Discover Vernon – A Culinary and Natural Wonderland in the North Okanagan!

Oct 9, 2023

In the heart of the North Okanagan region in beautiful British Columbia, Canada, lies a captivating tale that combines the charm of a Duke from Italy, the history of a 370+ year old Austrian house, and the serene beauty of a turquoise blue lake. 

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This enchanting region, Vernon, serves as the perfect backdrop for a gay travel story, which we highly recommend you create with someone you have feelings for. 

Discover Vernon - A Culinary and Natural Wonderland in the North Okanagan!

The North Okanagan Region

Tucked tightly away in the southern interior of British Columbia, the North Okanagan region is a hidden gem that boasts a diverse range of landscapes. From beautiful vineyards and orchards to the breathtaking mountains that frame the horizon, this area is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and those seeking tranquility.

Discover Vernon - A Culinary and Natural Wonderland in the North Okanagan!

Vernon: A Serene Oasis

Vernon, the centerpiece of the North Okanagan, is a charming town full of warmth and welcoming vibes. Its ideally located to present eye-catching rolling hills, lush forests, and pristine lakes, making it a perfect destination for travelers looking to escape the busy, stressful daily commotions we all get tired of at times.

Discover Vernon - A Culinary and Natural Wonderland in the North Okanagan!

But what makes Vernon truly special is the unique blend of history and natural beauty that can be found here. It’s a place where traditional charm and modern comfort coexist harmoniously.

Discover Vernon - A Culinary and Natural Wonderland in the North Okanagan!

A Duke’s Connection

But, that’s not all because there is more to discover in this area. The area has an intriguing connection to a Duke from Italy. In the heart of Vernon, you’ll discover a surprising slice of European history that has been lovingly preserved for centuries. This connection takes us to a magnificent Austrian house, which has stood the test of time for more than three centuries, providing a glimpse into the past while offering all the comforts of the present.

Discover Vernon - A Culinary and Natural Wonderland in the North Okanagan!

Here you can unravel the story of this remarkable house, explore the cultural treasures it holds, and venture into the depths of its fascinating history. It’s here that your gay travel adventure in Vernon truly begins. Step back in time and experience the lavish lifestyle of a Duke from Italy while basking in the breathtaking surroundings of Vernon’s natural wonders.

What makes Vernon, BC LGBTQ Friendly? 

In the past year, the Vernon Pride Society has taken a significant step forward by formalizing their status as a society, culminating in the successful hosting of the inaugural Vernon Pride event in August 2023. 

Pride Crosswalk - Vernon, British Columbia

Despite being situated in a traditionally conservative area, Vernon boasts a robust history of supporting the LGBTQ community through a range of initiatives, including youth mentoring programs, engaging activities, and locally organized events. Two vibrant Pride crosswalks grace the streets of Vernon, one situated in the heart of downtown and the other at the picturesque Kalamalka Lake, serving as vibrant symbols of inclusivity. 

Discover Vernon - A Culinary and Natural Wonderland in the North Okanagan!

Furthermore, the city takes pride in its LGBTQ-owned and operated businesses that proudly contribute to the region’s diversity. The commitment to fostering an LGBTQ-friendly environment extends to local employers like Silver Star Mountain Resort, which provides comprehensive diversity, equality, and inclusion training for their front-line staff. This collective dedication to creating an inclusive and welcoming community positions Vernon, BC, as a shining example of LGBTQ-friendliness.

Activities 

A travel article about Vernon, British Columbia, would be incomplete without presenting you with the most unforgettable activities available to you in this city.  

Discover Vernon - A Culinary and Natural Wonderland in the North Okanagan!

What exactly can you do in Vernon?

Photo at the Kalamalka Lake Pride Cross Walk

No visit to Vernon is complete without a trip to the Kalamalka Lake Pride Cross Walk. The colorful crosswalk is a prime example of the city’s acceptance for people of all walks of life. With your camera in hand, let your true colors shine as you strike a pose. Then post it across your social media and become the envy of all who lay their eyes on your selfie. 

Discover Vernon - A Culinary and Natural Wonderland in the North Okanagan!

Leisurely hike at Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park

Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park is one of the most beautiful and accessible parks in greater Vernon. Located just a stone’s throw from downtown, and open year-round, here you’ll find stunning views of the iconic turquoise water. 

