Semiahmoo Resort and Birch Bay offers an escape that feels hours away — but a mere 15 minutes from Bellingham and 50 minutes from Vancouver, BC. Spend a weekend at this laid-back, waterside location and experience total relaxation. Oh, and did I mention that it’s great for kids too? There’s just enough to do not to feel bored, but not so much that you feel lmust hurry-hurry all weekend.
Semiahmoo Resort sits on a long spit with picturesque views of Semiahmoo Bay and White Rock, BC. It’s great weekend getaway with kids, and the resort strives to offer families plenty of fun little extras.
Things to Do with Kids at Semiahmoo Resort
Kids can watch movies in the movie-theater-like auditorium with nightly showings of G and PG-13-rated flicks, swim in the indoor-outdoor pool (heated to 80F year-round), and relax in the indoor hot tub.
A fun scavenger hunt sends you on a search of the grounds, after which kids can pick a little toy from the treasure box. Front desk staff can lend buckets and shovels, and you’re just steps from the pebbly beach.
In summer, you can usually ride the cute-as-a-clover Plover Ferry between Semiahmoo and Blaine’s dock—it’s undergoing repairs in 2023, however. This ferry ride was a hit with the kids, as it putters through the harbor past fishing boats and barking seals.
The resort’s Seaview Room looks out onto Semiahmoo Bay. Pick a board game from the resort’s collection (Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, Monopoly Junior, Sorry, Connect Four), or play a game of pool in the library.
And of course, you can browse the shoreline for bald eagles and skipping stones. In the evening, the resort fee helps cover your free s’mores kit and beach bonfires.
Staying and Eating at Semiahmoo for Families
Often, resort food is known for poor quality and overpriced totals, so I was pleasantly surprised by Packers. Our meals were generously sized, very good, and reasonably priced.
A variety of hotel rooms are available, but I recommend The Deluxe Waterview Rooms, which open up to the outside grassy area via a door, or overlook the exterior with an attached sheltered patio.
Next door to Semiahmoo, you’ll find Airbnb options that could be suitable for families. A big caveat: Staying at these options does not give you access to Semiahmoo’s pool, bicycles, or other amenities. It isn’t like Sunriver or similar resorts.
You could also stay and eat in Blaine, the last stop in Washington before the U.S.-Canadian border, but it doesn’t have a whole lot to offer children other than an ice cream shop with extremely inexpensive ice cream (around $1.65 for a kids’ cone scoop) and a great gas station minimart with plenty of toys and games.
Birch Bay for Families
So I recommend heading south for 15 minutes to Birch Bay, a quaint saltwater community where families have vacationed for generations. Birch Bay itself is rumored to be the warmest spot on the Pacific, north of California, and it’s easy to see why—the land shelters the estuary in a gentle c-shape. You’ll see families crabbing in the calm waters and combing the tidepools for treasures, including hermit crabs, seastars and sea urchins. The 194-acre Birch Bay State Park is open year-round for camping and tidepooling.
Not loving the crab? In summer, Birch Bay Waterslides offers six low-key slides for families to slip down. During weekends (weather permitting), families drive go-karts and play mini-golf at Miniature World. And they always bring bikes, it seems. I frequently see dozens rolling along calm Birch Bay Drive.
Year-round, pick up chocolate, candy and other perfect sweets in the vintage-styled The C Shop. Just outside, a crafty-type market takes place on weekends.
Other local attractions include the windmillish town of Lynden and the shopping, movies and kid-friendly fun in Bellingham. But once you arrive in Birch Bay or Semiahmoo, I doubt you’ll want to leave. It just has that sort of effect on a family.