Agri-tourism gaycations in the Thompson Okanagan with local-first ingredients
Gay men take vacations seriously. It takes months to decide on the destination, set the budget, plan activities, and coordinate with friends. It’s an entire production. Gaycations range from week-long rager getaways to European cities to parties with half-naked, ripped hotties, private island beach vacations in the Caribbean or Mediterranean, luxury cruises with circuit parties that go on non-stop for 72 – 120 hours, or educational with museums, arts, and culture.
However, agri-tourism has seen an increase on the gaycation scale, as gay men look for fresh and new vacation options that are healthy, full of adventure, and experiential. The Thompson Okanagan, in the interior of British Columbia, is one of the best gaycation destinations for agri-tourism, not just for the amazing options below, but also because of the hot temperatures, beaches, outdoor recreation activities, luxury accommodations, and tours. For an agri-tourism adventure with a gay twist, here’s why you need to know for your visit to the Thompson Okanagan.
Gay men love cooking, preserving, and amazing food. While this isn’t totally about gastronomy, the Thompson Okanagan region boasts incredible eating! The Thompson Okanagan boasts multiple climates and terrains, providing rich farmland to grow delicious food. The region is a cornucopia of farm-fresh ingredients. Farm-to-table. Up-and-down the valley there are so many amazing places to pick up fantastic ingredients. This area is known for road-side kiosks full of fresh fruits, grains, honey, and produce! There’s an abundance of Okanagan fresh ingredients for farm-to-table cooking, healthy eating, and to take home for canning, freezing, and dehydrating.
When it isn’t the food, another treasure of the region is the plethora of wine and wineries in the area. Some of the best Canadian wines come from the Okanagan Thompson. You can wet your whistle at nearly every turn because there are more than 120 vintners within the region. There’s always new wine and wineries to discover. Wine touring is an excellent way to taste some of the finest wines. Kamloops has become a budding wine region, with three new wineries, and the Okanagan Valley has become one of the few places in the world to produce late-harvest and ice wine. Wine tasting in the Thompson Okanagan is some of the boujiest agri-touristic activities you can partake in.
The North Okanagan is home to the most famous cheese in Canada, Armstrong Cheese. While the original award-winning Armstrong Cheese brand was bought up by a conglomerate company and centralized cheese making in other, larger markets, another cheese company entered the market. The Village Cheese Company respects the heritage of cheese-making in the North Okanagan, making dozens of kinds of flavoured cheeses and the best cheese curds for making homemade classic Canadian poutine you’ll ever squeak between your teeth...or cheeks. Make like a (gym) rat and get ahold of some of that milky, creamy goodness for an evening of wine and cheese pairing unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.
There’s a big push to save the newly endangered honey bee in North America, and there is no better place to get the entire beekeeping experience, honey, than at Planet Bee. Planet Bee has the absolute freshest and best honey in the Okanagan—and visiting this cool beehive comes with a complete education experience. There are a variety of delicious honey flavours, honey. Don’t forget that this sweet stuff is loaded with antioxidants and is a good dietary sugar and sweetener, plus it is amazing for curing a hangover. Do it for your health and the health of the world, by checking out the honey and bees at Planet Bee.
Jellie’s last jam just might be at a well-known Okanagan fixture: The Jammery. The Jammery specializes in jellies, jams, and all things preserved. The only “Jammery” in the world, The Jammery is so awesome it has been featured on the Food Network! You can check out the entire process from fruit to jam: it’ll blow your mind how cool the process is. Get the red pepper jelly to put on a crostini with baked brie and roasted garlic to have a complete agri-tourist experience at The Jammery.
No agricultural tour of an area is complete without some libations. Sure, there are plenty of wineries in the region, but you should also check out two very fun distributors of natural alcohol. First is the BX Express Cidery, located in Vernon, BC. BX Express produces delicious craft-cider honouring the history of the region, infused with Okanagan ingredients. You’ve not had true, proper apple cider until you’ve tried cider from BX Express Cidery. Second to no one other than Okanagan Spirits. You can take your cocktailing to new heights with these spirits, produced locally from the apple orchards of the region. Okanagan spirits are made with a gluten-free spirit–thanks to their usage of those tasty red, yellow, and green fruits. Apples, not grain, are the principal ingredient used at Okanagan Spirits.
There are so many other amazing places to visit and discover in the Thompson Okanagan for a culinary adventure. Each city, town, and community offer seasonal crops and ingredients to inspire your next meal, snack, and party.
Fill your stomach and your soul full of delicious goodness with an agri-gaycation in the Thompson Okanagan.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brian Webb is a celebrity social influencer, advocate for LGBT rights, role-model for the LGBT community and the winner of the prestigious Mr. Gay Canada – People’s Choice award. Brian has a passion for discovering and sharing special, life defining moments. Originally from the beautiful Thompson Okanagan, Brian is well known for making regular appearances throughout the year at Pride parades, festivals, street fairs, competitions, circuit parties and LGBT-friendly destinations.