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Pumpkinferno, Upper Canada Village

Outdoor family fall activities in the Ottawa region

Autumn in Canada’s capital provides plenty of opportunities to spend quality time with the kids while enjoying colourful outdoor spaces. Whether it’s taking a stroll among the vibrant leaves, bonding over wilderness adventures, or enjoying some tasty treats, you’ll love getting the family together for these fun activities this fall in the Ottawa region.

Fresh walks and hikes

Autumn is the perfect time to explore outdoor sites in the city and in the countryside—especially during Fall Rhapsody when fall colours are at their best. Check out some walking and hiking highlights in the Ottawa area, including the multi-use pathways that line picturesque waterways, main attractions and green spaces within the city, or protected sites like beaches, forests and bogs in the nearby countryside. And when visiting the region’s most popular fall destination—the 361 kilometres (almost 90,000 acres) Gatineau Park—avoid the crowds by choosing lesser-known areas, such as the lac Philippe and Meech Creek Valley and visiting during off-peak periods.

Pedals and paddles

Cycling in Ottawa is an ideal way to get around thanks to the many flat, multi-use pathways and businesses that offer bike rentals and tours. Consider planning your route to visit some of these top places to photograph this fall. You can also enjoy the fall colours from water level by renting a canoe, kayak or other boat from the Dows Lake Marina on the Rideau Canal or using your own paddle craft and discovering some of the many flatwater locations. For an interactive and fun experience, paddle your way through unique water mazes at Éco-Odyssée, just 30 minutes from downtown Ottawa.

Ziplines, flights and safaris

Ottawa’s awesome autumn adventures are a great way to bond as a family. You can fly over the Ottawa River between Ottawa, Ontario and Gatineau, Québec on the new Interzip Rogers zipline. You can also zip through the trees and zoom down hills at nearby nature centres such as Arbraska Laflèche (where you can also go caving) and Camp Fortune, which sports a new thrilling mountain pipe coaster. For a view of the fall colours from even higher up, fly over the city in a 3-passenger Cessna airplane with Ottawa Biplane Adventures or helicopter with Héli-Tremblant Helicopter Tours. Or stay low and view wildlife in their natural habitats while on a self-drive Canadian safari at Park Omega.

Farm fun

Family time at local farms can be extra fun in the fall! Popular activities include hedge mazes, hayrides, animals and Halloween-themed programming. A half-hour drive west of downtown Ottawa, Saunders Farm has tons of outdoor fun including the largest collection of full-sized hedge mazes in North America, play structures and entertainment. Check out similar options at Proulx Maple & Berry Farm (east of downtown), Cannamore Orchard (southeast), Ouimet Farms Adventure (east), plus the opportunity to walk alpacas at Maple Hill Urban Farm (west).

Haunted sites

Discover Ottawa’s darker past on a fun and spooky evening tour with The Haunted Walk. Follow one of their expert guides—appropriately outfitted in a long black cloak and glowing lantern—as they lead you from one haunted site to the next. Stops along the way may include the Rideau Canal (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), the historic Bytown Museum (Ottawa’s oldest stone building), and a haunted high school. Some tours are available in both English and French. Also consider their online experiences, including The Haunting at Home – A Paranormal Adventure.

Pumpkin overload

Visit stroller-friendly Upper Canada Village after sunset during Pumpkinferno to marvel at 7,000 carved, glowing pumpkins gathered in stunning displays of animals, story book heroes, mythical characters and many more. The impressive creations are scattered along a one-kilometre path at this quaint 1860’s living history site located about an hour drive south of downtown Ottawa. Special accessibility nights allow those with physical limitations to drive through the site.

Fall flavours

In the fall, families love visiting the region’s many farms to pick their own fruit in the pretty pumpkin patches and apple orchards. For the flavour without the labour, try some of Ottawa’s best fall treats. From refreshing drinks like beer and cider, to decorated cookies and doughnuts, to warm drinks like hot chocolate and warm cocktails, there are delicious options for all ages and cravings.

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