After packing up our camping gear for our one night-only stay at Kokanee Creek (with promises to the kids that we’d make another longer trip here next time), we hit the road for our 20-minute drive to the Ainsworth Hot Springs – famed for its hot springs (of course) and extraordinary scenery, surrounded by the Purcell Mountains and Kootenay Lake. But, in my humble opinion, what makes Ainsworth especially unique is its dazzling caves.
Since the weather was less than ideal, the hot springs seemed like the perfect way to make the most of some cloudy and cooler temperatures. We arrived just as they opened their doors, and happily had the entire place to ourselves for a very brief time.
Along with its hot springs, Ainsworth features a large warm pool and a plunge pool – which is, well… I won’t lie to you, it’s cold. But, then again, it’s not called the “plunge pool” for nothing. The hot springs is also home to the upscale and award-winning Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort.
On our visit, we spent much of our time comfortably soaking in the revitalizing mineral waters of the main pool, which is set at 98 degrees or, as it’s known, average body temperature. Between you and me, I think every pool everywhere should be this warm.
The hot springs is around 104 degrees, with the caves offering the idyllic setting to take a truly natural steam bath. Of course, the plunge pool is just that – meant to refresh and revitalize (somewhere around the 50-degree mark) before and/or after your hot soak.
Once we had thoroughly refreshed, relaxed and soaked, we headed out the doors to our next overnight destination – the picturesque town of Nelson. On our first of several nights un-camping, we checked into the Prestige Inn and welcomed the indulgence of plush beds, indoor plumbing and a solid roof.
From there, we made our way to the heart of Nelson, which happens to be the filming location for the popular 1987 rom-com Roxanne – a modern twist on the classic Cyrano de Bergerac story with the iconic Steve Martin. Now, exactly 25 years later, the City of Nelson is just as delightful as it was in that comic masterpiece – with an inviting downtown filled with local shops, cozy cafes and lively restaurants.
We ended our evening with dinner at Thor’s Pizzeria. Why? Two reasons: the positive online reviews and my daughter’s obsession with anything related to mythical gods. (I’ll explain.) While the pizza and other fare at Thor’s has earned star ratings and reviews for its high-quality ingredients, it was actually the names of the pizzas – The Zeus, Hades Inferno, Poseidon’s Treat, etc. – that caught my daughter’s eye and interest.
While I dined on a slice of the vegetarian Apollo’s Harvest, my family indulged in The Mercury – loaded with pepperoni, spicy capicolli, black olives, green peppers, red onions, mushrooms and Thor’s own special mozza blend. It was comfort food at its most delicious, fulfilling and fortifying for our journey ahead.