150 things to do and see in the Ottawa region for Canada's 150th Birthday

Ottawa has so many amazing things to see and do - whether you're a family, an individual or a couple. We wanted to put together a list that you can come back to over and over during Canada's 150th year. Think of this as your 150 bucket list! As the NY Times mentioned, there's always something to see, do or explore in Canada's Capital!

MUSEUMS

1.   Billings Estate

Whether you are going to the Billings Estate for a tea party or a preschool play date, this National Historic Site offers family-friendly programming, collections and exhibits all year round.

2.   Bytown Museum

Explore the history of Ottawa from its Bytown days to the present at the Bytown Museum. It’s located at the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Ottawa Locks on the Rideau Canal and offers beautiful views of the city and natural surroundings.

3.   Canadian Agriculture And Food Museum

Open all year, the Canadian Agriculture and Food Museum has things to do and animals to see for kids of all ages. Visitors will learn more about Canadian agriculture including diary cows, pigs, and can even participate in cooking demonstrations and workshops. Spring visits usually means adorable piglets too!

4.   Canadian Aviation And Space Museum

The Canadian Aviation and Space Museum is more than just airplanes (which kids find cool anyway). The Museum always adds new workshops, shows and games (a staple is the mini airplanes for the kids like to ride around on.)

5.   Canadian War Museum

If you have a child who is a history buff they will love this museum. There are photographs, art and videos as well as artifacts on display. Keep in mind that some of the exhibits may need explaining, so be prepared to talk about war.

6.    Children's Museum - History Museum 

Located within the History Museum, The Canadian Children’s Museum offers guests the opportunity to travel the world, while enriching their lives and broadening their experience. Kids can explore other cultures through exhibitions, costumes, hands-on props, and artifacts, including an extraordinary assortment of toys and games.

7.   Cumberland Heritage Village Museum

This small town museum recreates rural life in 1920s Ontario. Visitors can stop by the General Store, take a seat in the one-room schoolhouse, and check out the antique vehicles at the garage.

8.   Diefenbunker

Whether you’re a history buff or just like exploring fun and mysterious places, the Diefunbunker is a great way to spend a few hours with the family. There are lots of things to explore, touch and experience, which makes the Diefenbunker particularly family-friendly.

9.   Fairfields Heritage House

If you love architecture then you will love this 19th century Gothic Revival farmhouse located in Nepean. It was originally built on 660 acres of farmland and the museum tells its story as well as the history of the areas surrounding it. 

10. Goulbourn Museum

Located outside of Stittsville in the west end of Ottawa, the Goulbourn Museum not only houses artefacts and antiques from the early 1800s, but also offers children’s events and family workshops.

11.    Osgoode Township Museum 

Ottawa is rich in history and the Osgoode Township Museum in South Ottawa is an extension of this with artifacts and exhibits from the Township of Osgoode. This museum is also a repository for indigenous Native and pioneer relics.

12.  Pinhey’s Point Historic Site

Located in Ottawa’s far west end, Pinhey’s Point features a nearly 200-year-old manor house and surrounding ruins. This site is a popular summertime picnic destination for boaters and cyclists.

13.  Canadian Museum Of Nature

Dinosaurs, mammals, birds and more, The Canadian Museum of Nature is housed in an impressive castle-like building that immediately wins the hearts of kids young and old. The Canadian Museum also hosts an adult-only evening on the last Friday of every month (excluding December, July and August) called Nature Nocturne.

14.  National Gallery of Canada

The Canadian Galleries are closed until June 14, 2017 when they will then reopen for something special to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday. In the meantime there is still plenty to see and do in their other galleries and exhibitions.

15.   Vanier Museopark

Vanier Museopark is a park, a museum, a maple grove and more. It is the only francophone museum Ottawa and is dedicated to preserving the heritage of Quartier Vanier and Richelieu Parl.

16.    Watson's Mill

There are always fun family and community events taking place at the Watson’s Mill, located in scenic Manotick. Starting June 4th there is a Farmer’s Market every Saturday from 9am to 2 pm and there are milling demonstrations Sundays from 1pm to 3pm.

ATTRACTIONS

17.  Casino Lac-Leamy Sound of Light (August 2017)

If you love fireworks, this show is amazing! There are 5 beautiful fireworks displays from different countries that take place from August 5 to 19, 2017. 

