Over the summer, we spent a week and a half in Canada, including a day trip to Ottawa. I wish we could have spent more time there. Ottawa is such a family-friendly city and there is a lot to do with children. If you’re thinking about a visit, take a look at these six can’t-miss family activities in Ottawa.
1. See How Canadian Coins are Made. Make a stop at the Royal Canadian Mint to see how coins are made in Canada. Take a 45-minute guided tour, get the scoop on the million dollar coin and see athlete medals from the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. While on-site, you can even hold a gold bar in the gift shop that’s worth in excess of $750,000.
2. Explore Parliament Hill. Kids will love the Changing of the Guard ceremony, which takes place at 10 am each day during the summer. Take a guided tour of the Parliament buildings, but pick up tickets early as they can be fully distributed by lunchtime on busy days. Walk around to the back of the Centre Block for a fabulous view of the Alexandra Bridge over the Ottawa River. Also, visit Rideau Hall, the governor’s residence.
3. Watch Boats Travel the Locks at Rideau Canal. Just a block down the road from Parliament Hill is the Rideau Canal, which features eight locks that boats must go through in order to get to the Ottawa River. Kids will love watching the locks open and close as boats go from one to the next. It can take boats up to 1.5 hours to make it through all eight locks. In the winter, kids can ice skate on the canal.
4. Visit the Supreme Court of Canada. You may be thinking that this doesn’t sound like the most fun activity with kids, but it’s worth an hour, for sure. When you arrive, ask for a “Search and Discover” booklet, which features up-close images of objects to find around the Supreme Court building. My kids loved this activity. We also found the short guided tour around the court rooms to be very interesting.
5. Learn the History of Canada. Head to the Canadian Museum of History to learn all about the first people of Canada. Kids will love exploring totem poles and Native houses. As a bonus, check out the Canadian Children’s Museum on the second floor for fun learning activities and exhibitions dedicated to travel, family traditions, communication and more. Look for daily IMAX movies, too.
6. Enjoy Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier. Stay at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier, which looks just like a castle, or enjoy afternoon tea at the on-site restaurant, Zoe’s Lounge. Served daily, look for tea with scones and finger sandwiches. Children may also enjoy the “Little Prince and Princess Tea,” which includes hot tea (or hot chocolate), scones and jam, mini sandwiches, mini cupcakes and fruit tartlets.