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The 15 Best Day Trips near Ottawa

The 15 Best Day Trips near Ottawa

It doesn’t take a whole weekend if you want to have fun and escape all the hubbubs of life. With plenty of incredible places you can visit from Ottawa, you can have a short getaway from the city and still have a blast.

If you’re thinking of where to go, we have just what you need! We travelled far and wide to check out the best places to visit for a quick day trip from Ottawa that will get you home before the day ends, so read on!

Gatineau Park, Chelsea

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Address: 33 Chem. Scott Road, Chelsea, QC J9B 1R5, Canada

Distance from Ottawa: 16-minute drive, 15.8 km

Contact Information: 819-827-2020, 1-866-456-3016 (toll-free)

Operating Hours: Monday – Sunday: 24 hours, except during extreme weather conditions

One of the shortest day trips from Ottawa is Gatineau Park. It’s easily accessible by car, and there’s no need to plan ahead because you can just visit on a regular day.

You can have a nice relaxing walk surrounded by nature, go swimming, ride a bike, or hike the trails. Try the Wolf Trail via Blanchet for a short loop hike, taking only under three hours to complete.

In the winter, you can go skiing or snowshoeing. You can find easy trails as well, like the 1.3 km Pioneers Trail and 3.2 Capitol Pathway; both won’t take too much of your time, so you can drive back home to Ottawa in a flash.

Pro Tips:
There are many black bears in the National Capital Region parks, so always stay alert when visiting Gatineau Park. Avoid wearing headphones and check for signs of bears in the area, such as droppings, flipped rocks, and broken logs.

Remember to keep your dog on a leash at all times. Dogs can provoke bears by barking and chasing, so it’s better to keep your pups close to you.

Wakefield, Quebec

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Address: Wakefield, Quebec J0X 3G0, Canada

Distance from Ottawa: 27-minute drive, 35.2 km 

This vibrant village in Quebec is a perfect day trip from Ottawa, given the many things you can do there during your visit. This charming place has a rich history, having been founded in 1830 by Irish immigrants.

Once you’re at Wakefield, start exploring by heading on to the main street, where you’ll find quaint shops, local pubs, and art galleries. 

A shop you have to drop by is La Confiserie Wakefield, near the Gatineau River, which makes deliciously sweet handmade chocolates and fudge.

Another place you have to check out is Wakefield Covered Bridge, a red wooden bridge at the village’s entrance. You can walk the bridge if you’re looking for a tranquil place, which also makes for a good photo op to commemorate your Wakefield trip.

Pro Tips:
If you’re going to Wakefield Covered Bridge, the closest spot to park is at Chemin du Vieux-Pont. And if you hear locals speaking French, don’t stress because the town is bilingual in English and French!

Almonte, Ontario

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Address: Almonte, Mississippi Mills, ON, Canada

Distance from Ottawa: 35-minute drive, 52.4 km

A little day’s adventure in Almonte, Ontario, will get you moving because the town is full of shops offering plenty of things to do. It’s the ultimate day trip that won’t snatch you away from Ottawa too much.

It’s a 19th-century mill town, which is evident in the architecture and style of the main street—it will bring you back in time! At the centre of the town is the post office, a must-see with its stone exterior, steep gabled roof, and clock tower.

You’ll find rows and rows of stores to check out, such as art galleries, eateries, antique shops, clothing boutiques, and specialty stores. Try to visit the farmers’ market on Saturdays from May to October and try local homemade goods.

Pro Tips:
Visit in September to catch the Almonte Fair, an annual tradition that has attractions, rides, horse shows, livestock exhibits, and more. It’ll make you feel like a local, and it welcomes visitors.

In August, the Almonte Pupper Festival brings thousands to the main street to catch colourful and innovative puppetry. It’s a family-friendly event, and you can go visit with the kids.

Kemptville, Ontario

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Address: Kemptville, Ontario, Canada

Distance from Ottawa: 38-minute drive, 59.2 km

Contact Information: 613-258-9569 ext. 128, [email protected]

Driving to Kemptville is quick, just 40 minutes from Parliament Hill if you don’t encounter traffic. But the drive is worth it because there are plenty of family-friendly activities to enjoy.

One of these is kayaking in Kemptville Creek, which is also called the South Branch of the Rideau River. There’s not a lot of boat traffic here despite being close to town, so you get to enjoy a tranquil spot while paddling the calm waters.

Another worth visiting for your day trip is Ferguson Forest Centre, just a couple of minutes from downtown. You can visit the tree nursery, hike the trails, and bring Fido to the fully fenced dog park with separate areas for small and large dogs.

Pro Tips:
If you plan on going to the Ferguson Forest Centre, don’t forget to bring bug spray. You’ll find lots of mosquitoes and bugs, especially when hiking near the creek.

Visit Ferguson Forest Centre if you want to use groomed winter trails. It’s safe for skiing because there are separate ski-only trails and a multi-use trail.

