Craving a change of scenery without having to go too far? Ottawa’s rural communities are the perfect one-day getaway for a little fresh air and to reconnect with nature. Here are some reasons to road trip to the Rideau-Goulbourn neighbourhoods, just 30-minutes south of downtown Ottawa.
Note: The suggestions below are based on information available on the publishing date. Please confirm details with direct sources and stay informed on the current COVID-19 situation in Ottawa.
Set out on your road trip early enough to make time to stop for some take out breakfast. For something a little sweet like cinnamon buns or Portuguese Egg Tarts fresh out of the oven, Take Another Bite in Manotick has your name written all over it. For a hidden gem of a spot, stop at CC’s Corner Coffee & Curious to embrace the strange and the weird while you sip a cut-coffee or pour-over and nibble on a doughnut or breakfast sandwich.
Tart in hand, take a short walk down to Watson’s Mill along the picturesque Rideau River. Built in the 1860s as a grist and flour mill, the museum and heritage site continues to grind flour to this day! Watson’s Mill houses all kinds of stories – from Manotick’s history to something a little spookier – and you’ll have to visit to hear them all for yourself. Note: The museum is currently closed to the public. While you wait for the reopening, you can check out their virtual tour.
Another noteworthy heritage site is the Goulbourn Museum. It tells the tales of Ottawa’s oldest military settlement, the former Goulbourn Township, and puts you in the shoes of soldiers and pioneers. Note: The museum is currently closed to the public but you can check out their virtual tours.
Time for that fresh air, choose your next adventure:
If you’ve never seen a nut tree or bean shrub up close, it’s time to head to the Baxter Conservation Area in Kars. Stretched along the Rideau River, the Filmore Park Nut Grove is just one of the unique sights you’ll see in this area with over 100 specimens of nuts and beans! But that’s not all, with a network of short trails you can also walk through hardwood forests, meadows and wetlands all within a 5-kilometre (3.2 miles) hike. Dogs are permitted on this trail but must be kept on leash.
If you’ve ever driven to Manotick you might have passed Beryl Gaffney Park. This urban trail is nestled between Prince of Wales Dr. and the Rideau River, and is popular among hikers, cyclists and bird watchers. It’s a leisurely 4.2-kilometres (2.6 miles) with a quaint network of bridges and steppingstones across streams and ravines. The wide, well maintained pathway makes it an ideal route for the whole family. Dogs are permitted on this trail but must be kept on leash.
Pack a picnic or your fishing rods and head to the Richmond Conservation Area, a charming hidden gem easily found among the streets of Richmond Village. This area is popular for its more laid-back qualities like waterfront picnic areas, a short 0.4-kilometre (0.24 mile) wooded nature trail and a public dock, perfect for fishing the Jock River. A unique feature to the area is their award-winning fish embayment found along the shores of the river that creates new, rich habitats for fish and other wildlife. Dogs are permitted on this trail but must be kept on leash.
Being outside all day calls for a mandatory pre-dinner pit stop at Mimi’s Donuts & Dairy Barn in Manotick. Choose among rotating flavours of fresh baked doughnuts like Twisted Maple and Peanut Pretzel Crunch or cool down with an ice cream cone or shake – there is no wrong choice at Mimi’s. Vegan options available.
Visiting with the family? For a real countryside experience, head to Millers Farm and Market to see what’s in season. Pick up freshly grown local produce and check their website for pick-your-own berries availability. While you’re there, don’t forget to say hello to Petunia, the bunny, and Vinny, the yellow lab!
Need a little shopping therapy? Lasting Impressions Gifts in Manotick is the only one stop shop you’ll need to find that perfect gift for anyone, for any occasion. For a completely one-of-a-kind experience, the Gingerbread Man in Manotick is where you need to go. It’s said that customers come to admire the custom gingerbread houses but keep coming back for the butter tarts.
Love local wine? Stop at Jabulani Vineyard and Winery. Wonderfully named after the Zulu word for happiness, Jabulani’s assortment of 23 wines certainly delivers on that promise. Among a variety of whites and reds, you’ll find a few eye-catching items like an exceptional strawberry wine, a ruby reserve and a hard cider. Stay for a catered charcuterie, cider, and wine picnic on the tasting patio. Note: The tasting patio is open on certain days; reservations are recommended.
Boating enthusiast? The Mahogany Harbour Dock is the perfect spot to launch your boat onto the Rideau River just south of Manotick Village for a day of smooth sailing in rural Ottawa.
Head out to dinner at the Black Dog Bistro for a cozy patio experience where you can take in the sights and sounds of Manotick Village while nibbling on an artisanal charcuterie board and local cheeses.
If a good old country pub is more your style, find the Marlborough Pub and Eatery in North Gower for a cold beer on the patio. With food inspired by Grandma's home cooking for Sunday night dinner, the special of the day could be anything from a rack of ribs and seafood pasta to hearty pub fare like burgers and fish and chips.
For an authentic English style pub with a guaranteed outdoor experience, head straight to the Swan on the Rideau. Their outdoor seating has a large, tented area aptly named ‘the Swan on the Lawn’. With menu items like chicken curry & chips and liver & onions, you know you’ve arrived at the right place.
Finally, if you’re looking for the ultimate rural way to end your day in Rideau-Goulbourn, look no further than Saunders Farm Campfire Nights! Whether it’s date night, a small catch up with friends or a family outing by the fire, their packages include hot dogs, Saunders Farm kettle corn and enough ingredients to make at least a few s’mores.
For more information on local businesses and attractions in Manotick, visit The Manotick Village BIA website.