Looking for something fun to do with the little ones during your stay in Canada’s Capital? Head out to see some of the cuddly and exotic animals that call Ottawa home. From traditional farm animals like cows, pigs and horses, to ferocious alligators, prehistoric turtles and slippery snakes, the whole family is sure to be delighted at one of Ottawa’s animal-focused attractions. If you or your little ones are animal lovers, here are some great places to visit!
Canada Agriculture and Food Museum: Located at 901 Prince of Wales Drive in Ottawa’s south end, about a 15-minute drive from Ottawa’s downtown core, the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum offers a look into Canada’s unique agricultural heritage. This museum is a working farm, complete with live pigs, horses, sheep and other friendly barnyard animals. In fact, Ottawa is the only capital city in the world with a working farm at its heart! Open year-round, this is a great place for the little ones to pet farm animals and learn where items such as milk and wool come from. In addition to the exciting animal barns, the museum offers interactive exhibits on tractors, bee keeping, food preservation and much more. In the warmer months, the museum’s beautiful arboretum is a great place to visit and to take photos. The arboretum covers about 26 hectares of rolling manicured grounds that are decorated with a variety of trees, shrubs and flowers. Many of the trees and shrubs were planted in 1889 and now represent some of the largest specimens of their kind in Canada! The museum is open daily from March through October and is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays from November 1 to the end of February. Admission to the museum is free between 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. daily.
Little Ray’s Nature Centre: Located at 5305 Bank Street, about a 25-minute drive from Ottawa’s downtown core, “Little Ray’s” as it’s known locally, specializes in exotic animals and features Canada’s largest collection of unwanted and rescued reptiles. This indoor zoo offers 25 permanent animal exhibits that feature some of the world’s most famous reptiles including alligators, snapping turtles and a variety of snakes. There are also 20 special “feature animal” exhibits that rotate every six months. The zoo takes about two hours to go through. And make sure to stop by Little Ray’s 3,000-gallon aquarium where feeding demonstrations occur daily. In total, the zoo has 150 animals in its collection, which includes cobras, rattlesnakes, tarantulas and various birds of prey. The zoo is open seven days a week and parking is free. Little Ray’s is a great option when the weather isn’t ideal!
Valleyview Little Animal Farm: Located at 4750 Fallowfield Road, about a 15-minute drive from Ottawa’s downtown core, Valleyview is a great family entertainment destination. Bring the little ones and let them get up close to a variety of animals such as birds, alpacas, goats, ponies, geese and more. Once you’ve petted all the cuddly animals, kids can enjoy the farm’s playgrounds and the whole family can get on the Valleyview Express Train to enjoy a ride through fields of corn, soybeans, wheat, pumpkins and hay.
Valleyview Little Animal Farm is closed during the winter months and operates from spring through to the end of October.
Saunders Farm: This award-winning farm, which is home to the largest collection of full-sized hedge mazes in North America, is located in Munster, Ontario, about a 40-minute drive from Ottawa’s downtown core. Here, visitors can feed and pet animals from the Big Sky Ranch Animal Sanctuary for a small donation. But Saunders’ main focus is not live animals. It’s more known for offering a variety of traditional farm activities in every season; from Picnic Season, to Haunting Season, to a charming Christmas in the Country! In the warmer months, enjoy 12 different outdoor mazes, a splash pad, giant jumping pillows, a hayride through beautifully manicured gardens, a pedal cart track and a variety of other fun outdoor activities. With the cooler weather, visitors can enjoy harvest and Halloween-themed activities such as a daytime haunted hayride. During Saunders’ “Haunting Season” (from late September to early November) after dark, older visitors can take advantage of its Fright Fest, which features a Barn of Terror, “The Last Ride” virtual coffin ride, a frightening haunted hayride and several other horror-themed activities. And with its traditional log barn that has beautiful stone fireplaces, Saunders Farm is a cozy location for any holiday season celebration!
Canadian Museum of Nature: If prehistoric and iconic Canadian animals are what you’re looking for, the Canadian Museum of Nature is definitely worth a visit! Located at 240 McLeod Street in Ottawa’s downtown core, this castle-like museum offers everything from gigantic dinosaurs, to insects and spiders, to Canadian bird species and much more.
Visit the Earth Gallery to see more than 800 minerals from the museum’s world-class collection and visit Animalium to see a variety of live insects, arachnids and slugs. In the Bird Gallery, visitors can see a collection of hundreds of birds found in Canada and kids can enjoy a wild bird care clinic play area. Also, don’t forget to visit the museum’s Water Gallery, which features an impressive 19-metre (65-foot) skeleton of a blue whale, the largest animal on the planet.
This museum offers animal-themed fun for the whole family! It is open daily in the summer and from Tuesday through to Sunday in the winter months. Admission to the museum is free between 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. each Thursday night.