Our Ottawa turned Quebec getaway…
While most of Ottawa was barricaded for safety from the general public, Museums closed and Parliament gated off, we were left to switch gears with everything we had planned.
Our favoutie Ottawa Travel Guide Click Here
Our Roadtrip Tips & Tricks
There is nothing more daunting than a long car ride with littles. Trust us, we know.
One of the major things to remember is to take breaks… lots of them. Before we head out on a road trip I usually have a few places I like to visit in mind but I know to have real expections of having no expectations at all. When our littles are about to hit their breaking point we call it ‘expiring’. So, before they are about to expire, we find the nearest rest stop and get out and stretch our legs. It also might be unconventional but we are a fan of the ipad, youtube, pre-downloaded shows, games… anything to keep the peace in the car.
We also work on a reward system. ‘If you are so amazing for us in the car we promise we will have a day just for you, or a special surprise, treat, toy, whatever.’ Just get us through this long drive!
We always make sure when we are packing the car that we have some of the most essential things nearby. Between the kids we pack extra clothes, seasonal wear, snacks, water (lots of water), blankets, chargers, etc. We like to make sure we have everything we need at our finger tips.
Our drive into Ottawa took just over 5 hours in the rain. There were no fun places I had planned to stop indoors and with the rain we were forced to drive without making too many stops. We did stop for lunch at a restaurant, that way the kids could walk around a little and get out of the car for more than just a rest stop.
to Hotel or not to Hotel?
We have stayed in our fair share of hotels on vacations. When we stay in the same place for more than one night we prefer staying in rentals through Airbnb or VRBO. We find it better for the comfort and privacy of having our own; bedrooms, space, washer/dryer, kitchen, etc. It’s also nice when you have a playyard, stroller, million bags, toys, snacks, etc to have a driveway right in front of where you are staying and not through a hotel lobby and up an elvator.
I find with my daughter still waking up in the middle of the night or being a very light sleeper having a rental is nice for her. She can have a nap/ or sleep in her own room. I can create a dark atmosphere with her sound machine and can take the Mini into the living room to play without disrupting her like we would in the hotel.
I also find the price on some of the Airbnb’s and Vrbo’s to be the same price if not less than some of the hotels.
Don’t get me wrong. I love a good hotel that offers room service, maid service, and a spa but when you have little ones sometimes space and privacy and having the comfort of your own home is much better.
Road trip stops!
We have all the best road trip stops for your trip and then some. When it comes to travelling with littles the more stops the better for a leg stretch. Especially when it’s something fun your littles can look forward to. We promised the littles a trip to Neb’s Fun World on the last day of our vacation to break up the drive home.
A top suggestion was a trip to the Town of Belleville. There is a super cute pirate themed wooden playground that takes a page out of High Park’s book. You can find directions to this location by visiting here.
The Town of Belleville looks like it has a lot to explore including every box store imaginable and is great for finding restaurants, coffee or gas.
I should mention the drive to Ottawa along the 401 brings you an ONRoute approximately every hour. So you can always plan for a bathroom break, water refill, or gas up here.
Another great road trip stop is the Brockville Tunnel located in the Town of Brockville. It’s an old railway tunnel turned into a walking trail spanning a 1/2km long. the trail is lit up with a new light show coming out this spring.
A big stop we were toying with for our next trip was the City of Kingston. While we were driving past it looked like there was so much to offer.
Besides how dreamy and beautiful Queens University is there is a Pumphouse Museum, Trolley Ride (which is top of my list to visit), Fort Henry, 1000 Islands Cruises (1000 Islands looks like another amazing place to stay overnight), the Kingston Penitentiary and so much more.
We figured if we were to visit Montreal again for their giant Hot Air Balloon festival brought to you by International De Montgolfieres we would break up the drive with a stay-over in Kingston.
There’s also Prince Edward County known for their beaches and wineries but there are a lot of hidden gems here to explore. Sandbanks Provincial Park is a popular destination for their beach views and beautiful rock backdrop.
