For years, we’ve driven past Harrison Hot Springs and talked about going there. An invitation from Tourism Harrison to come view the Lights on the Lake gave us the perfect excuse to plan a day trip. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate with our plans, so our trip wasn’t exactly what we’d hoped. It was still a lovely day away as a family.
If you’ve ever considered heading up to Harrison Hot Springs, plan a trip up during the holiday season to see the Lights on the Lake. This free festival runs until January 28th and features beautiful decorations, light installations, and, of course, Harrison’s favourite Sasquatch. Here’s more about what to do during your visit to Harrison Hot Springs.
We received a complimentary lunch at Muddy Waters Cafe; all opinions expressed are my own.
Lunch at Muddy Waters Cafe
We started our day in Harrison Hot Springs with lunch at the Muddy Waters Cafe. Located right on the water, this little cafe was clearly the place to be. Despite the pouring rain outside, there was a steady stream of visitors for the entire time we were there. Some were just grabbing a coffee, and others were staying for lunch as we were.
Muddy Waters Cafe has a cozy, small-town feel. A Christmas tree sat in the centre of the cafe and a menu advertised seasonal lattes. We grabbed menus from the bar and picked our food, then read the bulletin board and watched people stroll past outside. We could also see some of the Lights on the Lake, like the cute snowmen above.
Cafe owner Richard Fife is a local resident and a Chamber Director. The cafe has been around Harrison Hot Springs for over twenty-five years, and under Richard’s care for the past five. It features “farm-to-table” cuisine, with most of the food on the menu coming from the local Fraser Valley.
Richard says he’s “been able to source local cheese, coffee, Black Angus, greens, berries and more from farms within a few kilometers of Harrison.” As we browsed the menu, I was quite impressed with the variety of lunch options. I agree with Richard that the result is “great local food on our plates and strong local farms in our neighbourhood.”
I ordered the open-faced brie sandwich, with pears and pecans spread on top, and butternut squash soup on the side. Both were scrumptious! I love brie. The sandwich was big and even my husband commented that they hadn’t skimped on the cheese. I had to fight him away from my sandwich—and then ended up giving him the last few bites because I got full.
He had the bison burger, one of his favourites. As soon as I saw it on the menu, I knew what he’d order.
Sunshine (turning 11) ordered a BLT off the adult menu. It came with pepper smoked bacon, prosciutto, and a romano aioli. I was hoping for a bite, but she finished it off before I could ask.
The younger girls had the grilled cheese sandwiches and buttered noodles on the kids menu. Their meals came with goldfish crackers, which were a bigger hit than the other items. I would have liked to see a bit more variety on the kids’ menu. Jade doesn’t really like either noodles or grilled cheese sandwiches, so she mostly ate fishy crackers.
The Harrison Hot Springs Pool
A trip to Harrison wouldn’t be complete with a visit to the hot springs! The public pool is located conveniently in the centre of town. (We could have walked there from the cafe if it wasn’t pouring rain.) It’s an older pool, but the change rooms were spacious and even had a “baby jail” for Joey while we were getting swim suits on.
We spent the first fifteen minutes of our swim convincing the girls that this was a “relaxing” pool, not a splash-around-dive-for-toy-fish pool. Pearl sat quietly on the steps playing with her plastic fish. Sunshine and Lily eventually floated around on pool noodles. Jade tried out several life jackets and then started naming fish with Pearl. Joey splashed, visited with a couple grandpas in the pool, and tried to escape up the stairs.000000000000000
Lights on the Lake
We’d hoped to do a few hikes around Harrison Hot Springs before viewing the Lights on the Lake after dark. However, the rain didn’t show any signs of letting up. Having done all the indoor activities around town (except for shopping, which didn’t seem like a good idea with five kids in tow), we decided we’d have to check out the lights in the rain.
On a quiet weekday, there was plenty of parking along the water. I could imagine the beautiful views we’d have of the lake as we strolled along, if the clouds hadn’t been sitting low. There were benches and trees along the sidewalk. Lily and Jade ran ahead, eager to see the Lights on the Lake, as I followed with Joey.
The mascot at Harrison Hot Springs is a Sasquatch. There are several Sasquatch statues around town (watch for them as you explore!) and he appeared in the Christmas lights too. Kids will have fun watching for the different Sasquatches and seeing what they’re doing! I liked this Sasquatch, roasting marshmallows over a fire:
The town plaza was also decked out with Whoville-inspired Christmas trees, like this one:
On a nice day, the girls could have easily spent an hour playing on the playground next to the plaza. The beautiful Christmas decorations would have also made a great backdrop for a family photo.
Lights on the Lake would also look gorgeous from the trail on the other side of the lagoon. I liked the unique take on Christmas decorations here. The various light displays share Harrison’s favourite ways to spend time outdoors.
Planning Your Visit to Lights on the Lake
Check the weather and be flexible. Unfortunately, we couldn’t change our plans when we realized it was raining so hard. Our weekends are busy, so my husband had scheduled a flex day to could explore Harrison as a family. We tried to make the best of it, despite the weather. It was still fun, and the girls didn’t really care that much about the rain (though I didn’t want them to get cold).
If the weather isn’t clear, take umbrellas and dress warmly. The lights are all outside.
Grab a hot drink at the cafe before you start walking. Nothing adds to the holiday spirit like a peppermint hot chocolate or mocha! It’s also a great way to keep your hands warm.
Follow the Christmas Tree Trail through Harrison Hot Springs. This self-guided tour runs until January 13th and takes visitors around the village. You can enjoy seasonal treats at the local coffee shops or bistros, and shop for unique Christmas gifts in the local boutiques.
Hike the Spirit Trail if the weather is nice! This is a short walk through beautiful cedar forest. A local resident and artist has decorated many of the cedars along the trail with beautiful masks. (We’d hoped to see this before having lunch, so we’ll have to return.)
Bring your swim suits and soak in the pool! Family admission was about $30.
If you’re looking for more fun winter events, check out my list of Family Christmas Activities in Vancouver.
Are you planning to visit Lights on the Lake in Harrison Hot Springs this holiday season?