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tulips in ottawa canada
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From one parent to another, let's be honest, there are some activities that are good to share with little ones and some that are less so; below are some of my favourites....


Bike, Blade or Stroll(er)

What - Ottawa has a network of more than 170 kilometres of pathways which snake their way throughout the city, linking neighbourhoods and making the city more accessible to bikes and other forms of human powered transportation. Every Sunday morning mid-May to the end of August, all the ‘parkways’ in Ottawa are closed to cars, transforming more than 50 kilometres of prime central roadways into car-free havens for walkers, bikers, boarders of all shapes and sizes.  This is a great and safe way to tour the city.  Bikes and gear for all ages can be rented downtown; go to www.rentabike.ca <http://www.rentabike.ca>.

If off-roading is more to your liking, there are 90 kilometres of trails in Gatineau Park open for mountain biking from May 15 to November 30.  For information on biking, hiking, walking, and other forms of recreation, including maps, visit the National Capital Commission website - go to
www.canadascapital.gc.ca and follow the links to ‘Biking Country’.

Where - all over the region
Contact - www.canadascapital.gc.ca



Tour the Parliament Buildings and watch the ceremonial parade and changing of the guard

What - Every summer morning at 10:00am, the Changing of the Guard takes place on Parliament Hill. It's a pageantry of marching music and military drills, performed by the Governor General's Foot Guards. Arrive early for the best spot on the grass of Parliament Hill. Admission is free.

Where - Parliament Hill
Contact - www.parl.gc.ca/information/visitors/outdoor-e.asp>



Take in the Sound and Light Show

What - From July to September, in the evenings the Parliament Building are lit up by a sound and light show that recounts the story of great Canadian achievements. Hear how Canadians feel about this great country and be a part of a unique experience that links Canadians from coast-to-coast. Bring a blanket and some snacks and head to the Hill with the family.

Where - Parliament Hill
Contact - www.parl.gc.ca/information/visitors/outdoor-e.asp; (613) 239-5000



See the horses at the RCMP stables and musical ride centre

What - Meet the famed and fabled horses of the RCMP musical ride.  Tour the stables where the training begins, stop by the Riding School, walk through the Tack Room and see the stately carriages used in royal escorts of Her Majesty the Queen.

Where - Ottawa’s east end (a short drive from downtown)
Contact - (613) 993-3751; www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/mr-ce/centre-eng.htm>



Visit the Experimental Farm

What - Visit the only working farm in the middle of a world capital city.  Explore the sights and sounds of typical farm life; visit the animal barns and special exhibitions; discover the many breeds of dairy cattle and see a modern dairy barn in operation. In the Small Animal Barn, you can meet sheep and lambs, pigs and piglets, chickens, rabbits and goats. In the Horse and Cattle Barn, you can see the Clydesdale horses and seven breeds of beef cattle. There is a wonderful Arboretum and ornamental gardens right next door. The Experimental Farm is also very close to Dow’s Lake and Little Italy.

Where - Prince of Wales Drive (between the traffic circle and Baseline Rd)
Contact - www.agriculture.technomuses.ca/english/visitor/index.cfm>



Visit one of the city’s many local parks

For a full listing of the parks, go to <http://www.ottawa.ca/residents/parks_recreation/parks/locations/index_en.html>

Some of the best are:
·Brewer Park, everyone’s favourite, on Hopewell Avenue, a short walk from Carleton University to the west and Bank Street to the east (Old Ottawa South)
·Strathcona Park, by the river, a short walk from the Rideau Centre (Sandy Hill)
·St. Luke’s Park, off Elgin Street, on Frank Street (Centretown)
·River Road Park, also by the river.



Fall Rhapsody


What - Experience the intensity of the fall colours in Gatineau Park (a short drive from downtown) that can be explored by car, bicycle or on foot. Have a picnic at while admiring the colours at scenic Philippe Lake or Camp Fortune. Enjoy activities for the whole family at the Gatineau Park Visitor Centre and learn about the hidden treasures in the Park.

Where - Gatineau Park
Contact - www.canadascapital.gc.ca/bins/ncc_web_content_page.asp?cid=16297-16298-24562&bhcp=1&lang=1>



Winterlude

What - When travelling to the Nation's Capital during the month of February, a must see is our world famous Winterlude. Three fun-filled weekends in 2009, February 6th to the 22nd, of excitement and activity await the whole family! From spectacular ice carvings to an amazing playground made of snow, Winterlude is a great way to take in the best of Canada’s winter. Skate on the world's longest skating rink, the Rideau Canal, marvel at snow sculptures and at the glittering ice sculptures or take in a spectacular sound and light show in the American Express Snowbowl. This year’s theme is a celebration of Ukiuk - which means winter in Inuktitut.

