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Epic March Break: an Ottawa itinerary

Keeping the kids active, entertained and stimulated during March Break can be a challenge, but not in the Ottawa area! Options are endless, including sports, museums and animals. Many sites also offer special programming during the weeks of the Quebec March Break (March 2-6, 2020) and the Ontario March Break (March 16-20, 2020). Use the itinerary below to start planning an epic school break in Canada’s capital!

DAY 1 – Live animals and historical treasures

Arrive in Ottawa and check into the hotel of your choice. The majority of our accommodation members are located downtown near most of Ottawa’s main attractions. Many hotels have kid-friendly amenities like indoor pools, game rooms and more that your kids will love!

Why not start March Break with some live creatures and fascinating history?

Head to the castle-like Canadian Museum of Nature to walk among real butterflies at the Butterflies in Flight exhibition, and learn how microbes affect your body at the Me and My Microbes: The Zoo Inside You special exhibition. Explore the rest of the museum to learn about Canadian fossils, minerals and even dinosaurs!

Visit Canada’s most popular museum, the Canadian Museum of History, located just across from downtown Ottawa in Gatineau, Quebec. Admire the breathtaking collection of totem poles in the Grand Hall, walk through history in the Canadian History Hall and enjoy special Spring Break activities. Younger kids love the cultural treasure hunt at the Canadian Children’s Museum, located inside. And no visit is complete without catching an entertaining film in the Ciné+ theatre!

When hunger sets in, choose from the many Family-friendly restaurants and places to eat which are within strolling distance of most Ottawa hotels. Between pizza, burritos, burgers and milkshakes, everyone will be happy and full!

Older kids love the spooky stories and captivating history they hear during the Haunted Walk of Ottawa tours. Cloaked guides take you to sites like the historic old Carleton County Jail which is one of the most haunted buildings in North America. It’s now the HI Ottawa Jail Hostel, where you can actually sleep in a jail cell! Sweet dreams…

DAY 2 – Science, art and animals, oh my!

Science or art, who can choose?

The Canada Science and Technology Museum is known for interactive learning and fun. Enjoy classic favourites like the real locomotives and the Crazy Kitchen, as well as new hits like the ZOOOM – Children’s Innovation Zone and the Exploratek maker studio. The museum is full of hands-on opportunities for all ages!

Creative kids have lots of options in Ottawa too!

The National Gallery of Canada’s Artissimo programming offers a range of art activities and games, including the chance to hang your creations in the actual museum. Hands-on artsy fun also awaits at the beautiful Ottawa Art Gallery – where admission is always free!

For lunch, shopping or browsing, visit the historic ByWard Market area. There are treats to discover around every corner like BeaverTail pastries, cute courtyards and urban art. This is just one of many vibrant neighbourhoods worth exploring in Ottawa.

What kid isn’t crazy about animals?

Spend half a day at Park Omega, where you can take a Canadian safari through the natural habitat of animals like deer, elk, bison, caribou and wolves. You can also walk or snowshoe the First Nations trail and enjoy special programming throughout March Break. This impressive wildlife park feels a world away, but it’s only a 45-minute drive away from downtown Ottawa in Montebello, Quebec!

If you prefer to stay in the city, visit the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum. Kids go crazy for the special daily programming, including encounters with farm animals, kitchen demonstrations, maple taffy on snow, children’s story time and creative crafts. It’s all free with the price of museum admission!

For some mental stimulation and family bonding, why not get locked up in a room and work together to escape? Ottawa company Escape Manor has various experiences to choose from at locations throughout the city.  

DAY 3 – Slopes, syrup and the seat (of Canada’s government)

There’s tons more to do in Canada’s capital during March Break! Here are a few more ideas:

The Ottawa region is full of cross-country skiing as well as downhill skiing and snowboarding options. Ski within the city or head just 15 minutes to Gatineau Park or the surrounding Greenbelt in the nearby countryside to hit the slopes (or the flats). March Break camps are also offered at many locations!

March Break conveniently takes place during maple syrup season, when the deliciously sweet treat is collected and produced in many parts of Canada, including the Ottawa area. Urban and rural sugar bushes welcome you with tours, outdoor activities and decadent food topped with golden maple syrup. Take a look at some of the options on our maple syrup fun page.

If your family has a serious sweet tooth, you’ll be happy to know Ottawa is filled with doughnuts worth drooling over. Take your pick!

And last but not least, consider one of Ottawa’s must-sees: iconic Parliament Hill. While the Centre Block undergoes a decade-long rehabilitation, you can enjoy two new (free!) guided tours of other interior spaces: The House of Commons in Parliament Hill’s West Block, and the Senate in the Senate of Canada Building (Ottawa’s original train station). You can now conveniently reserve tickets online

If you’re staying even longer or want more options, see our list of March Break activities in Ottawa.

And if you’re going to visit multiple national museums during your stay, consider getting the Canada’s National Museums Passport to save on admission.

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