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Poutine and beyond: What are the best weekend getaways from Ottawa?

Where to Find the Best Sushi in Ottawa

Ottawa’s got a lot to offer, but sometimes a girl (or a guy) just needs to get out of town a bit. If the endless grind of daily life has left you feeling like a wilted ByWard Market tulip, then it’s time for a getaway!

So, let’s swap poutine for picnics, skyscrapers for starry nights, and the daily commute for a scenic drive. We’re about to dive into the best weekend getaways from Ottawa. Get ready to refresh and maybe rediscover your love for our nation’s capital… after a little break, of course!


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Location: Wakefield, Quebec, Canada

Travel time from Ottawa: 30 minutes

Ottawa’s got its perks, but sometimes you just need to ditch the spreadsheets and escape the siren song of rush hour traffic.  That’s where Wakefield comes in.

This place has a way of disarming even the most tightly-wound city dwellers. Maybe it’s the cobblestone streets that seem designed to thwart power walking. Or the way the Gatineau Hills practically dares you to ditch your schedule and go exploring. 

Speaking of exploring, Gatineau Park is your outdoor playground. Here, you can hike, bike, paddle – or, if you crave adrenaline, just try not to scream too loudly while ziplining through the forest canopy at Laflèche Adventure.


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Location: Carp, Ontario, Canada

Travel time from Ottawa: 30 minutes

Carp is all about its Farmers’ Market. It’s a Saturday morning ritual, where you’ll find local produce, fresh-baked bread, and handcrafted goodies that put chain stores to shame.  Locals and city folk alike mingle, baskets overflowing, the aroma of coffee mingling with the chatter.

But of course, we all want serenity during a getaway, that’s why you can go to The Carp Ridge Forest. It offers hiking and biking trails that wind through peaceful woodlands. Make sure to pack a picnic and find a quiet spot to enjoy the view!

Carleton Place

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Location: Ottawa Valley, Eastern Ontario, Canada

Travel time from Ottawa: 40 minutes

Carleton Place oozes that small-town warmth. Strolling down its streets feels like a trip back in time with its historic buildings and friendly locals. Fun fact: It’s the birthplace of Canadian flying ace Roy Brown, credited with taking down the infamous Red Baron in World War I!

For the epicureans, Carleton Place is a treasure trove of taste. The town flaunts a diverse dining scene, from the warmth of The Good Food Co., a café known for its hearty brunches, to the refined vibe of Black Tartan Kitchen, where local ingredients are elevated into gourmet dishes. 


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Location: Kemptville, Ontario, Canada

Travel time from Ottawa: 45 minutes

Kemptville knows how to do quaint: brick buildings, independent shops, and cafes where the scent of fresh coffee beckons. You can browse Clothier Street West with its boutiques and antique stores – there’s always a treasure waiting to be discovered.

And if you need a sugar rush, just pop into The Branch Restaurant & Texas Grill for a slice of homemade pie or a decadent milkshake.

You can even make a beeline to Oxford Mills Farmers’ Market. Here, you can sample local cheeses, and discover handcrafted treats! While you’re in the area, swing by eQuinelle for a golf session or some pampering at their spa.


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Location: Arnprior, Ontario, Canada

Travel time from Ottawa: 45 minutes away

Arnprior is your playground. With its lush forests, winding rivers, and parks straight out of a postcard, you’ll find yourself spoiled for choice. Hiking, cycling, birdwatching – you name it, Arnprior got it. 

And let’s not forget the Madawaska River, where you can paddle your way to serenity amidst nature’s finest.

You can also stroll the streets of this place that are lined with heritage buildings that whisper tales of yesteryears. And don’t miss the Arnprior & District Museum, where the past comes to life before your very eyes.


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Location: Bonnechere River, Ontario, Canada

Travel time from Ottawa: 1 hour

If you’re in Ottawa and looking for an escape that’s a stone’s throw away (okay, perhaps a bit further, but who’s measuring?) Renfrew is your go-to spot. 

Upon arriving here, you’re greeted by the warmth of a community that takes pride in its heritage. A must-visit is the McDougall Mill Museum. This place houses artifacts that paint a vivid picture of Renfrew’s industrial past and its evolution over the years.

If golf is your game, you’re in luck. Renfrew is home to the Renfrew Golf Club, where the greens are as welcoming as the people. This course is known for its immaculate condition and challenging layout that offers a perfect blend of beauty and rigour for golfers of all skill levels.


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Location: Perth, Ontario, Canada

Travel time from Ottawa: 1 hour

This Ontario nugget is closer to Ottawa than your favourite coffee shop is to your home, and it’s packed with enough charm to make your Instagram followers green with envy. 

Founded in 1816, this town is like your great-great-grandma, but with better stories. The Perth Museum in Matheson House will school you on the town’s past without the need for a pop quiz. 

Nature enthusiast? Perth’s got you. It’s like Mother Nature herself decided to show off. The Rideau Canal (a UNESCO-listed one) is perfect if you enjoy a good paddle or the occasional fishing tale.


