Living in the Okanagan is great. The views are drool worthy! There are farmlands, orchards, vineyards, and beaches, all cohabiting with urban areas, and all with the backdrop of mountains. Not to mention, Okanagan Lake. Like I said, drool worthy!
The lifestyle and culture in Kelowna are in a league of their own.
In a day, you could be on the water, then be golfing, or maybe zip lining. Walk the boardwalk downtown and snap a photo with the sails or with the Ogopogo. And, you could finish off the day by visiting a winery, orchard, or get lost on a road and then randomly end up surrounded by farmland and farm animals. There are suspiciously a lot of llamas on the farms in Kelowna, in case you haven’t noticed.
But living in paradise always has a catch, it’s a tad expensive.
Or at least from my point of view, it is. I’m an early 20-something adult, who transplanted here from Saskatchewan around 3 years ago.
The cost of housing, medical premiums, car payments, bills, and the overall cost of just generally living, all begin to add up to a nightmare-inducing cost. Or maybe I’m just realising the soul-crushing ‘benefits’ of being an ‘adultier’ adult — yay! Either way, enjoying the experiences Kelowna and the Okanagan have to offer can put a pretty big dent in your wallet.
If you’re penny-pinching, saving up for something awesome, adding to your savings account, or just being frugal, don’t worry! There are ways to get the ‘Kelownafornia’ experience without having to take out a loan.
There are tons of free things to do here!
Beaches, parks, hiking, wine tasting, and more! (Actually not 100% sure if wine tasting is free. Google is awesome for life’s unanswered questions)
For the sake of saving money, my two roommates and I decided to spend the day taking advantage of all the freebies Kelowna had to offer.
If you want to use our experience as a possible map to cheap adventure and entertainment, feel free.
We started the day by sleeping in, it’s always recommended to get a good night’s rest before a day of shenanigans. Then we headed to Knox Mountain, one of Kelowna’s exercise watering holes. There are two trails as far as I know on Knox Mountain — Apex and Paul’s Tomb.
Apex will get you all hot and bothered, heavy breathing included. It’ll test your willpower and your booty. When you’re hiking, you’ll have a mantra of “why am I putting myself through this?!” marching through your head, but, when you make it to the top, it’s worth it. I mean, you just hiked a mountain, that’s something to be proud of! Plus, the view.
Paul’s Tomb is great if you plan on going for a bit of a longer hike. The end of the trail opens up to the lake, which is a phenomenal site. Just a warning, though, Paul’s Tomb is a breeze starting out, but when you head back, some parts of it are pretty damn steep. Always pack water, and bring a friend to piggyback you when times get tough.
Then we headed downtown, hoping to see some street performers. None were to be seen this day, but as the warmer weather continues, performers of all types flock to the Okanagan and you’re sure to catch a free fire juggling performance or two!
We hit the boardwalk, taking in the scenery, and did the typical tourist photo op with the Ogopogo statue. Not wanting to get precariously caught on a pub patio, we decided to keep the adventure moving.
We wanted to check out a winery so we headed to the House of Rose, but we got lost. We ended up driving down Hall Road, and came across a pond full of turtles! There were big turtles, and turtles the size of a tooney. Describing the experience as adorable doesn’t give those reptiles the proper justice! (I know, I’m shocked turtles technically aren’t amphibians, too!) One day, you need to go there, just for the turtles.
Once back on the road, we successfully navigated to the House of Rose Winery. When arriving, my first impression was of a towering statue of a rose. Neato! Then, a wooden backdrop where you can stick your head in, make funny faces, and pretend to be the people painted on it while getting your picture taken.
The winery offers a self-guided tour, which was amazing because we got to see a bunch of baby grapes, still super small and green. One day to grow up to be in one of our wine bottles. It was a bittersweet moment.
After the tour, we headed into the shop to taste what the House of Rose had to offer. Maegan was our wine pourer, her proper title is probably a hostess, but I’m still new to this whole wine tasting business. Maegan poured wine like a wizard! As we sipped on Cool Splash Pinot, Grapes with Benefits, A Senior Moment and Rose ‘Eh’, Maegan regaled our troupe with why she was in the winery business. She loved the customer interaction, which showed, she was a people person. Shout out to Maegan! Two thumbs up girl!
But, this is where our free adventure took a wee bit of a turn – it went from free to ‘cheap-ish.’
Since I’m still fairly new to the practice of visiting wineries and their tastings, I wasn’t 100% sure what the policy was on whether or not you’re obligated to buy a bottle after tasting. If I didn’t buy from Maegan, after her fantastic explanations of what’s mixed in each bottle, I was going to feel guilty. So, I picked up a bottle of Rose ‘Eh’, which was under $20.
Since then, I’ve learned it’s a nice gesture to buy a bottle, or two, but you shouldn’t feel pressured to.
Overall, other than the gas burnt, I only ended up spending around $20.
With the money I saved on this cost cutting excursion, I was able to afford to buy that bottle of wine and sip on it while on a patio with friends.
My day of activities is just scraping the tip of the iceberg of what Kelowna and the Okanagan have to offer.
Just an internet search away, you too can get the ‘Kelownafornia’ experience, whatever you choose for it to be.
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