Merrickville-Wolford, Ontario

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Address: Village of Merrickville-Wolford, 317 Brock Street West, P.O. Box 340 Merrickville, Ontario, K0G 1N0

Distance from Ottawa: 50-minute drive, 75.5 km

Contact Information: 613-269-4791, 613-269-3095

If you want an unforgettable day trip, visit the Jewel of the Rideau: Merrickville-Wolford. There are endless fun outdoor activities, like kayaking, canoeing, hiking, and cross-country skiing. 

Merrickville, named Canada’s most beautiful village by Communities in Bloom, has a small-town charm. Wandering all around town is always a delight, as it’s filled with beautifully preserved buildings.

It’s also home to artisan shops, boutiques, and restaurants. Visit Wick Witch Apothecary for scented candles, Chaiya Home & Garden Decor for handcrafted goods, and Pickle and Myrrh for delicious candy bags.

Pro Tip:
Merrickville-Wolford is located along the Rideau Canal, which means you can get some of the most picturesque views and beautiful photos. It’s also quiet along the canal, offering a tranquil place to take a little break from all the shopping.

Montebello, Quebec

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Address: 550 Rue Notre Dame, Montebello, QC J0V 1L0, Canada

Distance from Ottawa: 55-minute drive, 84.0 km

Contact Information: 819-423-5123, [email protected]

A jewel in Quebec is the small town of Montebello, a place to take a leisurely walk and admire the gorgeous architecture. It’s like being in a fairytale but without beasts and monsters to slay.

This place is a photographer’s paradise, with many beautiful buildings to act as your subject or backdrop. The Manoir Papineau and the Fairmont Le Château Montebello are two stunning places you have to capture on camera and see up close.

It’s also a foodie haven, with rows of shops and restaurants offering delicious bites that will keep you wanting more. Try the famous ChocoMotive for artisanal chocolates that are too beautiful to eat.

Pro Tip:
Take a quick side trip to Omega Park to see wild animals in their natural environment. You can watch wolves, feed a bevy of deer, and go dog sledding with the huskies.

Perth, Ontario

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Address: Town of Perth – Town Hall, 80 Gore St E, Perth, ON K7H 1H9, Canada

Distance from Ottawa: 58-minute drive, 85.7 km

Contact Information: 613-267-3311, 613-267-5635 (fax)

Perth is a place that will take you on a captivating journey. There’s an arts and culture scene to discover, including live theatre productions to keep you entertained.

Head over to the downtown area to visit the Matheson House, which is the Perth Museum. The historically accurate rooms and artifacts will take you back to the 1840s.

After that, you can visit the shops downtown and have a picnic at one of the parks. Fall is an ideal time to visit, especially if you want to see the turning of the leaves act as a backdrop to the cute little town.

Pro Tip:
If you want to avoid driving, ride the intercity bus or take the train to Smiths Falls. Then, hail a taxi to drive you to Perth for approximately 20 minutes.

Calabogie Lake, Ontario

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Address: Calabogie Lake, Greater Madawaska, ON, Canada

Distance from Ottawa: 1 hour and 19-minute drive, 105.7 km

If you’re looking for a relaxing and quiet day trip, Calabogie Lake is a place you have to visit. There are many water activities you can do that will get you home before the day ends.

A popular activity is fishing, so get ready to catch some walleyes to bring home for dinner. There are plenty of boat launches for your convenience, including Barnet Park, Centennial Lake Road, and Matawatchan Road.

For a complete list of the boat launches, you can get a map from the Township Office and the Tourist Booth. You can also check out other stores since many of them have the map.

Pro Tips:
If you don’t want your car to lug around a motorboat, don’t worry! There are watercraft rentals all around Calabogie since fishing is a popular activity here.

If you plan on fishing in Ontario, you need to get a fishing licence. This is required for residents and non-residents, and you’ll need to know the restrictions for catch and keep or release.

Bonnechere Caves, Ontario

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Address: 1247 Fourth Chute Rd, Eganville, ON K0J 1T0, Canada

Distance from Ottawa: 1 hour and 20-minute drive, 123.1 km

Contact Information: 1-613-628-2283, 1-800-469-2283 (Toll-Free)

Operating Hours: Season dependent

Admission: Prices are inclusive of taxes and parking

  • Adult – $22
  • Senior (65+) – $20
  • Youth (13-17 years) – $15
  • Children (4-12) – $14
  • Under 4 – Free

For an adventure-filled day trip, visit Bonnechere Caves in Eastern Ontario, where you get to explore the cave while having an educational tour. 

Here, you’ll go deep underground –100 feet, to be exact – and be in complete awe at this natural wonder. This guided tour will only last an hour, giving you enough time to explore the surrounding areas and make it home to Ottawa before it gets dark.

But you can stay at the cave for underground dining—yup, you get to eat inside a cave! It’s a truly unique experience as you get to enjoy a meal while hearing music and bats!

Pro Tips:
If you want to dine inside the cave, you must join a guided tour of the cave before being eligible to book. Also, keep in mind the dining experience is only available in September.