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Location: Merrickville, Ontario, Canada

Travel time from Ottawa: 1 hour 

Merrickville, or as people like to call it, “The Jewel of the Rideau”, is an absurdly picturesque village that seems to have staged a rebellion against the modern world’s hustle and made peace with its own serene and timeless beauty. 

Shopping here is an experience in itself. Imagine (well, not literally) meandering through historic streets where each boutique and shop invites you in with the promise of something unique

But what truly sets Merrickville apart is its community and the myriad of events that fill its calendar. From art shows and studio tours to the renowned Merrickville Jazz Fest, the village is a pulsating hub of culture and celebration. 


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Location: Casselman, Ontario, Canada

Travel time from Ottawa: 1 hour

Casselman is a small-town charm with a twist. You won’t find chain stores or bustling crowds here. Instead, Casselman has an independent spirit.  Think unique boutiques, cozy cafes with the best homemade pies, and that friendly, everyone-knows-your-name vibe. 

But don’t be fooled by its size – Casselman packs a punch when it comes to things to do. Cyclists, this one’s for you. The town hooks up to a gorgeous cycling path that’s ideal for a leisurely pedal with scenic views. 

Want to get your history fix? The Casselman Heritage Museum dives into the town’s unique past and the folks there are always up for a good story.


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Location: Montebello, Quebec, Canada

Travel time from Ottawa: 1 hour

At the heart of this picturesque village lies the Fairmont Le Château Montebello, arguably one of the world’s largest and most stunning log cabins. It’s a masterpiece of rustic elegance that offers a cozy yet luxurious embrace for its guests. 

But Montebello isn’t just about the resort. This village has a laid-back vibe that makes your problems feel a million miles away. 

You can take a stroll down the main street, pop into local shops, and maybe grab a pastry from a boulangerie. It’s all part of that European-village-by-way-of-Canada feel.


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Location: Brockville, Ontario, Canada

Travel time from Ottawa: 1 hour

If you’re itching for a change of pace but can’t stray too far from the capital, this “City of the 1000 Islands” is your ticket to a memorable weekend.

Love the thrill of an open-air adventure? Brockville’s location on the St. Lawrence River is a water enthusiast’s paradise. Rent a kayak or paddleboard and explore the intricate shorelines of the 1000 Islands. Feeling more ambitious? Embark on a scuba diving adventure!

And hey, a little modern indulgence never hurt anyone! Brockville’s downtown scene offers a delightful contrast to its historical side. Try snagging tickets to a performance at the historic Brockville Arts Centre!

Lanark Highlands

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Location: Lanark Highlands, Ontario, Canada

Travel time from Ottawa: 1 hour

Lanark Highlands boasts some seriously quaint corners. The village of Lanark dates back to the early 1800s and still flaunts that historical allure. Further exploring unearths hidden gems like Middleville and its Middleville Museum that offer a glimpse into the region’s fascinating past.

The Highlands is also a playground for adventurers and relaxation seekers alike. With over 150 lakes, the water is your oyster – be it for kayaking or fishing in the serene vibes at the shore. 


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Location: Perth, Calabogie, Ontario, Canada

Travel time from Ottawa: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Nestled along the shores of its namesake lake, Calabogie is a four-season playground just a hop, skip, and a scenic drive away from Ottawa. And let’s be real, nothing says “weekend escape” quite like a destination that lets you ski, snowboard, hike, and swim.

Calabogie Peaks Resort is the heart of this getaway. In the winter, you can conquer its slopes (Ontario’s tallest public ski resort, btw). Then, swap your skis for hiking boots when warmer weather hits to explore a network of trails winding through lush forests. 

Hungry? From cozy après-ski spots within the resort to the down-home goodness of the local Calabogie Brewing Company, this little town punches above its weight for good food and drink. Pro-tip: their outdoor patio in the summer is a must-do!


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Location: Ottawa River, Quebec, Canada

Travel time from Ottawa: 1 hour and 45 minutes

Fort-Coulonge isn’t shy about its past. The iconic Félix-Gabriel-Marchand Bridge is a gorgeous example of covered bridge architecture that stands as a reminder of the town’s historical ties to the logging industry. 

But Fort-Coulonge isn’t just a history lesson. The Coulonge Falls (Chutes Coulonge) park delivers stunning waterfall views and plenty of trails to explore. And for a true adrenaline rush, you can check out Rafting Momentum for guided whitewater rafting experiences.

Fort-Coulonge might not be the first place that comes to mind for a weekend getaway, but that’s the beauty of it. It’s a little slice of Quebec’s hidden gems that offer a unique mix of activities.

Mont Tremblant

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Location: Mont Tremblant, Quebec, Canada

Travel time from Ottawa: 2 hours

Let’s talk about the mountain itself. Mont Tremblant is a winter wonderland that becomes a summer paradise as the seasons change. In winter, the slopes come alive with skiers and snowboarders carving their way down, each turning a brushstroke on the snowy canvas. 

Now, let’s wade into the waters of the Domaine Saint-Bernard. Spanning over 1,500 hectares, you can cross-country ski through forests, paddleboard on serene lakes in the summer, or simply find a quiet spot to meditate amidst the beauty of nature.