Discover Vernon - A Culinary and Natural Wonderland in the North Okanagan!

There’s also a beautiful grassy area with picnic tables, beaches, a dog beach, and leisurely hiking trails. Hike to the top of Rattlesnake Point to get fantastic photos of Kalamalka Lake and Vernon, and sweeping vistas. 

Discover Vernon - A Culinary and Natural Wonderland in the North Okanagan!

Learn more about this gem: https://bcparks.ca/kalamalka-lake-park/

KurSpa at Sparkling Hill Resort 

Put your health and wellness at the forefront of your visit to Vernon. After all, isn’t that what a vacation is meant for? To help you break from the chains of daily life, recover, rest, and pamper yourself the like the queen you truly are?

Scrub away the stress with exhilarating salt scrubs and clay wraps. Indulge in the ultimate relaxation experience on your vacation with a full-body massage that’ll have your eyes rolling in the back of your head. Then finish off the day with a trip to the infinity pool, steam rooms and saunas. 

Just imagine leaving a refreshing massage to step into a pool that’s designed explicitly to create the visual illusion that the water extends to the horizon, seemingly merging with the sky and distant landscapes that Vernon offers.  

Want to turn this fantastic dream into reality? Check out the KurSpa at Sparkling Hill Resort today and secure your experience. 

Year-round outdoor activities 

Within the cradle of Vernon’s natural beauty, the glistening waters of Kalamalka Lake and the sun-filled edges of Okanagan Lake beckon with awe-inspiring grandeur, setting the stage for a vacation you’ll never want to end. 

Discover Vernon - A Culinary and Natural Wonderland in the North Okanagan!

The calm, hushed aura of Kin Beach, with its sentinel cottonwood trees, and the vivid, flora and fauna of Polson Park offer serene havens, while SilverStar Mountain Resort’s sweeping vistas promise heart-pounding adventures.

Discover Vernon - A Culinary and Natural Wonderland in the North Okanagan!

Uncover a sanctuary where the worries of life simply fade away, replaced by a profound, almost mystical communion with nature that resonates within you long after your visit. Vernon’s beaches and parks are more than destinations; they are transformative experiences, where the allure of the natural world captivates and rejuvenates, compelling you to embark on a trip of wonder and serenity.

Discover Vernon - A Culinary and Natural Wonderland in the North Okanagan!

Beaches and Parks 

From Ellison Provincial Park to Kalamalka Lake Beach, an abundance of outstanding hiking trails and coastal havens await your exploration within the numerous local and provincial parks. Relax in the heat of the sun or enjoy a nice meal on the beautiful sand or green grass that Vernon’s parks and beaches have to offer.

Discover Vernon - A Culinary and Natural Wonderland in the North Okanagan!

Vernon Community Arts Centre

Unleash your creativity at the Vernon Community Arts Center, a get-away of artistic exploration where you can involve yourself in a range of captivating programs, from the delicate art of stained glass to the tactile joy of pottery. Led by skilled instructors, these hands-on classes cater to everyone, from first timers to seasoned hobbyists. 

Discover Vernon - A Culinary and Natural Wonderland in the North Okanagan!

As you shape clay or craft stained glass, you’ll discover a world of self-expression, with each stroke and each glaze telling your unique story. When you leave, you won’t just take home a work of art; you’ll carry with you a piece of your own creativity and a tangible reminder of the boundless potential within you. Join us for an enriching journey of self-discovery through the artistry of Vernon Community Arts Center.

Check out all the art programs available now: https://vernonarts.ca/

Historic O’Keefe Ranch

Learn the rich history of the North Okanagan through the lens of the pioneering O’Keefe family. These remarkable individuals played an important role in shaping Vernon’s destiny, firmly etching it onto the regional map. Wander through the meticulously restored original homes and buildings, which stand as living testaments to a bygone era, adorned with an array of antique treasures that whisper tales of yesteryears.

Discover Vernon - A Culinary and Natural Wonderland in the North Okanagan!

Step into the pages of history as you explore the quaint general store, where time seems to stand still, or find solace within the hallowed walls of the charming church that once echoed with the voices of the faithful. Witness the blacksmith’s shop, where sparks once flew as skilled hands forged tools and implements crucial for survival, and wander into the stables that once housed the noble steeds that were the lifeblood of this pioneering community.

