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Top 29 Activities for a Fun-Filled Family Vacation in Ottawa 

Top 29 Activities for a Fun-Filled Family Vacation in Ottawa

If you’re looking for the perfect family vacation spot, Ottawa, Canada’s capital city, is the place to be. With its unique mix of city life and breathtaking nature, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Whether your little ones are fascinated by interactive exhibits or crave outdoor adventures, this guide is all you need. We’ve rounded up the top 29 activities that will keep your family entertained and create memories that will last a lifetime. 

From hidden gems to iconic landmarks, explore all that Ottawa offers!

1. Explore the Canadian Museum of Nature


Address: 240 McLeod St, Ottawa, ON K2P 2R1, Canada

Contact details: +18002634433

Operating hours: 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM

The Canadian Museum of Nature is a national treasure trove of natural history, boasting over 14.6 million specimens. The museum offers a glimpse into the Earth’s history and diversity, from the colossal skeletons in the dinosaur halls to the bird galleries.

Children will be mesmerized by the “Bug Blitz,” where they can meet fascinating insects up close. The museum also features a captivating “Canada’s Arctic” gallery, showcasing the unique ecosystems and challenges this region faces.

Pro tip:
The museum’s “Water Gallery” is a must-see for families. This interactive exhibit allows visitors to explore the importance of water in our lives and the impact of human actions on this precious resource.

2. Witness the Changing of the Guard Ceremony at Parliament Hill


Address: Wellington St, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A9, Canada

Contact details: +16139924793

Operating hours: Monday to Friday – 8:30 AM to 6:00 PM

Parliament Hill, a sprawling green space in the heart of Canada’s capital city, is a must-visit for families. The iconic Gothic-style buildings of Parliament have a rich history, and guided tours are available to introduce children to Canada’s political system.  

Kids will be captivated by the changing guard ceremony, a free spectacle featuring soldiers in bright red uniforms and big black bear fur hats. There’s even a Children’s Monument, a bronze sculpture park where kids can climb and explore.

Pro tip:
Arrive early for the Changing of the Guard ceremony to secure a good viewing spot on the lawn. While you’re at Parliament Hill, be sure to take a family photo in front of the beautiful Centre Block, the main building of the Canadian Parliament.

3. Enjoy a Picnic Day at Gatineau Park


Address: Gatineau, Quebec J9A 3M2, Canada

Contact details: +18198272020

Operating hours: 24/7

Gatineau Park is a massive natural playground offering various outdoor activities for all ages. Hike or bike along the extensive network of trails, canoe or kayak on peaceful lakes, or go swimming at one of the park’s many beaches. 

The park transforms into a wonderland for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in winter. It’s also home to towering forests, sparkling lakes, cascading waterfalls, and over 200 species of birds.

Pro tip:
Pack a picnic basket with sandwiches, snacks, and drinks to enjoy a leisurely lunch break amidst the scenic beauty. You can also hike to the top of Champlain Lookout for breathtaking panoramic views of the Ottawa River Valley.

4. Shop and Go on a Food Trip at Byward Market


Address: 55 Byward Market Square, Ottawa, ON K1N 9C3, Canada

Contact details: +16132444410

Operating hours: 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM

ByWard Market is a delightful blend of old and new. Kids will be amazed by the sights and sounds – colorful stalls overflowing with seasonal fruits and vegetables, artists showcasing their work, and enticing aromas from bakeries and cafes.

Parents will appreciate the diverse shopping options, from unique souvenirs and clothing stores to specialty food shops brimming with local cheeses, maple syrups, and other delicacies. The pedestrian-friendly atmosphere also makes it easy to explore. 

Pro tip:
Weekends are the busiest, so if you prefer a quieter experience, plan your visit for a weekday morning. Try the classic BeaverTail, a delicious deep-fried pastry with cinnamon sugar and your choice of toppings.

5. Take a Thrilling Zipline Ride with Interzip Rogers


Address: 40 Rue Jos-Montferrand, Gatineau, QC J8X 0C2, Canada

Contact details: +16136955803

Operating hours: 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

InterZip Rogers is a 1,200-foot zipline that stretches between Ottawa, Ontario, and Gatineau, Quebec. It offers riders a unique perspective of the National Capital Region from 120 feet above the Ottawa River. 

It’s a great way to see the sights of Ottawa and Gatineau from a different perspective. It’s a safe and well-supervised activity suitable for kids of all ages as long as they meet the height and weight requirements. 

