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Exploring the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa

Exploring the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa

The Canadian Museum of Nature has been my sanctuary on rainy afternoons and my haven of inspiration on sunny weekends.

Whenever I step through its grand entrance, it feels like entering another dimension, where time slows down and the marvels of nature unfold before my eyes in breathtaking detail.

Suddenly, I’m enveloped by the ancient giants that once roamed the earth and the delicate ecosystems teeming with life.

But the museum is more than just a collection of artifacts; it’s a journey of self-discovery. Every visit offers new insights and connections, reminding me of the magic that surrounds me.

So if you’re a local looking for an adventure or a visitor eager to explore Ottawa’s cultural offerings, I invite you to go to the Canadian Museum of Nature and embark on a journey unlike any other. 

Prepare to be amazed, inspired, and reminded of the incredible beauty and complexity of the world we call home.

About the Canadian Museum of Nature

Address240 McLeod St, Ottawa, ON K2P 2R1, Canada
Phone800 263 4433
Operating hoursMonday, Wednesday, Friday to Sunday: 9:30 – 4 pm
Thursday: 9:30 – 8 pm
Admission feesAdult: $17.50
Senior (65+):  $15.50
Students: $15.50
Children (3-12): $13.50
Tiny Tot (0-2): Free
Member: Free

The Canadian Museum of Nature stands as a beacon of national pride, showcasing the wonders of our natural world. 

Within its walls, visitors can go on a thrilling journey through captivating exhibits and interactive experiences, delving into the intricate realms of fossils, mammals, minerals, birds, and the dynamic forces of plate tectonics. 

But the adventure doesn’t stop there. The museum also plays host to a myriad of special exhibitions and guided tours that promise to enthrall and educate. 

You can immerse yourself in the miniature universe of insects, seeing the world through their eyes and gaining a newfound appreciation for these tiny yet extraordinary creatures.

Best Time to Visit the Canadian Museum of Nature

The best time to visit the Canadian Museum of Nature depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re up for free admission, go on Thursdays after 5 p.m. 

But if you want fewer crowds, go on weekdays (except Thursdays), especially mornings before lunchtime. 

What to See at the Canadian Museum of Nature

1. Fossil Gallery

The Fossil Gallery at the Canadian Museum of Nature is a total trip back in time! It’s not just dusty old bones under glass; this place is like walking into a prehistoric documentary.

As soon as you walk in, you come face-to-face with this enormous Daspletosaurus skeleton – it’s basically a T-Rex’s cooler, older cousin. 

And that’s just the beginning. They have tons of other amazing fossils too, like Triceratops chilling out nearby and a giant Edmontosaurus mounted on the wall — apparently, the first dinosaur ever shown off in all of Canada!

But here’s the coolest part: the walk-through forest. Imagine you’re surrounded by swampy trees and seven life-sized dinosaurs, all looking ready to rumble, like they’re about to have a dinosaur showdown. 

It’s so realistic, you can practically hear them roar. 

2. Mammal Gallery

Another sight to see at this museum is the Mammal Gallery, an exhibit that showcases the diverse range of mammals found in Canada. 

We’re talking grizzly bears towering over you, majestic moose with racks that would make your jaw drop, and cunning cougars ready to pounce (well, maybe not literally pounce, but you get the idea).

And here’s the best part: these aren’t just random animals plunked on a pedestal. They’re flaunted in these incredible 3D dioramas — like paintings come to life!

Furthermore, the gallery is packed with interactive stations. You can get up close with touchscreens to learn how these animals have adapted to survive in Canada’s wild places. 

3. Bird Gallery 

If you’re interested in birds, the Bird Gallery at the Canadian Museum of Nature is like stepping into a real-life aviary, minus the whole poop-on-your-head thing. 

They’ve got this incredible collection, the biggest in the world for Canadian birds, with close to 500 feathered friends on display. 

From the majestic Great Horned Owl to the sadly extinct Passenger Pigeon, you get to see these incredible creatures up close and personal.

But it’s not just about looking! They’ve got these awesome interactive stations where you can learn all about identifying different birds by their calls and feathers, just like a real birder. 

And if you’ve got little ones in tow, they’ll be obsessed with the Bird Care Clinic play area. They can pretend to be veterinarians, patching up injured sparrows and whatnot.

4. Canada Goose Arctic Gallery

The Canada Goose Arctic Gallery is an interesting exhibition where you’ll feel like you’re entering an incredible window into the Arctic.

They’ve got this mind-blowing installation called “Beyond Ice,” a collaboration with the National Film Board. They project these amazing videos and images right onto real ice! 

It’s a mesmerizing experience and perfect for anyone, from curious kids to jaded adults like us.

The whole gallery is divided into different sections, so you can learn about the climate, geography, sustainability, and ecosystems. I’m talking polar bears, caribou, and even a muskox with its little calf! 

Plus, they’ve got a giant bowhead whale skull and life-size models of belugas and narwhals – it’s like a real-life Arctic animal parade!

But it’s not just about the animals. They also delve into the lives of the Indigenous people who call the Arctic home and how they’ve been connected to this land for ages. 

There’s even a special section called the Northern Voices Gallery, where Indigenous peoples curate their own exhibits. It’s super interesting to see the Arctic through their eyes.

5. Water Gallery

The Water Gallery is all about exploring the wonders of water on our big blue planet. They demonstrate how all the water in this world is connected, the animals that call the oceans home, and increasing water-related issues including pollution and plastic waste.

First off, you come face-to-face with a real blue whale skeleton, the largest animal ever to live on Earth. Through models, videos, and even interactive displays, you can learn what you can do to help keep our oceans, lakes, and rivers healthy.

