Canada’s Capital is the perfect destination for relaxing, cooling off and spending time with your loved-ones. There are tons of amazing and interactive things to see and do here while on vacation! Take a look at a few family-friendly suggestions that you’ll want to add to your Ottawa itinerary:
Indulge in outdoor wonders
Cycling is a very popular pastime in Ottawa. Rent a bicycle here or bring your own and explore the hundreds of kilometres of pathways – many of which are flat and easy to navigate! Guided tours for all levels are also available. See our Cycling in Ottawa page for more on seeing Canada’s Capital on two wheels.
Many kids love animals, so a trip to the Valleyview Little Animal Farm can be a great start to a getaway. Children can pet the rabbits, baby goats, sheep and ducklings and help with their mealtimes, or take a trip to the play area and train ride station.
The Eco-Odyssee attraction is another wonderful way to connect with nature and be surrounded by regional beauty. Guests can glide down a waterway by paddleboat to view lush vegetation and discover the biodiversity of the region around Ottawa. Kids can point out the different species of flora and fauna while navigating through the water maze with plenty of twists and turns.
At Saunders Farm , there are plenty of activities to do together, including an exploration of North America’s largest collection of hedge mazes. Navigate your way through more than 23,000 square feet of intricate paths, before climbing aboard a beautifully constructed pirate ship on land, and cooling off in the water spray zone.
In the heart of downtown Ottawa along the Rideau Canal, Pirate Adventures is a unique and unforgettable experience aboard a fifty foot pirate ship armed with 12 water cannons. Watch your child transform into a pirate with face painting, tattoos and pirate gear then discover a treasure map and solve its secrets. Pirate Pete will make an appearance!
Learn something new at Ottawa’s museums
The newly reopened Canada Science and Technology Museum is as popular as ever with kids and adults of all ages! Revisit the cherished locomotives and the Crazy Kitchen, check out ZOOOM – Children’s Innovation Zone and don’t miss the special exhibit The Art of the Brick (LEGO®)!
A visit to the Children’s Museum at the Canadian Museum of History should definitely be on the itinerary. Discover interesting artifacts and learn how children live around the world! While you’re at the Museum of History, check out the special exhibit Death in the Ice – The Mystery of the Franklin Expedition.
You can also cool off in the Canada Goose Arctic Gallery at the Canadian Museum of Nature. There are interactive exhibits about life in the North and even real ice that kids (and adults) are encouraged to touch! This summer’s special exhibit, Brain: The Inside Story, will surely get the kids thinking.
The Canada Agriculture and Food Museum’s working farm and exhibits are with a hit with families. Learn about the workings of a farm and see large and small live animals including dairy cows, horses and rabbits. And don’t miss the special demonstrations like ice cream-making!
During the summer, parents can enjoy Artissimo with their kids while they peruse the National Gallery of Canada. This program offers young people various ways to explore and enjoy art.
Let loose and cool off at a local waterpark
After experiencing some art at the city’s fine museums and seeing the animals at Valleyview, kids can blow off some steam while exploring Calypso Theme Waterpark in Limoges, Ontario. Boasting the country’s biggest wave pool, this amusement centre also has a lazy river, massive water slides and aqua play areas.
Another great place for the family to cool down and have fun is at Mont Cascades Waterpark located in Cantley, Quebec.
Take in a festival
Ottawa is home to several music and art festivals throughout the summer. There is always something going on! In June, visit the Tim Hortons Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival, running from June 21 to 24, 2018 to watch more than 200 teams compete in impressive dragon boat races. Plus, there’s a Children’s Area, as well as food, drinks and live entertainment. At night, there are concerts from top-tier performers. Admission for the races and the concerts is FREE.
In mid-summer, you can take in the magic of the Ottawa International Busker Festival, which is also known as “Buskerfest,” running from August 2 to 6, 2018. During this festival, the little ones will be entertained by various street performers from around the world! These are only two of the many family-friendly festivals Ottawa has to offer.
Enjoy special events
Head to Parliament Hill for free programming: in the mornings, see the impressive Changing of the Guard ceremony (daily, from June 24 to August 24, 2018); in the evenings, catch the bilingual Northern Lights Sound and Light Show (nightly between July 9 and September 3, 2018).
And what better way to cap off a summer day than watching fireworks set to music? From August 4 to 18, 2018 on Wednesday and Saturday evenings, the Casino du Lac-Leamy Sound of Light hosts their annual pyromusical event. The fireworks are launched above the Ottawa River between Parliament Hill and the Canadian Museum of History, offering great viewpoints on both sides of the river.
Consult our online Event Calendar for even more special events and festivals taking place in Ottawa.
And if you’re planning an extra affordable summer visit, check out our suggestions for Free or Nearly Free things to see and do in Ottawa!