Families have been flocking to charming Harrison Hot Springs to soak up the summer sun for decades, but there is plenty to see and do in the off-season, too. Pack your rain boots and hit the road for an affordable spring weekend of family fun.
Located just about an hour and a half hours east of downtown Vancouver, the drive to Harrison Hot Springs is scenic and easy-going. And less time in the car means more time to be out exploring, or sitting back and relaxing.
If you do need to hop out and take some breaks from behind the wheel, the road to Harrison Hot Springs includes stops on the Circle Farm Tour, giving you the opportunity to discover the region through its history and agriculture.
Harrison Hot Springs is situated on the southern edge of Harrison Lake. While in the summer that means packed a packed beach, in the cooler months the community is serene and relaxed. Drink in the natural beauty of the lake, mountains, and forests all within view.
Enjoy the fresh air and roam around outdoors; you’ll easily be able to work up an appetite for some hearty local eats, or tire out legs young and old just in time for a rejuvenating hot springs soak.
Play: Right next to Harrison Lake
If you’ve lucked out with the weather, the kids can make a beeline for Harrison’s incredible lakeside playground. The imaginative play equipment is great for climbing, sliding, and jumping, and there are lots of spots where the grown ups can sit back and relax with a cup of coffee from one of the many nearby cafes.
But even if the rain’s been falling, it’s still worth a walk by the lake. The views are stunning, and there are lots of opportunities for kids to burn off that road trip energy in the central plaza.
Feast: The Black Forest Restaurant
Schnitzel is the house specialty at Black Forest, which has been welcoming guests in Harrison Hot Springs since 1975. The restaurant is a popular draw, thanks in no small part to their generous portions of German fare, and their welcoming hospitality.
Just as perfect for a cozy date as for a family feast, Black Forest has something for any sized appetite. Their tender portions of signature Schnitzel are fried a beautiful golden brown, and can be topped with an array of extras, like the popular Oskar (fresh crab meat, asparagus, Bearnaise) or the Cordon Bleu, which is served stuffed with ham and Swiss cheese. Black Forest has a great kids menu, too, including a smaller Schnitzel with a side of their famous house-made German noodles called Spaetzle–a favourite with kids and grown ups.
Rest: Harrison Beach Hotel
The Harrison Beach Hotel is right on Esplanade, facing the lake. Choose one of their beachfront suites, and enjoy a terrific view from your patio or balcony. Cozy up to the fireplace, and use the suite’s kitchen to put on a pot of tea, or stash snacks and drinks for the kids. Make sure to ask at the front desk for the colouring contest booklet, which will keep creative little hands busy.
The hotel’s spacious, well-appointed rooms make for a great place to put up your feet and put down your head between exploring around town. The living rooms feature a pull-out couch, which means there’s plenty of room for everyone, too. You’re right in the heart of the town, too, so when it’s time to explore there are adventures and good eats within easy walking distance.
Fuel up: Chuck & Kitty’s
Wake up and fuel up for the day at Chuck and Kitty’s. This tried-and-true breakfast and lunch spot is tucked behind the businesses on the Esplanade right near the Harrison Beach Hotel. This is an old-school, no-frills greasy spoon with plenty of charm.
Settle in with a cup of hot coffee and choose from their breakfast classics like Maple Sausage and Eggs, Pancakes, or their famed Blueberry Baked Oatmeal–which often leaves guests begging for the recipe. On the weekend there are Bennies, and there’s always a kid’s menu (with crayons) to make sure the whole family is well-fed.
Soak: Harrison Hot Springs Public Pool
Harrison Hot Springs is, of course, a hot springs town. These healing sulphur waters have been beckoning visitors for ages, and the town’s public pool is a great option for getting your feet wet. Admission is $10 for adults; $7.75 for kids ages 5-12 and seniors 65+; free for toddlers 4 and under; and there is a two adults and two kids family bundle for $28.50. You can rent a locker, or opt to bring your stuff with you on deck. Make sure towels are on your packing list, or rent some from the facility.
If this is your family’s first dip in the hot springs, make sure to prime the youngsters that this isn’t your typical pool; these 80-degree special waters are meant for a more mellow soaking. It’s easy to appreciate that this is one public pool that isn’t ice cold! Relax, unwind, and let the waters work their magic.
Explore: Walk the trails
Harrison is surrounded by a number of trails, including a great shorter walk of about 1km that is ideal for families with small kids. Drive or walk down McCoombs Drive and keep your eyes out on the east side for the access to the Spirit Trail. Make sure you’re decked out in rain boots, as puddles abound in the winter months.
The trail is bursting with beautiful greens and the invigorating aroma of damp earth. Tucked away from the road and homes, the Spirit Trail is a special place that is a wonderful way to recharge in the great outdoors before your family packs up and hits the road for home, recharged and full of great memories.