27 Fascinating Day Trips from Ottawa

While Ottawa offers many attractions, the surrounding regions beckon with hidden gems and unique experiences waiting to be uncovered. This blog post explores captivating day trip destinations from Ottawa that promise adventure, relaxation, and a taste of diverse landscapes.

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Day Trips from Ottawa: under 1 hour


Calabogie

Nestled in the heart of the Ottawa Valley, Calabogie is a hidden gem that offers a perfect blend of outdoor adventure and serene relaxation. Known for its stunning landscapes and recreational activities, Calabogie is an ideal day trip destination from Ottawa.

Location: Calabogie is approximately 100 kilometres west of Ottawa, making it easily accessible for a day trip.

From Ottawa: Take the Trans-Canada Hwy 417 West/17 West to Calabogie Rd. 

Attractions

Calabogie Peaks Resort: For outdoor enthusiasts, Calabogie Peaks Resort is a haven. In winter, it offers skiing and snowboarding, while summer brings activities like hiking, mountain biking, and ziplining. Enjoy panoramic views from the top of Dickson Mountain, or take a scenic chairlift ride for a breathtaking perspective.

Calabogie Motorsports Park: If you’re a motorsports fan, the Calabogie Motorsports Park is a must-visit. Witness high-speed racing events or, for the adventurous, participate in a track day experience.

Calabogie Brewing Co.: Unwind at the Calabogie Brewing Co., a local brewery where you can savour craft beers in a relaxed atmosphere. The brewery often features seasonal and specialty brews.

Calabogie Lake: Calabogie Lake is a tranquil setting for those seeking relaxation. Enjoy a peaceful lakeside picnic, go fishing, or take a scenic boat ride to soak in the natural beauty.

Guided ATV Tours with lunch: Book an ATV or snowmobile adventure with a private guide to enjoy the Canadian wilderness inaccessible by road around Calabogie.

Eagle’s Nest Lookout: Hike to Eagle’s Nest Lookout for panoramic views of Calabogie Lake and the surrounding hills. The trail offers a rewarding experience for nature lovers and photographers.

Hiker at the Eagle's Nest Lookout in Calabogie just west of Ottawa
Eagle’s Nest Lookout

Useful Information

Seasonal Activities: Calabogie offers different activities depending on the season. While winter brings snow sports, summer offers opportunities for hiking, water activities, and exploring the natural beauty.

Local Dining: Explore local dining options like The Canthooks Restaurant at Calabogie Peaks Resort or The Valley Food & Drink Co. to taste the region’s culinary offerings.

Outdoor Gear: If you plan on engaging in outdoor activities, ensure you have the appropriate gear. Calabogie offers rental services for equipment like bikes, skis, and snowboards. Try Urban Sports Calabogie or Mad River Paddle Co for gear rental. The Calabogie Peaks Resort also rents gear and packages for winter sports.

Visitor Information: Stop by the Calabogie Information Centre for maps, trail information, and any assistance you may need for a seamless visit.

Turn it into a weekend getaway by booking this luxurious manor or opt for a room at the Somewhere Inn Calabogie.

Gatineau Park

Gatineau Park is a sprawling natural playground that offers a perfect escape for those seeking a break from the city’s hustle and bustle. The park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering diverse activities throughout the year. 

From Ottawa: From the Portage Bridge to Québec, follow Hwy 5 North towards Maniwaki. Take exit 12 left on Old Chealsey Rd through Chealsey. Turn right onto Scott Rd for the Visitor Center. 

Activities

Hiking Trails: The park boasts an extensive network of trails suitable for all skill levels. From strolls to challenging hikes, there’s a trail for everyone.

Biking Trails: Mountain biking enthusiasts can explore designated trails, providing a thrilling experience amid the natural beauty.

Scenic Lookouts: Champlain Lookout offers panoramic views of the Ottawa Valley and the Gatineau Hills. It’s a must-visit spot for breathtaking photo opportunities.

Picnicking: Numerous picnic areas are scattered throughout the park, allowing visitors to enjoy a meal surrounded by nature.

Sunbathing: Beaches like Philippe Lake offer opportunities for swimming and sunbathing during the warmer months.

Winter Activities: Popular activities include cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and hiking. The park features groomed trails and even offers equipment rentals for those who don’t have their gear.

Wildlife Watching: Gatineau Park is home to a diverse range of wildlife. Watch for deer, birds, and other creatures while exploring the trails.

Hiker looking out at the Ottawa Valley from a lookout on a trail in Gatineau Park

Useful Information

Entrance Fees: Gatineau Park operates on a paid entry system. Visitors can purchase a daily or annual pass, and these funds contribute to the park’s maintenance and conservation efforts.

Visitor Centers: Stop by the Gatineau Park Visitor Centre for maps, trail information, and any assistance you may need. The center often hosts exhibits showcasing the park’s natural and cultural heritage.

Trail Conditions and Closures: Check the official Gatineau Park website for up-to-date information on trail conditions and any closures. This ensures a safe and enjoyable experience.

Events and Guided Tours: The park hosts various events and guided tours throughout the year. Check the schedule for bird watching, nature walks, and educational programs. Can’t explore from the trails? You can book a helicopter tour and fly over the park.

Leave No Trace: I always emphasize the importance of responsible tourism, encourage visitors to respect the park’s flora and fauna, and follow Leave No Trace principles.

Merrickville

Nestled along the banks of the Rideau River, Merrickville is a picturesque heritage town that invites visitors to step back in time and savour the charm of its well-preserved 19th-century architecture.

Location: Merrickville is located in Eastern Ontario, just a scenic 1-hour drive from Ottawa. 

From Ottawa: Take the Trans-Canada Hwy 417 West to 416 South. Take exit 42 and follow Route 5 and Route 2 to Merrickville.

Attractions

Historic Downtown: Merrickville’s historic core is a delight to explore, with its cobblestone streets, heritage buildings, and unique boutiques. Antique shops, art galleries, and craft stores offer a diverse shopping experience, perfect for finding one-of-a-kind treasures.

Rideau Canal and Blockhouse Museum: Stroll along the canal and appreciate the scenic beauty. Visit the Blockhouse Museum to learn about Merrickville’s role in the construction of the Rideau Canal and the town’s rich history.

Merrickville Artists’ Guild: Art enthusiasts will appreciate the Merrickville Artists’ Guild, showcasing the works of local artists. The guild often hosts exhibitions and events throughout the year.

Outdoor Activities: Enjoy a peaceful walk in the Merrickville Community Park along the Rideau River. It’s a lovely spot for a picnic or a moment of relaxation.

Merrickville Lockstation: Witness the functioning of a working lock at the Merrickville Lockstation. The locks are part of the Rideau Canal system and add to the town’s unique charm.

Useful Information

Parking: Merrickville offers convenient parking options for visitors. The town is easily walkable, allowing you to explore its attractions on foot.

Shopping and Dining: Try the Yellow Canoe Café or the Baldachin Inn for a memorable dining experience.

Visitor Information Centre: Stop by the Visitor Information Centre for maps, brochures, and any additional information needed to enhance your visit.

Wakefield

Wakefield’s unique artistic expression and natural beauty blend make it an ideal day trip destination.

Location: Wakefield is in the Outaouais region of Quebec, approximately 30 minutes from downtown Ottawa. The journey takes you through scenic countryside, preparing you for the village’s unique ambiance.

From Ottawa: Take the Portage Bridge to Hwy 5 North towards Maniwalki. Continue on Hwy 5 North for 28 kilometres and take exit 28 for Chemin de la Vallée-de-Wakefield

Attractions

Covered Bridge and Gatineau River: Wakefield’s historic covered bridge is an iconic landmark, providing a picturesque backdrop for the village. Stroll across the bridge and enjoy views of the Gatineau River. It’s a perfect spot for photography and a leisurely walk.

Art Galleries and Studios: Wakefield is known for its vibrant arts community. Explore local galleries and studios showcasing diverse artwork, from paintings to sculptures. Galleries like the MaM Gallery and the La Fab Arts Centre are must-visits for art enthusiasts.