Pro tip:
Wear closed-toe shoes and tie your hair back if it’s long. While at Zibi, you can also walk or bike along the Ottawa River.

6. Spend an Educational Afternoon at the Ottawa Public Library


Address: Metcalfe Street and Laurier Avenue West, Ottawa, K0A 2P0

Contact details: +16135802940

Operating hours: 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM

The Ottawa Public Library offers resources and activities that spark curiosity and ignite a love of learning. With 34 branches, each branch boasts vibrant spaces for children, brimming with books, toys, and comfy areas to curl up with a good read.

The library calendar is packed with engaging programs designed for all ages. From interactive storytimes with music and puppets for toddlers to Lego-building challenges and coding workshops for older kids, there’s something for every child’s interest.

Pro tip:
Check the library website or social media pages for the latest branch happenings, and plan your visit around a program that interests your family. Remember to explore the vast children’s section, wander the shelves, and discover the joy of reading.

7. Build Sandcastles with Your Kids at Brittania Beach


Address: 208 Kehoe St, Ottawa, ON K2B 6A5, Canada

Operating hours: 24/7

Britannia Beach is a scenic waterfront destination in Ottawa’s west end that offers a variety of activities for families. The beach is a sandy stretch along the Ottawa River, perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and building sandcastles. 

Britannia Park also has a large, grassy area ideal for picnics, frisbee throws, or soccer games. A children’s playground with slides, swings, and climbing structures will keep the little ones entertained, while a splash pad provides a refreshing way to cool down. 

Pro tip:
Be sure to pack sunscreen, swimsuits, and towels if you plan on spending time at the beach. There are also changing rooms and washrooms located on-site.

8. Solve Puzzles and Escape the Ghost Ship


Address: 588 Hog’s Back Rd, Ottawa, ON K2C 1N5, Canada

Contact details: 

Operating hours: Tuesday to Sunday – 5:00 PM to 11:00 PM

Escape the Ghost Ship in Ottawa is a unique escape room experience on a real, moving ship – the “Lighthouse” – that sails around the Ottawa River. The boat has been transformed into a haunted pirate vessel. 

Families will love working together to solve the puzzles and challenges scattered throughout the ship. Children as young as 12 are welcome to participate, and the experience will appeal to both kids and adults. 

Pro tip:
Allow yourself plenty of time to get to the dock and board the ship. The escape room takes place on a moving ship, so it’s essential to dress for the weather.

9. Spend a Fun-Filled Family Outing at Funhaven


Address: 1050 Baxter Rd, Ottawa, ON K2C 3P1, Canada

Contact details: +16138284386

Operating hours: 4:00 PM to 10:00 PM

Funhaven is Ottawa’s ultimate entertainment center under one roof. From heart-pounding rides like the thrilling Laser Tag Arena to creative play areas like the jungle gym with built-in Ballocity cannons, Funhaven offers something for everyone. Little ones will love the toddler area with age-appropriate activities, while older kids can rack tickets in the vast video and prize games. If you’re looking for a friendly competition, challenge your family to a game of mini bowling or bumper cars.  

Pro tip:
Funhaven offers weekday specials and discounts, so you can save cash by planning your trip accordingly.  Also, be sure to check their website for upcoming events and promotions.

10. Pack a Picnic Basket and Enjoy a Leisurely Afternoon at the Rideau Hall


Address: 1 Sussex Dr, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A1, Canada

Contact details: +16139914422

Operating hours: 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM

Rideau Hall is a grand neo-Gothic-style residence boasting 175 rooms spread across 9,500 square meters. It’s surrounded by 79 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds, including gardens, a cricket pitch, an inukshuk, and a totem pole. 

Kids will be enthralled by the grandeur of the residence and the stories of the Governor Generals who have lived there. Parents will appreciate the beautiful gardens and the chance to relax in a peaceful setting.

Pro tip:
Take a guided tour of the state rooms inside Rideau Hall. This is a great way to learn about the residence’s history and see some of the beautiful rooms firsthand. 

11. Challenge Your Kids at Mini Golf Gardens


Address: 2 Colonnade Rd, Nepean, ON K2E 7M6, Canada

Contact details: +16137235359

Mini Golf Gardens is an Ottawa staple, offering families a fun and relaxing escape for over 40 years. The two 18-hole courses challenge putters of all ages and skill levels, while the beautiful landscaping provides a serene escape from the city. 

The gardens are a great place to relax and enjoy the outdoors. There’s plenty of seating available, so you can take a break between holes and soak up the sun.

