Thanksgiving is great because it’s a whole lot of spending time with family and eating turkey. But it’s also a long weekend, and the kids need to be entertained. For some school boards, there’s even a PD Day on Friday. So why not plan a family outing—Ottawa is filled with amazing places to delight in the changing of the seasons. Here are a few of our favourites.
Thanksgiving on the Farm
The Canada Agriculture and Food Museum is a gorgeous place to go in the autumn, with open grounds for museum visitors to explore and barns filled with animals, there’s always something to do. But on Thanksgiving weekend, they have special family programming including kitchen demonstrations (learn how to make cranberry sauce!) and farm equipment demos (see how hay is bailed).
Proulx Farm Pumpkinfest
From hayrides to mazes and potato sack slides, Proulx Farm, located in Ottawa’s East End, is ready to welcome your family for some Thanksgiving weekend fun. We love that the ticket price includes a visit to see the farm animals, exploration around the mazes and fields, and a visit to the pumpkin patch to pick out our own pumpkin.
We like to feed the birds along an NCC hiking trail, and our fave is easily the Sarsaparilla Trail, a one-kilometre loop just off of Richmond. The chickadees there will eat right out of your hand (pro tip: buy their favourites, black sunflower seeds, at the bulk food store), and you might be able to tempt a few chipmunks or blue jays out of hiding as well. We can’t think of a better way to enjoy a post-Thanksgiving feast than a walk through the trail.
Butterfly Exhibit at Carleton University
This event has grown every year and is now one of the busiest attractions in town over Thanksgiving weekend. Carleton University’s biology department showcases over 1300 live butterflies in their steamy greenhouse. Some lucky visitors may even be able to attract one of these lovely creatures by tempting them with their favourite: orange or pineapple slices. Bring a camera, wear layers and expect crowds.
**Note: This event is only happening until Sunday.
Pumpkinferno at Upper Canada Village
The award-winning and amazing pumpkin display at Upper Canada Village is back again. Take a pleasant, stroller-friendly walk around the village at night and see dozens of glowing scenes, from pumpkin pirates with treasure to a giant Chinese dragon made from over 300 pumpkins. Dress warmly and pack some pocket money for cookies and hot chocolate. Get your tickets online to avoid the entrance lineup or disappointment – certain time slots can sell out before you even arrive.
Pink Lake Trail
There’s nothing that showcases Ottawa in autumn better than the trails in Gatineau Park. Got some pumpkin pie to work off? We love the Pink Lake Trail, which takes about an hour to circumnavigate the lake, featuring gorgeous views, stunning fall colours and great family photo ops—suitable for anyone up for a good walk.
Haunting Season has begun at Saunders Farm. Visit on Thanksgiving weekend for all the usual fun—jumping pillows, mazes, discovery barn—as well as gentle daytime scares like the Monster Parade and Haunted Hayride for Kids. Enjoy a lovely lunch at their Farmer’s Table Walk-Up Restaurant, too.