Boutiques and Cafés: The village boasts charming boutiques offering handmade crafts, unique gifts, and local products. Cafés like the Black Sheep Inn Café provide a cozy atmosphere and often feature live music, adding to Wakefield’s artistic vibe.

Scenic Drives and Outdoor Activities: Wakefield is surrounded by lush greenery and offers scenic drives along the Gatineau River. Consider exploring nearby nature trails or a river cruise for a different perspective.

Historical Sites: Discover the history of Wakefield at sites like the Wakefield Covered Bridge Heritage Museum. Gain insights into the construction and significance of the village’s iconic bridge.

Useful Information

Parking: Wakefield provides parking options for visitors, allowing you to explore the village on foot.

Dining Options: Enjoy a delightful meal at one of Wakefield’s restaurants, offering a mix of local and international cuisine. The Kaffe 1870 and the Wakefield Mill Hotel & Spa are popular choices.

Accommodations: Consider extending your visit with one of Wakefield’s charming bed and breakfasts or the historic Wakefield Mill Hotel & Spa.

Visitor Information: The Wakefield Visitor Centre provides maps, brochures, and information about local attractions. Don’t hesitate to stop by for assistance.

Mississippi Mills and Almonte

Nestled along the scenic Mississippi River, Mississippi Mills is a charming town that blends rich heritage, natural beauty, and a thriving arts community. This picturesque destination offers a delightful day trip with historic sites, outdoor attractions, and artisan charm. 

Location: Mississippi Mills is conveniently located in Eastern Ontario, just over 50 kilometres southwest of Ottawa, making it an easily accessible day trip destination from Ottawa. 

From Ottawa: Get on the Trans-Canada Hwy 417 West and take exit 155 for March Rd, toward Almonte and Carp. Follow March Rd to Mississippi Mills.

Attractions

Almonte: Begin your visit to Almonte, one of the townships within Mississippi Mills. Explore the historic downtown, known for its well-preserved 19th-century architecture and charming boutiques. The Mississippi River winds through Almonte, providing a scenic backdrop for a stroll.

Mill of Kintail Conservation Area: Immerse yourself in nature at the Mill of Kintail Conservation Area. Hike along picturesque trails that meander through forests, leading to scenic viewpoints of the Mississippi River. The historic MacLaren Cemetery within the conservation area adds a touch of heritage to the natural surroundings.

Heritage Sites: Discover the heritage sites scattered throughout Mississippi Mills. The Old Town Hall in Almonte and the Rosamond Woolen Company Museum offer insights into the town’s industrial past.

Artisan Studios and Galleries: Mississippi Mills is home to a vibrant arts community. Explore local artisan studios and galleries showcasing handmade crafts, paintings, and unique creations. Art enthusiasts can visit the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum for exhibitions celebrating the town’s textile heritage.

Pakenham: Explore the village of Pakenham, known for its historic five-arch stone bridge over the Mississippi River. The Pakenham General Store’s classic red exterior is a notable landmark.

Mill of Kintail by the rushing river with the fall colours in the trees
Mill of Kintail

Useful Information

Parking and Walkability: Mississippi Mills offers parking options in its historic downtown areas. The towns are walkable, allowing you to explore attractions on foot.

Artisan Trails: Check for any artisan trails or studio tours during your visit. These events offer a unique opportunity to interact with local artists and explore their creative spaces.

Visitor Information: Visit the local visitor information center for maps, brochures, and assistance. The staff can provide recommendations based on your interests and preferences.

Local Dining: For a quick bite, try the Café Postino or Joe’s Italian Kitchen for drinks and dinner.

Calypso Waterpark

Nestled in the heart of Eastern Ontario, Calypso Waterpark stands as one of Canada’s largest theme waterparks, offering a perfect escape for families, thrill-seekers, and water enthusiasts. Calypso Waterpark promises a day of aquatic adventure, exhilarating slides, and relaxation by the water.

Location: Calypso Waterpark is conveniently located in Limoges, approximately 80 kilometres east of Ottawa, making it easily accessible from Ottawa. 

From Ottawa: Get on the Trans-Canada Hwy 417 East. Take exit 79 for Limoges Rd toward Limoges/Crysler. Take Calypso St toward Calypso Waterpark. 

Attractions

Thrilling Water Slides: Calypso Waterpark boasts an impressive array of water slides catering to all ages and thrill levels. There’s a slide for everyone from the heart-pounding Turbo Lab to the family-friendly Aqua Twister.

Wave Pool and Lazy River: Enjoy the gentle currents of the Jungle Run’s lazy river, perfect for a relaxing float. The massive wave pool creates ocean-like waves, providing an immersive experience for all ages.

Adventures for Kids: Little ones can explore special zones like Pirates’ Aquaplay and Zoo Lagoon, which are designed with interactive water features, slides, and shallow pools. The Kongo Expedition offers a water adventure with climbing structures and mini slides.

Private Cabana Rentals: Enhance your experience by renting a private cabana. Cabanas offer shaded relaxation areas, reserved seating, and exclusive services for a more comfortable day at the waterpark.

swimmers sitting on a crocodile in the pool in Calypso Waterpark

Useful Information

Ticketing and Season Passes: Purchase tickets online or at the waterpark entrance. Consider exploring season pass options if you plan to visit multiple times during the season.

Parking: Calypso Waterpark provides ample parking for visitors. Plan to arrive early to secure convenient parking spaces.

Food and Refreshments: The waterpark features various dining options, from casual eateries to snack bars. You can also bring your own food and beverages to enjoy in designated picnic areas.

Rentals and Locker Services: Rent essentials like tubes and life jackets if needed. Lockers are available to secure your valuables while you enjoy the attractions.

Height and Safety Requirements: Familiarize yourself with each ride’s height and safety requirements. Calypso Waterpark prioritizes safety, and some attractions may have specific guidelines.

Lac des Loups

Nestled in the picturesque Outaouais region, Lac des Loups offers a serene and scenic lakeside retreat for those seeking tranquillity and natural beauty. This charming area provides an idyllic day trip destination with its pristine lake, outdoor activities, and peaceful atmosphere. 

Location: Lac des Loups is situated in the municipality of La Pêche in the Outaouais region of Quebec. Located approximately 50 kilometres northwest of Ottawa, it is perfect for a day trip. 

From Ottawa: From the Portage Bridge, take Hwy 5 North. Take exit 28 and follow Hwy 366 toward Ste-Cecile-de-Masham to Lac-des-Loups.

Attractions

Lac des Loups: The area’s centrepiece is Lac des Loups, a tranquil and pristine lake surrounded by lush greenery. Enjoy the peaceful ambiance by the water, stroll along the shore, or relax on the lakeside.

Outdoor Activities: The region around Lac des Loups offers opportunities for outdoor activities. Explore hiking trails that lead to scenic viewpoints or enjoy birdwatching in the natural surroundings. In winter, the area is known for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, providing a different perspective of the serene landscape.

Village de Wakefield: Consider visiting the nearby Village de Wakefield for local charm. This quaint village features artisan shops, galleries, and cozy cafes. Stroll along the charming streets and explore the vibrant arts community.

Farmers’ Markets and Local Produce: Check for local farmers’ markets or roadside stands offering fresh produce and regional specialties. Embrace the farm-to-table experience with locally sourced fruits, vegetables, and artisanal products.

Scenic Drives: The journey to Lac des Loups is a scenic experience. Consider exploring the surrounding areas with a drive through the countryside, discovering hidden gems and viewpoints.

Useful Information

Parking and Accessibility: Lac des Loups offers parking areas for visitors, making it convenient to access the lakeside and surrounding attractions.

Picnic Areas: Pack a picnic and enjoy the designated picnic areas around Lac des Loups. Enjoy a meal surrounded by nature, with the lake as your backdrop.

Seasonal Considerations: The activities available may vary depending on the season. Check for seasonal highlights, whether it’s blooming wildflowers in spring, vibrant foliage in fall, or winter sports in the colder months.

