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Small City Guide: Kelowna, British Columbia / Part I

by Paige

Welcome to my home town! Smack dab in the middle of the Okanagan Valley (southern British Columbia), Kelowna is where I was made, and where I grew up. At that time, there wasn’t really that much going on here (except some wild nights of Canadian 5 pin bowling). Since I moved back a year and a half ago, I’ve been busy rediscovering, and in a lot of ways, meeting for the first time, the bustling little city it has become. (There are rumors abound that George Clooney bought a house here! We’re THAT big time.) It’s on a huge lake, that’s filled with a huge lake monster (as discussed in my first post), surrounded by big mountains, many trees, & over 50 wineries. It’s straight up gorgeous. Architecturally challenged perhaps, but still, lovely. The area it’s grown the most is in the cultural department. Better food, more variety of shops, & even more talented folks than before.

And note: that even though Kelowna is bigger than Burlington, this is going to be a smaller guide since I haven’t fully reconnected with all the areas yet. So I’m sure to miss some awesomeness, like I did with Burlington. Please feel free to share your favorite spots in the comments section of both city guides, in order to spread as much community love as possible!

I’m starting with one of the wonders of my local world.

Every Monday morning on my blog Paige + Modern, I post these small wisdoms that pop up almost weekly outside my local KLO corner market. Instead of using their sign to advertise big sales and weekly milk prices, they put up (letter by letter EVEN in the freezing cold winter months) little sayings, holiday wishes, and announcements for local music and theatre performances. I love them, and often find them catching me at the right time, like when I happen to have my crazy pants on trying to get everything ready for some guest blogging… (I wonder if they have any idea about the “keep calm & carry on” poster craze that is sweeping the land? I’m guessing not, which makes it that much cooler!)

And now…

Where to shop:

Funktional – This housewares & personal accessories mecca is owned & curated by Chantal Couture (pictured above). She stocks a wide selection of both local and import goods that will make you swoon, smile, or sparkle. Located on one of my favorite blocks in the heart of the cultural district. 107-1289 Ellis St. / 250.763.0477 Mon 12pm-4pm, Tues-Sat 10am-5:30pm, Sun 12pm – 4pm

Chai Baba – With over 75 kinds of loose leaf tea, a menu board full of inventive bevies, and a knowledgeable staff, this is THE stop for either stocking up the cupboard at home or settling in for some afternoon tea time. Owner Tina Marie Bouchet (pictured above right) has managed to create a space that is not only welcoming, but also well designed. With a gentle blend of Asian, Indian, modern, & hip-hop aesthetics, the shop feels fresh yet comfortable. They also make every effort to reduce their enviro footprint by using corn based biodegradable to-go cups and re-usable loose leaf tea packaging. I’m a firm believer that, like their motto claims, Chai Baba makes you happy! 104-1289 Ellis St. / 250.717.5616 Mon-Thurs 10am-6pm, Fri-Sat 10am-5pm, & Sun 12pm-5pm

DLuxe Boutique – This well chosen selection of fashion forward frocks always offers something new and exciting to add to the wish list. Denise Roberson, owner and couture curator (pictured above), runs an eclectic and elegant ship loaded to the gunnels with soft fabrics and great patterns/colors. Stop on by and see for yourself. Your wardrobe will thank you. 102-1289 Ellis St. / 250.869.0689 Mon-Fri 10am-6pm, Sat 10am-5pm, closed Sundays

Lois Lane Warehouse– If you can’t tell from the number of photos, this is one of my favorite spots in town. I’m an avid hunter of vintage modern housewares (It borders on obsession really… You can check out my findings at www.themodernhunter.etsy.com) and Lois Lane is the Ray to my Charles. This warehouse is chock-o-block full of all sorts of modern delights. A one stop shop for furniture, lighting, film props, funky housewares, and unique decor items. When you go, make sure you have time to wander un-rushed through the eras. And if you’re really good, owners Lois & Connor McCloskey (pictured above) might even take you up to the attic where hundreds of chairs lay waiting, to be called back into service. 1189 Ethel St. / 250.717.1011 Tues-Sat 11am-5:30pm, closed Sunday/Monday

