While we’re almost ready to welcome spring back into our lives, there is still so much to do and explore in the Ottawa area this winter. Now is the perfect time to plan fun getaways and close-to-home experiences that the entire family will enjoy.
For a unique staycation, check into the O’Brien House for the weekend. O’Brien House is a completely restored 1930s mansion built by Ambrose O’Brien, an industrialist who also co-founded the National Hockey Association, forerunner of the NHL Hockey League and was the founding owner of the Montreal Canadians.
Transformed into a beautiful boutique hotel overlooking Meech Lake in Chelsea, O’Brien House has 11 uniquely-designed guest rooms. The hotel offers panoramic views of Gatineau Park, which has one of the largest cross-county ski trails in North America. After skiing to the Champlain Lookout, get some R&R in the library at O’Brien House and enjoy a fine dining experience with locally-sourced food in an atmosphere that celebrates the best of Canadian food and wine.
Fun at TD Place
TD Place at Lansdowne is always packed with family activities no matter the season. Their DJ skate nights are the hottest party in town where you can lace up and skate while listening to music.
For music lovers who are happier without skates on, TD Place is presenting Rock of Ages during their 10th anniversary tour on March 21. The smash-hit Broadway musical, and winner of six Tony Awards, Kinky Boots hits the stage at TD Place on April 25.
The skating court at Lansdowne is open for families until mid-March, and it’s free. For more outdoor fun, kids of all ages can also race down the tobogganing hill at Lansdowne, and warm up afterwards with food and drinks in one of the complex's many restaurants.
Family fun at KIDSFEST Ottawa
Ottawa’s biggest kids' show is back! Now in its 18th year, KIDSFEST is a blast for children of all ages. Held at the EY Centre March 2–3, families can enjoy interactive exhibits, catch live performances by award-winning Canadian performers Splash ’N Boots and Minivers, and get creative with the National Gallery of Canada. Kids can get active with Tumblers Gymnastics, while parents enjoy cooking demonstrations and exhibits in education, family adventure, and health and wellness. You might even see a Star Wars character walking around.
Get your spy on
Feeling adventurous? The Diefenbunker Museum boasts the world’s largest escape room that covers an entire floor of the massive underground bunker. Escape the Diefenbunker is a must-do for families looking for a new adventure. It typically takes 60 minutes for groups of 12 to complete.
The museum also offers March Break Spy Camp for kids 7–12, where children get the chance to go undercover at the museum while learning the art of espionage, make and break codes, and create spy gadgets.
Skate at Rideau Hall
For a unique activity, head to Rideau Hall for some outdoor skating at the Governor General of Canada’s residence, on Sussex Drive. It’s free on weekends until March 24. The entire family can skate to traditional music, then warm up in the Winter Pavilion where you can change into or out of your skating gear while learning more about the history of winter sports at Rideau Hall.
For a stunning winter experience, check out the three kilometers of ice trails in a true winter wonderland through the forest in the heart of Lac-des-Loups, Quebec, at Patinage en Foret. There are heated on-site buildings to lace-up, and rest areas along the way. Non-skaters can enjoy the tranquility as well, and walk through the forest or go snowshoeing.
Stanley’s Olde Maple Lane Farm
March is the perfect time to pay a visit to Stanley’s Olde Maple Lane Farm with the family, and enjoy the sugar-shack experience with sleigh rides. This is a great family outing to watch the traditional wood-fire burning of sap at the sugar bush, enjoy maple taffy, and eat a hearty pancake breakfast in the Pancake House. There is also a petting farm that younger children will enjoy.
Get creative at Artissimo
Let your children get creative at the Artissimo Studio at the National Gallery of Canada. Every month, Artissimo Studio features new art projects that children can make and take home, and each project is thematically linked to artworks currently on view at the gallery. All art supplies are included and families can drop in on weekends and holiday Mondays until the end of April. Artissimo Studio is free with gallery admission, and free to museum members.