Canada is celebrating 150 years since Confederation. I believe there is no better way to celebrate than a visit to Ottawa with your family!
Traveling with kids can be painful, just wait until my post about Disney which might be titled “The Closest I have Come to Divorce: Four Days at the Happiest Place on Earth.”
But Ottawa provides a family-friendly vacation that everyone will enjoy. Here are my Top 5 tips for an easier, family-friendly trip to our Capital.
1. When Possible take the Train (or plane): Because Dave commuted to Toronto on VIA Rail for two years, we racked up a ton of VIA Preference Points. Enough to take ourselves, Logan and our nephew Carter in business class to Ottawa for Canada Day.
But even if you are paying, the train offers a great alternative to driving. We didn’t have to stop for pee breaks or food (VIA business class provides meals and much-needed WINE), and we could relax and let them enjoy free WIFI.
Ottawa is a very walkable city. Many museums are in the downtown core. When a bus is needed, OC Transpo provides exceptional service, and if your kids are from a place where buses are not regularly available (such as Brantford), it’s a fun adventure and memorable.
2. Stay Downtown and Don’t Rent a Car: If you take my advice and use a mode of major transportation, there is no need to rent a car. Like I said many museums are downtown as well as great shopping, restaurants and of course Parliament Hill. You can get up early, take a stroll through Byward Market and pick up fresh croissants and coffee before tackling the fights that are going to break out while you’re building memories.
We have just booked an Airbnb for next week, allowing us to have more than one room to sleep in and a kitchen- check it out next time or if you are looking for some fun and excitement try
Hotwire. You pay before you find out the actual hotel but it’s a little bit of anticipation, and it has always turned out for us. Yes, this is as daring as my life gets
3. Visit a Museum on Thursday Evening: When you are traveling museum, costs add up (I am not even talking about the annoying walk through the gift shop which is usually the only way out). One way to save on admissions in Ottawa is to visit a museum on Thursday night.
It’s a bit busier, but considering how quickly kids run through a museum, it’s worth it.
4. Don’t forget to visit Parliament Hill: Okay, this sounds like a no-brainer, but honestly, there is so much to do that sometimes this gets lost in the shuffle (especially if you have younger kids who you think will get nothing from it or cause a breach in National Security). Nothing makes me prouder as a Canadian than walking around incredible grounds and seeing amazing statues and views.
Recently, Rebecca (my sister and second life partner) took our crew to Ottawa (and I had a few glorious days alone) Carter was determined to see Justin Trudeau. My sister tried to tell him it was not going to happen, but you know what? It totally did! There was a press conference outside, and both he and Sophie Trudeau were there. It was a special part of the trip and one the kids still love to talk about.
If you interested and have enough time, tours of inside the Parliament buildings are available and FREE! I have never done this with kids (yet), but in my university days, I would go to a committee meeting and question period for school and highly recommend.
5. Schedule Downtime: One thing I tend to do at home, away and everywhere in between is over schedule. It leads to arguments, tears, and grumpy kids.
When in Ottawa, we try to take a least an afternoon to spend some time at one of Ottawa’s fantastic parks!
We love to visit Brewer Park and Splash Pad. The waterslide is a big draw, and there is more than enough room to set up a picnic and enjoy a fun (free) afternoon! There are some great lists out there for parks to visit. I like the one by Capital Kids (you can find other great Ottawa info there too).
My sister and I are planning another quick, one-night trip to Ottawa next week. I am so excited, Ottawa is by far one of my most loved cities, and I know the kids will be excited to see their Aunt’s and probably the Nature Museum (again).
Do you have the best tip for visiting Ottawa or favourite city to visit with kids? Leave a comment and let me know.