Silhouette of child playing on their bike at dusk in a field.

Explore These Fun Indoor and Outdoor Activities and Destinations in the Nation’s Capital Region

The Ottawa area is home to plenty of fun, family-friendly events, activities, and destinations. As residents of Ottawa, it’s common to forget about all the fun things to do here. But you don’t have to be a tourist to discover the city with your kids.

The summer is a great time to get out and explore with the family. We’ve gone out and explored these destinations ourselves (for research!) to give you the lowdown of what the best activities are for families.

Here’s our guide to the best family-fun activities in Ottawa this summer.

Northern Lights on Parliament Hill

The Northern Lights sound and light show on Parliament Hill narrates stories from Canada’s history in a thrilling display of art and music. The stories follow five themes, with each theme using a distinct artistic style, narration, and original score.

This free nightly event runs from July 9 to September 3, 2018.

The show starts at:

  • 10:00 p.m. in July;
  • 9:30 p.m. in August; and,
  • 9:00 p.m. in September.

While these show times might be past your child’s bedtime, this show makes for a fascinating nighttime outing in Ottawa with older kids.

Note that since this is an outdoor event, the show might be cancelled due to poor weather conditions. Be sure to check online for cancellation notices before heading to the event.

Gatineau Park

The summer is a great time to take in the fresh air and beauty of nature with the kids.

Gatineau Park is a great hiking destination for families and is only a 15-minute drive from downtown Ottawa. This park is home to spectacular views and trails, including the King Mountain Trail.

Take a hike up King Mountain on the 1.9-kilometre trail. Along the way, you’ll find different forest types, interpretation panels, and lookouts overlooking the Ottawa Valley.

Enjoy a day in the park with your family. There are free parking spots, accessible washrooms, and picnic tables by the trail.

Jacques Cartier Park

Jacques Cartier Park is located on Laurier Street in Gatineau, just over the Alexandra Bridge from downtown Ottawa. This 22.68-hectare park overlooks the Ottawa River and Rideau Falls.

You and the kids can take a stroll or bike through the park, visit the Hull Marina, and see historical buildings from the 1800s.

Until October 15, 2018, Jacques Cartier Park is also home to the popular Mosaïculture Gatineau 2018.

Mosaïculture showcases 45 floral art masterpieces designed with more than 5.5 million plants. Admission is free for children 5 and under, and $39.14 for families (two adults and children).

Local Fairs

There are plenty of local fairs to visit with the family this summer, in and around Ottawa, including:

  • The Beachburg Fair—July 27 to 29;
  • The Navan Fair—August 9 to 12;
  • The Arnprior Fair—August 16 to 19;
  • The Capital Fair—August 17 to 26;
  • The Chesterville Fair—August 24 to 26;
  • The Perth Fair—August 31 to September 3;
  • The Russel Fair—September 6 to 9;
  • The Richmond Fair—September 13 to 16;
  • The Carp Fair—September 20 to 24; and,
  • The Metcalfe Fair—September 27 to 30.

These fairs have plenty of fun family-friendly activities, including live performances, games, rides, food, and animal shows.

Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo and Nature Centre

Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo is an animal rescue, zoo, and animal education centre. Located on Bank Street in the south end of Ottawa, the zoo and nature centre have plenty of fun exhibits and presentations for the whole family to enjoy.

You and the kids can learn about different animals and their natural habitats, adaptations, and biodiversity.

Calypso Park

Cool off with the kids this summer at a waterpark! Calypso Park is the biggest theme waterpark in Canada. It features the country’s largest wave pool, two theme rivers, more than 35 water slides, and 100 water games.

The park also has several restaurants, bars, and an ice cream shop, so you can spend the whole day at the park with the kids.

Calypso is just 20 minutes east of Ottawa in Limoges, Ontario.

Canadian Museum of Nature

Located in Centretown Ottawa, the Canadian Museum of Nature explores natural history with fun exhibits for the whole family to enjoy.

Along with the mainstay natural history exhibits, there is also an exhibit on the human brain until September 3, and a screening of a 3D movie, Backyard Wilderness. The museum is also hosting escape nights with Escape Manor.

Canadian Science and Technology Museum

The newly renovated Canadian Science and Technology Museum on St. Laurent Boulevard is finally open. Along with the popular exhibits, such as the Crazy Kitchen and the CN 6400 locomotive, the museum features many fun and educational exhibits, activities, and games.

Until September 3, 2018, The Art of the Brick exhibit is on at the museum. This exhibit was named one of CNN’s Top Ten “Global Must-See Exhibitions.” It features fascinating artwork by artist Nathan Sawaya, made only out of LEGO bricks.

Kids Kingdom Playground and LASERFORCE

When it comes to fun indoor activities for kids in Ottawa, look no further than Kids Kingdom! With a massive indoor playground and exhilarating LASERFORCE laser tag, there’s something fun for the whole family to enjoy.

Your kids can explore and play in the safe playground while you relax at the Kafé, enjoying food, beverages, and free Wi-Fi. Kids Kingdom also has fun arcade games for the whole family to enjoy. Older kids and adults can enjoy the 6,500-square-foot, two-storey laser tag facility. Game on!

No matter the weather, there are plenty of fun, family-friendly outdoor and indoor activities in Ottawa to discover this summer.

Rediscover your city with your family!