Ottawa Day Trips

Ottawa Day Trips

If you have access to a car, Ottawa day trips are fun to plan. The National Capital Region covers a huge area–it is the second largest city in Ontario. While most of the Ottawa area attractions are centered around the downtown core, there are a pile of things that you can do if you love to drive and want to take a little day trip. If you feel like doing some exploring, I’ve collected some worthwhile sites. 

“Ottawa day trips” criteria include:

  • anything that needs a car (or bus ride) to go see
  • anything that some people would happily spend an afternoon or day doing
  • anything located from 30 min – 2 hours from Parliament Hill

Ottawa Day Trips: OTTAWA AREA

Canadian Tire Centre – 30 minutes west of Parliament
1000 Palladium Drive (Ottawa)

First on my list of Ottawa day trips is the home of the Ottawa Senators National Hockey League (NHL) team. The Senators are one of six NHL franchises based in Canada. Since the Senators returned to the league in 1992, they’ve been chasing the elusive Stanley Cup. So far, they’ve earned four titles in the Northeast Division, the Presidents’ Trophy in 2002-2003 (most points in the league during the regular season) and they made it to the 2007 Stanley Cup Final. Today, the Sens have made it to the playoffs 12 out of 13 seasons. Scotiabank Place seats a capacity of 20,500. Besides ice hockey, the arena holds events such as rock concerts, figure skating shows, and other arena entertainment. The facilities are also home to the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame (second level), several restaurants, a fitness complex and some businesses.

Rideau Carleton Raceway – 30 minutes south of Parliament
4837 Albion Road

If horse-racing gets your adrenaline flowing, Ottawa has year-round live standard-bred harness horse racing at their 5/8th mile track. The Live racing happens every Thursday, Friday and Sunday at 6:30 p.m. In addition to the sport of harness horse racing, the facilities have added slot machines, a new Bingo Hall that supports 28 charities, and a 650 seat dining room that enjoys a panoramic view of the race track. There is a 100 item buffet and also a la carte menu. Note: All guests to the dining room must be 19 years of age or older and bring valid, government issued, photo i.d. Guests between 19 – 25 must present a second piece of identification with a signature on it. However, every Sunday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., the dining room is open to all ages for brunch or dinner buffet. There is a separate family entrance on the right hand side when facing the building.

Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo – 30 minutes south of Parliament
5305 Bank Street

If reptiles and bugs are of interest to you, include this in your list of Ottawa day trips. If you are feeling a little adventurous and aren’t at all squeamish, hop in the car and go check out Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo. Spend 1 – 2 hours to see the 250 animals on display that includes snakes, alligators, tarantulas, marmosets, birds of prey and other animals. The zoo is open daily and offers interactive hands on presentations, as well as feeding demonstrations throughout the day. Their featured reptile is Stewart, an alligator that is 9′ long and weighs about 500 lbs. Their site includes a reptile store and zoo camps are offered to “lucky” children during the summer. (I’m told they haven’t lost a child yet!)

Stittsville’s Carp Road Flea Market – 30 minutes south west of Parliament
2079 Carp Road (Stittsville)

Featuring antiques and collectibles, country furniture, jewelry, tools, books, cds, movies, golf sporting goods, oriental antiques and carpets, homemade jams, toys, sports cards and memorabilia, paintings, pictures and decorations, cell phone accessories, lamps, chandeliers, solid oak Mennonite furniture plus many other items. The flea market is open every Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Papanack Park Zoo – 1 hour east of Parliament
150 County Road 19 (Wendover)

Ottawa day trips should definitely include a visit to a zoo! Papanack Park Zoo is located east of Ottawa just off of Highway 174. (Highway 417 splits into Highway 174 at the Aviation Parkway). The zoo is a family owned and operated facility that started in 1995. Papanack Park Zoo is filled with exotic animals and birds and offers a one-week long “Junior Zoo Keeper Camp” for children 8 and up. The zoo has earned international acclaim for breeding Snow Leopards and also has the largest collection of lemurs in North America. Their animals include canines, felines, primates, rodents, birds, “hoof stock” and other miscellaneous animals.

Glengarry Highland Games – 1 hour 5 minutes southeast of Parliament Hill
Maxville, Ontario

Ottawa day trips should involve participation in this one-of-a-kind festival. For one weekend in the summer, you can enjoy all things Scottish at the Glengarry Highland Games, located in Maxville, Ontario. At the Games, you will see outstanding displays of bagpipe bands, Scottish fiddling, drumming, Highland dancing, sport competitions, pageantry, all with a healthy dash of Scottish tradition. This year’s Games celebrate “The Year of the Clans” and will take place from August 2nd and August 3rd, 2013.


Fulton’s Pancake House and Sugar Bush – 1 hour 15 minutes east of Parliament Hill
#291, 6th Concession Road

A welcome and tasty addition to Ottawa day trips would have to include a visit here. Fulton’s is a four season Pancake House and Sugar Bush. Here, you can experience nature, games, self-guided trail tours, camp visits, horse-drawn sleigh rides, music, maple taffy, face painting and other fun activities. Next season is Feb 15 to April 20, 2014. Enjoy a stack of pancakes smothered in maple syrup–and learn more about the great tradition of making maple syrup on a self-guided maple tour.


Upper Canada Village – 1 hour 40 minutes south of Parliament
County Road 2

If you have a full day to spend, this little gem on the Ottawa day trips itinerary is a definite “must-see” for the family. Upper Canada Village is found a two-hour car ride away at County Road 2 between Morrisburg and Cornwall. This venue suggests that you plan for a three to four hour visit, although there are shortened tours available. The Village is a re-creation of life in the 19th century–specifically a rural English Canadian setting during 1866. The costumed staff is scattered throughout the village and is available for questions and interaction. They demonstrate 19th century skills in millwork, trades, and farming.


I know I said “Ottawa day trips”, but I include these Quebec gems because it would be a shame to miss these when you’re relatively close..


Omega Park – 1 hour 10 minutes north/east of Parliament
399 route 323 nord (Montebello, Quebec)

In Montebello, Quebec, you will find Parc Omega, an outdoor haven with: buffaloes, wapitis, black bears, red deer, wolves, alpine ibexes, wild boar and other animals. We visited in the spring, when all the babies are being born–in our opinion, the best time to visit! The 1800 acre park is open all year round and is the perfect opportunity to see many species of wild animals in their natural habitat. You can drive your vehicle around the 10 km path and tune in to their fm radio frequency to hear more about the animals and their habits. There are also walking paths and picnic areas if you are so inclined. The deer are so friendly, that you can feed them right from your hand. Watch out for the buffalo though, we almost had one climb into the van with us! (“Can we take him home?” Is not something you want your children to say about a 2000 lb. buffalo!!)

Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello – 1 hour 15 minutes north/east of Parliament Hill
392 Rue Notre Dame (Montebello, Quebec)

Also located in Montebello, Quebe, Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello is the place to go for luxury. A stunning red cedar log resort and spa, you’ll enjoy activities and year-round activities at this ideal destination. A day trip is the perfect way to enjoy the beautiful surroundings, which make a magnificent backdrop for activities such as their brand new Spa, horseback riding, golf course, tennis, swimming, cross-country skiing, curling, dogsledding and tubing. The Chateau Montebello offers a tranquil resort setting and fine cuisine. 

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