Pro tip:
Be sure to wear comfortable shoes, as you’ll be walking often.  Also, bring sunscreen and hats if it’s a sunny day.

12. Explore the National Gallery


Address: 380 Sussex Dr, Ottawa, ON K1N 9N4, Canada

Contact details: +16139901985

Operating hours: Tuesday to Sunday – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

The National Gallery of Canada is the largest art museum in Canada. It houses a vast collection of over 93,000 works of art from Europe, America, Asia, and Canada, including Indigenous art. 

There’s even a particular section of the museum called “Canadian and Indigenous Galleries,” where families can explore the parallel and interrelated stories of Indigenous and Canadian art in Canada.

Pro tip:
Be sure to walk around the Scotiabank Staircase, a dramatic three-story glass staircase that offers stunning views of the museum and the city.

13. Feed Ducks at the Billings Estate


Address: 2100 Cabot St, Ottawa, ON K1H 6K1, Canada

Contact details: +16135802088

Operating hours: Wednesday to Sunday – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

The Billings Estate National Historic Site is excellent for families to visit and learn about Ottawa’s history. It is an 8-acre estate with Billings House, one of Ottawa’s oldest surviving houses, a historic cemetery, and beautiful green space.

It offers a variety of activities for families, including tours of Billings House, exploring the historic cemetery, and picnicking in the beautiful green space. Special events, such as Easter egg hunts and maple sugaring demonstrations, are held throughout the year.

Pro tip:
Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy it on the estate’s beautiful grounds. There are plenty of picnic tables and grassy areas to choose from.

14. Learn about Money at the Royal Canadian Mint


Address: 320 Sussex Dr, Ottawa, ON K1A 0G8, Canada

Contact details: +16139930949

Operating hours: Tuesday to Sunday – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

The Royal Canadian Mint is where money is made, steeped in history and culture. The Mint’s headquarters building is a beautiful example of Beaux-Arts architecture, and it’s been designated a National Historic Site.

Inside the Mint, you’ll see how blank pieces of metal are transformed into sparkling coins and learn about the different security features incorporated into Canadian coins. There’s even a large coin on display with which visitors can pose for pictures.

Pro tip:
Visit the Mint’s boutique and browse its unique coins and souvenirs selection. You’ll surely find something special to take home as a memento of your visit.

15. Join the Ottawa Children’s Festival


Address: 294 Albert St #602, Ottawa, ON K1P 6E6, Canada

Contact details: +16132410999

Operating hours: Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday – 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

The Ottawa Children’s Festival is an annual celebration of the best in live performing arts for children. It offers a five-day extravaganza of high-quality theatre, dance, and music for young audiences. 

The festival is a great way to introduce children to the performing arts in a fun and engaging way. Many of the performances at the festival have an educational component, helping children learn about different cultures, history, and social issues.

Pro tip:
Purchase your tickets in advance, especially if you want to see a popular show. Tickets tend to sell out quickly. Then, take some time to explore the festival’s different activity areas. 

16. Enjoy Street Performances at Ottawa International Buskerfest


Address: 300-35 O’Connor Street, Ottawa, Ontario

Contact details: [email protected]

The Ottawa International Buskerfest is a free festival where families can enjoy street performances. The Buskerfest transforms Sparks Street, North America’s oldest pedestrian mall, into a stage for Canada’s most talented performers. 

Kids will be amazed by the feats of acrobatics, juggling, and magic, while parents will enjoy the performers’ light-hearted humor and impressive skills. The festival is a great way to introduce children to the performing arts and the power of street entertainment.

Pro tip:
Arrive early to get a good spot close to the performers. Be sure to bring plenty of cash to tip the performers, as their livelihood depends on the audience’s generosity.

17. Celebrate Puppetry at the Puppetsup Festival


Address: Mill St, Almonte, ON K0A 1A0, Canada

Puppets Up! is a biennial festival held in Almonte, Ontario, Canada, that celebrates the art of puppetry through performances, workshops, and exhibits. It offers a variety of shows and activities that are perfect for all ages. 

One fun activity a family can do at Puppets Up! is participating in a hands-on puppet-making workshop. These workshops are an excellent way for kids to learn about the art of puppetry and to create their unique puppets.

Pro tip:
Be sure to purchase your tickets in advance, as shows can sell out quickly. In addition to seeing a puppet show, check out the festival’s many workshops and exhibits. 

