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The best things to do in Ottawa with kids
In this post you can read about:
- Why visit Ottawa as a family
- What to do in Ottawa with kids
- Where to stay in Ottawa with kids
- How to get around Ottawa with kids
- Budget tips for your Ottawa family vacation
Why you should plan a family trip to Ottawa
If you have never been to Ottawa, I am telling you right now that you are missing out! Ottawa is home to so many awesome things; even better, it’s home to plenty of things you can do with your little ones.
In fact, did you know that Ottawa is known as one of the best cities to live in Canada for families and work? If you are traveling to Canada with your babies and toddlers, you have absolutely nothing to worry about, as we have plenty to do here.
As the capital city of Canada, Ottawa has invested a lot of time and thought into having great facilities available for young kids. Ottawa has many great things you can take advantage of with your children.
From amazing museums to visit, to attending the splendid festivals that Ottawa hosts year-round, to simply taking a walk around downtown Ottawa, you won’t run out of things to do!
With this in mind, we are going to share with you the top 6 things you can do in Ottawa with your kids.
1. Visit the Children’s Museums
Did you know that Ottawa had a kid’s museum? I took my daughter to enjoy a day at this wonderful museum and can say from my personal experience: the Canadian Children’s Museum is a must visit for any parent traveling with children!
Note: the Children’s museum is located inside the Canadian Museum of History. You can buy your ticket online.
The Children’s Museum is designed in such a way that it teaches young kids all about the different countries around the world. It’s a highly educational museum, with many interactive games and instructors who do their best to expand these little kids’ minds.
Each kid is given a passport when entering the museum, enticing them to go around the different galleries to collect as many stamps as possible from all the countries they visit at the museum.
The Canadian Children’s Museum is an amazing place to visit with your kids on an Ottawa trip!
Don’t just visit this museum, your kids will also enjoy a visit to the Canadian Science and Technology Museum.
Insider advice: here is a little bonus tip for you and your family: most museums are free to visit between 5:00pm – 8:00 pm (daily)!
2. Visit the Experimental Farm
Another fun activity for kids to do in Ottawa, is spending (half) a day at the Experimental Farm. My little girl had blast at the farm, as she was able to play with all the animals and they had amazing demonstrations going on.
For kids that love animals, but are looking for something different than a zoo, the experimental farm is a must!
Expect to spend at least 3-4 hours at the experimental farm and dress appropriately for the occasion. There is also a play structure onsite, for kids who may be less interested in the animals but just want to have fun outdoor in a playground.
Insider advice: you are welcome to bring your own lunch and have a picnic, making this a budget friendly option as well.
3. Have fun at the beach
Which kid doesn’t enjoy spending time at the beach? With a few amazing beaches in Ottawa and the surrounding areas, you are guaranteed to find a nice place to cool down with your kids.
Some of the most popular beaches in Ottawa include Mooney’s Bay, Britannia beach, Westboro beach and Petrie Island!
For kids, I absolutely recommend Petrie Island beach or Mooney’s Bay. Be sure to visit at least one of them (but visiting both is better!) and spend some time with the locals.
4. Visit the Calypso Water Park
You’ll definitely want to take your kids to the Calypso Water Park! Located approximately a 35 minute drive away from downtown Ottawa, the Calypso Water Park is one of the best water parks in Ontario.
In fact, Calypso is one of the largest water parks in Canada with over 35 water-slides and one of the largest wave pools in Canada!
For very small children, there is the jungle-themed Kongo expedition lazy river, which they will surely enjoy. Though really, there is something for each age group at the Calypso Water Park, you are guaranteed to have a full day of fun here for the whole family!
5. Take your kids to a free playgroup
As I mentioned earlier, Ottawa has numerous of amazing resources specifically designed and intended for families and children.
One of my favorite things to do with my kid, is to take her to a playgroup around Ottawa. These are fun, intimate and gives her a chance to see other kids.