18.  Major’s Hill Park

Offering some of the best lookouts in Ottawa, Major’s Hill Park is one of the Capital’s main event locations (including for Canada Day celebrations!). When it’s not in festival mode, Major’s Hill Park is a great downtown resting or picnic spot.

19.    Governor General Estate 

Rideau Hall offers free family events throughout the year including ice-skating in the winter. It’s located on 79-acres within the city and is only a few minutes from downtown Ottawa.  

20.    High Tea at the Chateau Laurier

 Zoe’s Lounge, located within the Chateau Laurier in downtown Ottawa offers wonderful afternoon tea including cute finger sandwiches and a vast selection of teas (reservations required), including offering younger tea party fans hot chocolate.

21.   The Canadian Mint

Located in a historic building in central Ottawa, the Royal Canadian Mint offers 45-minute tours (reservations recommended). The Mint is within walking distance of the Byward Market. 

22.   Parliament Hill Sound & Light Show

Northern Lights is a 30-minute sound and light show that takes the audience on an unforgettable journey through Canada’s history. It’s a free, bilingual show, presented nightly on Parliament Hill from July 11 to September 16, 2017. 

23.   Changing of the Guard

Every morning at 10 a.m. from June 25 to August 26 the Changing of the Guard takes place on Parliament Hill. The Guards march from Cartier Square Drill Hall (south of Parliament Hill) and up Elgin Street. If you’re bringing little ones, arrive at Parliament Hill early to get a good view. 

24.   NAC Children's Events 

The National Arts Centre is rich with musical, dramatic and theatrical performances all year long. They also periodically offer bilingual one-hour concerts as part of their TD Family Adventure Series. 

25. Story Time at Rideau Hall (June 25th to August 20th)

 A summer tradition, Story Time at Rideau Hall takes place every Friday and Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m. from June 25 to August 20th. It’s hosted outdoors on the lawn of Rideau Hall is a free event! 

26. Ottawa Little Theatre

The Ottawa Little Theatre is Canada’s oldest community playhouse. It presents eight plays per year from September through May. This year the Ottawa Little Theatre is presenting To Kill A Mockingbird, Marion Bridge and more!

27.   Shenkman Arts Centre

From expos to live music concerts, to galleries and exhibitions, the Shenkman Arts Centre, located in Orleans (east Ottawa) always has something on the go for locals and visitors!

28.  Centrepointe Theatres

Ottawa is lucky to have many community and smaller theatres. Centrepointe often offers concerts from international recording artists as well as theatrical performances, including this year’s production of Mary Poppins. There is something for all ages happening at Centrepointe Theatres in Nepean (west Ottawa).

 29.  Upper Canada Village

In the summer Upper Canada Village, a historic village devoted to showing what life was like during the 1860s in Canada, offers educational tours, activities and fun for the entire family. In the fall it’s transformed into a pumpkin inferno and during the holiday season it is Alight the Night with thousands of dazzling Christmas lights!

FESTIVALS

Whatever the weather and whatever the season Ottawa offers visitors many festivals! There is something for everyone including children, food lovers, wine lovers, music lovers and more! Ottawa loves its festivals!

30.                 Canadian Tulip Festival

31.                 Children’s Festival

32.                 Fringe Fest

33.                 Winterlude

34.                 TD Jazz Festival

35.                 Gatineau How Air Balloon Festival

36.                 RBC Blues Fest

37.                 Westboro FUSE

38.                 Franco Ontarian Festival

39.                 Summer Solstice Aboriginal Festival

40.                 Tim Hortons Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival

41.                 Ottawa Wine and Food Festival

42.                 Poutine Fest

43.                 Capital RibFest

44.                 Kingdom of Osgoode Medieval Festival

45.                 Glengarry Highland Games

46.                 Muslim Summer Festival (MAC Eid Festival)

47.                 Puppets Up! International Puppet Festival

48.                 Ottawa’s Children’s Festival 

49.                  Ottawa Farmers' Markets

From east to west and places in between, the City of Ottawa has many great Farmer’s Markets that showcase food, harvests and crafts from local farmers and artisans.

