THE ULTIMATE OKANAGAN
Nelson is located on the shores of Kootenay Lake's West Arm, centrally located between Vancouver, B.C., Calgary, AB and Spokane, WA. Nelson has a growing population of 10,600; with Greater Nelson encompassing 18,000 and a trading area near 70,000 the duly-named Heritage City features a heritage downtown and 300-plus restored heritage homes, businesses and churches.
Nelson residents boast of the 50 restaurants and cafes, in fact more per capita than San Francisco, many with outdoor seasonal patios adding to that cosmopolitan feel.
You will feel the funky vibe and authenticity and entrepreneurial spirit following a quick stroll down historic Baker Street, a vibrant main street that is a true adventure in itself.
We encourage visiting The Vienna Café- it has a beautiful patio outside and inside dining area is combined with a book store. The food is home made, prepared fresh for you and it tastes amazing. They pay great attention to detail, making their own jams and using 100% natural vanilla for drinks.
We ordered Minerva Spatzle, Eggs Benny-Meat Lovers, Chai Tea and Nelson Fog. Everything was authentically delicious.
Another great place to visit in Nelson is The Outer Clove restaurant, specializing in modern European comfort food. We tried Hungarian Cabbage Rolls, Haluski, Schnitzel, Perogies. Everything is home made and so delicious!
Just a quick warning about the Schnitzel size- it is large enough for three people. So good though!
Nelson has a beautiful park downtown -Nelson Rotary Park. This beautiful green space runs along Nelson’s waterfront. Located at the foot of the landmark orange bridge, its features include a long, sandy beach and change rooms, wide promenade, shade trees, an adventure playground, bocce and tennis courts, and boat launch. A full-service concession runs in summer. The city’s much-envied soccer fields and baseball diamond are located further along the waterfront.
The park is also the home of Nelson’s restored electric streetcar, which takes passengers along a portion of the waterfront during the summer months.
Ainsworth Hot Springs is located about 40 minutes drive from Nelson. It is open to public by reservation only from 10 AM to 5:30 PM and for hotel guest without limitations. The hot springs originate around the Cody Caves, above and to the east of the resort. The water flows down through fractures in the rock, increasing in temperature at a rate of 40°C per kilometer until it hits a lakeshore fault – a rock layer on a 45 ° angle. Hydraulic pressure forces the water up along the fault until it emerges at the resort. The water at Ainsworth Hot Springs offers a high mineral content, without the odor associated with some natural hot springs.
The resort features nice rooms with bathrobes and all the amenities needed for a relaxing stay.
There is a new unique SPA in Kelowna, just opened in July! Why is it different? It offers relaxation and detoxification of mind and body through a combination of Halotherapy and sound therapy.
Halo therapy (salt therapy) - tiny salt particles are ground into the air by a halogenerator. A natural therapy for respiratory, inflammatory and skin conditions. Salt particles clean the lungs and sinuses, and detox the body. Negative ions promote deep relaxation. Here is the full list of ailments halotherapy potentially helps with:
Allergies, Asthma, Bronchitis, Cough, Immune, Sinus, Stress, Mood, Anxiety, Depression, Sleep, Sports, Performance & Muscle Recovery, Psoraisis, Itching, Eczema, Inflammation, Dermatitis, Dry Skin, Acne, Rosacea
Inhaling ground salt, which is actually comprised of negative ions, promotes deep states of relaxation and healing.
We went for a Special: 45 min salt cave session, followed by a 75 min relaxing massage for $110. It was a special experience, very relaxing and rejuvenating. I loved that they provide robes, slippers, lockers, water. Everything is brand new and super clean.
Above is the picture of a waiting room -it was very nice to wait in a cool room, while outside was piping hot.
Travel restrictions are lifted within BC as of June 15, 2021 and people are deciding where to go for a vacation. Interprovincial and international recreational travel is still discouraged, so the most practical and accessible would be looking within our own province.