Record Breaker – Connor from Lois Lane also runs, in the same building, a choice record shop filled with all eras of audibles. I recently found myself an avocado green record player from deep in the 70’s and I can’t wait to start my collection. 1189 Ethel St. / 250.717.1011 Tues-Sat 11am-5:30pm

Not pictured, but super worthy of a visit:

A. Woodside Design Gallery – owner Alissa Woodside has filled her downtown space with beautiful objects & jewelry, mostly by local artists/designers. And she hosts wonderful art shows that take turns shining on the walls. Go on and support local! 1561 Pandosy St. / 250.862.3817 Call for hours

Where to eat:

1. Farmers Market – Every Wednesday & Saturday an otherwise boring old parking lot springs to life. The Kelowna Farmers’ & Crafters’ Market is full of good eats & pretty treats. It’s the perfect thing to do on a warm & lazy (designated market) day. Be sure to stop by Om Natural’s booth to pick up some delicious spelt flour baked goods and all natural toothpaste & lip balm. Then swing on over to Rio Banner’s Curiodesigns booth to become the proud owner of one of her gorgeous recycled leather bags or wallets. Fun & fine shopping to be had by all! (market image from www.bbcanada.com) At the corner of Dilworth Dr. & Springfield Rd. (across from Orchard Park Mall)

2. Streaming Cafe – Open for just a few months now, this cafe offers something truly unique. Yes, they have good coffee and all the usual trappings, but what sets them apart is the slick design of the interior (pics to come later today when I feature a local couple who contributed to the look), and the platform they have created for musicians to showcase their sounds to a limitless audience. Every Friday & Saturday night they host performances by local & visiting bards, capturing these performances with some high tech A/V action, and sending said performances streaming into the intertubes to be viewed by anyone who darn well feels like it. And I think that’s pretty cool. 596 Leon Ave. / 250.980.0002 call for hours

3. The Bohemian Bagel Cafe – I’ll tell you a little secret about why this place is special to me… They gave me my very first job. (many years ago…) This kind of thing leaves a lasting impression. Owners Hans & Litti Birker were kind enough to put up with all my first timer missteps and as a result I have been a dedicated cheerleader of their culinary efforts since. But the more important reason that I and so many other people flock there, is because both the food and cool industrial-meets-countryside interior, are delicious. 363 Bernard Ave. / 250.862.3517 call for hours

4. Wasabi Izakaya – Japanese cuisine lives way up at the top of my foods-that-being-me-joy list, so when it’s good, it’s really really good for me. This fairly new addition to the downtown food scene is a shining star that always delivers. With a creative fusion menu that still bows respectfully towards authentic Japanese cooking, they manage to blend flavors that add an extra oomph to the classic sushi experience. If you’re smart, and I know you are, you’ll try the agedashi tofu salad. And if they are smart, which I know they are, they will have the big garage door ‘window’ open for you so you can feel the soft breeze with you munch away. Yum. 1623 Pandosy St. / 250.762.7788 call for hours

5. The Mad Mango Cafe – Don’t be fooled by the plain interior of this downtown staple. The food is fast, inexpensive, and very, very good. A rare combo these days. I usually like to get one of the super flavorful soups with the $4 veggie salad rolls (with extra homemade gluten-free peanut dipping sauce – no extra charge) and head to the park for a little lake gazing to go with my yummy grazing. 551 Bernard Ave. / 250.762.8988 opens at 7am daily

