Though Ottawa has plenty of fun things to do on its own, it’s nice to get a break from the city. This guide has the best day trip ideas from Ottawa, all within a short trip in a car or public transport.
Montreal is a popular Canadian destination that’s filled with history and culture. Located only 2 hours from Ottawa by car, you can choose between exploring museums, eating at great restaurants or wandering through botanical gardens. Some of the highlights include Mount Royal, the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal and La Ronde. You could also spend the afternoon at Old Port of Montreal, a popular complex with an array of shops, restaurants and activities.
Just an hour from Ottawa is Merrickville, a tiny town filled with independent shops and charming restaurants. The area is perfect for a day trip, especially if you enjoy shopping for soaps, clothing, garden decor and handmade glass. You could also visit the small island that holds the Merrickville Ruins, the remains of a former woollen mill with a small museum. Before leaving, be sure to stop in the Goose & Gridiron pub for a bite.
The Bonnechere Caves are a lovely way to spend a day. Just a short drive from Ottawa, the Bonnechere Caves offer a descent into an ancient cave system with fossils and beautiful rock formations. To explore the caves, you can either opt for a guided tour or venture in on your own. Be sure to pack a picnic lunch to refuel after your cave trek, or stop by one of the local restaurants.
Wakefield is a well-known area near Ottawa. This lovely town in Quebec is accessible via a stunning scenic drive from Ottawa through Gatineau Park. The town boasts many charming experiences, such as a local spa, a cozy pizza place with wood-fired pies, a local bakery and an iconic red bridge.
On warm afternoons, it’s beautiful down by the Gatineau River. The access to the river and park provides opportunities for numerous recreational activities, including horseback riding, snowboarding, skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, canoeing and kayaking.
Chelsea is a short ride from Ottawa and offers a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the city. The area is beautiful in all seasons, and you can hike the picturesque Sugarbush trail to experience the vibrant foliage or colourful blooms. On the main street, you’ll find ice cream shops, charming sandwich shops and cozy bars serving homemade dishes.
Calabogie is a little-known gem that’s only a short drive from Ottawa. The town boasts a spectacular outdoor resort, the Calabogie Peaks Resort, with numerous trails to the Eagle’s Nest Lookout for panoramic vistas of the landscape.
Though it’s known for winter sports, Calabogie is beautiful in all seasons. After hiking, you can relax by the beach at the resort and enjoy drinks or food. If you enjoy water sports, there are kayaks and other water sports equipment for rent.
Gatineau Park is the ultimate destination for outdoorsy people. Located just across the river from Ottawa, the vast park has a diverse landscape for hiking and biking, all suited to different skill levels. There are picnic areas and campgrounds within the park.
You’ll also find several picturesque lakes with a sandy beach for water sports, perfect for a romantic afternoon or a day out with the kids. All 3 lakes are open to canoeing and kayaking. In summer, Camp Fortune has aerial experiences like treetop obstacles and zip lining.
Almonte is a charming mill town along the Mississippi River. The town not only has an array of adorable cafes and shops to explore, but there’s also a stunning waterfall that runs through the centre of town that can be viewed from the River Walk trail. Be sure to stop in the shops to try artisan baked goods, gourmet candy and other handmade treats.
Almonte is home to many museums and several historic spots. One of the highlights is that James Naismith, the inventor of basketball, was born near Almonte and the town has a statue honouring him.
If you’re planning a trip to Ottawa, be sure to include some of these excellent day trips on your itinerary. Check out Expedia to find great deals on accommodation and make the most of your holiday.