Discover Vernon - A Culinary and Natural Wonderland in the North Okanagan!

Learn more and get your tickets now for O’Keefe Historic Ranch: https://okeeferanch.ca/

Caetani Centre

Step into the regal abode of a genuine Italian Duke who, accompanied by his young family, made the enchanting town of Vernon their cherished home. 

Discover Vernon - A Culinary and Natural Wonderland in the North Okanagan!

As you traverse the hallowed halls of this storied residence, your senses will be enraptured by the myriad artifacts that lovingly weave the narrative of their extraordinary journey. These relics serve as poignant reminders of a heritage that has not only enriched Vernon’s cultural tapestry but also continues to resonate through the annals of time. 

Discover Vernon - A Culinary and Natural Wonderland in the North Okanagan!

Read more and see operating hours for Caetani Centre: https://www.caetani.org/

Farm Fresh 

Vernon is a living testament to the artistry of agriculture, where the bounties of the land come to life in a vibrant tapestry of orchards, fields, greenhouses, and buzzing hives. In every season, the region’s dedicated producers take farm-to-table dining to exhilarating heights, offering a veritable feast of fresh ingredients that dance with the changing seasons. Step into this lush world of culinary delight as we journey through the North Okanagan, introducing you to the places where you can savor the pure essence of farm-fresh goodness.

Discover Vernon - A Culinary and Natural Wonderland in the North Okanagan!

Davison Orchards

At Davison Orchards, you’ll find the epitome of a fruit and vegetable destination. Discover a vast array of apples and a cornucopia of seasonal fruits and vegetables harvested directly from the fields and orchards. 

Discover Vernon - A Culinary and Natural Wonderland in the North Okanagan!

But it’s not just a market; it’s a comprehensive experience. Enjoy tractor rides, engaging activities, indulge in delicious bakery treats, savor fresh café offerings, and explore a diverse shopping experience, all conveniently nestled in one delightful spot.

Discover Vernon - A Culinary and Natural Wonderland in the North Okanagan!

Plan your experience at: https://www.davisonorchards.ca/

Planet Bee Honey Farm & Honeymoon Meadery

At the Honey Haven, prepare your taste buds for a delectable journey through over a dozen unique and tantalizing honey flavors. From the coveted fireweed to the essence of Okanagan wildflowers and alfalfa, to exquisite blends infused with lavender or maple syrup, each jar is a testament to nature’s flavorful artistry. 

Discover Vernon - A Culinary and Natural Wonderland in the North Okanagan!

Explore health products enriched with natural beeswax and royal jelly, a royal treat for your well-being. Dive into the world of bees through interactive displays and witness these incredible insects crafting liquid gold. Before you leave, be sure to take home a jar of this liquid gold to savor, a sweet reminder of your visit to the Honey Haven.

Discover Vernon - A Culinary and Natural Wonderland in the North Okanagan!

Learn more at: https://planetbee.com/

Olive Us Oil & Vinegar Tasting

Indulge in a sensory extravaganza at the Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil Haven, where you’ll encounter over a dozen distinct balsamic vinegars and nearly a dozen olive oils, each expertly infused with a delightful array of flavors. It’s a tantalizing mix-and-match tasting experience that promises both fun and culinary adventure. 

Discover Vernon - A Culinary and Natural Wonderland in the North Okanagan!

Create your unique flavor fusions and let your taste buds embark on a delightful journey. Convenient gift packs make it easy to take home your favorite combinations, along with a treasure trove of other BC and Canadian-made products, including artisanal salts, preserves, charming pottery, and exquisite charcuterie boards.

Discover Vernon - A Culinary and Natural Wonderland in the North Okanagan!

See what you can expect at: www.oliveusoils.com

Vernon Wedge Cheesery 

Before taking a wine tour or a scenic day hike in one of the region’s captivating parks, make sure to make a pitstop at the Vernon Wedge Cheesery. Here, you can enjoy in a full cheese and/or charcuterie and cheese box to take with you on your adventure. 

Discover Vernon - A Culinary and Natural Wonderland in the North Okanagan!

Explore a savory selection of cheeses, ranging from aged and hard to soft, mild, and delightfully unique varieties. This is grab-and-go with a touch of class, elegance, and exquisite taste, adding a gourmet twist to your outdoor escapades.