Quiet Enjoyment: Lac des Loups is known for its peaceful ambiance. Embrace the area’s tranquillity and engage in activities that allow you to enjoy the natural surroundings without disturbance.

Smiths Falls

Nestled along the scenic Rideau Canal, Smiths Falls beckons with its historic charm, vibrant community spirit, and picturesque waterfront. This inviting town offers a delightful day trip destination that blends history, outdoor recreation, and local hospitality. 

Location: Smiths Falls is conveniently situated in Eastern Ontario, along the Rideau Canal, approximately 80 kilometres southwest of Ottawa. 

From Ottawa: Get on Trans-Canada Hwy 417 West. Take exit 145 for Hwy 7. Follow Hwy 7 to Hwy 15 South toward Smiths Falls. 

Attractions

Rideau Canal Visitor Centre: Begin your exploration at the Rideau Canal Visitor Centre, where exhibits showcase the history and significance of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Learn about the engineering marvel of the canal and its role in shaping the region.

Old Slys Lockstation: Experience the workings of the Rideau Canal firsthand at the Old Slys Lockstation. Watch boats navigate the locks and explore the picturesque surroundings, highlighting the canal’s beauty.

Heritage House Museum: Immerse yourself in local history by visiting the Heritage House Museum. Housed in a restored Victorian mansion, the museum features exhibits and artifacts that tell the story of Smiths Falls and its inhabitants.

Victoria Park: Stroll through Victoria Park, a green oasis along the Rideau Canal. Enjoy walking paths, scenic views, and the tranquil ambiance of this waterfront park, perfect for a leisurely afternoon.

Railway Museum of Eastern Ontario: Explore the Railway Museum of Eastern Ontario, showcasing the town’s connection to the railway industry. Discover vintage locomotives, railway cars, and artifacts that reflect the importance of rail transport in Smiths Falls.

Useful Information 

Heritage House Museum Hours: Check the operating hours of the Heritage House Museum and inquire about guided tours if you wish to delve deeper into the town’s history.

Shopping in Downtown: Wander through the charming downtown area, where you’ll find boutique shops, antique stores, and quaint cafes.

Local Dining: Try My Place Restaurant to taste their excellent cuisine.

Val-des-Monts

Nestled in the heart of the Gatineau Hills, Val-des-Monts offers a serene escape with its pristine lakes, lush forests, and a welcoming community spirit. This picturesque town is a perfect day trip destination from Ottawa for those seeking lakeside tranquillity and outdoor activities. 

Location: Val-des-Monts is conveniently situated in the Outaouais region of Quebec, approximately 40 kilometres north of Ottawa. It is a short drive for a day trip.

From Ottawa: From the Portage Bridge, follow Hwy 5 North. Take exit 5N for Hwy 105. Follow 105N to Alonzo-Wright and Avenue du Pont. Get on Hwy 307 North to Val-des-Monts.

Attractions

Lac Saint-Pierre: Explore the beauty of Lac Saint-Pierre, one of the many lakes that dot the Val-des-Monts region. Enjoy a lakeside picnic, take a leisurely paddle on the water, or unwind on the shores of this tranquil lake.

Gatineau Park Trails: Val-des-Monts is near Gatineau Park, offering access to a network of hiking and biking trails. 

Lake Access Points: Val-des-Monts boasts multiple lakes, each with its charm. Explore different lake access points for opportunities to swim, fish, or enjoy water sports amidst the region’s natural beauty.

Village du Père Noël: If visiting with family, consider a trip to the Village du Père Noël (Santa’s Village). This festive attraction features holiday-themed activities, making it a magical experience for children and those young at heart.

Abraska and Laflèche caves: For nature lovers and adventurous souls, Abraska caters to all ages. From ziplines and aerial courses to underground explorations of the caves, this is always a hit with visitors.

Local Artisan Shops: Explore local artisan shops to discover the creativity of Val-des-Monts. From handmade crafts to unique artworks, these establishments showcase the artistic talent inspired by the town’s natural surroundings.

Useful Information

Gatineau Park Access: If exploring Gatineau Park, ensure you have a park pass to access trails and parking. 

Seasonal Considerations: Val-des-Monts showcases different charms in each season. Whether you visit during the vibrant colours of fall, the snowy tranquillity of winter, or the blossoms of spring, the town adapts to showcase its natural beauty.

Plaisance

Nestled along the banks of the Outaouais River, Plaisance invites visitors to discover its serene landscapes, outdoor activities, and tranquil atmosphere. This hidden gem offers a picturesque day trip destination, combining riverside charm with natural beauty. 

Location: Plaisance is conveniently situated in the Outaouais region of Quebec, approximately 75 kilometres east of Ottawa, making it an accessible day trip from Ottawa. 

From Ottawa: From the Portage Bridge, take Hwy 50 East toward Montreal. Take exit 165, get on Hwy 148, and follow to Plaisance.

Attractions

Plaisance National Park: Explore the beauty of Plaisance National Park, a vast natural haven bordering the Outaouais River. Hike or bike through the park’s trails, enjoy a picnic, and watch for wildlife in this tranquil setting.

La Lièvre River: Discover the charm of La Lièvre River, which flows through Plaisance. Stroll along the riverbanks, enjoy the serene ambiance, and perhaps try fishing or kayaking on its gentle waters.

Oiseau Rock Lookout: Hike to Oiseau Rock Lookout for panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes. Capture breathtaking snapshots of the river, forests, and nearby hills, providing a picturesque vista.

Plaisance Falls: Visit Plaisance Falls, a hidden gem known for its natural beauty. The falls cascade over rugged rocks, creating a tranquil spot for contemplation and a connection with nature.

Plaisance Falls boredered by conifers
Falls in Plaisance

Useful Information 

Plaisance National Park Access: Check the operating hours and entrance fees for Plaisance National Park. Plan your visit to include time for hiking, wildlife watching, and relaxation by the river.

River Activities: If you plan to engage in activities like kayaking or fishing, ensure you have the necessary equipment and check local regulations for any required permits.

Oiseau Rock Lookout Hike: Wear comfortable footwear for the Oiseau Rock Lookout hike. The trail may vary in difficulty, so be prepared with suitable clothing and water for the trek.

Where to eat: Gauffre N Go is perfect for breakfast or lunch. Their waffles are fantastic! Casse-croute Patalou is open seasonally and is excellent for a quick bite. If you would rather have a sit-down dinner with more options, I recommend driving to Montebello for more restaurant options, such as Le Café Entre Amis.

Chelsea

Nestled at the doorstep of Gatineau Park, Chelsea beckons with its scenic landscapes, outdoor adventures, and a blend of natural beauty and cultural charm. This quaint town offers an idyllic day trip destination for those seeking a harmonious mix of outdoor recreation and artistic flair. 

Location: Chelsea is conveniently located in the Outaouais region of Quebec, approximately 15 kilometres north of Ottawa, making it a short drive from Ottawa. 

From Ottawa: From the Portage Bridge, take Hwy 5 North toward Maniwaki. Take exit 12 for Old Chelsea Rd and head left through town.  

Attractions

Gatineau Park: Explore the natural wonder of Gatineau Park, which embraces Chelsea. Hike, bike, or stroll through the park’s trails and be rewarded with stunning vistas, serene lakes, and the vibrant colours of the Canadian Shield.

Nordik Spa-Nature: Indulge in relaxation at Nordik Spa-Nature, one of North America’s largest spas. Nestled in a peaceful forest setting, the spa offers thermal baths, saunas, and relaxation areas for a rejuvenating experience.

Old Chelsea Village: Discover the charm of Old Chelsea Village, where historic buildings, artisan shops, and cozy cafes line the streets. Explore boutiques showcasing local art and savour delicious meals in a picturesque setting.

Larrimac Golf & Tennis Club: If you enjoy outdoor sports, consider visiting Larrimac Golf & Tennis Club. Play a round of golf surrounded by nature or enjoy a game of tennis in a scenic and tranquil environment.

Chelsea Pub: Experience the local hospitality at Chelsea Pub, a popular gathering spot known for its warm atmosphere and pub-style cuisine. Enjoy a meal on the patio and soak in the town’s laid-back ambiance.

