With stunning fall colours, outdoor activities, guided tours and fun attractions, Ottawa is the perfect autumn destination. Use the itinerary ideas below to plan your own fun getaway or staycation with the whole family in the Ottawa region this Thanksgiving weekend!
DAY 1—Cycle, walk and tour
Accommodation options in the Ottawa area range from historic hotels to budget-friendly motels. Visit our Where to stay page for all the options and to take advantage of any promotions.
To enjoy the best of the autumn colours, visit during Fall Rhapsody, an annual celebration of the magical fall season in Canada’s capital region.
Use your own bikes or rent some and cycle your way through Ottawa while gazing at the multicoloured trees along the way. Create your own route by riding picturesque pathways like those that line the Rideau Canal and the Ottawa River, as well as cycling-friendly rural communities.
Or join one of the city’s best walking or cycling tours. Expert guides can take you to beautiful sites, share fascinating history, or even tell you spooky ghost stories after dark.
Head to the many parks within the city centre to take an autumn stroll or have a picnic with the perfect backdrop such as Parliament Hill and the castle-like Fairmont Château Laurier. Or explore landscapes galore just outside the urban core, including forests, wetlands and farms located throughout the nearby protected lands. Canada’s Capital Greenbelt offers plenty of outdoor activity options in the fall including walking, cycling and birdwatching.
If the weather’s nice, have a meal on an outdoor patio (see our list of some of Ottawa’s patios by neighbourhood). Or cozy up inside a restaurant, some of which specialize in international cuisine, vegetarian or vegan eats, and halal food.
Take in a live show in the evening at the National Arts Centre, which presents diverse programming through its English, French and Indigenous theatre, as well as NAC Orchestra, concerts and Broadway productions.
DAY 2— Zip, paddle and hike
Bond as a family over adventurous activities today. If the kids weigh at least 35 kilograms (70 pounds), they (and you) can ride the world’s first interprovincial zipline! Interzip Rogers takes you soaring over the Ottawa River between downtown Ottawa, Ontario and Gatineau, Québec, with a view of Parliament Hill along the way.
Keep the adrenaline pumping at adventure centres within 30 minutes’ drive from downtown Ottawa. At Arbraska Laflèche, you can zipline through the forest, as well as go caving and hiking. Camp Fortune also has fun aerial park activities and hiking, plus mountain biking, and its latest attraction, a thrilling mountain pipe coaster (kids of a certain size can ride with an adult).
Drive or hike through forests of bright deciduous trees, green conifers and rugged hills in Gatineau Park. The park’s main entrance—just 15 minutes’ drive from downtown Ottawa—makes it the region’s most popular fall destination. For the best experience (and smaller crowds), venture farther inside the 361-kilometre (almost 90,000-acre) conservation park and visit during off-peak hours.
Wind down by paddleboating your way through a water maze surrounded by autumn leaves at Éco-Odyssée. Kids love discovering different species of flora and fauna while navigating the twists and turns.
Reward yourselves with some of the Ottawa region’s best fall treats. Everyone loves decorated sweets and warm beverages, and adults can indulge in tasty seasonal craft beers, ciders or cocktails.
For all-Canadian fun and entertainment, go see Oh Canada Eh? Ottawa, a family friendly musical production. The cast represents famous characters singing Canadian hits accompanied by a live band. Opt-in for the dinner option and you’ll be served a five-course family style meal by the performers! Matinée shows also available.
DAY 3—Museums, farms and haunts
Did you know that Ottawa is home to seven of Canada’s nine national museums, as well as historic sites and other cultural gems? Check out what’s on at museums, including farm animals, airplanes, technology, nature, history and more.
If animals are a family favourite, visit Little Ray’s Nature Centre to get up close to mammals and reptiles (including sloths) or Valleyview Little Animal Farm for other creatures and kids activities. Round it out with a self-driven Canadian safari at Omega Park—a giant wildlife and culture park located just 45 minutes away in Montebello, Quebec. Keep an eye out for moose, elk, bison, wolves and bears, and learn about Canada’s First Nations on the walking trail.
You'll love these Halloween-themed events and activities in the Ottawa area whether you want to be spooked in the city or in the countryside.Before heading home, stop by some of the pumpkin patches and apple orchards at the many local farms. Some also have family activities, tasty snacks and even fruit wine. Bring some of these souvenirs back to remember Ottawa’s fall sights and flavours!