Maclean’s, Sierra Riley – July 5, 2023
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Culture and cultivation converge in this sunny region known for its world-renowned wines and farm fresh food.

Nestled between the Cascade and Columbia Mountains, the Okanagan Valley deals in dazzling culinary and outdoor adventures. The region’s sunny and dry microclimates are ripe with all sorts of vegetation, but it’s best known for grape growing. As the second-largest wine-producing area in Canada, the Okanagan produces fruity chardonnays, sweet ice wines and plummy pinot noirs. Visitors can explore innovative tasting spots, like a vineyard tour that features 3D art (including the designs on the bottles) and a winery that looks like a monastery. Across the region, you’ll also find sustainable restaurants, biodynamic farms and transformative historical experiences. Here are our must-visit destinations for your next trip out west. 

Best Historical Experience – NK’MIP DESERT CULTURAL CENTRE

Visitors walk through a reconstructed Okanagan village, built amid antelope brush and Ponderosa pine at the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre. There are fibreglass tipi replicas, a sweat lodge and two pit houses made of earth and wood. The village and other exhibits honour the Osoyoos Indian Band: multi-sensory theatres immerse guests in local archives and showcase the dynamism of Indigenous storytelling, while art exhibits examine desert ecology and the legacy of residential schools.


Best Indigenous Cuisine – THE BEAR, THE FISH, THE ROOT & THE BERRY

At The Bear, The Fish, The Root & The Berry, chef Murray McDonald serves up a vision: vineyard cuisine inspired by his Indigenous roots. With the blessing of the Osoyoos Indian Band, the restaurant name is a reference to the Syilx captik story of the Four Food Chiefs, who taught food security and reciprocity. The menu honours key elements of Indigenous cuisine: the Black Bear (leadership, self-sacrifice), the Chinook Salmon (perseverance), the Bitterroot (relationship to the land) and the Saskatoon Berry (growth, strength). Standout dishes include sage-basted elk loin and McDonald’s renowned Black Forest cake.

 

Best Splurge – SPIRIT RIDGE RESORT

Spirit Ridge Resort weaves elements of the valley into the guest experience. Rooms (from $199 per night) are outfitted with local art and sagebrush-scented toiletries, and offer dreamy views of Anarchist Mountain and Osoyoos Lake. The on-site vineyard supplies Nk’Mip Cellars, the first Indigenous-owned winery in North America. Guests can enjoy free tastings, bliss out at the hotel spa or play a game of golf at Sonora Dunes.

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