18. Have a Picnic Lunch Amidst the Vibrant Blooms at the Canadian Tulip Festival


Address: Queen Elizabeth Driveway, Ottawa, ON K1S 5K7, Canada

Contact details: +18006688547

Operating hours: 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM

The Canadian Tulip Festival celebrates the springtime arrival of over a million tulips. It’s the world’s largest tulip festival, and a vibrant display of colors takes over the city for two weeks in mid-May, leading up to Victoria Day.

It celebrates Canadian-Dutch friendship with live music, cultural performances, and children’s activities. Visitors can stroll along the Rideau Canal, take a boat cruise, or visit nearby Parliament Hill.

Pro tip:
Be sure to wear comfortable shoes, as you’ll be walking often. Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy it amidst the beautiful blooms. 

19. Let Your Kids Loose at Cosmic Adventures


Address: 1373 Ogilvie Rd, Gloucester, ON K1J 7P5, Canada

Contact details: +16137428989

Operating hours: 9:00 AM to 8:30 PM

Cosmic Adventures is Ottawa’s largest and safest indoor playground, perfect for children ages 0 to 12. It boasts over 20,000 square feet of climbing structures, slides, ball pits, tunnels, mazes, and obstacle courses.

There’s even a dedicated play area for toddlers, ensuring something for every age group. Parents can relax and unwind with free Wi-Fi while their children burn off energy in a safe and clean environment.

Pro tip:
Wear comfortable clothes and socks for both the kids and adults, as there will be plenty of climbing and exploring. Remember to check out the Galaxy Grill for delicious food options for the whole family.

20. Burn Energy at Kids Kingdom


Address: 66 Hearst Way, Kanata, ON K2L 2P4, Canada

Contact details: +16135995437

Operating hours: Friday to Sunday – 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM

Kids Kingdom is a premier indoor playground and daycare center in Ottawa. It’s a perfect destination for families with young children, offering a fun and safe space to burn energy and unleash their imaginations. 

Your kids can climb through a whimsical castle-themed structure with towering turrets, secret passageways, and exciting slides. They also have laser tag,  a great activity for older kids and even parents who are young at heart.

Pro tip:
Weekdays are generally less crowded than weekends, so if you want a more relaxed experience, consider planning your visit during the week. Be sure to pack socks for everyone in your family, as they are required for admission to the play area.

21. Defy Gravity at the Flying Squirrel Trampoline Park


Address: 1901 Cyrville Rd, Ottawa, ON K1B 1A9, Canada

Contact details: +13438831092

Operating hours: 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM

The Flying Squirrel Trampoline Park is an energetic entertainment center with interconnected trampolines, challenging climbing walls, and an exciting arcade. It is perfect for burning off energy and creating lasting memories.  

Little ones can explore safely in the dedicated soft play area, while bigger kids can test their skills on the obstacle courses and dodgeball courts. Parents can get in on the fun, too, with opportunities to show off their dunking skills or bounce on the trampolines.

Pro tip:
Book your jump time online, especially on weekends and during peak hours. Don’t miss the exhilarating foam pit – it’s the perfect place to practice flips, jumps, and other daring moves without landing hard.

22. Go on a Safari Trip at Parc Omega


Address: 399 QC-323, Montebello, QC J0V 1L0, Canada

Contact details: +18194235487

Operating hours: 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Parc Omega is different from your typical zoo. Families can embark on a self-guided safari through a 2,200-acre preserve, observing various Canadian animals roaming freely in their natural habitat. 

Visitors can observe various Canadian animals, such as elk, bison, wolves, bears, and foxes, up close from the comfort of their cars. The 12-kilometer (7.5-mile) self-drive safari allows families to travel independently and enjoy the beautiful scenery.  

Pro tip:
Be sure to purchase a bag of carrots at the park’s entrance. You can use the carrots to feed some animals, such as deer and elk.

23. Have a Blast Riding Waterslides at Mont Cascades


Address: 448 Chem. du Mont-des-Cascades, Cantley, QC J8V 3B2, Canada 

Contact details: +18198270301

Operating hours: 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM

At Mont Cascades Water Park, families can cool off and have a blast riding the waterslides, playing in the pools, or relaxing on the lazy river. This four-season resort offers fun for the whole family throughout the year. 

Families can take skiing or snowboarding lessons in the winter or enjoy winter fun like snowshoeing or tubing. The resort has trails for all levels of skiers and snowboarders, from beginners to experts.

Pro tip:
Tickets are usually cheaper when bought online, and you can skip the lines at the ticket booth. Ride the Boomerang, one of the park’s most popular waterslides. 

