There’s history and culture, science and nature – and there’s even award-winning artisanal gelato. Ottawa, Canada’s bustling capital city, offers all sorts of fun for the family.
Here are some of our favorite ways to spend a summer day with the kids in the Ottawa-Gatineau region.
Located in Montebello, Quebec, only 45 minutes east of Ottawa’s downtown, Parc Oméga offers visitors of all ages a unique animal safari experience. Here you can explore 2,200 acres of natural habitat from your car, slowly driving by Canadian wildlife such as deer, elk, bison, caribou, and even wolves. Buy a bag of carrots at the visitors’ centre to feed the deer – they’ll trot right up to your window in expectation.
For a more urban outing, Pirate Adventures is an unforgettable experience for kids. This 50-foot pirate ship on Mooney’s Bay beach, located along the Rideau Canal, is armed with 12 water cannons. There’s also no shortage of interactive ways for your child to transform into a pirate – from face painting, tattoos, and trying on pirate gear, to finding a treasure map and uncovering all its hidden secrets.
Get lost in one of North America’s largest collections of hedge mazes at Saunders Farm. There are more than 23,000 square feet of intricate paths to explore, as well as a beautifully constructed pirate ship, slides, treehouses, and a water spray zone to cool off in.
Canada Science and Technology Museum
If it happens to be a rainy day, head to the Art of the Brick exhibit at the Canada Science and Technology Museum, located only two miles from the Hampton Inn Ottawa. This critically acclaimed collection of artwork is made from one of the most recognizable toys in the world: the LEGO brick. It features reimagined versions of some of history’s most famous works, including Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night and Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
Parliament of Canada
Though it may lean toward the more educational side of fun, the Parliament of Canada is another great rainy-day destination. The Centre Block will close to the public in September 2018 while the building undergoes a decade-long rehabilitation, but new guided tours of Parliament will be offered at two sites: West Block, the interim home of the House of Commons, and the Government Conference Centre, the interim home of the Senate.
Stella Luna Gelato
You’ll need some sustenance after your day of fun, so what better way to fight the summer heat than with some award-winning gelato? With two locations in the hip neighborhoods of Hintonburg and Old Ottawa South, Stella Luna Gelato is opening up a third shop this summer in the nearby quaint village of Merrickville. Mothers-to-be get free gelato if they visit on their due date.
Where to stay
The new Hilton Garden Inn, Ottawa Downtown and Homewood Suites by Hilton, Ottawa Downtown are set to open early next year at 361 Queen Street. In the meantime, you can enjoy some down time with the kids by the pool or indulge in some tee time at the golf course on the magnificent grounds of the DoubleTree by Hilton Gatineau-Ottawa (where check-in always comes with chocolate chip cookies). Or, rent a bike and hit up some of the trails right next to the Hilton Lac-Leamy.