The past few months have gone by in a flash since we were lucky enough to visit Canada and experience the perfect 1 week itinerary around Ottawa and Outaouais in Quebec & Ontario. I was blown away with how much there was to do in such a short space of time and how accessible it all is to fit in to a quick Canada road trip; perfect to fit into a short school holiday or a week off work. I’ve written about our road trips to California before, but they are just a little too far away to get done in a week so I wanted to share our itinerary and the details of our press trip this year to Ottawa and Outaouais to help inspire anyone looking to go across “the pond” or visit Canada from other regions of North America etc.
Ottawa and Outaouais
There are so many family attractions and things to do if you’re visiting Canada so I’m certain you’ll find some great places to add to your must-see list. We visited as a family of 4, with a 3 and a 5-year-old in May and were lucky enough to be there during the iconic Canadian Tulip Festival, which was incredible! But more on that later. Our flights to Canada were with Air Canada who were so brilliant and catered for our small children whilst allowing us to have some time to relax and enjoy the flight. The children are happy as long as they have a tray table (?!) and an entertainment system. Air Canada also offers over a 1000 of hours of in-flight entertainment which kept them occupied, as well as their goodie bag and special kid’s meals. It’s no wonder they have been voted the best airline in North America 6 years running!
A Perfect 1 week Itinerary For Ottawa and Outaouais
Day 1 – Arrive in Ottawa, Ontario
Just over 6 hours away stands Canada’s capital, Ottawa. With so much to do for families and solo travellers, you could easily spend a week here. Activities vary throughout the year and as I said in a previous blog post, you could easily visit Ottawa twice in one year and have a totally different holiday. With winter comes Winterlude; skiing, dog sledding and many festivities along the World’s largest ice skating rink at the Rideau Canal, as well as many activities to do inside. Then summer begins with the incredible Canadian Tulip Festival in May, a sight to behold, when the city is filled with tulips and many festivities are held to celebrate it. Plus loads of outdoor activities are on offer such as bike tours of the city, rafting down the Ottawa river and food festivals dotted about the neighbourhoods. I recommend staying at Les Suites Hotel for a relaxed home-from-home stay with a kitchen and plenty of room to relax when you need it.
This video will show you the amazing things to do in Ottawa if you’d like to see a video of our trip to Ontario.
Day 2 & 3 – Explore the city
There is so much on offer in Ottawa. A few ideas for you to include in your 1-week itinerary;
ByWard Market; one of the oldest and largest farmers’ markets in Canada.
Go for a bike ride to see the neighbourhoods by bike. Downtown, ByWard, The Glebe, Commissioner’s Park…Ottawa is a great place to explore by bike.
Visit one of the many indoor experiences such as the Ottawa art gallery, Canada Agriculture and Food Museum/Experimental Farm, The Canadian Museum of History & Children’s Museum.
Take a hop-on-hop-off tour bus to see even further afield such as Canada Aviation & Space Museum, Rideau Hall (the Governor General’s Residence), RCMP Stables and much more.
Visit Dow’s Lake – ice skating in the winter, pedal boats in the summer!
Take a tour of Parliament Hill and inside House Of Commons.
Thrill seekers might enjoy a whitewater rafting adventure with Ottawa City Rafting.
A New Province – Quebec – Outaouais
Day 4 – Outaouais
After one last morning of enjoying Ottawa, brunch at ByWard Market or one last visit to one of the many galleries in the city, head a stone’s throw away over the Ottawa River bridge to Outaouais where you’ll immediately notice a much more French Canada will greet you. Staying somewhere central will mean you can explore by foot and pop back over to Ottawa when you like, although you may with to hire a car at this point ready for the next part of your 1-week itinerary. I highly suggest a visit to Parle Bistro for a very unique dining experience. Great with friends or a family, this fun bistro offers hundreds of board games to choose from, all whilst dining on deliciously prepared food and drinks in a cosy and fun environment.
Day 5 – Adventure!
Take a short drive out to Eco Odyssee in Wakefield. This is a one of a kind experience which is definitely worth doing. The natural habit of the beaver can be explored by pedal boat which you can navigate around man-designed waterways. This is a really fun experience which will get you out into nature and teach you about some of Canada’s native wildlife, as well as lots of info about conservation projects in the area.
Then head back into town for some lunch at the charming Brasseurs Du Temp micro-brewery where you can taste the huge collection of in-house beers, as well as a tour of the beer museum downstairs.
Canadian Museum Of History
Once you’ve had your fill of delicious Poutine, head back over to Gatineau’s Canadian Museum Of History and the amazing Children’s Museum – if you have kid’s this will keep them entertained for HOURS! I couldn’t recommend it enough! The architecture of this building is stunning, and inside it is home to the world’s largest collection of totem poles, the First People exhibition, the stunning Neanderthal exhibition and the Daniel’s Tiger exhibit currently running at the children’s museum.
Day 6 – Gatineau Park & Montelbello
Today head to Gatineau Park on your way north for some more exciting Canadian experiences. This 90,000 acre park is just 15 minutes outside of downtown Ottawa and offers all-year-round opportunities to explore such as swimming, hiking, biking, camping, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Try and fit in Pink Lake, Champlain Look out and MacKenzie King Estate whilst here.
Then head to quaint Chelsea for a stroll around this sweet neighbourhood before re-fuelling on some lunch at one of the lovely restaurants close to Gatineau Park. We enjoyed Pub Chelsea along the main road which was relaxed and friendly (and had amazing cake!)
This afternoon you’ll be driving up to Montebello. A charming village with a lot on offer. For a treat, check into The Chateau Montebello; built in 1930 this incredible building is the largest log cabin in the world which offers a unique stay in a beautiful setting. Enjoy a relaxing time at the health club and huge indoor pool followed by an enjoyable evening at the bistro on site.
Immersive Wild Canadian Experience
Day 7 – Parc Omega In The Wild
Time for some adventure at Parc Omega where you will be able to discover the wildlife of Canada, moose, elk, bison, wolves, bears in their natural environment. This is truly a unique experience and one that will stay with me for a long long time! I actually wrote a full blog post on this incredible attraction if you’d like to read that for further information, but safe to say this will be one of your top memories from this amazing 1-week itinerary for Quebec & Ontario. This immersive experience is just 1 hour outside of Ottawa, yet you will feel like you are deep within Canada’s nature and can explore the wild landscape, learn about the First Nations and different cultures all in one place. If you’re coming in the winter you’ll be lucky enough to visit Santa as he will be at the park with his reindeer during December which would be so magical.
By the afternoon it is time to head back to Ottawa and drop your rental car off before heading for your flight home. If you have time, I would definitely recommend one last visit to the Children’s Museum because it really is great for kid’s, plus it gives them one last run around before the flight home with Air Canada.
Canada Makes The Perfect Short Break Holiday
Of course, there is SO much more I could write about if you were looking for longer than a 1-week itinerary. Montreal is just over an hour from Montebello and there are a whole host of other things you could fit in to your trip. I really feel that from the UK this is a hidden gem to explore and hope that this really helps you decide if you want to explore Canada but maybe didn’t think it was do-able in just a week. We didn’t suffer with jet lag and we were able to show the children both urban and wild Canada and fill our week with some amazing sites and experiences. Thank you to both Ottawa Tourism and Outaouais Tourism for organising this most special trip for us around Ottawa and Outaouais.
A video of our time in Quebec can be seen here;