One place really stands out amongst all the beautiful places in British Columbia and it is warmest city in Canada, Osoyoos aka Mexico of Canada.
Osoyoos, pronounced "O-sue-use", is a version of the Okanagan word "Sooyoos" meaning "the narrows of the lake" or "the place where two lakes come together. Here are some facts about Osoyoos:
Spirit Ridge Resort by Hyatt
Spirit Ridge resort is located on sacred traditional territory of Nk'Mip people, who care for their land and live in piece with the environment. Nk'Mip people speak Nsyilxcən language and belong to Thompson Okanagan region.
Spirit Ridge is absolutely unique place to stay: it has Nk'Mip Desert Cultural Centre, Nk'Mip Cellars winery on it's territory, Desert Spa, two restaurants, Sonora Dunes Golf Course, Indian Grove riding stables. Spirit Ridge Resort offers uncompromised quality stay.
Rooms have nice finishing's, with state of the art design for durability and comfort. Linens are crispy white, bedding is super soft and comforting. Each suite has a kitchen area equipped with coffee machine, kettle, toaster, blender, full size fridge, cooking range, dishwasher, utensils, plates, cookware. Essentially, it could be a long-term residence for snow birds or short-term residence during the summer months. Some residences have a washer/dryer as well.
Living rooms have a fire-place, sofa and arm-chair, big screen TV. All rooms have their own balcony either with a view of the lake/rolling grape hills, golf course, street/pool area. Each balcony has a table with chairs and a BBQ.
Spirit Ridge resort has 2 outdoor heated pools: large main pool for family admittance and smaller adult only pool. Each swimming pool has a hot tub area as well. Towel service is at both pools. Steam room is closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, gym is open but limited occupancy and masks are mandatory.
One interesting fact worth to mention, as Spirit Ridge is located in a desert area, there are rattle snakes in the area. If you decide to go for a stroll between sagebrush bushes beware. We went through the Cultural Centre and down towards water, but did not see any rattle snakes.
We highly recommend to visit Nk'Mip Cultural Center to get a better understanding how people lived on this territory many years ago, their culture and values.
If you like cheese and appreciate fresh farm produce, this place is a must for a visit. Once the pandemic is over, they will also offer an educational farm tour for kids and kids-alike.
Cheeses are made right here, from local cow milk and goat milk. You can see through the window cheese heads ripening in the production area and it is so cool!
Fresh goat milk is sold here as well as hard and soft cheeses. You can ask to try a cheese before making a decision to buy it or not. Ladies working in the shop are very accommodating.
A little bit about how it all started
Originating back to the mid-1800s, when first discovered by the Europeans, Harrison’s hot springs were originally known as Warum Chuck or as the ‘healing place’ by the local Salish First Nations. Salish First Nation people believed Warum Chuck area had supernatural powers and kept it's location as a secret. Hot Springs were discovered by Europeans by chance - a group of miners (gold rush times), returning down Harrison Lake while trying to reach the shore had fallen into the waters from being anxious and exhausted. The water close to shore was shockingly warm, much to their surprise and delight. Their comrades followed and jumped in to rejuvenate. Back in the day it was technologically almost impossible to separate springs water coming from underground from Harrison Lake cold water. However it was achieved and first resort named St. Alice Hotel and Bath House opened it's doors .
How Hot Springs are Created
Hot springs occur when the emergence of geothermal heated groundwater rises from the Earth's crust, meaning that water has seeped into the earth and has been heated by magma. Due to the earth’s pressure, water rises above the surface creating a “hot spring”.
The picture below has an area of a spring segregated by rocks, although it is mixed with lake water, it is still warm.
