’s Canada’s mysterious lake monster.

Kelowna Museums

If you’re looking for some culture, there are a few different museums you can visit in town.

  • Okanagan Heritage Museum – A fascinating journey through the history of the Okanagan Valley, showcasing Indigenous heritage, early settler life, and the evolution of local communities.
  • Okanagan Military Museum – Through a curated collection of artifacts, exhibits, and stories, this Kelowna museum provides a poignant and educational experience, honouring the bravery and resilience of those who have served in the defence of Canada.
  • Okanagan Wine and Orchard Museum – A delightful exploration of the Okanagan’s evolution into a premier wine and fruit-growing hub. Learn about the history of vineyards, orchards, and winemaking, gaining insights into the cultivation techniques and cultural significance that have shaped this bountiful area.
  • Central Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame – A celebration of the achievements and legacies of local athletes, coaches, and sports contributors from the Central Okanagan region. Interactive exhibits and memorabilia offer a vibrant journey through the sporting history of the community, highlighting the passion and dedication that have left an indelible mark on the Canadian sports landscape.
  • Westbank Museum – This West Kelowna Museum exhibits artifacts and stories that encapsulate the evolution of West Kelowna, from its Indigenous roots and pioneer days to contemporary life.

Getting Around

Whether you’re a local or visitor to Kelowna, there are many ways to get around. Here are some common forms of transportation in Kelowna:

  • Car Rental Kelowna – if you’re flying into Kelowna, you can pick-up and drop-off at Enterprise Car Rental. You can rent ahead of time and select anything from a standard car to a convertible, truck, van, electric vehicle, and more. Other popular car rental companies include Budget and Avis.  
  • Kelowna Cabs – popular cab companies include Kelowna Cabs, Checkmate Cabs, and Current Taxi, where every cab is a Tesla. Book online or by phone for pick up right away, or book ahead to ride at a later date. 
  • Uber – One of the easiest and fastest ways to get around is to grab an Uber in Kelowna. You’ll have a ride waiting with just a few taps on your phone. No matter where you are in town or want to go, ubers are an easy way to get there. Download the app to get started.
  • Transit – the BC Transit Kelowna system provides bus services throughout Kelowna and the surrounding areas. You can plan your trip using their website schedules and maps, or plan in real-time using the Transit App, NextRide platform, or Google Transit.    
  • Kelowna ShuttlesKelowna Concierge offers complimentary hotel shuttles from the airport to select destinations. They also offer wine tour shuttles, transport to local ski hills, group shuttles and more. You can find more information about other shuttle companies and offerings at Kelowna Airport Transportation.
  • Limo Services – not a common form of transportation, but worth mentioning, is Kelowna’s limousine services. Being a popular location for weddings and events, Kelowna has quite a few businesses to choose from. White Star Limo and Kelowna Limousines are highly rated. 
  • Electric Bikes & Scooters – The Kelowna Bikeshare Micromobility Permit Program allows access for Kelowna residents to shared e-bikes and electric scooters. You’ll find these units situated throughout the city, available for rent through the providers connected app. You can unlock the bike or scooter by scanning the device through the app and pay via credit card to get going. When you’re done with it, you can leave the unit on the side of the sidewalk at your destination.
Overhead view of the city of Kelowna.
The City of Kelowna and Okanagan Lake.

Nearby Essentials

If you’re visiting town, it’s nice to have a list of essential businesses handy in case you need them. Here are some of the businesses that our guests inquire about:

  • Walk In Clinic Kelowna – there are many walk-in clinics in Kelowna and the surrounding area; the Medimap platform is helpful to view waiting times and see which clinics are open near your location.
  • ICBC Kelowna – while we hope you won’t require their services during your visit, Kelowna ICBC handles vehicle repair, crash and theft claims.
  • Kelowna VetMission Creek Animal Hospital is just down the road from The Shore, and offers a range of services for small animal medicine and surgery. 
  • Kelowna Hospital – only a 5-minute drive from The Shore, Kelowna General Hospital offers specialty medical care including 24-hour emergency services.
  • Tourism – if you’re looking for recommendations on places to go and things to see, Tourism Kelowna and HelloBC are great sources of information. The Kelowna Visitor Centre is also a great spot for some ideas. Our Letters From The Shore page also has a large collection of recommendations for food and fun in the Okanagan. 

Come Stay With the Locals

Located in an amenity-rich neighbourhood, The Shore Kelowna offers pet-friendly long-term accommodations.

The Shore is located in Kelowna’s popular Lower Mission neighbourhood, close to amenities and tourist attractions. We are built for extended stays, making a great home base for anyone wanting to explore our city. Pet-friendly and fully furnished, you’ll find everything you need for a comfortable and memorable time with us.

Explore our suites and apply today.