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Cycling in the Capital - Parliament

Family-friendly summer activities and events in Ottawa

Canada’s capital is the perfect family-friendly destination for summertime fun like outdoor activities, cultural explorations and fun events. Here are a few ideas to keep the kids happy and busy during your time in Ottawa this summer.

The great outdoors

Cycling is a popular activity in Ottawa for both residents and visitors! Rent a bicycle or bring your own to explore the hundreds of kilometres of pathways – many of which are flat and easy to navigate – or join a guided tour.

Have an a-maze-ing time exploring North America’s largest collection of hedge mazes at Saunders Farm! Kids also love the unique play structures, jumbo jumpers, pedal cart racing, water spray zone and hayride tours. When hunger strikes, enjoy BBQ food and ice cream on site.

Animal-lovers of all ages can’t resist Valleyview Little Animal Farm. You can feed and pet friendly animals like rabbits, baby goats, sheep and ducklings. There’s also a play area and a train ride. 

Interactive museums

The renovated Canada Science and Technology Museum is as popular as ever for young and old! Revisit the enormous historic locomotives and the fun Crazy Kitchen. Kids can also build and race wooden cars in the ZOOOM – Children’s Innovation Zone.

The Canadian Children’s Museum at the Canadian Museum of History keeps kids entertained through interactive exhibits, games and props. Then catch a film in the 3D CINÉ+ movie theatre!

Cool off in the Canadian Museum of Nature’s Canada Goose Arctic Gallery, or find the dinosaur replicas, mammal dioramas, giant whale and reptile skeletons and other treasures featured throughout the castle-like building.

Learn about farming and see live animals like dairy cows, horses and rabbits at the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum – a working farm within the city! Make sure to time your visit for special daily demonstrations like ice cream-making.

Families can get creative at the National Gallery of Canada during the Artissimo activity. Kids’ artwork can then be showcased in the Artissimo Gallery!

And don’t miss some of the current or upcoming epic special exhibits at Ottawa museums!

Refreshing water

Take advantage of some of the world’s best whitewater action within an hour’s drive west of the city. Or join Ottawa City Rafting for a more gentle, urban rafting experience that departs just 10 minutes from downtown Ottawa and includes body surfing, cliff jumping and more splashy fun.

Calypso Theme Waterpark in Limoges, Ontario (just 20 minutes from downtown Ottawa) is the perfect place to cool off on a hot and sunny day. It’s home to the country’s biggest wave pool, a lazy river, massive water slides and an aqua play areas for smaller kids.

Connect with nature by paddleboating through Eco-Odyssee’s water maze – a unique site in the Outaouais countryside just North of Ottawa. While navigating twists and turns, kids can point out different species of flora and fauna.

Head to Mooney’s Bay on the Rideau River for an interactive cruise with Pirate Life (formerly Pirate Adventures). Put on a costume and face paint, climb aboard the fifty-foot pirate ship armed with 12 water cannons, and participate in a search for treasure, sword-fighting and more!

Fun festivals

During the Ottawa International Busker Festival (or Buskerfest) in early August, street performers from around the world show off their skills on Sparks Street near Parliament Hill. Free, though performers accept donations.

In mid-August, the popular neighbourhood of Westboro closes its main street for the Fuse Street Festival. The free event features family-friendly food, music and entertainment for all ages.

The Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival (Festival des montgolfières de Gatineau, or FMG) in late August celebrates beautiful floating balloons of all kinds, as well as family fun like amusement rides, fireworks and live music.

These are just a few of the many family-friendly Ottawa festivals!

Special events

Enjoy free programming on Parliament Hill! In the mornings, see the impressive Changing of the Guard ceremony (late June to late August), and in the evenings, catch the bilingual Northern Lights Sound and Light Show (early July to early September).

Catch spectacular pyromusical shows on Wednesday and Saturday evenings during the first three weeks of August during the Casino du Lac-Leamy Sound of Light. Fireworks are launched above the Ottawa River between Parliament Hill and the Canadian Museum of History.

Take the family to see Canada’s longest running dinner musical, Oh Canada Eh! A singing Mountie, lumberjacks, Anne of Green Gables and a hockey player entertain the crowd with family-friendly skits and Canadian hit songs.

Consult our online Event Calendar for even more special events and festivals taking place in Ottawa.

And if you’re planning an extra affordable summer visit, check out our suggestions for Free or Nearly Free things to see and do in Ottawa!

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