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2SLGBTQIA+-inclusive destinations in the Thompson Okanagan that are worth a visit

The Okanagan's 2SLGBTQIA+ scene is bursting with inclusive spaces for dining, shopping and a multitude of experiences that are meant to be shared with Pride with the greater B.C. community
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The Thompson Okanagan region offers exceptional experiences for 2SLGBTQIA+ travellers and locals.

This year’s Kelowna Pride March & Festival saw a record-setting number of attendees, with thousands of people gathering in downtown Kelowna to celebrate the largest Pride Week celebration in B.C.’s Interior.

Throughout the summer, the Thompson Okanagan region will continue to show support for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community through various Pride events, including Vernon Pride Week and Kamloops Pride Week in August, and South Okanagan Pride on September 7.

The region, which encompasses the cities of Kamloops, Vernon, Kelowna, Penticton and Osoyoos, offers a number of exceptional experiences for 2SLGBTQIA+ travellers and locals. Various local businesses and organizations uphold standards of diversity and respect by cultivating welcoming and inclusive spaces for 2SLGBTQIA+ community members and allies.

From cafes and craft breweries to art galleries and luxury resorts, the following establishments are 2SLGBTQIA+-friendly, and in some cases, 2SLGBTQIA+-owned, and are highly worth a visit this summer during your time in the Thompson Okanagan.

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The Art We Are in Kamloops, B.C. Photo by Mary Putnam

Kamloops

Gifts, home decor and plant shop Far + Wide proudly stocks LGBTQ2S+, BIPOC, and women-owned brands in their shop, and also regularly hosts events, pop-ups and workshops in an effort to bring the community together. For the stylish ones, Jardine's Domain is a fashion forward boutique that sells ladieswear, menswear, accessories, and gifts.

Kamloops' newest event venue The Effie hosts concerts, plays, comedy shows, open mic nights and more to evoke the live experience of “Collective Effervescence” among the audience. During the day, women-owned cafe The Art We Are serves locally-made food, desserts and drinks, which can be enjoyed in their homey space, which doubles as an art gallery showcasing artists from the local community.

Located off of Highway 1, Accents Inn in Kamloops offers a place to stay and is also within close reach to outdoor activities, wineries, breweries, farms and more.

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Pride parade in downtown Vernon. Photo via Tourism Vernon

Vernon

SilverStar Brewing Company, Vernon's only craft brewery, is known for running various 2SLGBTQIA+ events throughout the year, including drag brunches and live music shows. Western Canada's original craft distillery, Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery, produces internationally-renowned B.C. spirits that are available for tasting at their flagship distillery in downtown Vernon. In addition to coffee and freshly-baked pastries (like scones and cake), the Boarding House Cafe has a vast selection of board games.

The Vernon Community Arts Centre offers arts education for all, with workshops tailored for a variety of artistic mediums including pottery, painting, drawing, printmaking, glass and fibre arts and more. The arts centre also has a gallery showcasing local art and an art shop carrying art supplies for purchase.

Sparkling Hill Resort (sparkling because there are more than 3.5 million Swarovski crystals incorporated into its very architecture) is a shining gem in the Okanagan. The European-inspired KurSpa is designed to inspire tranquility and bliss through its healing waters and other luxurious amenities.

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Parlour Ice Cream in Kelowna,, B.C. Photo by Norma Ibarra

Kelowna

There's no place in Kelowna like Friends of Dorothy, the Okanagan's first 2SLGBTQIA+ cocktail lounge. With an aesthetic that mixes Versailles decadence with punk chic, this fabulous lounge offers signature cocktails, upscale dishes, a dance floor and Drag Brunch Sundays. If magical breweries are more your speed, Jackknife Brewing is the spot where a “swirling cauldron of creative locals” gather for Okanagan-Nordic blended brews and pizza. Make an ice cream run at Parlour Ice Cream for fresh house-made waffle cones in a range of flavours from salted caramel to birthday cake.

Kelowna Art Gallery presents historical and contemporary Canadian art exhibitions, including the current “Celebration: Pride in Every Colour” exhibition, ​​and a permanent collection of over 1,000 artworks by contemporary Okanagan, B.C. and Canadian-based artists.

The Instagrammable Hotel Zed offers guests unordinary amenities, such as rotary dial phones in the rooms and suites, a ping pong lounge with retro games, and free rollerskate rentals.

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GottaGoat Farm in Penticton, B.C. Photo by Kylie Mae

Penticton

The women-owned black box theatre Tempest Theatre takes a playful and provocative approach to classic, contemporary and original works, including one night only shows and scene presentations. The Penticton Art Gallery features established and emerging artists through the gallery’s collections, including one special exhibition dedicated to Canadian artist, naturalist and conservationist Robert Bateman.

Located just outside of Penticton, you can cuddle (and even do yoga) with the miniature goats at GottaGoat Farm for an Okanagan farm experience you’ll never forget.

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Osoyoos, B.C. Photo by Kylie Mae

Osoyoos

Founded by Wina Poliquin, Art Therapy Corp. offers a wide range of piercing, tattoo and body modification services, including traditional stick and poke piercing and electric tattooing, along with spirituality readings and intuitive healing. Right next door, Poliquin’s boutique The Curator offers curated creations such as vintage treasures, art, jewelry, books and more.

For more 2SLGBTQIA+-friendly travel inspiration, visit www.travellingout.ca