Useful Information

Gatineau Park Pass: If planning to explore Gatineau Park extensively, consider purchasing a park pass. The pass provides access to various trails, lookouts, and attractions within the park.

Nordik Spa Reservations: Nordik Spa-Nature is popular, especially on weekends. Consider making early reservations to secure your spot and make the most of the spa experience.

Gatineau Park Visitor Center: The Gatineau Park Visitor Center offers maps, information, and guided tour options. You can also learn about the park’s flora and fauna and the various activities available.

Aylmer

Nestled along the shores of the Ottawa River, Aylmer is a charming suburb just west of Ottawa. It offers a perfect blend of history, green spaces, and a vibrant community. As a day trip destination, Aylmer invites visitors to explore its riverside beauty, cultural attractions, and welcoming atmosphere. 

Location: Aylmer is conveniently located on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River, just across from Ottawa. 

From Ottawa: Follow Wellington St and Island Park Dr to the Champlain Bridge. After crossing the bridge, make a left on Blvd Lucerne to Aylmer.

Attractions

Parc des Cèdres: Explore Parc des Cèdres, a waterfront park that stretches along the Ottawa River. The park features walking trails, picnic areas, and scenic viewpoints, providing a perfect setting for a stroll or a riverside picnic.

Aylmer Marina: Visit the Aylmer Marina, a hub for water activities on the Ottawa River. Whether you’re into kayaking, sailing, or simply enjoying the river breeze, the marina offers a serene escape for water enthusiasts.

Aylmer Heritage Association: Immerse yourself in Aylmer’s history by visiting the Aylmer Heritage Association. Discover exhibits and artifacts that showcase the town’s cultural heritage, including its early settlement and development.

Aylmer Farmers’ Market: If visiting on a weekend, explore the Aylmer Farmers’ Market. This lively market features local produce, handmade crafts, and a variety of artisanal products, providing a taste of the region’s flavours.

Rue Principale (Main Street): Stroll along Rue Principale, Aylmer’s main street, with charming shops, boutiques, and cafes. Explore the local businesses, and perhaps indulge in a French-inspired pastry or a cozy meal.

Stopping at a picnic area at the Aylmer Marina by the bike path

Useful Information

Parking and Walkability: Aylmer’s attractions are often accessible on foot, especially around Parc des Cèdres and Rue Principale. Parking is available in the downtown area and near popular attractions.

Aylmer Marina Rentals: If you are interested in water activities, check with Aylmer Marina for rental options, including kayaks or paddle boards. Enjoy the scenic Ottawa River from a different perspective.

Heritage Association Hours: Confirm the opening hours of the Aylmer Heritage Association if you plan to explore the town’s history.

Montebello

Nestled on the shores of the Ottawa River in the beautiful province of Quebec, Montebello beckons with its rich history, natural beauty, and charming atmosphere that captures the essence of French-Canadian culture. As a day trip destination from Ottawa, Montebello offers a delightful blend of activities, historic sites, and scenic landscapes.

Location: Montebello is approximately 85 kilometres east of Ottawa, making it an easily accessible day trip destination. 

From Ottawa: From the Portage Bridge, follow Hwy 50 East. Take exit 210 for Hwy 323 South toward Montebello. 

Attractions

Fairmont Le Château Montebello: Explore the iconic Fairmont Le Château Montebello, often hailed as the world’s largest log cabin. This historic hotel, built with red cedar logs, offers a glimpse into the region’s grand past. Visitors can stroll through its impressive grounds or indulge in a meal at one of its restaurants.

Parc Omega: Immerse yourself in nature at Parc Omega, a wildlife park where you can drive through expansive habitats and observe native wildlife such as deer, bears, and wolves. The park also offers walking trails and themed activities.

Manoir-Papineau National Historic Site: Discover the Manoir-Papineau, the former estate of Louis-Joseph Papineau, a key figure in Canadian history. Tour the historic manor, explore the picturesque gardens, and learn about the life and times of this influential political figure.

Ottawa River Activities: Take advantage of the Ottawa River’s presence by engaging in water activities. Kayaking, canoeing, and boat cruises are popular ways to experience the river’s scenic beauty.

Local Shops and Cafés: Wander through Montebello’s charming village, filled with boutique shops and quaint cafes. Explore local art galleries, pick unique souvenirs, and savour French-Canadian delicacies.

Useful Information

Château Montebello Access: While the Château Montebello is a historic gem, please note that some areas may be restricted to hotel guests. However, the exterior and selected amenities are often open for visitors to explore.

Parc Omega Tips: If visiting Parc Omega, plan for a few hours to fully enjoy the wildlife experience. Consider bringing snacks for a picnic, as the park offers designated areas for outdoor dining.

Historic Sites Hours and Tours: Check the opening hours of landmark sites like the Manoir-Papineau and inquire about guided tours to enhance your understanding of the region’s history.

Restaurant options: Le Cafe Entre Amis or Le Bistro are great options.

Make it a weekend getaway by booking a room in one of the many accommodations in Montebello:

Day Trips from Ottawa: under 2 hours


Perth

Perth, Ontario, is a perfect destination for those seeking a blend of heritage, tranquillity, and natural beauty. The charming town offers a welcoming and enriching day trip experience.

Location: Perth is conveniently located in Eastern Ontario along the banks of the Tay River, approximately an hour’s drive southwest of Ottawa.

From Ottawa: Get on Trans-Canada Hwy 417 West and take exit 145 for Hwy 7 towards Carleton Place. Continue on Hwy 7 for 54 kilometres to the town of Perth. 

Attractions

Heritage Downtown: Explore Perth’s historic downtown, characterized by 19th-century limestone buildings. The town’s architectural charm provides a picturesque setting for a stroll. Stop by local shops, boutiques, and cafes like the Perth Chocolate Works or The Studio Theatre Perth.

Perth Museum: Immerse yourself in the town’s history at the Perth Museum. Discover exhibits showcasing Perth’s development, early settlers, and the significance of the Tay Canal.

Crystal Palace: Visit the Crystal Palace, a Victorian-era exhibition hall in Last Duel Park. This iconic structure hosts events and festivals throughout the year and adds to Perth’s historic allure.

Heritage Walking Tours: Take a guided or self-guided heritage walking tour to learn about the town’s history. 

Stewart Park and Tay Basin: Enjoy the natural beauty of Stewart Park, located along the Tay River. The park features walking trails, gardens, and scenic views of the Tay Basin.

Useful Information

Visitor Information Centre: Visit the Perth Visitor Information Centre to gather maps, brochures, and information about current events. The center can offer valuable insights into the town’s attractions.

Dining and Cafés: Perth offers a variety of dining options, from cozy cafes to fine dining establishments. Consider trying local favorites like the Lockwood’s Restaurant or The Crossroads Tearoom.

Outdoor Activities: Take advantage of the town’s natural surroundings. Enjoy a leisurely walk along the Tay River or explore nearby hiking trails like the Perth Wildlife Reserve.

Mont Tremblant

Nestled in the Laurentian Mountains, Mont-Tremblant is a renowned resort destination that beckons visitors with its stunning alpine scenery, outdoor activities, and vibrant village atmosphere. A popular day trip or weekend getaway from Ottawa, Mont-Tremblant offers a perfect blend of adventure and relaxation. 

Location: Mont-Tremblant is approximately 200 kilometres northwest of Ottawa, making it accessible within a 2-hour drive. 

From Ottawa: From the Portage Bridge, follow Hyw 50 East. Take exit Hwy 323 North to Mont-Tremblant.

Attractions

Mont-Tremblant Ski Resort: In winter, the Mont-Tremblant Ski Resort transforms into a snow-covered wonderland. Enjoy skiing, snowboarding, and other winter activities on the slopes. The gondola ride offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and forests.

Pedestrian Village: The pedestrian village at the mountain’s base is a bustling activity hub. Explore cobblestone streets lined with shops, restaurants, and cafes. Street performers and live music enhance the village’s vibrant atmosphere. Stroll along Place St-Bernard and Place des Voyageurs for a taste of local culture.

