This year has started out pretty crazy, and with our busy schedules it seemed unlikely we’d have a chance to get away at all until much later on in the spring. But Expedia.ca got in touch and asked if we wanted to head to Ottawa for a couple of days, so we decided to make the time for a much-needed mini-break.
Having lived just outside of Ottawa for a few years as a teenager, it isn’t exactly top of my list for a family vacation. Although one of my fondest memories from my childhood is ditching the tour of the Parliament buildings with my dad (sorry, Government… SO. BORING.) But Canada’s capital city is very easy to navigate, and families with kids of all ages will find something fun at any time of year. Visiting Ottawa with toddlers and kids is an easy road trip or short flight from many starting points, and is a great little escape for a couple of days at any time of year.
When Bub was about 18mos. Mr. HBWT took him for a couple of nights, which proved that visiting Ottawa with toddlers easy enough to do solo, and that little jaunt also provided inspiration for future visits for when the kids are a bit older (like now!). And a few summers ago, we took a few days to check out some museums and the evening light show on Parliament Hill.
And now this trip will fulfill a bucket list item. We’ll be skating on the Rideau Canal!
Visiting Ottawa with Toddlers and Kids: What to Do
Canadian Museum of History
The Canadian Museum of History is actually located across the Ottawa River, in Hull, Quebec. In nice weather it’s a very pleasant walk, but it’s also a quick taxi ride over if someone’s little legs are feeling a bit tired. Located inside is the Canadian Children’s Museum, and if you’re not careful you’ll spend the entire day inside! Your children will have so much fun dressing up and exploring the histories of Canada’s people and cultures, they won’t even realize they’re learning.
Of course I mentioned at the start of this post that my dad and I ditched the tour of the Parliament Buildings due to boredom, but truly we needn’t have even gone inside. Parliament Hill‘s lawns and gardens are vast and open for romping on with literal hills ready for rolling. And the best part? Bunnies! Seriously, my kids spent hours chasing bunnies on the lawn and it didn’t cost anything and it was awesome.
So here’s the funny thing: Winterlude is probably Ottawa’s biggest event and even with having lived nearby, I have never participated in any Winterlude activities or even skated on the Rideau Canal. So this weekend we are going to bundle up and drink hot chocolate and eat Beaver Tails and skate and frolic and have fun. Winterlude takes place every February, and is a true celebration of winter with incredible ice sculptures, races, and a huge children’s snow playground called Snowflake Kingdom. We can’t wait!
Visiting Ottawa with Toddlers and Kids: Where to Stay
Truly you are spoiled for choice when it comes to finding a safe, clean, and affordable place to call home while you’re exploring Ottawa. There are plenty of decent, well-situated hotels in Ottawa, and here are a couple I can recommend:
For this trip we are going to be staying at the Ottawa Marriott Hotel. It has a great location near Parliament Hill, which means it is also super close to all the main attractions nearby. Marriott properties are always a great choice for families, and a stay on the concierge level means access to the lounge that serves a continental breakfast every morning, as well as hot hors d’oeuvres every evening.
A truly great hotel for a trip to Ottawa with toddlers or little kids is Les Suites, located in the Byward Market. Our room was HUGE. Essentially it was a two-bedroom apartment that just happened to be in a great part of town. Byward Market can be a bit noisy on Friday and Saturday nights. but you’re so close to so many great shops and restaurants, that hearing the odd yahoo whooping it up is a small price to pay.
So, we’ll fill you in on our trip when we get back. We are SO looking forward to it!