Get a change of scenery without leaving the city! Take a tour of Ottawa’s rural communities and make a day trip to the West Carleton-March neighbourhoods, just 35 minutes west of downtown Ottawa.
Get an early start on your road trip out of the city to make time for a breakfast pit stop at Alice’s Village Café. Start with a daily dose of Equator Coffee and grab a breakfast sandwich or baked good to go as you stroll through downtown Carp and its storefronts.
Not to miss shops include the Carp Cabin, an inviting new addition to the neighbourhood that specializes in antiques, consignment, cottage décor and items from local artisans. You’ll want to give yourself enough time to hunt for that perfect hidden gem. The Hive is another one-stop shop in the heart of the Village where you’ll find an assortment of locally made products like handcrafted bracelets, small batch organic soaps, beeswax wrap and even its own consignment shop – all under one roof!
If you’re visiting on a Saturday, you’ll want to make a special stop at the Carp Farmer’s Market located on the Carp Fairgrounds from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Celebrating its 30th season, it’s the largest producer-based market in Eastern Ontario and you’ll be hard-pressed to choose amongst the fresh herbs, produce, food vendors and more.
Just down the road is the Diefenbunker Museum, a four-story underground bunker created as a safe haven for the Prime Minister in the event of nuclear war – and guess what? You can explore it from top to bottom! From government workspaces and living quarters to the Prime Minister’s Suite and the Bank of Canada Vault, this museum only gets better be further below ground you go.
Next stop, choose your outdoor adventure:
Take a leisurely walk or hike through one of two trails in the beautiful Fitzroy Provincial Park to see century-old White Pine forest, a waterfall and if you’re lucky, wildlife along the way. The Carp Trail is an easy 1-kilometre (0.62 mile) hike along the banks of the Carp River and the Terraces Trail is a moderate 2-kilometre (1.24 miles) geological hike by shale pillars and boulders left by glaciers. If you’re more of a paddler, bring your canoe, kayak or SUP and start your paddling journey on the calm Carp River before connecting into the mighty Ottawa River.
Step into a real-life painting reminiscent of the Group of Seven in the forested woodlands and wetlands of the Morris Island Conservation Area (keep an eye out for painters along the way capturing the natural beauty of the area!). With five trails to choose from, the Old Voyageur Trail and the Crazy Horse Trail are the two main arteries of the pathway that connect to a well laid out trail system ranging in distance from 2.3-kilometers (1.42 miles) to a lengthy and leisurely 7.1-kilometres (4.4 miles). What makes this area so unique is that many of the trails are accessible for wheelchairs and strollers and are indicated by trail markers.
If hiking just isn’t your thing, visit some of the more photo-worthy architecture in the area. Start at Pinhey’s Point Historic Site, with 88-acres of natural beauty nestled along the Ottawa River shoreline. Here you’ll find a 200-year-old manor, stone ruins and rolling green fields with plenty of space to stop for a picnic or photo-op.
Note: at this time the Pinhey’s Point museum will be closed to public entry but visitors are encouraged to enjoy the grounds.
If an adrenaline rush is what you seek, look no further than Evolution Wake Park in Manotick. It’s the first and only wakeboard cable park in the entire city and has tailored experiences for all skill levels, from tutorials with certified instructors for first timers to monthly and season passes. Perfect for kids and families looking to try something new, the wake park will have you feeling comfortable and confident with its friendly instructors and relaxing river scenery.
Stop for a cone at the Carp Custom Creamery, where the ice cream is made in-house with local ingredients. With a variety of fun flavours like Peanut butter & jelly, London fog and Vegan peach sorbet, it’s helpful to know you can get a litre tub to go!
KIN Vineyard is an Ottawa Valley-based winery with a dedication to sustainable farming practices and an earth to vine motto that has resulted in brilliantly crafted Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays, ciders and a deliciously touted Rose.
Note: if you cannot make it to the vineyard, there are home delivery and curbside pick up options available.
If beer is more your style, Ridge Rock Brewing Company is a craft brewery and pub housed in a spectacular historical building complete with a secret VIP vault room. Specializing in fresh, clean craft beer, the Lagerbier and Prairie Wind Wheat Ale are the ones to try but keep an eye on their rotating taps and cans if you’re looking for something special.
Note: the patio is currently open but you can still order online for home delivery and curbside pick up. If you can’t make it to the brewery this time around, check out their virtual tour!
If you’re a golfer looking to fit in 9-holes, there are a number of courses in West Carleton-March to accommodate you! Spend an afternoon or an evening on the lush greenery of Irish Hills Golf & Country Club, at the majestic Eagle Creek Golf Course, on the tranquil fairway of Greensmere Golf & Country Club, enjoying the oasis that is the Loch March Golf Club, at the beautifully designed Copperdale Golf Club, on the only fully lit course at Thunderbird Golf Course, or in a beautiful country setting at the Madawaska Golf Club.
The best way to end the perfect day trip is with take out! Opt for a taste of the countryside with take home specials from Heart & Soul Café, an institution within the Dunrobin neighbourhood. The Café is also open for take out breakfast and lunch if you’re looking for a picnic on the go idea.
For an authentic English style pub with a guaranteed outdoor experience, head straight to the Swan on the Rideau. They’ve since expanded their outdoor seating to 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.
If you’re feeling more pub fare, try The Cheshire Cat, another popular restaurant among locals. You can’t miss this British pub housed inside an old schoolhouse in downtown Carp. Enjoy a modern take on traditional British cuisine with classic dishes like fish & chips and sticky toffee pudding.
For more information on local businesses and attractions in Carp, visit the Carp Village BIAs website.