Mont Tremblant National Park: For nature enthusiasts, Mont Tremblant National Park is a must-visit. Hike through lush forests, enjoy scenic viewpoints, and perhaps encounter local wildlife. The park offers canoeing, kayaking, and mountain biking in summer. 

Le P’tit Train du Nord: Explore the scenic Le P’tit Train du Nord trail, perfect for cycling or walking. The trail winds through charming towns and offers breathtaking views of the Laurentians.

Dogsled Adventure: Mush over valley trails with stunning mountain scenes as you ride or guide the sled. The guided tours include everything from setting up the sled to riding the trails and caring for the dogs afterwards.

fountain in the Village of Mont-Tremblant
Tremblant Village

Useful Information

Seasonal Activities: Mont-Tremblant offers a variety of activities depending on the season. Winter brings snow sports, while summer offers outdoor adventures like hiking, ziplining, and golf.

Equipment Rentals: If you’re engaging in winter sports or outdoor activities, there are numerous rental shops where you can obtain equipment and gear.

Dining: Try the Grill Saint-George or the Microbrasserie La Diable for a local dining experience.

Make it a weekend getaway with a room at the Hotel Quintessence or a stunning condo with a perfect view.

Westport

Nestled on the shores of Upper Rideau Lake, Westport is a charming village that offers a tranquil retreat and a glimpse into small-town life with its scenic waterfront, local art scene, and welcoming community. 

Location: Westport is conveniently situated in Eastern Ontario, approximately 100 kilometres southwest of Ottawa, making it an accessible day trip destination from Ottawa. 

From Ottawa: Get on Trans-Canada Hwy 417 West. Take exit 145 for Hwy 7 towards Carleton Place. Continue on Hwy 7 to Route 10 into Westport. 

Attractions

Westport Harbour and Rideau Lakes: Begin your visit at Westport Harbour, where you can enjoy a peaceful stroll along the waterfront. The picturesque views of Upper Rideau Lake create a serene atmosphere. Consider renting a kayak or canoe to explore the calm waters and scenic surroundings.

Foley Mountain Conservation Area: For nature lovers, Foley Mountain Conservation Area is a short drive away. Hike to Spy Rock for panoramic views of Westport and the Rideau Lakes. The conservation area offers trails suitable for various skill levels, allowing you to immerse yourself in the region’s natural beauty.

Local Artisan Shops: Westport is known for its vibrant arts community. Explore local artisan shops and galleries, showcasing a diverse range of handmade crafts, paintings, and unique gifts. Engage with local artists and learn about the creative spirit that thrives in Westport.

Westport Rideau Lakes Historical Society Museum: Gain insights into the town’s history by visiting the Westport Rideau Lakes Historical Society Museum. The museum showcases artifacts, photographs, and exhibits detailing Westport’s past.

Village Boutiques and Cafés: Wander through the village’s boutiques, antique shops, and quaint cafes. Experience the charm of Westport’s small-town atmosphere and perhaps pick up a unique souvenir.

Looking at the town of Wesport from the Foley Mountain Lookout, a small town southwest of Ottawa
Foley Mountain Lookout

Useful Information

Parking: Westport provides convenient parking options for visitors. The village is easily walkable, allowing you to explore its attractions on foot.

Visitor Information: The Westport Information Centre is a helpful resource for maps, brochures, and information about local attractions. The staff can provide recommendations based on your interests.

Local Dining: The Cove Inn and the Tangled Garden Cafe are great lunch or dinner options. You should also consider stopping by the Westport Brewing Company to taste their beer and food.

Vankleek Hill

Nestled in the heart of Eastern Ontario, Vankleek Hill welcomes visitors with its small-town charm, rich history, and vibrant community spirit. This picturesque village offers a delightful day trip destination with its historic architecture, artisanal flair, and warm, welcoming atmosphere. 

Location: Vankleek Hill is conveniently located in the Ottawa Valley, approximately 90 kilometres east of Ottawa, making it an accessible day trip destination from Ottawa. 

From Ottawa: Get on Hwy 417 East toward Montreal. Take the County Rd 33/Vankleek Hill exit. Follow the 34 to Vankleek Hill.

Attractions

Historic Downtown: Explore the historic downtown area, where well-preserved Victorian architecture lines the streets. Discover boutique shops, galleries, and quaint cafes, creating a perfect setting for a stroll.

Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company: Visit Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company, a renowned craft brewery outside Vankleek Hill. Take a tour of the brewery, sample their unique and locally brewed beers, and perhaps enjoy a meal at the on-site pub.

Vankleek Hill Museum: Immerse yourself in the local history by visiting the Vankleek Hill Museum. Housed in a former train station, the museum showcases artifacts and exhibits that highlight the village’s heritage.

Artisan Shops and Galleries: Vankleek Hill has a thriving arts community. Explore local artisan shops and galleries featuring handmade crafts, artwork, and unique creations by talented local artists.

Vankleek Hill Agricultural Fair: If visiting during the right time of year, consider attending the Vankleek Hill Agricultural Fair. This annual event celebrates rural life with agricultural exhibits, live entertainment, and a lively carnival atmosphere.

Ouimet Farm Adventures: Ouimet Farm features activities for the whole family, from its giant corn maze to its adventure park, farm market, and museum. You can learn and have fun, too. 

Useful Information 

Parking and Walkability: Vankleek Hill’s downtown area is easily walkable, allowing visitors to explore the attractions on foot. Parking is typically available in the vicinity of the main street.

Beau’s Brewery Tours: If you are planning to visit Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company, check their website for tour availability and any special events.

Local Dining: For an authentic local dining experience, try the Broken Kettle or the One Eleven Main Street Eatery.

Turn it into a weekend getaway by booking a stay at the charming century-old Victorian Vilayala Retreat.

Charleston Lake

Nestled in the heart of the Thousand Islands region, Charleston Lake is a hidden gem that beckons nature enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers. This pristine lake and its surrounding park offer a serene escape with many recreational activities. 

Location: Charleston Lake is situated in Eastern Ontario, approximately 120 kilometres south of Ottawa, making it accessible for a day trip from Ottawa.

From Ottawa: Take the Trans-Canada Hwy 417 West to 416 South. Continue on 416 to Hwy 401 West towards Mallorytown. Take exit 675 and follow County Rd 4 and County Rd 3 to Charleston Lake.

Attractions

Charleston Lake Provincial Park: Begin your day at Charleston Lake Provincial Park, which encompasses the lake and its picturesque surroundings. The park offers hiking trails, sandy beaches, and opportunities for water activities.

Hiking Trails: Charleston Lake Provincial Park boasts a network of hiking trails suitable for various skill levels. The Slide Lake Trail and the Cedar Grove Trail are popular choices, providing scenic views of the lake and surrounding landscape.

Boating and Fishing: Enjoy the tranquil waters of Charleston Lake by renting a canoe, kayak, or paddleboard. Fishing enthusiasts can try catching bass, pike, and perch. The lake’s clear waters make it ideal for relaxation and water-based activities.

Scenic Lookouts: Discover scenic lookouts within the park, offering breathtaking views of Charleston Lake. The landscapes are particularly stunning during the fall, with vibrant foliage enhancing the natural beauty.

Picnicking and Relaxation: The park has designated picnic areas. Pack a picnic lunch and unwind in the peaceful surroundings, surrounded by the sounds of nature.

Crossing Lake Charleston on a footbridge
Hiking in Charleston Lake Provincial Park

Useful Information

Park Facilities and Fees: Charleston Lake Provincial Park offers picnic areas, comfort stations, and a visitor center. Entrance fees apply. Consider purchasing a day pass.

Outdoor Gear: Bring appropriate outdoor gear, especially if you plan to engage in hiking or boating. Ensure you have sunscreen, insect repellent, and comfortable footwear.

Visitor Center: Stop by the park’s visitor center for maps, trail information, and any updates on current conditions. The staff can provide insights into the best activities based on your preferences.