One of our promised stops to the littles for a reward in being so good for us was a trip to Neb’s Fun World. Think – super fun, indoor amusement park. It’s located in the City of Oshawa and is packed full of fun.
The most epic adventure EVER
If you are ever in the area this is an absolute MUST visit adventure. I’m not even exaggerating when I say this was the most epic thing i’ve ever done, to date, in my entire life. The laughs, the experience, everything was magical. I was even a fan of the most beautiful rock and pine tree lined drive.
Parc Omega located just an hour outside of Ottawa in the town of Montebello, QC offers a rare experience you will never find close to home. It’s an experience not only your littles will enjoy but you will enjoy to. Trust me, we’ve never laughed so hard. The experience is known for feeding their reindeer.
When we arrived, I did some research and knew the gist of what we would experience. We would need carrots, we’d roll our car windows down and feed the reindeer and go home… But it was so much more than that.
We started with four bags of carrots. You can purchase bags of carrots from their store when you first arrive. Four bags for our family went pretty quick.
After you visit the store and get all the items you need, use the bathrooms and grab a coffee. You can head out on the trail in your car by following the map they provide you.
Right away you will be greeted by dozens of beautiful and large reindeer. They come right up to your car and do not hestiate sticking their hungry heads in wanting an endless supply of carrots fed to them.
I thought my daughter would be terrifed to have a giant reindeer head come into her window but she thought it was the funniest thing ever. She was teasing the reindeers with her carrots and eventually caught on to what we were supposed to be doing.
The trail is 12 kms in your car. It’s SUPER long. The reindeer, deer, and boar are scattered throughout the trail. So your experience with the reindeer basically never ends. Even on your way out they are still sticking their heads in your car asking for more carrots.
The experience is more than just reindeer. Including an experience where you can get out of your car and feed the deer, a wolf observatory, hiking trails to a farm, a gift shop, trading post, restaurants, and a ton of other animals including BEARS.
I had planned to spend an hour or two here feeding the reindeer. The website suggests you plan to spend 3 hours. We were there for three hours and that wasn’t including the hiking trails or stopping to eat. I could have easily spent around 5 hours here. So plan for the day.
We scheduled our spot ahead of time through their website. You can buy carrots elsewhere if you’d like or at the store at Parc Omega. Carrots are $3 a bag.
Check out their trail and get a glimpse of what’s ahead by clicking here.
Explore in the Arctic
This experience came highly recommended to us. I mean, a trip to see penguins is a trip worth taking. The Biodome in Montreal is a two hour drive from Ottawa and worth the experience as it’s surrounded by multiple museums, the Montreal Tower and the Olympic Stadium.
The Biodome consists of five different ecosystems of Americas. It’s basically a walk through different climates of nature while experieceing their animals, sights and sounds.
You can visit the tropical rainforest full of colourful birds, fish and even bats, The Gulf of St. Lawrence, full of tropical fish and the Laurentian maple tree. The Labrador Coast and the Sub-Antarctic Islands where the penguins are just waiting to swim up to you.
We parked in the underground parking Zone 2 at the very back. This led us right outside to the doors of the Biodome. Paid parking is in effect at this location.
Everything at the Biodome was accessible with three separate floors and an elevator, ramps, etc.
There is an amazing cafeteria on the 2nd floor offering a wide variety of healthy meals and snacks.
There is also a gift shop on the way out.
Book your tickets to the Biodome here
Relax under the stars…
The Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium in Montreal is so special. My little has been obsessed with constellations and learning the different names of them all.
The Planetarium allows you to to book a prescheduled visit under the stars where you will learn all about constellations, planets and more in a theatre-like atomosphere. The ceiling is lit up like the night sky and the room is so peaceful.
It’s a really unique experience.
After your visit under the stars you are welcome to take a walk around the museum and explore the hands on activities it has to offer.