KID'S ACTIVITIES

50.   Cosmic Adventures

Perfect for a rainy day or a day you need to keep some active kids contained. Cosmic has lots of great spaces for kids to climb, run and slide while safely in a space they can’t leave without their parents. There is lots of great seating for parents to have a snack or a coffee and connect to wifi while their kids play as well. Cosmic is a great for a solo visit or buy a membership for the year and visit unlimited times in the year.

51. Funhaven

Funhaven has it all! Laser tag, a nerf ball pit, and now a roller coaster! Whether you are looking for a place to spend a couple of hours or an entire day, Funhaven is a great place for the entire family. You can pay to go once or pay for an annual membership. They even host birthday parties.

52.                  SkyZone

Have some kids that need to get some extra energy out? Bounce it out!! SkyZone's trampolines from wall to wall are a great workout for the whole family.

53.                  Altitude climbing gym 

No more climbing the furniture, instead let the kids climb the walls - all kinds of different walls, at Altitude! 

54.                 Midway Fun Park

55.                 Putting Edge

56.                 Kid’s Kingdom

57.                 Public swimming/ wave pools / wading pools

58.                 Public Splash Pads and outdoor pools

59.                 Public indoor skating

60. Tubes and Jujubes

61. Wesley Clover Parks

Wesley Clover Parks is more than just a beautiful equestrian centre, there is also a nearby campground with scenic trails! Wesley Clover Parks also hosts numerous events throughout the year including polo and family fun days.

62.  Nepean Creative Arts Centre and Nepean Visual Arts Centre

We had a blast participating in one of NVAC’s family workshops last Christmas, and there are TONS of other courses for adults, children and families. Movie making, pottery, visual arts, and so much more.

OUTDOOR PLAY

Ottawa is filled with many outdoor farms, trails, events and exciting things to see and do including:

63.                 Parc Omega

64.                 Mont Cascades

65.                 Eco Odysee

66.                 Calypso

67.                 Gatineau Park

68.                 Cumberland Nature Trails

69.                 Hogs Back Park / Falls

70.                 Walking and hiking the NCC Trails

71.                 Rideau canal skating

72.                 Sens Rink of Dreams

73.                 CHEO Teddy Bear Picnic

74.                 Snowshoe under the stars

75.                 Dow's Lake boat rentals

76.                 Pirate Adventures

77.                 Rideau Canal Locks

78.                 Feeding the ducks near Billings Bridge

79.                 Geo caching

80.                 Saunders Farm

81.                 Valleyview Animal Farm

82.                 Strawberry Picking at Proulx Farm

83.                 Mer Bleu

84.                 Exploring Mackenzie King Estate

85.                 NOKIA Sunday Bike Days

86.                 J. Henry Tweed Conservation Area

87.                 Mont Tremblant road trip

88.                 Sugar Shacks

PARKS

If you have kids then knowing where some of Ottawa’s favourite family friendly parks are is important. Here are some parks that are Kids in the Capital approved!

89.   Lansdowne Park

We head over to Lansdowne to check out the Ottawa Farmer’s Market most weekends, and there are a lot of great things for the kids to do! A climbing structure, public art blackboard and skateboard park top the list. If your fur babies need some fun, there is also plenty of space for the doggies to go for a run!

90.  Andrew Haydon Park

Whether you're admiring the sailboats while walking along the river or enjoying the large play structure, Andrew Haydon Park is a great place for playground fun, picnics (when the geese are not ruling the roost) and evening walks.

91.  Millennium Park

With two enormous play structures (a pirate ship and one fashioned after the Parliament buildings), and a brand new splash pad that is possibly the best in the city, Millennium is worth the drive from any part of the city to check out!

92.    Brewer Park

Voted one of the best parks in Ottawa, this play area has fantastic slides, play structures and a splash pad.

93. Walter Baker Park

Located in Kanata, Walter Baker Park has a big hill ideal for sledding in the winter or exhausting little legs with running races any time of year! There is also a fitness park for the adults and two play structures. And for those really hot days, Walter Baker Park also has a splash pad!

94.    Strathcona Park

95.     Petrie Island

An east end gem, this beach and natural wildlife area has something for everyone (except your dog – dogs are not allowed!) Take the kids to spot the turtles, take a dip in the Ottawa River, or just enjoy the sun and sand! This is a great place to visit anytime of the year, and we’ve enjoyed our visits in the Spring, Summer and Fall (if you visit in the winter, we’ve heard about great ice fishing nearby!)