And let’s not forget the cutest part — the live animal tanks. They’re filled with freshwater fish, moon jellyfish that pulsate like glowing orbs, and even sea stars clinging to the rocks.

Where to Eat Near the Canadian Museum of Nature

1. Zak’s Diner 

Address 14 Byward Market Square, Ottawa, ON K1N 7A1, Canada
Phone 613 241 2401
Operating hours Sunday to Wednesday: 7 – 10 pm
Thursday: 7 – 12 am
Friday to Saturday: 24 hours
Must order menu items The Great Canadian
Boneless Wings & Fries
Zak Attack
Price range $$ – average 

For Zak’s Diner, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. So, they make this dish called The Great Canadian!

If you’re a breakfast aficionado (or just someone who appreciates a good meal), this one’s for you. We’re talking two eggs, cooked just how you like them.

Add in some juicy sausage, a generous helping of Canadian bacon, and a side of crispy home fries or tater tots. And let’s not forget the baked beans, which provide a balance of protein and carbohydrates to start your day. 

But just when you thought it could get any better, you get toast and a fluffy pancake thrown into the mix. 

And here’s where it gets exciting: you can upgrade with a drizzle of 100% Canadian maple syrup or indulge in some Nutella for a little extra yum. Trust me, it’s the kind of breakfast dreams are made of.

2. Play Food & Wine

Address 1 York St, Ottawa, ON K1N 5S7, Canada
Phone 613 667 9207 
Operating hours Sunday to Tuesday: 5 – 9 pm 
Wednesday to Saturday: 11:30 – 2 pm, 5 – 10 pm 
Must order menu items Smoked Pork Ribs
Grilled Beef Striploin
Ramp gnocchi
Price range $$ – average 

It’s worth coming to Play Food & Wine just for their Smoked Pork Ribs alone. You’ve got these tender, smoky pork ribs that practically fall off the bone, paired with a scape gribiche sauce.

And let me tell you, that sauce is the stuff dreams are made of — creamy, eggy, with just a hint of garlic to keep things interesting.

They also include melon kimchi, which has the tangy, spicy goodness of traditional Korean kimchi, but instead of cabbage, they use melon.

To top it all off, there’s a crispy potato salad for that satisfying crunch and roasted acorn squash for a touch of sweetness.

3. Town

Address 296 Elgin St, Ottawa, ON K2P 1M3, Canada
Phone 613 695 8696
Operating hours Tuesday to Saturday: 5 – 9 pm 
Must order menu items Town Meatballs
Beef Tartare
Octopus & Squid Bravas
Price range $$ – average 

Town is such an underrated spot in Ottawa. Their meatballs are just perfect for the customer’s liking — not overcooked, not too raw, and with just the right amount of juiciness. 

If I were to recommend a dish here, I’d go for their Town Meatballs. They’re made from this secret blend of ground meats, breadcrumbs, and spices that just sing in your mouth!

The meatballs are perched atop a fluffy bed of rosemary whey polenta, which is like the fancier cousin of your regular polenta. It’s like they took comfort food to a whole new level.

And if that’s not enough to get your stomach rumbling, they throw in some stracciatella cheese — you know, that creamy Italian buffalo milk cheese that just oozes deliciousness with every bite.

To finish this off, they added a drizzle of balsamic reduction with Pomodoro sauce. 

Where to Stay Near the Canadian Museum of Nature

1. The Westin Ottawa

Address 11 Colonel By Dr, Ottawa, ON K1N 9H4, Canada
Phone 613 560 7000 
Operating hours Check-in time: 3 pm
Check-out time: 12 pm

The Westin Ottawa is a 4-star hotel and is known for its excellent location. As per the amenities here, they’ve got everything you need to pamper yourself. 

I’m talking about an indoor saltwater pool that’s perfect for loosening up after a long, busy day. And if you’re all about staying active even on vacation, they’ve got you covered with a top-notch fitness center to work off all those poutine indulgences.

Also, did I mention their private squash courts? It’s perfect for those who’re feeling a bit competitive. 

But let’s not forget about the real star of the show – the rooms. It has a cloud-like bed with a 50-inch flat-screen TV on the side to keep you entertained until you drift off into dreamland. 

2. The Business Inn & Suites

Address 180 MacLaren St, Ottawa, ON K2P 0L3, Canada
Phone 844 997 1777
Operating hours Check-in time: 4 pm
Check-out time: 11 am

The Business Inn & Suites is not your typical hotel; this place is all about comfort and convenience. As soon as you walk into your suite, it’s like a mini-apartment! 

They’ve got these full kitchens, complete with everything you need to whip up a feast — stove, fridge, microwave, the works! No more scrambling for takeout menus every night.

Each room has a giant flat-screen TV for movie nights, plus a computer with a printer for those last-minute work things (don’t worry, we’ve all been there). They even have fancy gadgets like clothes steamers and air purifiers to keep things fresh.

And let’s not forget the freebies! The Business Inn serves up a continental breakfast every morning to fuel your adventures, and their WiFi is free too. 

Plus, they have a laundromat on-site with free soap and dryer sheets. Parking is available, although it’s first-come, first-served, so snag a spot early if you can.

3. Fairmont Château Laurier

Address 1 Rideau St, Ottawa, ON K1N 8S7, Canada
Phone 613 241 1414
Operating hours Check-in time: 4 pm
Check-out time: 11 am

This place is seriously oozing with elegance and history, right in the heart of Ottawa. It’s like stepping back in time, but with all the modern comforts you crave!

The rooms are perfect blends of classic style and modern comfort, with calming colors and super comfy beds. 

Plus, many of them have breathtaking views of Parliament Hill, so you can practically watch history unfold from your window (with a cup of coffee in hand, of course).