Harrison Hot Springs with Kids: Where to Eat, Sleep & Splash

My kids and I recently went on two trips to Harrison Hot Springs, which is about 90 minutes east of Vancouver, and two hours north of Seattle. And we loved it.

Harrison Hot Springs Resort outdoor pool.

Harrison Hot Springs Resort outdoor pool.

The hot springs of the town’s name are located inside Harrison Hot Springs Resort. While there are little restaurants and hotels in the town of Harrison Hot Springs, this is a town that takes up all of about four blocks, and in order to use the hot springs, you must stay at the resort. So for that reason, check out the family deals and specials offered through the hotel’s website.

The hotel itself, although called a “resort,” is a straightforward middle-class retreat. You won’t find a lot of fancy touches (although there is free wifi) or luxe trappings. The property almost feels like it’s from the 1980s, and I mean that in a good way. The resort attracts people of all income levels, nationalities and languages. No one is here to put on airs — you’re walking around in a bathrobe, for goodness sake.

The pools at Harrison Hot Springs:

Natural hot springs come out of the ground at 150-degrees Fahrenheit; cool water is added, then the mix is fed into the resort’s five pools (which are also chlorinated for hygiene). Outside, plunge into one of three pools: the rectangular lap 87F/30C pool or the asymmetrical curved lines of the 95F/35C larger family pool or adults-only 105F/40C-degree pool. The water is warm enough to sit around in, whether it’s summer or winter, night or day. After sunset, we saw kids bringing glowsticks into the pool — and at night, you can look up and name constellations overhead without city light pollution.

Outdoor pools at Harrison Hot Springs

Rainy day at Harrison Hot Springs Resort

In summer, a spray park sits beneath surrounding towering mountain range –great for toddlers and preschoolers.

Indoors, you’ll find two more pools — another large, rectangular warm pool, and a very hot circular tub (38C/100F) below a dramatic ceiling and skylight. You can go from warm to cool to hot in a matter of steps.

Rooms at Harrison Hot Springs

Inside Harrison Hot Springs Pools

No poolside towel service exists here; you receive towels in your room, and you might not have enough of them during your stay. It seemed like our towels were constantly wet. You might bring some super-absorbent pool towels from home.

Poolside deck chairs are available, but you won’t find much shade. Pack sunscreen. Also, if you’d like a deck chair on a sold-out weekend, you may need to send a member of your party down to scout out chairs early (7 or 8 a.m., perhaps).

Rooms at Harrison Hot Springs:

Family-friendly rooms at Harrison Hot Springs

East Tower rooms at Harrison Hot Springs

Rooms come in more than 25 configurations in four different buildings: each were developed during different time periods. Choose from the East Tower, Main Hotel, West Tower and West Wing. The East Tower offers the most modern, with larger rooms. The family rooms — in the Main Hotel — are historic (so historic, they don’t have air conditioning in summer…). The East Tower and West Tower have balconies, and most rooms have two Queen beds. Views are categorized as garden, pools, lake, mountain and village.

I don’t like a lot of commotion, and rooms facing the inner pools get noisy, so I ask for a lake view room. Many young professionals and groups of friends come here to enjoy the adult-only pool late into the night (the pools are open past midnight), so you might want to figure that into your room choice considerations.

Because the rooms are smaller, you may want to pack some board games and books for the common areas, which are spacious. Lots of little nooks, two-person chairs, couches in front of the fireplace and table-side seats.

Awesome stuff: Arrive by 4 p.m. to take advantage of the daily tea service, so you can get a cuppa and a cookie. On very busy weekends, you may not be able to check in right away at 4 p.m., if your room isn’t ready, so be prepared to walk along Harrison’s lovely beachside path or go play at the town’s playground for a few minutes.

Eating at Harrison Hot Springs:

Most rooms come with a mini-fridge, which is great if you’d like to bring snacks or your own breakfast. We enjoyed the hot breakfast buffet in the resort’s Lakeside Cafe once, and it was okay (great views if you’re lucky enough to score a window). But the buffet is not something I would make a habit of, due to the price (unless you get a Harrison resort package or deal). So you might bring cereal and milk for the fridge.

Lakeside cafe kid-friendly restaurant in Harrison Hot Springs

Getting served at the Lakeside Cafe

The resort’s “Miss Margaret” cafe serves quite good (and shareable) wraps and salads, perfect for a poolside lunch. The hotel’s Copper Room is renowned for its live music, fine dining and light-up dance floor. There’s even a children’s dance floor. However, it is very expensive — sort of a special night out. I’ve never eaten there.

Dining in town is also sort of 1980s  — at 2025 prices. Harrison Pizza is decent, has great service, and offers good deals.  The Yukiya Sushi spot is also fine (despite what the Yelp reviews say), but expensive. In the sushi restaurant, there’s a cute little table-booth that feels a bit more private — as a family, I’d go for that booth. 

Muddy Waters Espresso Bar serves up gourmet sandwiches featuring local ingredients (until 2 p.m.). But mostly, this is a town with $11-12 children’s meals (yes, you read that right), so you may well want to plan for PB&Js or sandwich wraps in the room. There’s no grocery store in town, so stop at the Costco in Abbotsford, at the Abbotsford Farm & Country Market or a grocery in Chilliwack, 25 minutes away to the west.