Discover Vernon - A Culinary and Natural Wonderland in the North Okanagan!

See what this business is up to at: https://www.facebook.com/WedgeCheesery

Vernon Farmers Market 

The North Okanagan’s vibrant culinary culture takes center stage at the bustling Weekly Producers’ Market. A sensory adventure awaits as local farmers, artisans, and food truck vendors unite to create a vibrant tapestry of flavors and crafts. 

Discover Vernon - A Culinary and Natural Wonderland in the North Okanagan!

Here, amid the cheerful chatter and vibrant stalls, you’ll discover a cornucopia of fresh produce, from succulent fruits to crisp vegetables, along with the golden nectar of local honey and the aroma of artisanal baked goods. Stroll through the market’s vibrant lanes, where the air is infused with the fragrance of colorful blooms and the sizzle of succulent meats.

Discover Vernon - A Culinary and Natural Wonderland in the North Okanagan!

Check out everything it has to offer at: https://vernonfarmersmarket.ca/

Fabulous Fare

In Vernon, dining is a journey through the bountiful landscapes and flavors of the North Okanagan. The farm-to-table ethos is a way of life here. Vernon has a bit of something for everyone so get ready to make your tastebuds.

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Here’s where you must eat when in Vernon.

Eatology 

This downtown Vernon eatery is an LGBTQ owned and operated business serving up a great breakfast, brunch, and lunch. Head here for espresso drinks and delicious brunch time treats. It’s a hometown diner experience with warm, friendly staff. And, by dining here you are supporting your community because after all, the LGBTQ community needs to stick together. 

Check out their full menu at: https://eatology.ca/

Discover Vernon - A Culinary and Natural Wonderland in the North Okanagan!

Marten Brewing 

Located on the main street of downtown Vancouver, Marten Brewing is a craft micro-brewery and eatery. There are both regular and revolving taps, keeping things fresh and fun. Supporting local is key for Marten Brewing, with bread, hops, honey, and more farm-fresh ingredients being provided by local suppliers and producers – making them an authentic farm-to-table brew pub and grill. 

Read more about the brewery and check out the menu: https://www.martenbrewpub.com/

Discover Vernon - A Culinary and Natural Wonderland in the North Okanagan!

Bean Scene Coffeehouse

The Bean Scene stands proudly as a queer-friendly coffee shop. Their progressive Pride flag graces the front door, sending a resounding message of inclusivity and acceptance stating “we are here and queer and you are welcome!”. 

They offer an enticing range of espresso drinks, delicious baked goods, refreshing tea, and invigorating cold brew. This coffee shop embodies the essence of a classic hometown coffee shop, but still manages to show they understand our community. 

Here’s everything they have to offer: https://beanscene.ca

Discover Vernon - A Culinary and Natural Wonderland in the North Okanagan!

Roxy Café

While espresso-based coffee is a treat for the senses, it’s fantastic foods that steal the scene! Come to Roxy Café for vegan breakfast and lunch options that steal the show. Each dish is a masterpiece, a symphony of flavors that dance on your palate, transforming plant-based ingredients into unforgettable works of art. 

Learn about their menu: https://www.theroxycafe.ca/

Discover Vernon - A Culinary and Natural Wonderland in the North Okanagan!

Ratio JuiceWall Restaurant

Known for its invigorating morning coffee and artisan doughnuts, this charming establishment seamlessly transitions to evenings, offering a farm-to-table dining experience that’s truly exceptional. With delectable dinners crafted fresh in-house using locally sourced ingredients and a thoughtfully curated selection of local wines.

Start your day with the perfect brew or finish the night with a delicious meal.

Learn more about the cafe at: https://www.ratiojuicewall.ca/

Discover Vernon - A Culinary and Natural Wonderland in the North Okanagan!

Rail Trail Café 

Savory coffee, tea, and cold brew – just steps from Kalamalka Lake beach and the Okanagan Rail Trail. It’s a great spot to fuel up before or after your adventures. They also have fresh baked goods, sandwiches, breakfast sandwiches, and giant egg bites.  

Check out the Rail Trail Cafe menu: https://www.facebook.com/railtrailcafebc

Discover Vernon - A Culinary and Natural Wonderland in the North Okanagan!