Hot Springs Health Benefits
The hot springs provide a natural cure for diseases and ailments due to the therapeutic use of the waters’ high mineral content, which is known to bring pain relief. When submerged in the water, one’s hydrostatic pressure slowly rises and circulation and oxygen flow increase, which creates a strong heart! Primary minerals (calcium, sodium bicarbonate, sulfate, magnesium, iron, chloride, potassium, and zinc) and a handful of others are present in the water, averaging 1,300 parts per million of dissolved mineral solids, which is one of the highest concentrations of any mineral spring! When absorbed by one’s skin, the result is euphoric.
A little bit about dining in Harrison Springs, we naturally tried quite a few places and positive experience will be mentioned under the Reviews Tab.
Here I wanted to mention "other" experiences: Morgan's restaurant looked so good from the outside, but each time we tried to eat there (breakfast, lunch, dinner) it was closed. So weird, because it did not look like it was closed indefinitely. Each time we passed by, we saw the closed doors, lights on and no people inside. Mysterious dining place-Bermuda Triangle of Harrison Lake.
Lakeview Restaurant- diner serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. The service is horribly rude, food is mediocre (we had breakfast there and never returned).
Taco Rio - we were surprised by amount of coleslaw inside the meat burrito. Mexican muchacho and muchacha are not happy-they don't like coleslaw. Coleslaw salad pairs only with Fish and Chips and originates in England.
Taco Rio is a frivolous interpretation of Mexican cuisine with true Mexican Soda.
Days are getting longer, we are seeing more sunshine in February. There is definitely a brighter future to be looking towards to. Our blog is dedicated to discovering new places and activities around Okanagan, and we will be covering just that.
There is Dine Around Interior BC event is going till March 7, 2021. Participating Dine Around restaurants will offer three course menus costing $15, $25, $35, $45 or $55 per person giving locals and visitors the chance to channel their inner foodie, try new menu items and new restaurants! With COVID-19 still much apart of our lives, some restaurants will be offering the option to ‘take-out’ their Dine Around menu.
Places that we can recommend: Summerhill Winery Bistro, The Lookout at Gray Monk, Browns Social House.
We went to Blu Saffron Bistro at Volcanic Hills Winery. Due to COVID-19 safety protocols it is recommended to make a reservation prior to visiting. This allows restaurant to plan seating and not to turn away customers when they reach capacity.
Blu Saffron Bistro is located on the right hand side of the Volcanic Hills Winery and customers have to enter through a painted metal door. We even questioned ourselves if this is the actual entrance, not a back door of the bistro. Once we opened the door, we saw lit up bistro entrance. The hostess greeted us, confirmed our reservation and welcomed to a window table. Blu Saffron Bistro isn't big inside, about 6 tables all together. It has an atmosphere of a high school cafeteria with the radio music in the background.
We ordered Falafel Sub, Truffle Parmesan Fries, Chicken Pappardelle.
The chef nailed Truffle Parmesan Fries -so delicious, there was not a fry left behind. The service was prompt and friendly.
Chicken Papardelle was good too. I guess I should add that we did not order wine, maybe it was our mistake.
Falafel Club in GF option showed up as two falafels with a creamy sauce. Falafels were fresh made and tasty. This would be a good choice for people who don't want to eat too much.
Overall positive experience dining at blu Saffron.
We have followed the Provincial Health Officer guidelines and stayed inside for almost a year. Now that British Columbia announces it is flattening the curb this week -Jan 28, 2021, we can be cautiously optimistic and reintroduce some of the fun activities.
Summerhill Pyramid Winery has fondue Thursday nights, which is a fun activity to do with your loved ones. It is by reservation only for $ 24.95 per person. The price includes a cheese fondue with a plate of pretzels, grilled pears, cauliflower, dried bread, sausage. The servers would be able to recommend he pairing wine based on your preference.
Fondue is a tasty, cheesy goodness that is fun to have once in while on a cold winter night. Having it regularly would only ensure extra pounds gained for good, but once in a while it is a sensory delight.
Summerhill Pyramid Winery also offers good wines and deserts.
Highly effective way to release tension in just 15 min-anywhere, anytime!