96.     Canada Giver Park at Mooney’s Bay

This park has an area to represent each province and territory in Canada – and if you look at it from the sky it is shaped like Canada! This park was built with the help of kids and it’s grand opening is on July 1, 2017. The building of the park will be featured on TVO’s Giver in 2017.

SPORTS

Ottawa is the home of many amateur and professional sports teams - check out a game this year with the:

97.                 Ottawa Redblacks

98.                 Ottawa 67s

99.                 Ottawa Senators

100.             Ottawa Champions Baseball

101.             Ottawa Fury

102.             Carleton Ravens

103.             Ottawa Gee Gees

104.             Bell Canada Cup

105.             Roar of the Rings (Curling Olympic Trials) December 2-7

RACES

If you love to run (or cheer on athletes) then you’ll want to check out these well known local road races:

106.             Tamarack Race Weekend

Whether you want to challenge yourself to run 5K or 10K or even a marathon - or participate as a family in the 2K Family Run, Tamarack Race Weekend is the biggest of it's kind in Ottawa.

107.             Insane Inflatable 5K

This 5K race has you climbing, sliding and crawling through inflatables during the 5K course. A race that's definitely family friendly, while being fun and a little bit hilarious at the same time. 

108.             The Army Run

The Canada Army Run is an event that supports the Canadian Air Force, Army, and Navy. Canadians, current members of and members who have served all come together for this unique race that is full pf pride and community.

109.             9-Run-Run

This family-friendly local run supports Ottawa and area emergency support personnel and first responders including Firefighters, Police Officers and Paramedics. 

DATE NIGHT

Looking for a night out? Whether you are looking for a relaxing evening or a fun adventure, Ottawa has many adult-only activities and venues perfect for any occasion!

110.             Ottawa Haunted Walk Tours

111.             Le Nordik Spa

112.             Wakefield Mill Hotel and Spa

113.             Chateau Montebello

114.             Options Jazz Lounge

115.             Bytowne Theatre

116.             Gladstone Theatre

117.             Play Food and Wine

118.             House of TARG

119.             Absolute Comedy

120.             Nature Nocturne

SHOPPING & RESTAURANTS

120. Byward Market

This bustling market is the most popular farmer’s market in Ottawa. Purchase both local and international produce, and make a visit to the famous Moulin de Provence for a cookie, just like Obama did in 2009!

121. Bridgehead Coffeehouse

If we are allowed to endorse a coffee shop here at Kids in the Capital, we have to make it Bridgehead. A home grown success, locations now dot the Ottawa map, and they have even made their way out to the suburbs! Enjoy their fair trade organic blends, or sample some of their locally made soups, sandwiches and treats.

122. NEXT Restaurant

Ottawa has many (MANY) fantastic restaurants, but NEXT, located in the middle of the suburbs in Stittsville, Ontario is unique not only because of its location, but because it always offers delicious shared dining experience based on Chef Blackie’s best food and travel memories that change seasonally.

123.   Quitters Coffeehouse

When famed musician Kathleen Edwards decided to pull the plug on her music career, she opened up a coffeehouse (aptly named “Quitters”) in Stittsville – west of Ottawa, this is a place with a true “small town” feel. Visit for a delicious cuppa, or head out for an evening of drinks and music. 

124. Tag Along Toys

We featured Tag Along Toys in our recent Holiday Gift Guide and continue to support their two locations because we know they offer the best in puzzles, games, LEGO, Playmobil and more. Whether you are looking for something in particular or have no idea what you are looking for they friendly and knowledgeable staff at Tag Along Toys are always willing to help.

125. Mansfield’s Shoes

It’s hard to find a good shoe store with quality brand names and customer services, but Mansfield’s Shoes in Manotick is one such shoe store. Family owned and operated with heart, Mansfield’s Shoes carries men’s and women’s shoes, handbags and slippers of all sizes and styles. The owner decides what brands to carry based on the feedback from her customers – how many shoe stores do you know that do that?

126. Mavericks Donut Company

Decorate your own donuts! How fun is that for kids - young and old!

127. Bushtukah

If you are an outdoor enthusiast then you will want to drop by one of Bushtukah’s two locations in Ottawa. This local store has everything you need for cycling, camping, snowsports and more! And it’s local (and we like local).

