Sometimes we take for granted the beauty in our own backyard, and let’s be honest, Canada has a pretty incredible playground, with our national capital, Ottawa, at the helm.
During the winter months, Ottawa turns into a magical winter wonderland, offering many activities and festivals that are fitting for any age, whether you’re visiting for the first time as a kid or returning as an adult with your family.
With over one hundred years of history and named after Canada’s seventh Prime Minister, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the Fairmont Chateau Laurier is the perfect place to stay. It’s a majestic castle in a prime location between Parliament Hill, The Rideau Canal, Ottawa River and significant arts and culture venues. 426 spacious and newly revitalized guestrooms, tons of space to explore (take your kids on a tour), with several restaurants, including Zoe’s, the place to be for afternoon tea, which also features bubblegum tea for kids! Cinderella herself would be jealous.
The Bank of Canada Museum reopened July 1, 2017, in a newly renovated building in downtown Ottawa. I wish there were a museum like this one when I was growing up, to learn about money at an early age, with hands-on, interactive exhibits that both children and adults can explore. An educational and fun experience for the whole family, these exhibits cover everything from how people’s expectations affect the health of an economy to how inflation targeting works, informative videos, and multimedia stations.
Canada Science and Technology Museum is celebrating its 50th Anniversary; the museum reopens after an $80.5 million investment in repairs and upgrades. Children will have an interactive and educational time exploring old favourites like the Canadian Locomotive and Crazy Kitchen plus new additions such as the Children’s Gallery, Exploratek maker studio and special exhibitions where the goal is to build robots and face off in challenges. My favourite exhibit? The Video game room, featuring games that would take mom and dad all the way back to the original Space Invaders.
Take a guided tour of Rideau Hall, home of Canada’s Governor General, Julie Payette (did you know she was an astronaut?) and includes past dwellers like Earl Grey, who commissioned the Grey Cup trophy in 1909. This historic residence sits on 79 acres of lavishly landscaped grounds and has been home to honouring extraordinary Canadians since Canada’s birth in 1867.
Take a break for some Yum-Yum’s:
Sutherland is a hidden gem that brings to life everyone’s favourite meal, brunch! Featuring a scratch kitchen and using local ingredients when possible, Sutherland incorporates Canada’s diverse culture of food from South America, Asia, Europe and Caribbean flavours. When mom and dad need a break, and it’s a night out with the boys before a hockey game (The NHL Classic, for example) or an evening for the girls to let their hair down, Craft Beer Market is the place for a casual meeting featuring local food and craft beer.
It doesn’t get any more Canadian than this! The Canada 150 rink (built to commemorate Canada’s 150th celebration) is open until February 25th, 2018 and features the stunning background of Parliament Hill, with free skating every day. Don’t forget to grab your family selfie before heading off the ice for some coffee and hot chocolate.
Ottawa Senators fans can enjoy FREE Ice Skating at The SENS Rink of Dreams, (open until March 2018, weather dependent) located in front of Ottawa’s City Hall, 7 days a week from 8am to 11pm.
A couple of other rinks to explore are Lansdowne Park Skating Court (open until March 2018, weather dependent) 7 days a week from 6am to 11pm and the new addition of free ice skating on the residence grounds of the Governor General on the Rideau Hall outdoor skating rink, open weekends (until March 25, 2018).
It’s Ottawa’s 40th Edition of Winterlude! (February 2-19, 2018): This unique winter festival is not to be missed and features tons of activities including:
Skating on the Rideau Canal Skateway, the world’s largest skating rink, spanning 7.8km long. You might even see some of Ottawa’s residence skating to work with their briefcases in hand. (That’s one way to beat traffic).
Be sure to visit Crystal Garden Confederation Park, home of the international ice carving competition.
And finally, everyone wants to play in Jacques Cartier Park’s Snowflake Kingdom, North America’s largest snow playground.
Don’t miss out on Ottawa’s Kidsfest (March 3-4, 2018), Ottawa’s longest-running parent and kid show highlighting an amazing assortment of entertainment and exhibitors sure to delight kids and inform parents.
For full details on Ottawa Tourism, events during the upcoming seasons and how to get there, stay there, and play there, click #MyOttawa.