Sip and Chip Your Vacation in the Napa of the North
Canadian golf this early in the year? Believe it.
Arizona’s Sonoran Desert has forever painted the cacti-punctuated surrounds of Tucson, Phoenix and Scottsdale. Yet few realize that this complex ecosystem actually extends 1,500 miles north to the breathtaking panoramas of the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Canada.
With daytime temperatures already approaching the low 70s, next week marks the official season opener for numerous clubs in and around the Okanagan. Its world-class golf is all the incentive you need, yet there is so much more to experience, including these five can’t-miss suggestions:
1. Predator Ridge: This burgeoning resort community is anchored by a premier golf academy and 36 holes of explosive golf, including the mountain-styled Ridge Course (designed by Doug Carrick) and the wide-open Predator Course (Les Furber). Amenities also include luxury accommodations, fine dining, fitness center, tennis, hiking trails and guest access to nearby Sparkling Hill Resort (see below). Located near Vernon, Predator Ridge’s golf season starts April 8. Bonus golf besties: Okanagan Golf Club, Harvest Golf Club, Gallagher’s Canyon and The Rise.
Photo: Predator Ridge, © Chris Duthie
Photo: Okanagan Golf Club, © Chris Duthie
2. Sparkling Hill Resort: Set mountaintop high with breath-stealing views of Okanagan Lake, the 149-room Sparkling Hill Resort is also Canada’s largest spa—a $140-million, 40,000-square-foot, European-style wellness facility that includes full-body, 166-degrees-below-zero cryotherapy for relieving rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases.
Photo: Sparkling Hill Resort, © Chris Duthie
3. Okanagan Valley Wine: From Osoyoos to Kelowna to Vernon, this 132-mile-long smorgasbord of grape growers is “Napa of the North,” home to more than 200 astonishingly delicious wineries including premium labels like Burrowing Owl, CedarHill, Gray Monk, Jackson-Triggs, Laughing Stock, Mission Hill, Nk’Mip Cellars, Painted Rock, Summerhill and Osoyoos Larose.
Photo: © Chris Duthie
4. Vernon City Art Tour: After a delicious nosh at one of Vernon’s many eclectic restaurants, take a walking tour of the city’s 27 street-side wall murals—some as large as 300 feet by 40 feet high—depicting the history, culture, scenery and folklore of this amazing area. Free guided tours available Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Bonus activities: Wildcraft Forest Wild Tea Plantation in Lumby, mountain bike park riding at Silver Star Resort near Vernon, and Farm to Table Tours in Kelowna.
Photo: © Chris Duthie
5. Search for Ogopongo: Ogopongo is to 84-mile-long Okanagan Lake what Nessie is to Scotland’s Loch Ness. Search for the elusive and legendary water serpent in style aboard the 42-passenger Spirit of the Okanagan, berthed in Vernon. Lake amenities also include fishing, scuba diving, waterskiing, sailboating, kayaking, canoeing and stand-up paddle boarding.
Chris Duthie is a contributor to Colorado AvidGolfer, the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it. It publishes eight issues annually and proudly delivers daily content via www.coloradoavidgolfer.com.