As the snow gently melts away, Ottawa warms up to the wonder, beauty and vitality of spring. As the weather gets warmer, it’s time to shed some of those cozy winter layers and head outside into the sunshine. Ottawa has several activities that lets the whole family take advantage of the warmer springtime weather. Whether you want to see new baby animals or you want to head out to explore the city on a bike, Ottawa has an attraction that is sure to delight. Explore some of the spring activities Canada’s Capital has to offer!
This is one of Ottawa’s and even Canada’s favourite springtime activities! The colder weather months give way to warmer temperatures, which lead maple trees to produce maple sap; a key ingredient in the production of delicious maple syrup. It takes about 1,000 maple trees to produce 400 litres (106 gallons) of maple syrup!
Pack up the family and head out to the countryside to visit a ‘sugar shack’ such as Fulton’s Pancake House and Sugar Bush in Pakenham, Ont. (located about 40 minutes west of downtown Ottawa), Stanley’s Olde Maple Lane Farm in Edwards, Ont. (located 30 minutes south of downtown Ottawa) or the Proulx Maple & Berry Farm in Cumberland, Ont. (located about 30 minutes east of downtown Ottawa). At these sugar shacks, you’ll be able to take in a traditional pancake breakfast, savour maple taffy on snow and enjoy horse drawn sleigh rides in the sunshine.
Or if you’d like to stay closer to Ottawa’s downtown core, visit the Vanier Museopark! Located at 300 des Pères-Blancs Avenue, the Vanier Museopark is Ottawa’s downtown sugar shack. Here, you can experience a traditional pancake breakfast during the maple season, which runs roughly through March and April each year. The Museopark allows visitors of all ages to enjoy an authentic Canadian sugar shack experience without having to venture too far.
Canadian Tulip Festival:
This annual festival takes place each May (May 12-22, 2017) and features more than one million tulips in bloom! Head out with the little ones to explore the pathways along the Rideau Canal that are lined with beautiful, multi-coloured flower beds.
Or opt to rent a bike from local company RentABike and cycle along the Canal to Commissioners Park, where you’ll find about 250,000 tulips in bloom around the scenic Dows Lake. Rent a bike from Escape Bicycle Tours and Rentals, or for a guided cycling experience, sign up for their Tulip Bike Tour.
The Canadian Tulip Festival attracts about 600,000 visitors each year. This festival is a great photo opportunity for visitors young and old, so don’t forget to bring your camera!
Canada Agriculture and Food Museum:
Located at 901 Prince of Wales Drive, just minutes west of Ottawa’s downtown core, the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum is a working farm in the middle of Canada’s Capital.
Open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. from March to October, this museum is a great place to visit in the spring as many farm animals give birth during this season. Explore the different barns and barnyards to see lambs, piglets, calves, foals and ducklings among other baby animals. You can also meet the farm’s Animal of the Month.
If the weather is warm enough, consider packing a lunch and having a picnic on the farm. The grounds of the museum are also home to the Ornamental Gardens and the Dominion Arboretum. Pick a spot and take in beautiful views of roses, fragrant lilacs, irises and daylilies among other flowers. You can also stroll through the Arboretum and see different tree species such as magnolias, crab apple trees and hostas.
Camp Fortune Aerial Experience:
If you and the family are looking to dial up the adventure factor, Camp Fortune’s Aerial Experience is where you’ll want to go! Located about 20 minutes from Ottawa’s downtown core in the luscious Gatineau Park, Aerial Experience is an exciting zip lining and tree top climbing adventure. Enjoy an exhilarating 1.5 or three-hour trek across rope bridges, suspended walkways and net gangways. Then finish your high-altitude journey by gliding down a giant zip line.
For kid-sized aerial fun, visit the Children’s Park! Accompanied by an Aerial Experience staff member, kids can enjoy a one-hour adventure across suspended walkways, monkey bridges, suspended stirrups and mini zip lines that are sized just for them. Camp Fortune’s Aerial Experience opens each year in early May.
If you’re just looking to get out there, Gatineau Park is a great place to visit. Some of the most popular sites in the park are accessible year-round. However, full site access, programming and services vary with each site, with most being available from mid-May to late October.
This year, access to spring activities at some sites will be available as of May 12, 2017. Head out on foot and explore one of its scenic hiking trails that vary in distance from 1 kilometre (0.6 mile) to 4.5 kilometres (2.8 miles).
One of the park’s most popular hikes is the 2.5-kilometre (1.6 mile) Pink Lake trail that makes its way around a beautiful, crystal clear “meromictic” lake, meaning it has layers of water that don’t mix. With its unique turquoise-coloured water, Pink Lake is a great spot for photos in the spring, summer and even in the fall.
Or the family can head out to explore the 1.9-kilometre (1.2 mile) King Mountain trail, which features 10 lookouts that provide a spectacular view of Ottawa and its surrounding region. This 45-minute hike leads up to the Eardley Escarpment, which provides a stunning view from 300 metres (984 feet) above the Ottawa Valley.
General admission to the park is free, though some fees apply to certain sites or activities.
Parc Oméga lets you discover the wildlife of Canada such as moose, elk, bison, wolves and bears, all within their natural environment. Make sure to pick up a bag of carrots at the park’s entrance. The best part of Parc Oméga is getting to feed friendly animals all along the way. In addition to seeing the beautiful animals, Parc Oméga is also a great place to learn about Canadian history, early pioneer life and Aboriginal culture.
Whether you’re looking for adventure or you just want to be outside enjoying the springtime sun, one of these activities is sure to suit.
Also, from late May to early September, you and the little ones can take advantage of NOKIA Sunday Bikedays. Each Sunday (from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.) during the warmer weather months, many scenic parkways in Ottawa are closed to motorists and reserved for walkers, runners, in-line skaters and cyclists. Head out for a family walk or ride and don’t worry about traffic!