The constellation experience lasts about an hour and the museum can be explored within an hour. There is a fun movie schedule you can access here where you can choose a movie based on age.
It’s great for kids as it’s very interactive.
The museum is accessible and is attached to the Biodome through an underground tunnel.
There is also a fun gift shop you can visit on your way out.
We parked in the underground parking which was located close to the Planetarium.
I suggest visiting the Planetarium first as your movie is scheduled for a specific time and then heading to the Biodome after if you are doing both.
To book your visit at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium click here.
A great view
With a trip to Ottawa or Quebec there is always a stop to see Parliment. When we visited we were unable to see Parliament Hill up close and it was recommended we visit from the Canadian Museum of History’s trails located in the back.
It made for a great family photo and the view was perfect. The Museum itself was very neat from the outside. We can’t wait to go back and visit again soon.
Hands on learning
The only Museum that was open to us at the time in Ottawa was the Canada Science and Technology Museum. So while we wanted to have another day outside exploring the cute town of Wakefield, Quebec and the infamous covered bridge we opted for a day inside the museum and out of the cold.
The Museum is full of fun and interactive exhibits for people of all ages to explore. There are different sections of the museums including the Artifact Alley, Crazy Kitchen, From Earth To Us, Hidden Worlds, Medical Sensations, Sound By Design, Steam: A World In Motion, Technology In Our Lives, Wearable Tech, Into The Great Outdoors and there is even a Children’s innovative Zone called ZOOOM but it was closed until further notice while we were visiting.
The Museum was great fun, we were there for around two hours exploring all the hands on fun and even stopped to watch a demonstration.
The cafeteria is closed at the moment so we suggest having food in the car ready to go as you can’t eat inside the museum.
There is an amazing gift shop on the way out.
Bathrooms on site.
The Museum is accessible and all on one floor, ramps are available if needed.
Paid parking in effect.
So much more to do!
Although most of the items on our Ottawa list were closed at the moment it’s just left us wanting more.
The Royal Canadian mint was a number one pick on my Husbands list as he is very interested in collecting coins.
The Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica located in Ottawa was huge on my list for the beautiful architecture.
The National Gallery of Canada was aways high on my list.
The Museum of Civilization came highly recommended to me for the littles to enjoy! It’s located inside the Canada Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec. This was a location we visited to get a photo of Parliament but the Museum was closed.
The Diefenbunker which is Canada’s Cold War Museum was high on my Husbands list.
If it were up to me I would have spent every second I had hiking. This was a trail recommended to me in Ottawa. It’s boardwalks looked so dreamy. Mer Bleue Bog is the perfect place to take a hike.
Obviously skating the Rideau Canal in the winter is a MUST. But for us it didn’t happen with all the rain and warm temperatures.
Landsdowne Market in Ottawa came highly recommended to us but we were not able to get there.
The Ecomuseum Zoo in Montreal looked like so much fun and is on our list to visit next time.
Road trips are so much fun and can be very rewarding. They can also be scary and stressful. Nobody likes to hear kids complain or cry for five hours in the car. Being away from home and having everything you need can be nerve wrecking too.
We will do anything to get through a car ride. Screen time, yup. Bribery, yup. Treats, yup. Dance party’s, yup. Just get us there and we’re good!
Just try and have no expectations. Have a loose plan. Make it about the kids.
We also know a five hour car ride was all they were capable of in a day. So we planned for just two days of travel. One day there and one day on the way back. We ordered food when we got settled in and started afresh the next day.
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I’m Anastasia, a first time Mama to my Mini. I moved to Oakville 4 years ago from Milton and I’m still learning so much!
I’ve always viewed life as one big adventure and now I have a little sidekick to share these memories with.
I started Busy Mama after speaking with my Nurse who was new to the Country and looking for ideas on places to visit.
This inspired me to compile a list of fun, local places to visit in and around Halton. I posted my list to the Oakville Mommies Chat group and fellow Mama’s helped me compile a Master List which is now known as Busy Mama. Read more here…