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Cycling in the Capital - Parliament

Family-friendly summer: an Ottawa itinerary

Weekend getaways are one of the joys of summer, and the Ottawa area is full of activities to keep kids (and adults) happy. Choose from the cultural, outdoor and just plain fun experiences outlined in the itinerary below to plan a few family-friendly days in Canada’s capital!

DAY 1 – Parliament Hill ceremonies, events and tours

Arrive in Ottawa and check into the hotel of your choice. Most of our accommodation members are located downtown near many of the city’s main attractions.

Stroll over to Parliament Hill, an iconic Canadian site and the setting for a variety of free events and tours.

Though the interior of Parliament’s Centre Block is closed to visitors for a decade-long rehabilitation, you can take a guided tour of the new and temporary interior spaces: the House of Commons in the West Block, and the Senate in Ottawa’s original train station. You can now reserve your free tour tickets online!

Make sure to time your tour so you can catch the Changing of the Guard ceremony on the Parliament lawn at 10:00 a.m. This popular military event features drills as well as a regimental band and pipers. The popular ceremony takes place every day from the end of June to the end of August (some exceptions apply).

For lunch and other meals during your stay, consider some of Ottawa’s family-friendly restaurants and other places to eat.

Return to Parliament in the evening to catch the free Northern Lights Sound and Light show, a bilingual multimedia presentation which is projected onto Centre Block from early July to early September (verify schedule).

DAY 2 – Museums, adventures and frozen treats

For a fun and easy way to get between sites, consider using one of the hop-on and hop-off tour services, like Gray Line’s double-decker bus or Lady Dive’s Amphibus.

Get hands-on at some of Ottawa’s seven national museums. Favourites include the giant locomotives and Crazy Kitchen at the Canada Science and Technology Museum, impressive aircraft displays at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, as well as dinosaur replicas, giant fossils and cool dioramas at the Canadian Museum of Nature.

Explore some of the Ottawa region’s beautiful outdoor spaces while taking part in adventurous experiences! Whether it’s ziplining through the trees or whitewater rafting on the Ottawa River, you’ll find your favourite adrenaline-pumping activity.

Cool off with some of Ottawa’s best frozen treats, including ice cream, gelato and also vegan and dairy-free options.

DAY 3 – Animal, culture and water paradise

Fuel up for a full day of fun at some of Ottawa’s best independent coffee shops. Order your favourite caffeinated beverage as well as breakfast goodies for the whole family.

Go on a self-driven Canadian safari at Omega Park – a giant wildlife and culture park located just 45 minutes from downtown Ottawa in Montebello, Quebec! You might see animals such as moose, elk, bison, wolves and bears, plus you can learn about Canada’s First Nations on a walking trail and enjoy special events and activities.

Soak up some culture at the Canadian Children’s Museum. Located inside the Canadian Museum of History (Canada’s most visited museum), the Children’s Museum encourages kids to experience different cultures through fun interactive activities. Then catch a film in the 3D CINÉ+ theatre!

Ottawa summer days can be hot and sunny – the perfect weather to visit Canada’s largest waterpark! Located just a 30-minute drive east of downtown Ottawa, Calypso has crazy slides, a wave pool, rivers and a whitewater experience. Meanwhile, smaller kids can enjoy a specific play area with small slides and games just for them!

For even more family-friendly ways to spend a few days in Canada’s capital – like cycling, haunted tours and biplane rides – see our list of indoor and outdoor family fun in Ottawa!

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