They are plenty of free playgroups in Ottawa that you can take advantage of, both indoors and outdoors. Regardless of which area of Ottawa you are in, you can always find a few nearby playgroups to take your kids to in Ottawa.
6. Indoor and outdoor playgrounds in Ottawa
If you are looking for other indoor activities to do with your kids, you can also visit the Flying Squirrel Trampoline Park, the Jungle Gym at Funhaven, Cosmic Adventures (Ottawa’s largest indoor playground) or Kids Kingdom Recreation Centre !
And alternatively, you can enjoy all the outdoor playgrounds around Ottawa. Trust me, we have plenty!
Best places to stay in Ottawa with kids
There are many family friendly accommodation options available in Ottawa, suitable to any budget.
Ottawa Marriott Hotel
A great (but admittedly expensive) option is the Ottawa Marriott Hotel. It’s very centrally located, there is a swimming pool, the rooms are spacious and there is even a game room with air hockey, mini golf, toys, video games and much more. Your kids will love staying here!
For the adults: there is a gym, the Spin Kitchen and Bar room is excellent and there is an onsite Starbucks as well.
Click here to book the Ottawa Marriott Hotel.
The Carleton Suite Hotel
More affordable and also a very nice place to stay is the Carleton Suite Hotel. Studio rooms feature a kitchenette, while suites come with a fully equipped kitchen and separate living area. There is an indoor pool as well and an onsite Tim Hortons Coffee Bar.
Click here to book the Carleton Suite Hotel.
Alternatively, there are several nice apartments you can rent in Ottawa, such as this bright, clean 2 bedroom flat in downtown Ottawa or this lovely 3 bedroom apartment on Airbnb located only a 15 minute walk from Parliament Hill.
Accommodation discount: if you have never traveled with Airbnb before you can get €30 of your first Airbnb stay with this link!
Getting around Ottawa with kids
Ottawa has two major bus systems; if you want to use public transportation you would be looking at the OC Transpo bus or the Société de Transport de l’Outaouais (STO) that operates buses in the Outaouais region on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River.
Alternatively, you can rent a car. Depending on the size of your family and the age of your children this may actually be cheaper than public transport tickets for the whole family.
Insider advice: if you are traveling with a baby, there are many companies where you can rent a car seat, so you don’t have to bring one from home.
The bus or O Train takes over 1.5hours on average to get to the different locations within Ottawa. Depending on traffic and your exact destination, a car will take between 30-45 minutes for the activities mentioned in this post.
With young kids, I would recommend renting a car, both for convenience as well as shorter travel times.
Another alternative is the Hop On and Hop Off Bus, which visits all the city’s important sites. And for even more fun with your kids, take the Lady Dive bus tour, a very popular and unique Amphibus vehicle that goes from road to boat!
How to save money on an Ottawa family trip
Vacationing in Ottawa can be costly. Because Ottawa is the capital city of Canada, it’s a popular place to visit and can be very touristic.
In order to cut the cost of your Ottawa family vacation, we have already listed a few activities you can do in Ottawa for free.
In order to save more money in Ottawa as you vacation, try to take advantage of as many free resources that Ottawa has to offer especially when it comes to kids.
For example, my daughter is 2 years old and therefore a lot of activities that we participated in were completely free for her to do.
Try to purchase tickets to any activity or festival at least a few weeks ahead of time as this will save you lots of money. The same goes for booking flights, hotel rooms, trains or car rentals. The more in advance you make the booking, the more money you will end up saving.
Use websites like Groupon to score yourself some amazing discounts on hotel, foods and activities.
Ottawa with children: in conclusion
- Best places to visit in Canada
- Best small towns to visit in Canada
- Best things to do in Canada in winter
- Calgary winter trip
- Niagara Falls with kids
- Toronto with kids
- Things to do in Vancouver
- Great day trips from Vancouver
- Things to do on Mount Seymour in winter (Vancouver)
- Things to do in Victoria
- Things to do on Vancouver Island
- Things do in Drumheller
- Things to do in Winnipeg