When the kids are little, packing up and heading on vacation isn’t always the easiest decision. Between the loads of gear, the cost for flights or resort fees, it can be A LOT.
Plus, you know, pandemic.
Instead of worrying about spending the night somewhere, maybe you just want a family getaway that lasts only the day. Or, you can plan a quick, one or two night vacation with little ones. With Ottawa being well situated for short, easy-to-get-to road trip destinations, you can easily test the vacation waters by planning a mini holiday or family day trip.
We’ve rounded up a few vacation spots where you can explore for the day, or that would make for easier mini getaways near Ottawa if you have kids but can’t get away for longer. These day and weekend trips can be the perfect escape at any time of year.
One note: You’ll want to check local pandemic restrictions, regulations, and openings before you plan your trip!
Day Trips & Mini Getaways Near Ottawa
Why families should go: Local bites and scenic walks
Just outside of Ottawa is the small town of Almonte. Many Ottawa residents will be familiar with this local gem, a location that is a quick drive away filled with unique shops, tasty bites, and walkways along the water. The birthplace of James Naismith (the inventor of basketball), Almonte not only shares its history with visitors but its scenic spaces as well. Take a walk with the kids along the Riverwalk before stopping at a bakery for a local treat or a hot beverage and lunch at Equator coffee.
Why families should go: To enjoy activities on the water
Brockville is on the St. Lawrence river, less than a two-hour drive from Ottawa. The Thousand Islands is a beautiful spot to visit by walking along the waterfront or by taking a scenic drive along the water. You may be able to plan boat tours of the islands; The Aquatarium at Tall Ships Landing is an interactive, educational aquarium and is a registered non-profit charity. We think the salt water touch tank will be popular with kids!
Why families should go: History comes alive!
If you drive about two hours south of Ottawa, you will come across the historic city of Kingston. It’s almost exactly halfway between here and Toronto making it one of the most popular mini getaways near Ottawa and Toronto. There are many places to take the kids like the Artillery Park aquatic centre where kids can play in the splash pad and swim in the pool. There are also museums, art galleries, and historic sites to capture everyone’s imagination and curiosities. Be sure to take the kids to Fort Henry, a historic site that will engage kids by stepping back in time to 19th century military life.
Why families should go: Unique outdoor fun to enjoy together
In the town of Montebello there is a chocolate museum and shop and many family friendly places to eat. Nearby is Parc Omega where you experience and learn about Canadian wildlife and natural habitats (it’s open year round). For an added twist, you can even stay at one of the accommodations on site at Parc Omega. You can also stay at the Chateau Montebello resort where you and the kids can keep busy all day, with both indoor and outdoor activities like swimming, tennis, kayaking, squash and at night, cozy up in the lobby to play family board games.
Why families should go: For the hands-on science and educational activities plus exploring Old Montreal
We’re fortunate to have one of the best mini getaways near Ottawa. Montreal is only about a 90-minute drive from Ottawa and has a lot for the kids to explore. Start by taking the family to the Biodome where they can visit a variety of eco systems and see animals like penguins and sloths. The next day you can plan to take everyone to the Montreal Science Centre for hands-on exploration at the exhibits like an imaginative maker workspace and discovery of the human body. Make time to walk around Old Port in Montreal. And don’t forget… BAGELS!
Prince Edward County, ON
Why families should go: A most-glorious beach for mini getaways near Ottawa and Toronto
In just under three hours from Ottawa, you can arrive in Prince Edward County for a family adventure that takes you to the beach and beyond. The popular, and gorgeous, Sandbanks Provincial Park has been a favourite family destination for years thanks to the stunning dunes that stretch along Lake Ontario, plus beaches and walking trails. The beaches are so popular, it’s recommended that you book your day use pass at least five days in advance (this can be done online). You’ll need to book even further in advance if you are planning overnight camping accommodations.
Don’t leave the area before you explore the restaurants and local bites PEC has to offer (including wineries if you like) and there is definitely ice cream to be found!
Why go Away? Staycations in Ottawa
Why families should go: To discover what our city has to offer without going far
Sometimes the best way to have a vacation is by enjoying one right here in the city. You don’t need to go far to have the perfect family getaway. Plan a downtown staycation and explore the Byward Market or one of the many museums we have right here in the city (the Children’s Museum, Canadian Museum of Nature, and Science Museum are always popular with the kids.) Or visit Brookstreet Hotel in Kanata for a getaway that feels like you are out of town without actually being out of town. They have an indoor and outdoor pool, a fun play room, and other family friendly perks. Plus, we have so many outdoor areas to explore in the city of Ottawa it’s easy to avoid the crowds or to feel like you are a tourist in your own city.