Wear proper shoes for cave exploring. The grounds can be wet and slippery, and you’ll have to take stairs to go in and out of the cave.

Whitewater Region, Ontario

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Address: Whitewater Region, Ontario, Canada

Distance from Ottawa: 1 hour and 20-minute drive, 127.6 km

An action-packed day trip is possible at Whitewater Region in Eastern Ontario, where you get to do many outdoor activities that will get your heart pumping.

You can join a whitewater rafting tour at the Ottawa River, with low, medium, and high intensity options for all skill levels. Kids as young as five are welcome, so bring the whole family and get soaked!

Pro Tip:
Don’t bring valuables, like jewellery. These can easily get lost on the raft, even when clipped on your life jacket.

1000 Islands, Ontario

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Address: Thousand Islands Bridge Authority – Leeds and the Thousand Islands, ON K0E 1L0, Canada

Distance from Ottawa: 1 hour and 30-minute drive, 152.6 km

Contact Information: 800-847-5263

Operating Hours: Monday – Sunday: 24 hours (bridge hours)

You can drive a little farther away for a day trip to the 1000 Islands (called Thousand Islands) and visit the border of Canada and the US. It’s not difficult to go to because you can come to the island via car, boat, or plane!

At Thousand Islands, you can paddle the waters and explore the secluded islands, which you can do for just half a day. We recommend joining a guided tour so you can make the most out of your day trip—some allow kayakers as young as six!

But one of the places you shouldn’t miss is Boldt Castle on Heart Island, which has a medieval and Renaissance architectural style that will transport you to the past. You can explore the castle grounds and the rooms, all beautiful and worth checking out.

Pro Tips:
Boldt Castle doesn’t accept Canadian money, so bring any major credit card. If you have US money lying around, this is the time to use them.
For an easy visit to Boldt Castle, it’s best to join a boat tour for a convenient trip. Gananoque City Cruises and Rockport Cruises are about two hours from Ottawa.

New York, USA

Address: John F. Kennedy International Airport, Queens, NY 11430, United States

Distance from Ottawa: 1 hour and 30 to 40 minutes by plane, 444.8 mi

Contact Information: 718-244-4444 (JFK Airport)

Going to the city where dreams are made is as easy as pie from Ottawa. And yes, you can come home by dinnertime if you book an early flight.

There are so many things to do in New York, like visiting the observatory deck of Rockefeller Center, walking the streets of Lower West Side, checking out Liberty Island, exploring Central Park, and, of course, seeing the busy Time Street.

The city is also home to delicious food like hand-rolled bagels from Ess-a-Bagel and pizza from Di Fara. But with a tonne of choices, you can find a new favourite food that will keep you coming back to The Big Apple.

Pro Tips:
The best months to visit New York are from September to November. It has nice weather during this time, averaging around 13°C, and it isn’t as busy.

Finding public restrooms is challenging. Before leaving the airport, use the restroom first or use one at the restaurant you will eat at.

Mont-Tremblant, Quebec

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Address: Tremblant Information Center – 1000 Chem. des Voyageurs, Mont-Tremblant, QC J8E 1T1, Canada

Distance from Ottawa: 1 hour and 46-minute drive, 152.6 km

Contact Information: 877-425-2434, [email protected]

Mont-Tremblant is the place to go for adrenaline-pumping activities for a winter day trip. Why? Well, the place has plenty of winter sports activities, like alpine hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, nordic skiing, snowmobiling, and skating.

But an activity that will give you a little workout is fat biking, where you get to bike off-road in the snow. You can cycle at the La Villageoise-de-Mont-Tremblant for a beginner-friendly spot or ride the trails in the mountains.

You can also go tube sliding at the AX Hôtel Mont-Tremblant, which has eight sliding trails for families and groups to slide together. Or go to the heart of the village at Lake Mercier, which has slides made entirely out of ice.

Pro Tips:
If you’re looking for places to eat, the Old Village of Mont-Tremblant has plenty of local spots. 

Also, pack layers because the cold temperatures here are different than what we’re used to in Ontario. It’s nothing Ottawans can’t handle, though, as long as you’re prepped for the cold.

Old Montreal, Quebec

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Address: Montreal, Quebec H2Y 3A7, Canada

Distance from Ottawa: 2-hour drive, 200.3 km

Contact Information: 514-844-5757, [email protected]

The best thing to do in Old Montreal is to walk the cobblestone streets and marvel at the historic and stunning architecture. You can do a quick day trip since it’s a very walkable neighbourhood, with rows of shops and restaurants to keep you entertained.

You can join walking tours and shop to your heart’s content. During your stroll, head to Place Jacques-Cartier and watch live performances from street artists.

Then you can walk to the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal, located at Rue Notre Dame. After, just turn east to find the Aldred Building, an Art Deco structure at Place d’Armes Square.

Pro Tips:
Old Montreal has cobblestone streets, so don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes to prevent your feet from hurting.

You can take the train to get to Old Montreal because there isn’t a lot of parking in the neighbourhood, and finding a spot can take too much time.