6. RauDZ – Dynamic culinary duo Rod Butters (born to be a chef, non?) and Audrey Surrao (wine & ground control master) recently converted their upscale, fine dining establishment, Fresco’s into a more relaxed & casual affair. Their new focus is on delivering, “fresh, local, & comfortable” food at more attainable prices, which will be a welcome evolution for many current market wallets I’m sure. The new interior is a nice mix of modern & minimal rustic which suits the menu very nicely. They have retained, from their Fresco’s days, their strict policy of using locally grown & raised foods as much as possible, which just tastes & feels better to me. I highly recommend trying it! 1560 Water St. / 250.868.8805 open 7 days a week from 4:30pm

Not pictured, but certainly not forgotten:

7. Waterfront Restaurant – I’ve only been to this popular restaurant & wine bar once, but my experience a good one. With an impressive wine list that features a great selection of the local vineyard offerings, it’s not hard to find a winning combination of dining & imbibing. Try the Tandoori Masala Spiced Calamari. You won’t be sorry. (And I think it’s important to note that despite it’s name, it’s not actually ON the water. But don’t let that deter you from an amazing meal in a lovely space.) 104-1180 Sunset Drive / 250.979.1224 open daily from 5pm

That’s it for Part I of ‘My Kelowna’ guide. And again, as I mentioned earlier, if you have anything to add that you feel should be included, please feel free to leave a comment. See you later on today for Part II: Meet the Makers!

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  • Looks like a beautiful small town!! That view is just gorgeous!! I’m going to put it on our list of travel places to go now… Thanks for sharing!!

  • Great guide! A gal I work with (in Iowa) is originally from Kelowna. She moved here for her husband. After reading your guide – I realize it must have been hard for her to leave! What a great little town :)

  • Yeah, that’s me, the gal in Iowa. I miss home and all it has. It has grown so much. I wish I knew about all those cool little shops when I was there.

  • I am loving the idea of mini-guides. It is particularly difficult to source things in Canada so I am loving the Canadian content – thank you!
    We spend all our summers in the Okanagan – it is awesome!

  • Thank you so much for this guide. I am truly jealous, what a great place to live! My sister and her then husband, dogs, cat and horses used to live in Tonasket, in the US end of the Okanagan valley. I loved visiting her when I lived in CA. Now I’m back east and she is in Portland. If I’m ever out that direction I’ll be sure to visit Kelowna. What a fun place.

  • I’m now in Toronto, but I am from this city and you’re reminding me of how much I miss my little town! I never would have thought that little K-lo would be on my favorite blog site!!!

  • I’m an Osoyoos girl, and I’ve never thought much of Kelowna, but your post is encouraging me to make another visit.

  • What a FANTASTIC post and guide! I’ve lived in Kelowna for about 10 years now and only just over the past couple years have begun to truly appreciate it.

    The Bohemian is my and my husband’s absolute favourite place for breakfast – we try to make it there AT LEAST every other weekend for their eggs benny and/or blueberry oatmeal pancakes. And the wonton noodle soup for a late lunch at Mad Mango is a fave as well :)

    If you enjoy Indian cuisine I HIGHLY recommend Everest Restaurant on Lawrence Avenue!

  • Paige!
    You forgot the Bean Scene! BEST coffee in town and the only place to find Latte Art!! John and Deb (owners) both roast their own selection of 100% organic coffee and bake their own selection of home-style baked goods made with high quality (organic whenever possible) ingredients – including bernard callebaut chocolates found in their uber-decedant triple chocolate cookies as well as their vegan brownies!!
    ALL the locals who know their coffee religiously haunt this little gem!

  • Chantal…please email me…i know Marc…I don’t know how else to contact you.
    Linda Maierle
    Bby, BC

  • Yay :)
    Kelowna as its meant to be seen and loved. I was born and raised in this town, and have somewhat recently (3yrs ago) made my way back. (after years EVERYWHERE else). Thanks Paige! It gives all the more reason to keep pioneering in this growing town.

  • I LOVE Kelowna, one of my very best friends lives there and I used to visit her all the time….. I think I’m due another visit soon.

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