The village of Harrison Hot Springs in British Columbia offers much more than the chance to soak in relaxing hot spring pools and enjoy a great view of the lake. As great as those activities are (and they are great, trust me), this small resort town less than two hours from Vancouver offers a surprising variety of outdoor activities that will keep the entire family happily entertained and busy for a day or weekend getaway. From hiking on scenic mountain trails to touring local family farms and yes, soaking in warm water, here are 5 fun and active family-friendly things to do in Harrison Hot Springs with kids.
Things to do in Harrison Hot Springs with Kids
1. Splash in the water
Harrison Watersports features sea-doo and bumper boat rentals, banana tube rides, and the highly-popular inflatable water park. Kids 6-10 require adult supervision in the park, while older kids are free to roam on their own. The admission includes individual PFD (life jacket), a banana boat ride to the water park, and in & out privileges. The lake can be on the chilly side, and wet suits can be rented for $5 per day.
My teens spent most of the hot summer day bouncing and playing in and on the inflatable water park. Their favorite activities included the rope swing, climbing pyramids, and ‘the blob’ – where they were launched from a giant inflatable pillow as other kids jump onto it. They were pretty sore at the end of the day, and exhausted from all of their activity. Perfect night’s sleep – guaranteed.
More sedate water activities, including kayaking, fishing and boat rental cruises, can be arranged through the Harrison Lake Marina.
2. Play in the Sand
The beachfront of Harrison Lake is popular with families and seniors looking for calm waters, sunny skies and sandy shores. The sandy beach is a good place to spread out a blanket or set up chairs for a picnic and day out. The lake is calm and great for swimming, though it may be a bit on the chilly side for the wee ones.
The lakefront walking path runs parallel to the main street of the Village – Esplanade Avenue – where you can find a variety of ethnic restaurants, cafés, and ice cream parlors. During our stay, we enjoyed authentic German cuisine (think schnitzel, spaetzle and black forest cake), at the Black Forest Restaurant, home-made breakfasts at Muddy Waters Cafe, a formal night out at the legendary Copper Room, and huge sushi portions at Yukiya Sushi (easy take-away).
3. Take a hike
There are hikes and walks galore in the scenic Harrison valley. Many of the hikes and trails can be easily accessed right from the town’s centre. Take a peek at our suggestions or pick up the handy Hiking & Adventure Guide at the Visitor Centre. [Tip: On the moderate+ hikes, leave early on a hot day, pack lots of water, and wear proper footwear. You’re on holiday – don’t get injured while you’re having fun!]
Easy: Harrison Lagoon Walk – Distance: 4 KM Allow: 1 Hour
This walk begins in town along the Lakeshore. Then heads west to the hot springs source, backtracking back and looping around the Lagoon. You can continue east past Rendall Park and backtrack back to the start.
Moderate: Sandy Cove/Whippoorwhill Trail: – Distance: 4 KM Allow: 1.5 Hours
Trail leaves from Harrison Hot Springs Resort heading west. It passes the hot springs source and winds along the shoreline. Sandy Cove is a secluded beach, perfect for a break or lunch. You can choose to continue onward 300 metres to Whippoorwill Point, or track back to the trail head.
Difficult: Campbell Lake Trail – Distance: 10 KM Allow: 6 Hours
This strenuous hike is Harrison’s answer to North Vancouver’s Grouse Grind. The trail leaves from the Visitor Centre in town. Look for the Kiosk describing hikes in the area and the start of this trail. The climb ends at the ‘helicopter pad’ – a plateau overlooking Harrison Lake that was used when the mountain was first logged.
4. Soak in the Hot Springs
You didn’t think I’d forgotten about the Harrison name sake, did you? Fun fact: You don’t have to stay at the Hot Springs Resort Spa to use the village hot springs. Anyone can enjoy the soothing hydrotherapy of the village’s public family pool in the centre of town. The hot pools are fed by the village hot springs, and entry is affordable and accessible to everyone. While the building is a little dated, the relief of a hot spring soak is timeless.
5. Enjoy a self-guided Circle Farm Tour
You probably noticed on the drive in, but yes, you are in farm country. So take advantage of visiting Harrison Hot Springs with kids and enjoy a self-guided Circle Farm Tour to discover the history and delicious food offerings in the eastern Fraser Valley. Tour maps are available online and in brochure form, and detail the artisan studios, working farms, cheese makers, and corn huts dotting the area.
During our visit, we slowly made our way around the Tour, stopping to sample (and purchase) fresh food items from Farm House Natural Cheeses, Canadian Hazelnut farm, and Sparkes Corn Barn. As you can see, our delicious haul included a variety of cheese, local honey, garlic, blueberries, Chilliwack super sweet corn, and three varieties of hazelnuts.
If you need a break, visit the Agassiz-Harrison Museum. The Museum celebrates the agrarian history of the region, and is one of the oldest standing wooden Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) stations in the country.
6. Spend a night at the stock car races
If you like fast cars, head over to nearby Agassiz and its Speedway. On select summer Saturday nights, adrenalin is pumping as stock cars and hot rods race around the oval track.
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Photo Credits: C. Laroye
The writer travelled to Harrison Hot Springs and Agassiz as a guest of Tourism Harrison and the Harrison Hot Springs Resort. As always, our opinions are honest and our own.
Have you visited Harrison Hot Springs or eaten your way through the Circle Farm Tour? Share your comments and tips below!