128. Beau’s Beer

Beau’s Beer is offered in many restaurants across the City of Ottawa and Lug-Tread is the official beer of Canada’s 150th! The brewery, located in Vankleek Hill is open 7 days a week and offers free wours and samples!

129. Sparks Street

Known as the pedestrian mall, Sparks Street features trendy clothing and jewellery shops, boutiques as well as national chain stores. There is something for everyone and it’s only a couple of blocks away from Parliament Hill!

Must See Small Towns

130. Almonte

If there’s one thing we can say about Almontonians, it’s that they’re really proud of their town! And what’s not to be proud of? Lots of small shops, great local music, and yummy doughnuts from HFT!

131. Appleton

One drive through the village of Appleton and you will want to buy a house there. It’s nestled on the shoes of the Mississippi River and is rich in history and beautiful scenery.

132. Merrickville

Whether you are looking to stay at a quaint B&B or shop for antiques and collectibles, the town of Merrickville is not only historic, but it offers unique shopping and places to eat too. It’s the perfect afternoon destination for the shopaholic who loves to support small businesses.

133. Carp

The village of Carp is located west of Ottawa and was a major centre for agricultural activities in the 1800s. Its history is celebrated every year at the annual Carp Fair and can be seen on a mural located at the Carp Farmer’s Market that runs every weekend from April to October. Carp is also home to the Diefenbunker Museum.

134. Cumberland

Founded in 1802, the town of Cumberland is a quaint, historic town that always has family-friendly activities including home and village tours as well as a harvest market.

135. St-Albert’s

This small town is known for its cheese! It’s worth the drive to St-Albert's east end simply for the cheese factory. You can buy the very best of curd, flavoured cheeses and stay for lunch at their restaurant!

136. Perth

It’s easy to drive by this small town on Highway 7, but take a few hours and make a stop. Or better yet, do a day trip with some friends or your significant other, and relax at the beautiful Tay River Reflections spa!

137. Pakenham

If you’re visiting the town of Pakenham in the winter be sure to check out Mount Pakenham for family-friendly skiing and winter tubing. Pakenham is also known for its historic five span stone bridge and the Pakenham General Store. If you’re visiting Pakenham in the summer be sure to stop for ice cream at Scoops! It’s a cottager-favourite!

For Canada’s 150th Birthday!

138.  Interprovincial Picnic on the Bridge (July 2, 2017)

Residents and tourists from both sides of the Ottawa River are invited to enjoy a historic moment on the Alexandra Bridge – an Interprovincial picnic! The bridge will be transformed into a picnic-perfect green haven with incredible views of the Ottawa River! There will also be entertainment and other activities.

139.  La Machine (July 26-30)

La Machine are oversized mechanical machines, including fire-breathing dragons, that are set to take to the streets of downtown Ottawa in late July. Should make for some great selfies!

140. Red Bull Crashed Ice (March 3-4)

If you like speed, the Ice Cross Downhill World Series is for you and it's taking place at the Ottawa Locks on the Rideau Canal, which not only makes it unique but historic!

141. Grey Cup 2017 (November 21-26)

The 105th Grey Cup Festival will take place at Lansdowne Park. The Festival will include a number of free and ticketed events, that reflect Canada’s rich and diverse traditions, for fans from coast to coast to enjoy.

142. Stanley Cup Tribute (March 15-18)

The contemporary Ottawa Senators may have yet to bring the Stanley Cup home, but this 4-day tribute (conveniently being held over the March Break) will celebrate this esteemed hockey trophy!

143. Juno Week (March 27 - April 2)

The 46th Annual JUNO Awards are returning to Ottawa, which means the city will be crawling with talented musicians participating in JUNO Cup, JUNOfest, JUNO Fan Fare, and JUNO Songwriters’ Circle! The awards are being held at the Canadian Tire Centre in Kanata on April 2nd.

144.  Magnificance of Chaudiere Falls

In the fall, an ambient lighting display will illuminate Chaudière falls. The lights, combined with music, will evoke the culture of Indigenous people and in particular highlight the Algonquin heritage of the region. This display is in collaboration with the local First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities.

145. Urban Camping (June 29th to July 3rd)

A limited number of urban camping sites will be available (site reservations opened January 16th) in numerous parking lots and green spaces around Ottawa - all in celebration of Canada's 150th!