Seasonal Considerations: Depending on the season, activities in the park may vary. Water activities are popular in summer, while fall brings vibrant foliage and excellent hiking conditions.

Wildlife Watching: Charleston Lake is home to a variety of wildlife. Look for birds, including herons, ospreys, and other park inhabitants.

Saint-Sauveur

Nestled in the picturesque Laurentian Mountains, Saint-Sauveur offers a charming escape from the hustle and bustle. It invites visitors to experience its natural beauty, outdoor activities, and welcoming village ambiance. This idyllic town provides a perfect day trip destination for those seeking relaxation and adventure. 

Location: Saint-Sauveur, situated in the Laurentians, is a two-hour drive from Ottawa.

From Ottawa: Take the Portage Bridge to Quebec and follow Hwy 50 East toward Montreal. Take the exit for the Trans-Canada Hwy 15 North toward Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts. Take exit 60 Saint-Sauveur, Rd 364. 

Attractions

Mont Saint-Sauveur: Conquer Mont Saint-Sauveur for breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. In winter, the mountain transforms into a popular ski resort, while in summer, it offers hiking trails and scenic chairlift rides.

Saint-Sauveur Village: Explore the charming village of Saint-Sauveur, characterized by its quaint streets lined with boutiques, cafes, and art galleries. The town exudes a welcoming atmosphere, perfect for strolls and window shopping.

Laurentian Mountains Trails: Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the Laurentian Mountains by exploring hiking and biking trails. The region offers a network of trails suitable for various skill levels, providing opportunities to connect with nature.

Saint-Sauveur Water Park: Cool off in the summer at the Saint-Sauveur Water Park, featuring water slides, pools, and family-friendly attractions. It’s a perfect spot for a refreshing and fun-filled day, especially during the warmer months.

Art Galleries and Boutiques: Delve into the artistic side of Saint-Sauveur by visiting local art galleries and boutiques. Discover unique creations by local artists, from paintings to handmade crafts, offering a glimpse into the region’s vibrant arts scene.

ski hill in Saint-Sauveur
Skiing on Mont Olympia in Saint-Sauveur

Useful Information

Seasonal Activities: Saint-Sauveur offers different activities depending on the season. In winter, enjoy skiing and snow-related adventures, while summer provides opportunities for hiking, water activities, and exploring the village.

Mont Saint-Sauveur Opening Hours: If you plan to visit Mont Saint-Sauveur for skiing or summer activities, check the opening hours and any special events or promotions. The mountain caters to both winter and summer enthusiasts.

Make it a weekend getaway: In the winter, stay at Manoir Saint-Sauveur, minutes from the ski hill. In the summer, consider trying the Chimo Refuge Treehouse Resort for a unique experience.

Long Sault Parkway

Nestled along the mighty St. Lawrence River, the Long Sault Parkway offers a picturesque escape. It combines natural beauty, outdoor activities, and a series of scenic islands. This enchanting parkway provides a serene day trip destination, inviting visitors to explore its islands, enjoy waterfront views, and embrace the tranquility of the St. Lawrence River. 

Location: The Long Sault Parkway is near Cornwall, Ontario, approximately 110 kilometres southeast of Ottawa. 

From Ottawa: Get on Trans-Canada Hwy 417 East. Take exit 79 and follow County Rd. 5, then 12 and 43. Take County Rd 14 to Hwy 2. Follow Hwy 2 to the Long Sault Parkway in Ingleside. 

Attractions

St. Lawrence River Islands: Explore the islands along the St. Lawrence River, connected by the Long Sault Parkway. Each island offers charm, with opportunities for picnics, nature walks, and breathtaking river views.

Woodlands and Picnic Areas: Enjoy the woodlands and open spaces on the islands, providing a perfect setting for picnics and outdoor activities. Take advantage of designated picnic areas and appreciate the tranquil surroundings.

Beaches and Swimming: Take a refreshing dip in the St. Lawrence River at one of the parkway’s sandy beaches. Enjoy the sun, sand, and clear waters for a relaxing beach day with family or friends.

Cycling and Walking Trails: Embrace the scenic beauty of the parkway by exploring its cycling and walking trails. 

Wildlife Viewing: Watch for local wildlife, including birds, ducks, and perhaps even beavers, as you explore the islands. The parkway provides a peaceful environment for birdwatching and connecting with nature.

biking on the Long Sault Parkway under
Long Sault Parkway

Useful Information

Parkway Access Points: Familiarize yourself with the access points to the Long Sault Parkway. The parkway features causeways connecting several islands, each accessible by road, allowing visitors to explore different sections.

Island Amenities: Check for amenities, including restroom facilities, designated picnic areas, and additional services. Be prepared with essentials such as sunscreen, water, and snacks.

Recreational Activities: Bring recreational equipment such as bicycles, frisbees, or sports gear to make the most of the parkway’s open spaces. Many areas are suitable for outdoor activities and family fun.

Fishing Opportunities: If you enjoy fishing, consider bringing your gear to try your luck along the shores of the St. Lawrence River. The parkway provides access to various fishing spots, allowing anglers to enjoy their favourite pastime.

Seasonal Considerations: The Long Sault Parkway offers different charms in each season. Whether you visit during the vibrant days of summer, the crisp colours of fall, or the serene winter landscapes, the parkway adapts to showcase its natural beauty.

Upper Canada Village

Nestled along the banks of the St. Lawrence River, Upper Canada Village is a living history museum that immerses visitors in the charm and simplicity of 19th-century rural life. This captivating village offers a nostalgic day trip destination, allowing guests to step back in time and experience yesteryear’s sights, sounds, and traditions. 

Location: Upper Canada Village is situated near Morrisburg, Ontario, approximately 100 kilometres southeast of Ottawa, making it a convenient day trip from Ottawa. 

From Ottawa: Get on the Trans-Canada Hwy 417 East. Take exit 96 for Ottawa Rd 41 South to County Rd 7 and County Rd 8 to County Rd 2 toward Upper Canada Village. 

Attractions

Historic Buildings and Homes: Explore over 40 meticulously restored buildings, including homes, mills, workshops, and public buildings, all recreating a typical 19th-century village. Engage with costumed interpreters who bring history to life, sharing stories and demonstrations of daily life from the era.

Working Mills and Workshops: Witness the operation of authentic working mills and workshops, such as the gristmill, sawmill, and blacksmith shop. Learn about these industries’ vital role in shaping rural communities during the 1800s.

Farmsteads and Gardens: Stroll through farmsteads and gardens, experiencing agricultural practices of the time. From heirloom crops to heritage livestock breeds, the village showcases the self-sufficiency and rural lifestyle of 19th-century Upper Canada.

Educational Demonstrations: Attend educational demonstrations and hands-on activities that provide insight into traditional skills, crafts, and trades. From hearth cooking to artisanal crafts, these activities offer a glimpse into the daily routines of the villagers.

Horse-Drawn Wagon Rides: Enjoy the charm of horse-drawn wagon rides, meandering through the picturesque landscape. 

Useful Information 

Visitor Center: Start your visit at the Visitor Center to obtain maps, event schedules, and any additional information about daily programs and special events.

Culinary Delights: Enjoy traditional 19th-century fare at the village’s eateries. From hearty meals to freshly baked goods, the culinary offerings provide a taste of historical flavours.

Gift Shops: Explore the gift shops for unique souvenirs and handmade crafts inspired by the era. From period-appropriate clothing to historical toys, the shops offer a chance to take a piece of history home.

Photography Opportunities: Capture the essence of Upper Canada Village through photography. The village’s scenic beauty, historic architecture, and authentic ambiance provide numerous opportunities for captivating snapshots.

Day Trips from Ottawa: under 3 hours


Kingston

Nestled along the shores of Lake Ontario at the eastern end of the Thousand Islands, Kingston has a rich history, a vibrant waterfront, and a lively cultural scene. As a day trip destination from Ottawa, Kingston offers a delightful blend of historic sites, waterfront activities, and a welcoming atmosphere. 

Location: Kingston is approximately 200 kilometres southwest of Ottawa, making it an easily accessible day trip destination. 