Kids at Harrison Hot Springs:

The hotel supplies you with two adult robes, but no robes for children. Bring robes for the kids from home, and do bring them — walking between the rooms and the pools can get very chilly, especially at night. During peak travel seasons, the hotel plays kids’ movies.

Be aware that because of the high mineral content in the water, your muscles get tired (aka “relaxed”) very easily, so don’t let the kids wear themselves out on the first day. There’s a zero-entry point (like a beach) for the outdoor pool, perfect for babies and toddlers visiting Harrison Hot Springs Resort.

Bring flip-flops to make an easier (and cleaner) transition between hotel room and outdoors, and between the indoor and outdoor pools.

Kids can wear floatation devices, bring toys into the pool with them, and so on — so don’t forget those toys, either.

There are no lifeguards at these pools. You are 100% responsible for your own kids.

In the main building, kids might like the game room with some old-school arcade games. The resort’s gift shop is definitely the best one in town for families, with board games, activity books, t-shirts, and water toys. Outside, on the resort’s grounds, there’s a small garden suitable for hide-and-seek.

Family Activities in Harrison Hot Springs:

Okay, the truth is that my kids and I mostly like sitting around and playing in the hot springs. If you’d like more though, there’s a nice playground and beach (bring sand toys) lakeside, a water park (like a water playground), surrey bikes for rent and bumper boats for rent. Nearby, you can hike at Sasquatch Provincial Park, which offers picnic tables and Bigfoot (or so I hope, although I didn’t see him when I was there). A public swimming pool sits right in the town center, but it’s not really worth a visit.

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Later this week, I’ll talk about what else your family can do around Harrison Hot Springs, if you’d like to make it a multi-day stay.

Families Travel! Harrison Hot Springs with Kids

As you probably remember from last week, we interviewed Sarah Reese, a Washington mom to 11 natural, adopted and step-children. This week, she tells us what she loves about BC’s Harrison Hot Springs Resort and Spa, located 90 minutes east of Vancouver, BC and three hours Northeast of Seattle. First Nations peoples discovered the springs thousands of years ago; The springs have been soothing tourists since 1886, after one of the region’s first resort communities was established.

Kids at Harrison Hot Springs BC

Four of the kids at Harrison Hot Springs

Tell me about how your family of 11 stays at Harrison Hot Springs?

The older part of the hotel has the lowest prices. They also have family suites that have two rooms and a bathroom in this part of the hotel: One room with a double bed and the other with two single beds. We try to always book a deal for a weekday off-season in the older part of the hotel. We’ve managed to get each room at a good cost with free breakfast buffet included for the adults.

The west and east wings of the hotel have nicer interiors, but cost a bit more. The resort has several small cabin rentals that aren’t available online. These allow families to bring along a pet to the hotel.

The hotel also has a game room, lovely coffee shop, exercise room and beauty salon. During the summer months there is an outdoor tennis court and spray park right on the property as well.

kids harrison lake at the family-friendly harrison hot springs

Catching a ride along Harrison Lake BC with kids

So, what are the resort pools like at Harrison Hot Springs Resort?

The resort has five hot-spring fed pools, open year round. Outside, there’s a family pool, lap pool and adult only pool.

Inside is an indoor pool and VERY hot “hot tub.” Inside they also have men’s and women’s lockers with eucalyptus steam rooms. Be sure to bring your bathing suit, water bottles, bathrobes for the kids and flip flops for all.

There is a public pool that is hot spring fed, but we found the first time that we went there that by the time we paid for everyone to get into the public pool we could have paid for one hotel room. Only hotel guests are allowed to use the hotel pools.

What do you do for family dining at Harrison Hot Springs?

There are two restaurants — The Lakeside Cafe which serves beautiful buffets overlooking Harrison Lake and The Copper Room which has five course dinners and fancy brunch on the weekends and holidays.

The resort hotel also has a bar and a large lounge area inside where they serve tea at 4pm each day. Every guest room comes with bathrobes (for the adults), so almost everyone just goes around the hotel with their bathrobe covering their swimsuits. This takes a bit of getting used to, but the kids think it’s the best thing ever! Of course for dining you would want to wear proper attire, but for tea, it’s nice to sit in front of the fireplace and have your tea and cookies.

In the mornings, we have the older children and Dad go for breakfast while I have breakfast in the room with the younger children, then we all go for an early morning swim.

For dinner we usually have pizza or other take out in the room from local places we can walk to. Or if it’s nice out we walk and eat by the lake. Most of the rooms have a small fridge.

What else can families do? Are there many kid-friendly options near Harrison Hot Springs?

Locally, there are many other things for families to do including Bridal Falls Water Park, the amazing Minter Gardens, Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park and visiting the Fraser River and Hell’s Gate Airtram.

family-friendly resort in the lower mainland bc

Kids along Harrison Lake, BC with kids

You can walk along the lake and each fall there’s a sandcastle competition (From Lora: check out this YouTube video of the totally amazing sculptures). Of course there is tons of fishing, boating and camping opportunities as well.

It’s really a great place to go without kids for romance, or a “girls get-away” with friends. Just one night at Harrison Hot Springs Resort feels like a week away.

Find out more about kid-friendly Harrison Hot Springs in British Columbia at the Tourism Harrison website or this great article, Weekend: Harrison Hot Springs, BCat the Canadian Tourism Commission.