Taking a Long Weekend Trip? Ottawa’s Top Five Unexpected Attractions

Ottawa is an awesome city to visit in the summer, and many of its charms are well-known, from the excitement of the Byward Market to the wonders of the Canadian Museum of Civilization. But, with so much to do, some of the city’s best attractions are inevitably overlooked—and that’s a shame. Here we present five wonderful family-friendly things that you may have otherwise missed on a visit to the nation’s capital.

Ottawa has more than 175 kilometres of bike trails.

5. The Cats on Parliament Hill

Almost every visit to Ottawa will include an obligatory tour of the Peace Tower, the Centennial Flame, Senate, House, Library and other key sites on the almost 90,000 square metres that comprise Parliament Hill. But there’s one site there that you wouldn’t expect: a series of small shelters to house and feed stray cats. Check in the trees at the rear of Parliament Hill to find this charming little oddity.

4. Haunted Walks

Experience a lantern-lit, spine-tingling trek with some of the city’s best local storytellers and amateur historians on The Haunted Walk. The original tour is probably your best bet with young ones, but pre-teens and teens might appreciated the amped-up spookification of Ghosts and the Gallows, a tour that includes a swing through the Old Carleton County Jail.

3. Get Outside

One of Canada’s healthiest cities, Ottawa offers plenty of outdoorsy pleasures, from rowing a boat on the Rideau Canal to exploring the many green spaces on offer. But perhaps the best way to get some fresh air is to rent some bikes and take a tour on the 175 kilometres of bike paths that criss-cross the Capital. And make sure to take advantage of Sunday Bikedays, when some of the city’s most scenic routes are closed to car traffic.

2. Canada Aviation and Space Museum

Housed in a huge hangar near the Ottawa River, this museum is surprisingly kid-friendly. Very young kids will enjoy the Hang Glider Studio, an area filled with games, crafts, puzzles and every airplane toy you can imagine. Youngsters can also climb into the cockpit of a fighter jet or a helicopter, and older kids will have fun handling the controls of the museum’s flight simulator. The museum also offer scavenger hunts and I Spy games, as well as the opportunity to fire off water-propelled rockets outside.

1. Prince and Princess Tea at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier

Your littlest lady or gentleman will love getting all gussied up for high tea at one of Ottawa’s most historic and luxurious hotels. Afternoon tea is served every day of the week in Zoe’s Lounge between 2pm and 5pm, and young ones will appreciate the opportunity to sip some sweet bubble gum tea while munching on the chef’s famous cupcakes.

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