From Ottawa: Take the Trans-Canada Hwy 417 West to 416 South. Continue on 416 to Hwy 401 West towards Kingston. 

Attractions

Historic Downtown: Explore Kingston’s historic downtown, where limestone buildings and cobblestone streets transport you back in time. Discover boutique shops, art galleries, and local eateries along Princess Street. Don’t miss the vibrant atmosphere of Market Square, especially during farmers’ markets or outdoor events.

Historic Building in Kingston with fountain arch in front

Fort Henry National Historic Site: Immerse yourself in history at Fort Henry, a 19th-century military fortress overlooking the city and Lake Ontario. Explore the ramparts and barracks and witness historical reenactments. The Sunset Ceremony at Fort Henry is a must-attend event during the summer months.

Thousand Islands Cruises: Kingston serves as the gateway to the Thousand Islands. Embark on a scenic boat cruise to explore the picturesque islands, historic lighthouses, and the breathtaking St. Lawrence River.

Waterfront Pathway: Enjoy a stroll or bike ride along the Waterfront Pathway, offering stunning views of Lake Ontario. Relax in parks like Confederation Park and Battery Park, which are ideal for picnics or simply enjoying the waterfront.

Queen’s University Campus: Walk through the beautiful Queen’s University campus, known for its impressive architecture and green spaces. The Agnes Etherington Art Centre on campus is a cultural gem. Book the Ghost Tour of Queen University to learn all about the eerie tales of past students and professors.

Useful Information

Parking and Transportation: Kingston offers various parking options in the downtown area. If arriving by train, the historic Kingston VIA Rail station enhances the experience.

Visitor Information Centers: Start your visit at one of Kingston’s Visitor Information Centers for maps, brochures, and local insights. The centers often provide information on guided tours and upcoming events.

Kingston Penitentiary Tours: If intrigued by history, consider taking a tour of the Kingston Penitentiary. This former maximum-security prison offers guided tours, providing a unique perspective on Canada’s penal history.

Local Dining: For a waterfront experience, try AquaTerra Restaurant or Kingston Brewing Company. Days on Front is also highly recommended.

Make it a weekend getaway and book a room at the charming Rosemount Inn just a few hundred metres from downtown.

Thousand Islands

Situated along the St. Lawrence River on the Canada-U.S. border, the Thousand Islands region is a breathtaking archipelago of islands known for its stunning landscapes, historic sites, and recreational opportunities. Just a few hours’ drive from Ottawa, the Thousand Islands offer a picturesque day trip destination with scenic boat cruises, charming villages, and a rich tapestry of natural beauty. 

Location: The Thousand Islands are between Ontario, Canada, and New York, USA. The region is easily accessible from Ottawa within one hour and 15 minutes of driving.

From Ottawa: Get on the Trans-Canada Hwy 417 West to the 416 South. From the 416, take Hwy 401 West toward Kingston. Follow the 401 to Mallorythown. The Thousand Islands Region spans from Mallorytown to Kingston. 

Attractions

Thousand Islands Cruises: Embark on a boat cruise to explore the enchanting islands. Several companies offer narrated tours, providing insights into the history, geology, and legends of the Thousand Islands. Cruise past iconic landmarks like Boldt Castle and Singer Castle while enjoying the breathtaking views of emerald-green waters.

Boldt Castle: Visit Boldt Castle, a magnificent turn-of-the-century mansion on Heart Island. Explore the castle’s grand rooms, lush gardens, and the tragic love story behind its construction.

Singer Castle: Discover Singer Castle, a medieval-style fortress on Dark Island. Guided tours explore secret passages, turrets, and the castle’s intriguing history.

Helicopter tours:  Book a helicopter tour and explore the majestic Thousand Islands Region by air.

Gananoque: Explore the charming town of Gananoque, often called the “Gateway to the Thousand Islands.” Stroll along its waterfront, visit local shops, and enjoy a meal in one of the cozy restaurants.

Thousand Islands National Park: This Park offers hiking trails, picnic areas, and camping facilities for nature enthusiasts. Visitors can explore the park’s diverse ecosystems and enjoy scenic views of the river.

castle on an island from a boat cruise in Thousand Islands
castle on one of the Thousand Islands

Useful Information

Boat Tours and Rentals: Choose from various boat tours, from leisure cruises to adventurous speedboat rides. Some companies also offer kayak and canoe rentals for a more personal island-hopping experience.

Border Crossing: If planning to explore both the Canadian and U.S. sides of the Thousand Islands, ensure you have the necessary travel documents for border crossings.

Island Camping: Thousand Islands National Park provides opportunities for island camping. Plan if you wish to experience the unique adventure of spending a night on one of the islands.

Visitor Centers: Visit local visitor centers for maps, brochures, and information on current conditions. Gananoque’s visitor center is a good starting point for planning your Thousand Islands exploration.

Seasonal Considerations: Some points of interest (like boat tours) are only offered during summer.

Make it a weekend getaway: Book a room in Gananoque or Rockport in the heart of the Thousand Islands region.

Madawaska

In the heart of the Ottawa Valley, Madawaska offers a serene escape surrounded by pristine lakes, lush forests, and a tapestry of natural beauty. This hidden gem provides a tranquil day trip destination for those seeking outdoor adventures and a connection with nature.

Location: Madawaska is conveniently situated in Eastern Ontario, approximately 100 kilometres northwest of Ottawa, offering easy access for a day trip from Ottawa.

From Ottawa: Get on Hwy 417 West and continue on 17 West to Hwy 60. Follow Hwy 60 to Madawaska. 

Attractions

Bonnechere River: Discover the scenic beauty of the Bonnechere River, which flows through Madawaska. Enjoy leisurely walks along the riverbanks, and perhaps try your hand at fishing in this peaceful setting.

Madawaska River Provincial Park: Immerse yourself in nature at Madawaska River Provincial Park. The park offers hiking trails, picnic areas, camping opportunities, and birdwatching. 

Hiking Trails: Madawaska boasts a network of hiking trails that cater to various skill levels. Whether you are seeking a stroll or a more challenging trek, the trails allow you to explore the region’s diverse ecosystems.

Canoeing and Kayaking: The waterways around Madawaska invite paddlers to embark on canoeing or kayaking adventures. Navigate the pristine lakes and rivers, surrounded by the beauty of the Canadian Shield.

Rafting Tour: Book a tour with Madawaska River Family Rafting for an exciting adventure on the river.

Local Artisan Studios: Discover the artistic side of Madawaska by exploring local artisan studios and galleries. From handmade crafts to unique artworks, these spaces showcase the creativity inspired by the natural surroundings.

The rocky shore of Madawaska River boredered by trees
Madawaska River

Useful Information

Outdoor Gear: If planning to explore hiking trails or engage in water activities, ensure you have appropriate outdoor gear, including sturdy footwear, water bottles, and, if applicable, canoe or kayak equipment.

Photography Opportunities: Bring your camera or smartphone to capture Madawaska’s stunning landscapes and wildlife. The region provides ample photography opportunities, from vibrant sunsets to the reflections on the water.

Weather Considerations: Be mindful of the weather conditions, especially if planning outdoor activities. Dress accordingly and check for any updates or advisories related to the region’s weather.

Places to stay: Madawaska Lodge offers B&B accommodations and cottages for an authentic nature immersion.

Montreal

Nestled along the scenic Saint Lawrence River, Montreal stands as a vibrant and cosmopolitan city that seamlessly blends French and North American influences. Boasting a rich tapestry of culture, history, and gastronomy, Montreal offers a captivating day trip destination for those seeking a dynamic urban experience. 

Location: Montreal is in the province of Quebec, approximately 200 kilometres east of Ottawa. Accessible by car, train, or bus, the city is well-connected, making it an ideal day trip destination from the Canadian capital.

From Ottawa: take Trans-Canada Hwy 417 East toward Montreal. Then, continue on Trans-Canada Hwy 40 East toward Montreal. 

