Keeping kids busy for hours on end isn’t for the faint-hearted. Phones and tablets often only go so far, and preventing the boredom from creeping in can sometimes feel like an impossible task. But don’t fear! Ottawa has so many entertaining attractions to enjoy with the little ones that you’ll be wondering why you ever worried about keeping them entertained in the city. From unforgettable immersive experiences to exploring iconic landmarks, we’ve rounded up our favorite things to do with kids in Ottawa.
The Canadian Museum of Nature hosts immersive exhibitions that let you get up close and personal with the creatures that live under the canopy, but the main event has to be the beloved dinosaur exhibition. Come face-to-face with dinosaur skeletons as you embark on a prehistoric journey, and let your imagination run wild as these enormous fossils and life-size replicas come to life in front of your very eyes! It’s great fun with the kids and the perfect way to get them interested in history and learn something new.
📍240 McLeod St, Ottawa, ON K2P 2R1
2. Watch the changing of the guard
Head to Parliament Hill and bring the kids along to see the historic changing of the guard ceremony. At 10am on the dot, soldiers dressed in scarlet uniforms and bearskin hats will carry out precise drills to the sounds of military tunes as they perform this century-long tradition. If you arrive 15 minutes earlier, an audio presentation will explain a little bit more about the ceremony, including the symbolism and history of it all. Kids always love watching the soldiers do their thing and the best thing is, it’s completely free!
📍Wellington St, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A9
With picturesque scenery, enormous lakes and a network of winding trails in its arsenal, Gatineau Park is nature’s very own playground. Take it slow, indulge in a picnic at this natural oasis and enjoy the breathtaking views of the lakes and waterfalls that can be found within the park’s borders. Looking for something a little more active? Then you can hike along the endless number of trails or hop in one of the lakes with your kayak and glide through the waters for hours on end. Create life long memories with your nearest and dearest and let the kids run wild at one of Ottawa’s most beautiful parks.
📍33 Chem. Scott, Chelsea, QC J9B 1R5
4. Shop and eat at ByWard Market
Founded in 1826, ByWard Market is one of Canada’s oldest and largest markets, and the perfect place to distract youngsters for an hour or two. The market is jam-packed with museums, cafés, specialty food shops, boutiques and art exhibitions. Open from 9am to 5pm, there are plenty of bars and restaurants to feed the kids, including BeaverTails and The Scone Witch.
📍55 ByWard Market Square, Ottawa, K1N 9C3
Zoom through the skies as you experience the thrill of a lifetime on InterZip Rogers Zipline. Before gliding over the Ottawa River, remember to brace yourself for the stunning vistas of Ottawa’s Parliament Buildings and Chaudière Falls. If the kids in tow consider themselves the daredevil type, then this is the experience for them. Children who are six and above can have a go at flying through the air at speeds of up to 40 km/h while taking in some of the best views of the city.
📍40 Rue Jos-Montferrand, Gatineau, J8X 0C2
6. Enter a labyrinth of books with the youngsters
Ottawa is full to the brim with libraries, but our favorite has to be Ottawa Public Library. It’s totally free to sign up, costs nothing to visit and has loads of kid-friendly activities on offer. From coloring stations and puppet theaters to interactive shows, these activities encourage kids to get creative, make friends and have a ball while doing them. Oh and of course, there’s a whole archive of children’s books for them to get lost in, too.
📍Metcalfe Street and Laurier Avenue West, Ottawa, K0A 2P0
7. Head to the beach
In the summer months, pack your bucket and spade and slap on the sunscreen before enjoying a delightful day out at the beach with the kids. The city has 10 beaches along the Ottawa River and the surrounding areas, so you’re totally spoilt for choice. One of our favorite spots is Britannia Beach – a sandy oasis with play structures that the young ones will love. There’s also plenty of picnic tables and barbecue pits so you can indulge in a juicy burger or hot dog once the kids are done playing for the day.
All aboard! Hop on the haunted Barnacle Beth ship and join Captain Kelly in a quest to find priceless treasure while sailing on a real moving ship. You and your team mates will have to solve a series of puzzles and mysteries while engaging live actors dressed as pirates help guide you to the hidden booty. Can you escape the spooky ship with the treasure in hand before it’s too late? Find out on this immersive boat cruise and escape game.
📍588 Hog’s Back Rd, Ottawa, ON, K2C 1N5
9. Play to your heart’s content at Funhaven
If the little ones have bags and bags of energy to burn, then Funhaven is the place to go. Inside this indoor playground, you can enjoy indoor roller coaster rides, arcades, bumper cars, escape rooms and more. Battle it out inside a world-class laser tag arena and experience virtual reality gaming like never before as you battle monsters, explore new realms and embark on heart-pumping adventures with the kiddies.
📍1050 Baxter Rd, Ottawa, ON K2C 3P1
10. Have a tour around Rideau Hall
Rideau Hall is the residence and workplace of the governor genera, and you’re welcome to enjoy a free hour-long tour around this iconic Canadian landmark. There’s a small playground in front of the building for the kids to play on, and the venue hosts seasonal events devoted to the little ones. Every spooky season, they choose a Halloween theme and encourage visitors to come to the venue dressed in their scariest fit and enjoy seasonal games and activities.
📍1 Sussex Dr, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A1
Ottawa takes the age-old saying “go big or go home” pretty literally. The city is jam-packed with weird and wonderful landmarks that are quite simply enormous. From the world’s largest beaver sculpture to an enormous Van Gogh painting on an easel, there’s a wide range of ridiculously big sculptures in and around Canada’s capital. Pysanka eggs, orcas, giant squids, potatoes, curling rocks – you name it, Ottawa probably has a ginormous sculpture of it. Why not explore the city with the little ones and tick off the sculptures as you go along?
12. Get all competitive at Mini Golf Gardens
Go head to head with the family during a mini golf tournament at Mini Golf Gardens. There are two beautifully landscaped 18 hole miniature golf courses complete with water features, and the courses are suitable for all levels. Put your golfing skills to the test and treat yourselves to a delicious ice cream while you tally up the scores and figure out who the real golfing champion in your group is. Adult tickets cost $16.50 and kids can play for $13.50 per person.
📍2 Colonnade Rd, Nepean, ON K2E 7M6