146. MOSAÏCANADA 150/Gatineau 2017 (July 1- October 15)

For 107 days, Jacques-Cartier Park will host the biggest horticultural event in Canada including unique sculptures and paintings that reflect 150 years of history, culture and arts in Canada.

147. Kontinuum (End of June to Mid-September)

Touted to be an engaging underground multi-media experience that will project the future of Light Rail Transit in Ottawa now and in the future!

148. Agri 150 (all year long)

Rural Ottawa will celebrate Canada’s 150th with a series of unique outdoor events that will celebrate our local agriculture.

149. Sky Lounge (July 7-22)

Ottawa is known for it’s fantastic dining options and in the month of July, Ottawa is taking diners culinary experience to a whole new level by offering two weeks of dining over 150 feet in the air!

150. Canada Day on Parliament Hill (July 1st!)

Dress in red and white and join thousands of other Canadians to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday celebration on Parliament Hill! There will be live musical and theatrical performances and of course a fireworks display to remember!

 

10 March Break Activities in Ottawa

It may seem like March Break is far away, but it will be here before you know it! If you are like many families planning on sticking around the National Capital Region this March, you’re probably wondering what there is to do to keep the kids busy, entertained and happy.

With that in mind, here are 10 March Break Activities in Ottawa:

March break Activities in Ottawa

1)   Ride a roller coaster

Did you know Funhaven has an indoor rollercoaster? It’s called the Crazy 8 and it’s the only roller coaster in Ottawa, and it's indoors! Funhaven also has laser tag, a rock wall, a laser maze and arcade games. Parents and caretakers have free access to the Jungle Gym and Ballocity area and children aged 0-3 years can play for free there too.

2)   Try Downhill Skiing or Winter Tubing

March break is a prime time to take the kids downhill skiing or enrol them in downhill ski lessons. But if you aren’t skiers, hills such as Pakenham, Mont Cascade and Domaine de l’Anne-Gardien offer winter tubing too! Don’t be afraid to try tubing yourself – it’s fun for all ages!

Downhill skiing

3)   Visit a Museum

Ottawa has many great museums that appeal to any interest. Whether you want to teach kids about farming and agriculture at the Canadian Agriculture and Food Museum or visit with live reptiles at the special reptiles exhibit at the Canadian Museum of Nature, there are plenty of things for kids of all ages to see and do at a local museum.

For younger kids the Children’s Museum at the Museum of History is always a hit and older kids may appreciate the history at the Canadian War Museum. Exploring a museum is a great way to spend a couple of hours or an entire day!

4)   Take a Haunted Walk (for older kids)

Older kids, who are also fans of a good ghost story, may appreciate the fun and mystery of Ottawa’s Haunted Walk. They run every night from downtown Ottawa and are definitely a memorable way to spend an evening as a family. There are usually a couple of different tour types to choose from and each offer a unique way of seeing our city!

5)   Go Cross Country Skiing

Given the snow we have on the ground, my guess is that there will still be snow around for March Break this year. It will be a prefect time to check out the groomed cross country ski trails in Gatineau Park or the new multi-use Sir John A. MacDonald trail. If you don’t own skis you can usually rent them from places such as Mountain Equipment Co-op and Fresh Air Experience. 

Cross Country skiing

6)   Skate as a family at the Sens Rink of Dreams and Rideau Hall

Weather-permitting, the Sens Rink of Dreams at Ottawa City Hall is open daily from 6 am to 11 pm and unlike many other public skating rinks there is also a heated changing facility. If you don’t own skates (or you just discovered your kids have outgrown theirs) you can rent skates right on site (during designated times).

Rideau Hall also has a public outdoor skating rink which is open until March 26th, weather-permitting. In celebration of Canada’s 150th there may also be various special celebrations occurring here too!

7)   Slide or Dive into a City of Ottawa pool

The City of Ottawa offers a wide range of public swimming schedules during the March Break and have locations all over the city that offer everything from standard swimming, to slides to waves! The great news is that it isn’t expensive, in fact kids 2 and under are free!

8)   Sign up for a program at the Ottawa Public Library

Every year the Ottawa Public Library offers free programs for school age children and teens as part of their March Break. Program themes and length vary depending on the library, but past programs have included programs about science, technology, arts and more!

