Ottawa, Canada’s Capital, offers many family-friendly activities and is known for the wide selection of the National museums and nature activities just on the city outskirts. In this post, we also recommend places in Outaouais (a region in Quebec province, north-east from Ottawa) – ideal to visit if you are driving from or to Montreal. Ottawa is located in the southeast part of Ontario and is only two hours away from Montreal.
Here is the list of activities (ideal for wintertime but it can be equally enjoyable during the summer):
- Parliament Hill
- Byward Market
- Rideau Canal Skateway
- Gatineau Park
- Mer Bleue
- Parc Omega
- Fairmont – Le Chateau Montebello
- Hockey Game
We went strolling around the Parliament Hill’s neo-Gothic historical buildings, watching the Centennial Flame, Senate, House of Commons and the National War Memorial. Even though the buildings are currently under renovation (Jan 2020), and the view of the river is blocked, it is still impressive to visit. Book a visit to enter the Parliament building or just stroll outside and enjoy the views.
Ottawa is home to seven national museums, it was difficult to choose which one to visit!
- National Gallery of Canada
- Canada Science and Technology Museum
- Canada Aviation and Space Museum
- Canada Agriculture and Food Museum
- Canadian Museum of Nature
- Canadian War Museum
- Canadian Museum of History
Canadian Museum of History
We finally decided to visit the Musée Canadien de l’Histoire (Canadian Museum of History). The museum has the largest indoor collection of totem poles in the world, including Canadian history and First Nations exhibitions. It is also home to the Canadian Children’s Museum.
The market is spread around several streets in a rectangle shape. The address below refers to the small indoor market building. The area offers lots of bakeries, restaurants, food stalls, and a bohemian vibe atmosphere.
There are lots of parking buildings (by the hour) around the market area.
Rideau Canal Skateway
Rideau Canal is the largest naturally frozen skating rink in the world, 7.8 km long. It is open from around January to late February (check conditions online), 24/7 and is free and accessible. (During our visit, temperatures were above zero Celsius and the canal was not frozen yet).
The park is stretching north-west from Ottawa, in the Outaouais region of Quebec. The beautiful Gatineau hills offer unique and diversified ecosystems and heritage features. The park has many activities for each season. During the winter, hiking, snowshoeing, cross country and snow biking.
With the help of the staff at the park’s visitor centre, based on the outdoor conditions, we decided to do a small winter hike to see the Mackenzie King Estate. The estate belonged to the tenth Canadian prime minister. We hiked the waterfall trail which was very slippery at the time of our visit but enjoyable, it was a loop walk of about 3 km. There are many other attractions to visit in the park, worth checking online. The park is free of charge all year round!
After visiting the Mackenzie King Estate, we continued for a lunch in the small town of Chelsea and then we headed north, 25 minutes, to this truly picturesque town of Wakefield. The town is known for the red wooden covered bridge and the nearby Ski Vorlage. The Wakefield covered bridge is worth visiting. Park near Chemin du Vieux-Pont and walk 2 minutes to reach the bridge. We then drove back to the town centre, strolled along the river and enjoyed visiting the nice artistic shops and good restaurants.
Mer Bleue is a large protected area, only 20 minutes east of Ottawa. It offers a free and simple hiking trail, a 1.2 km loop walk on a wooden walkway with interpretive signs. Mer Bleue is a large bog that represents a northern ecosystem (boreal like) of the Arctic that does not normally exist this far south. Many species (animals and vegetation) have adapted to the acidic water of the bog.
There are few other trails available, 20 km of hiking options including cross country ski during the winter.
Address: Ridge Rd, Ottawa, K0A 2Y0, ON
An amazing park with a 15 km drive-through adventure, safari expedition, to discover the wildlife of Canada. The park is located 1h30 from Montreal and 1h from Ottawa.
Fairmont – Le Chateau Montebello
Fairmont Montebello is a beautiful luxury hotel, with a unique large wooden structure. The hotel sits on the banks of the Ottawa River and offers long walking trails in the forest. We stopped there to admire the hotel lobby, which is built around a fireplace and enjoyed a hot chocolate and a nice meal at the hotel restaurant. After lunch, we played ice hockey at the hotel’s outdoor ice rink.
Ottawa Senators is Ottawa’s NHL team which is playing at the Canadian Tire Centre, worth checking to see if a game if coming up while visiting the city.