Where - Activities all over the region
Contact - www.canadascapital.gc.ca



Skate the Rideau Canal

What - At 7.8 km (4.8 miles) in length, the Rideau Canal is the world’s largest skating rink. The canal connects Carleton University to downtown Ottawa, the Château Laurier, and the Parliament Buildings.  Skating on the canal is a great Ottawa family activity; skates rentals (as well as sleigh rentals) are available from Capital Skates at several locations along the canal. Many also take strollers onto the canal for the wee ones. There are food outlets on the canal if you get hungry and outdoor toilets.

Where - Canal
Contact - www.canadascapital.gc.ca



Ski Gatineau Park

What - Go skiing in Gatineau Park.  There are over 200km of maintained trails of different levels to accommodate novice and experienced skiers. There are eight heated shelters where you can stop and have a break and a bite; six of the shelters are even equipped with bunk beds and wood stoves for overnight stays. One of them can accommodate 17 people! Ski rentals are available at the Relais plein air du parc de la Gatineau.

Where - Gatineau Park
Contact www.canadascapital.gc.ca (819) 827-2020


Ottawa has a number of great museums and galleries that appeal to kids.  Even better, most of the museums are free on Thursday evenings.  Check the websites listed below for more details. Some of the best local museums with kid appeal are:

Canadian’s Children’s Museum

What - A visit to the Canadian Children’s Museum is a must for anyone with young children visiting or living in the area. The Canadian’s Children’s Museum features loads of interactive activities for children as young as two years; the museum, and all the activities, are organized around a magical journey to the four corners of the globe. It is a great way to introduce children to different cultures. The Children’s Museum is located in the Museum of Civilization in Gatineau so it has points of interest for the whole family. There is a lovely cafeteria with panoramic views of the Parliament Buildings and the Ottawa River. The Zen Garden and the picnic tables on the river bank outside the museum make this a full day for even very young kids.

Where - 100 Laurier St, Gatineau (right across the Alexandria Bridge from the                                                                          National Gallery)
Contact www.civilization.ca; 819 776-7000

National Gallery of Canada

What - The National Gallery of Canada is an art museum of international stature. It has a large permanent collection featuring both Canadian and international holdings. The Gallery has a few notable architectural points of interest, including a reconstructed nineteenth century chapel inside the gallery, a cloistered garden courtyard, and a glass bottomed pool. The Gallery hosts events for adults like lectures or workshops on a regular basis; it also has Family Fundays that feature performances, interactive tours and creative workshops for kids aged three years and up. No registration is required.  The Gallery also offers a cafeteria with some of the best views in the city; the cafeteria is accessible without paying the admission fee and has inexpensive, kid friendly fare.  Since the Gallery is in the Bytowne Market area, even if you don’t want to go in, it is worth a visit just to see the 30 foot sculpture of a giant spider who goes by the name of Mamam located at the entrance; Mamam is a favourite with kids so don’t forget to bring the camera. Also note that if you’re in the area and in need of a washroom, you can duck into the Gallery.

Where - 380 Sussex Drive
Contact - www.gallery.ca/english/159.htm <http://www.gallery.ca/english/159.htm>; 613-990-1985



The Canada Science and Technology Museum

What - The Canada Science and Technology Museum takes a "hands-on" approach to exploring how people have transformed the natural elements of the planet into a new world of mechanics, transportation, and technology. Exhibits at the museum range from the high-tech (the exhibit on Canadian communications technology that is very popular with the youngsters) to the low-tech (the popular collection of huge locomotives and the crazy kitchen, another perennial favourite with kids).  There is a cafeteria with kid fare.

Where - 1867 St. Laurent Boulevard (corner of Lancaster), 10 minutes east of downtown
Contact - <http://www.sciencetech.technomuses.ca>; (613) 990-6302



Canadian Museum of Nature

What - If your family includes even one fan of dinosaurs, the Canadian Museum of Nature is the one to visit.  The museum is one of the oldest museums in Ottawa and a place where you and yours can explore the world of insects, dinosaurs, and the changing face of planet Earth. The museum is very kid friendly, with many interactive activities for kids to enjoy, not to mention big dinosaurs. There is a lunch room on the ground floor and even a breastfeeding room on the 2nd floor. Entrance to the museum is free on Saturday mornings until noon.

Where - 240 McLeod Street
Contact - www.nature.ca; 613 566-4700


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