Delicious Drinks 

Drinks are an important part of Vernon’s culture. From aromatic coffees to innovative cocktails, the local drink scene is a sensory journey waiting to be explored. 

Discover Vernon - A Culinary and Natural Wonderland in the North Okanagan!

Here’s where to get your drink on in Vernon.

Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery 

Discover the art of distillation at the region’s sole distillery, renowned for its award-winning Canadian whiskey, gin, vodka, and liqueurs. Each spirit is meticulously crafted, infused with locally sourced ingredients that capture the essence of our Canadian heritage.

Book at tour and tasting: https://okanaganspirits.com/

Discover Vernon - A Culinary and Natural Wonderland in the North Okanagan!

Cambium Cider Co 

Step into a realm where every sip is a testament to nature’s bounty. Cambium Cider CO’s orchards yield the freshest apples, forming the base for their ciders—from timeless classics to the enchanting lavender-infused notes. Explore both our cherished annual offerings and the nuanced flavors of our seasonal varietals.

Here’s everything you can get at this Cider brewery: https://www.cambiumcider.com/  

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Farmstrong Cider Company 

A mere 15-minute drive north of Vernon unveils the rustic charm of Farmstrong Cider Company. Nestled in Armstrong, they champion the art of crafting traditional ciders. Elevate your experience with a cider flight, savoring each sip against the serene backdrop of sprawling farmlands.

Learn how to get here and what to expect at: https://www.farmstrongcider.com

Discover Vernon - A Culinary and Natural Wonderland in the North Okanagan!

Predator Ridge is Your Ultimate Luxury Destination

Predator Ridge is the perfect getaway for golf aficionados and relaxation seekers. A premier destination, this resort is the epitome of year-round luxury.

Predator Ridge is Your Ultimate Luxury Destination

Regardless of whether you’re a seasoned golfer or someone chasing a serene retreat. Here you will have an unforgettable getaway. 

Predator Ridge is Your Ultimate Luxury Destination

Read more about Predator Ridge.

Sparkling Hill Resort is Where Luxury Meets Holistic Wellness

Hovering over Lake Okanagan, Sparkling Hill Resort is more than just a stay—it’s a holistic experience. With the calming waters below and nature’s embrace all around, it serves as a genuine sanctuary for those seeking respite and rejuvenation.

Every amenity here is carefully crafted, ensuring a journey that’s as enriching as it is luxurious. It’s not just about opulence—it’s about a well-rounded, transformative experience.

Regardless of the season—whether you’re escaping autumn’s chill, seeking winter’s peace, embracing spring’s renewal, or diving into summer’s warmth—Sparkling Hill offers a unique blend of nature’s beauty and luxury’s comfort. Welcome to your year-round retreat.

Read more about Sparkling Hill Resort.

Plan Your Trip with the Help of Tourism Vernon!

Venture into Vernon, the scenic heart of the North Okanagan. Here, crystalline lakes harmonize with untouched shores, while the horizon is a dance of rolling hills and adventurous mountains. And those apples from our orchards? They transform from tree to tantalizing drink, echoing Vernon’s essence with every sip.

Amidst our natural wonders, Vernon’s spirit thrives – relaxed yet vibrant. A noteworthy highlight: as of June 2023, we’ve welcomed the Vernon Pride Society, forging a brighter path for the LGBTQ+ community and its allies.

Keen to explore? With Tourism Vernon, planning your journey is a breeze. Dive into our online portal, packed with tailored experiences and travel insights. Craft your dream Vernon escape with us, immersing yourself in the true Okanagan lifestyle. Your adventure awaits!

Predator Ridge is Your Ultimate Luxury Destination
Brian Webb

Brian Webb

Author

Brian Webb is the founder and editor-in-chief of HomoCulture, a celebrated content creator, and winner of the prestigious Mr. Gay Canada – People’s Choice award. An avid traveler, Brian attends Pride events, festivals, street fairs, and LGBTQ friendly destinations through the HomoCulture Tour. He has developed a passion for discovering and sharing authentic lived experiences, educating about the LGBTQ community, and using both his photography and storytelling to produce inspiring content. Originally from the beautiful Okanagan Valley in the southern interior of British Columbia, Brian now lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. His personal interests include travel, photography, physical fitness, mixology, drag shows.

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