24. Paddleboat with the Family at Eco Odyseey


Address: 52 Chem. des Sources, Wakefield, QC J0X 3G0, Canada

Contact details: +18194592551

Éco-Odyssée is a unique nature park that allows families to explore a wetland habitat by navigating a water maze.  The park features a network of channels and water paths that wind through a 60-hectare site.  

As you paddle through the maze, you’ll be surrounded by the sights and sounds of the wetland environment. You might catch a glimpse of a beaver, a muskrat, or various bird species.  

Pro tip:
Wear comfortable shoes and clothing that you can get wet. Bring a picnic lunch or snacks, as limited food options are available at the park.

25. Bundle up for a Magical Skate along the Rideau Canal Skateway


Address: 1 Elgin St, Ottawa, ON K1P 5W1, Canada

Contact details: +16132395000

The Rideau Canal Skateway transforms Ottawa in winter, offering a unique and delightful experience perfect for families. Families can skate hand-in-hand, taking in the picturesque views of Parliament Hill and the Fairmont Chateau Laurier. 

You can stop at charming kiosks for hot chocolate or delicious BeaverTails, a tasty Canadian pastry. The vibrant atmosphere, with music and friendly skaters of all ages, creates a truly memorable winter experience.

Pro tip:
Lace up your skates early in the day to avoid crowds, and remember to dress in layers for the Canadian winter. Rent skates if you don’t have your own, and enjoy a leisurely skate past the Fairmont Chateau Laurier, a beautiful castle-like hotel.

26. Take a Day Trip at Saunders Farm


Address: 7893 Bleeks Rd A, Ottawa, ON K0A 3P0, Canada

Contact details: +16138385440

Saunders Farm is a 100-acre award-winning farm attraction located in Ottawa’s countryside. Families can get lost together trying to navigate their way out of the largest collection of full-sized hedge mazes in North America.

In October, Saunders Farm transforms into a Halloween and harvest festival, where families can explore 12 mazes and see original live shows. There are even 15 acres of pumpkins and a gourmet Farm Shop to explore.

Pro tip:
Purchase tickets online ahead of time to save time and money. During peak times, especially in October, lines can get long.

27. Explore Pastures at Valleyview Little Animal Farm


Address: 4750 Fallowfield Rd, Nepean, ON K2J 4S4, Canada

Contact details: +16135911126

Valleyview Little Animal Farm is a petting zoo where visitors can get up close and personal with various farm animals, like goats, chickens, rabbits, and even alpacas and zebus.  This gives kids a chance to learn about these animals hands-on.

It offers a train ride on the Valleyview Express, which takes visitors to the property’s pastures and fields. There’s also a Creative Farm Play Area where kids can climb on hay bales, explore a corn maze, and learn about agriculture through interactive exhibits.

Pro tip:
Families can head to the Sunflower Cafe for lunch or a snack to take a break from the animal encounters. The cafe offers a variety of kid-friendly options and seating both indoors and outdoors. 

28. Pick Berries at Proulx Farm


Address: 1865 O’Toole Rd, Ottawa, ON K4C 1N2, Canada

Contact details: +16138332417

Operating hours: Saturday to Sunday – 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Proulx Farm, a third-generation family-owned farm in rural Ottawa, is a great place to visit with the family for a fun and educational day learning about agriculture, picking berries, enjoying maple syrup treats, and spending quality time in a natural setting.

Families can visit the sugar shack in the spring to learn how maple syrup is made and enjoy a traditional sugarbush pancake meal. In the summer, families can go berry picking with strawberries, raspberries, and even Saskatoon berries.

Pro tip:
Wear comfortable shoes and clothes you don’t mind getting dirty, as you’ll spend a lot of time outdoors.  Also, bring sunscreen and bug spray, especially if you visit in the summer.

29. Cool off with the Family at the Brewer Park

Address: 210 Hopewell Ave, Ottawa, ON K1S 2Z5, Canada

Contact details: +16137378193

Operating hours: 24/7

Brewer Park is a large park located on the banks of the Rideau River in Ottawa. In the summer, families can cool off at the two-level splash pad, which features a giant water slide and buckets that dump water on unsuspecting visitors.  

Brewer Park is also home to Canada’s largest legal graffiti wall under the Dunbar Bridge. This is an excellent place for families to let their creativity flow and create a masterpiece together.

Pro tip:
Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy a meal outdoors at one of the park’s picnic tables. Barbecue grills are also available.