Attractions

Old Montreal (Vieux-Montreal): Explore the charming cobblestone streets of Old Montreal, where historic architecture, boutique shops, and vibrant cafes create an atmosphere reminiscent of European cities. Visit iconic landmarks like Notre-Dame Basilica and Place Jacques-Cartier.

Mont-Royal: Ascend Mont Royal for panoramic views of the city. The sprawling park offers walking trails, a scenic lookout, and a peaceful retreat into nature within the heart of Montreal.

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA): Immerse yourself in art at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, featuring an extensive collection of European, Canadian, and contemporary art. The museum showcases diverse exhibitions and cultural events throughout the year.

Montreal Botanical Garden: Stroll through the Montreal Botanical Garden, a haven of lush greenery and themed gardens. Explore the Japanese Garden, Chinese Garden, and the stunning displays of flowers and plants.

La Ronde Amusement Park: La Ronde offers a variety of rides, attractions, and entertainment for visitors of all ages. La Ronde is known for its thrilling roller coasters, family-friendly attractions, and lively atmosphere, making it a popular destination for locals and tourists. Expect crowds.

Plateau-Mont-Royal: Discover the eclectic Plateau-Mont-Royal neighbourhood, known for its bohemian atmosphere, colourful murals, and diverse cafes and boutiques. Take a leisurely walk along Rue Saint-Denis or Avenue Mont-Royal.

view of Montreal from Mont-Royal
View of Montreal from Mont-Royal

Useful Information

Public Transportation: Montreal has an efficient public transportation system, including buses and the Metro (subway). Consider using public transit to navigate the city and reach various attractions easily.

Culinary Delights: Indulge in Montreal’s renowned culinary scene. Try classic dishes such as poutine, bagels, and smoked meat sandwiches. Explore the diverse food markets, like Jean-Talon Market, to taste local flavours. For a unique experience, try O’Noir Restaurant and Bar, dining in complete darkness, relying on your other senses.

Language: Montreal is a bilingual city, with both French and English widely spoken. Most residents are fluent in both languages, making it accessible for visitors from different linguistic backgrounds.

Weather Considerations: Montreal experiences distinct seasons. Depending on the time of your visit, pack accordingly. Summers are warm and ideal for outdoor exploration, while winters can be cold with opportunities for winter sports.

Turn it into a weekend getaway. See what’s available by entering your travel dates below.

Frontenac Provincial Park

Nestled amidst the rugged beauty of the Canadian Shield, Frontenac Provincial Park offers a pristine wilderness experience abundant with lakes, forests, and a network of challenging trails. 

Location: Frontenac Provincial Park is situated in Eastern Ontario, near Sydenham, a two-hour drive southwest of Ottawa.

From Ottawa: Get on the Trans-Canada Hwy 417 West and take exit 145 for Hwy 7. Follow Hwy 7 to Route 10, S Frontenac Rd 8 and Canoe Lake Rd to Frontenac Pk Ln in Sydenham.

Attractions

Frontenac Challenge: Embark on the Frontenac Challenge, a series of interconnected trails that traverse the park’s varied terrain. The challenge invites hikers to explore over 100 kilometres of trails, ranging from easy walks to more strenuous hikes, offering diverse experiences.

Backcountry Camping: Immerse yourself in the park’s wilderness by undertaking a backcountry camping adventure. Frontenac Provincial Park boasts over 48 interior campsites, providing a secluded and serene camping experience surrounded by nature.

Buck Lake: Discover the pristine waters of Buck Lake, one of the park’s serene lakes. Paddle along its shores in a canoe or kayak, enjoying the tranquillity and the scenic beauty of the Canadian Shield landscape.

Slide Lake Trail: Hike the Slide Lake Trail for a challenging and rewarding trek. The trail takes you through rocky outcrops and forests and offers stunning views of Slide Lake, providing an excellent opportunity for experienced hikers.

Moulton Gorge: Explore Moulton Gorge, a picturesque area featuring a series of cascades and rapids. The rugged beauty of this natural attraction is accessible via hiking trails, allowing visitors to witness the power of flowing water against the backdrop of the Canadian Shield.

Useful Information

Trail Maps and Permits: Obtain trail maps and necessary permits before setting out on your adventure. The park office provides information on trail conditions, camping regulations, and any additional permits required for backcountry camping.

Camping Reservations: If planning to camp in the backcountry, making early reservations, especially during peak season, is advisable. Frontenac Provincial Park offers a variety of campsites, each providing a unique wilderness experience.

Wildlife Awareness: Frontenac Provincial Park is home to diverse wildlife, including deer, beavers, and various bird species. To minimize your impact on the environment, practice wildlife awareness, observe from a distance, and follow Leave No Trace principles.

Seasonal Considerations: Frontenac Provincial Park offers distinct experiences in different seasons. While summer beckons with lush foliage and vibrant trails, fall showcases the stunning colours of changing leaves. Winter brings opportunities for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

Visitor Center: Visit the park’s visitor center for information on current trail conditions, educational programs, and interactive exhibits that highlight Frontenac Provincial Park’s natural and cultural history.

Bon Echo Provincial Park

Nestled along the shores of Mazinaw Lake, Bon Echo Provincial Park is a majestic haven of natural beauty, outdoor adventures, and cultural heritage. This iconic park beckons with its towering cliffs, crystal-clear waters, and a rich tapestry of history. 

Location: Bon Echo Provincial Park is in Southeastern Ontario, near Cloyne, approximately 190 kilometres southwest of Ottawa.

From Ottawa: Get on the Trans-Canada Hwy 417 West. Continue on the Trans-Canada Hwy 17 to O’Brien Rd toward Renfrew. Follow the 132 and then the 41. 

Attractions

Mazinaw Rock: Marvel at the grandeur of Mazinaw Rock, a colossal granite cliff rising dramatically from the shores of Mazinaw Lake. Adorned with over 260 Indigenous pictographs, this iconic landmark is a testament to the park’s rich cultural heritage.

Mazinaw Lake: Embrace the tranquillity of Mazinaw Lake, the park’s centrepiece. Whether swimming in its clear waters, paddling along the shoreline, or simply basking in the sun on the sandy beaches, the lake offers a range of water-based activities.

Cliff Top Trail: Hike the Cliff Top Trail for breathtaking panoramic views of Mazinaw Lake and the surrounding landscapes. The trail takes you to the top of Mazinaw Rock, providing a vantage point that showcases the park’s natural splendour.

Abes and Essens Lake Trails: Explore the network of hiking trails, including the Abes and Essens Lake Trails. 

Bon Echo Visitor Centre: Visit the Bon Echo Visitor Centre to learn about the park’s history, geology, and Indigenous heritage. Engage with exhibits, attend interpretive programs, and gain a deeper understanding of the natural wonders that define Bon Echo.

Mazinaw Rock beyond Mazinaw Lake as seen from the beach in Bon Echo Provincial Park
Photo credit: Caroline Lafleur

Useful Information

Camping and Accommodations: Bon Echo Provincial Park offers various camping options, including car camping and backcountry sites. Consider booking your campsite in advance, especially during peak seasons. The park also provides roofed accommodations for those seeking a more comfortable stay.

Boating and Fishing: Bring your boat or rent one at the park to explore Mazinaw Lake. Fishing enthusiasts can cast their lines for a chance to catch bass, pike, and other freshwater species.

Paddling Adventures: Experience the serenity of Mazinaw Lake through paddling. Canoe, kayak and stand-up paddleboard rentals are available at the Bon Echo Paddle Centre Office in the Lagoon, near Main Beach, allowing visitors to navigate the pristine waters at their own pace.

Indigenous Pictographs Tour: Join an Indigenous pictographs tour to gain insights into the historical and cultural significance of the rock art on Mazinaw Rock. Knowledgeable guides share stories connecting visitors with the Algonquin people’s rich traditions.

Extending your Day Trips from Ottawa

The surrounding regions of Ottawa offer a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be explored. From the tranquil lakes to the charming villages, each day trip unveils a tapestry of natural beauty, cultural richness, and adventure. 

Quebec and Ontario offer multiple adventures and opportunities to explore if you are willing to travel a little further.

More Adventures Near Ottawa

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