9)   Paint Pottery

If your kids love to be creative bring them to a ceramic painting place in Ottawa. There are several including Pottery Playhouse in Stittsville, The Mud Oven on Bank Street and Gotta Paint in Westboro. Kids can paint something as simple as a plate or mug and make it their own – or get a head start on birthday gifts for family and friends. It’s a lot of fun and the mess is left behind!

Painting Pottery

10)  Try Bowling

If you’re anything like me the last time you went bowling was on the Nintendo Wii. Bowling is great exercise and a fun way to play together as family. Ottawa has several bowling lanes to choose from including Walkley Bowling Lanes and Orleans Bowling Centre. Merivale Bowling Lanes even has glow in the dark bowling!

How do you plan on spending your March Break this year? What are some of your favourite family acitivities? 

 

 

6 Activities To Get Your Kids Outside in Winter

kids activities for winter

Not every child loves winter. For some, the idea of playing outside in January is challenged by hibernating indoors under a blanket fort. But with a little creativity, winter can provide hours of fun for any child! And besides, children need to play outside – even in winter. Playing outside in the snow encourages imaginative play, can offer some much-needed Vitamin D and provides exercise.

sledding hill

If you are at a loss about how to get your kids outside to play during the colder months, here are some ideas for children of all ages:

1)   Build your own sledding hill

While going to a big sledding hill is fun, sometimes having one closer to home (like right in your yard) is fun too. A neighbour of mine challenges himself every year to take all the snow from his driveway and build up a tall sledding hill in his yard for his son and his friends. Depending on that year’s accumulation, the sledding hill can get quite tall and the bigger the better for most kids! The neighbourhood kids look forward to this snow hill every year and can be found playing on it well past their bedtime during the holidays and on weekends!

2)   Frozen Bubbles

build a snowman

This activity is great for young kids. Take out your leftover bubbles from the summer and get blowing! Frozen bubbles are harder to pop and last longer – and young kids think frozen bubbles are cool. Make a game out of it by seeing how many bubbles can travel across the street without popping or who's bubble can travel the highest before bursting.

3) Build a snowman

The family that builds together… drinks hot chocolate together! After building a snowman (or snowmen) as a family, have your kids choose old mitts, a hat and scarf and decorate the snowman in their own unique style! Don’t hesitate to get creative. In my neighbourhood alone, I have seen two snowmen playing hockey and Harry Potter (the snowman version) playing Quidditch!

4)  Animal tracking

rabbit tracks in snow

Bundle up and head to a local park or nature trail and look for animal tracks. Fresh snow makes for a great opportunity to teach kids about local wildlife and the imprints their paws make. Most urban areas have at least squirrel, rabbit and bird tracks… not to mention dog tracks, which can be noted for all their different sizes.

5) Spray Paint Art

Fill spray bottles with water and food colouring (or Kool-aid) and draw and paint the snow! Have young kids practice writing their names or play tic–tac-toe in the snow using the spray bottles. Tip: Make sure the bottle doesn’t leak and that the colour easily washes off clothes.

6)  Fort building

fort building

You can buy snow fort building tools in most toy stores or you can use a recycling bin to build big bricks or a sand pail to build smaller bricks. As kids get older you will find them wanting to build forts on their own. Again, encourage their creativity by letting them use various containers you have around the house to build.

I love that my daughter will go outside and play with her friends in the winter, but for those kids who struggle with finding fun in the winter, I think a little family time together outside can be inspirational. Skiing and snowshoeing aside, with a little ingenuity and a lot of imagination, you can keep all children active in the winter, while having a great deal of fun yourself.

6 things you should be doing in 2017 (that don't involve diets or exercise)

I love scrolling through my Facebook feed at this time of year, and reading about everyone's intentions, goals, dreams and resolutions. Most of the time these are big goals - they could involve starting or growing a business, losing weight, eating healthy food, or working on relationships. I do not deny that these are all valid resolutions, and I can't wait to see the results!

But this post isn't about the big things. It's about the small stuff - the things that keep our families safe; the things that often get neglected, but NEED to get done. Some of these are things that I've been procrastinating doing for years, so writing this post is a bit self-serving (in a good way.)

FIRE SAFETY PLAN

You've read the news. You've heard the horror stories....and it only takes seconds.

Take a few minutes to write out a fire exit strategy from your home, and do a quick practice run with your kids. You don't need to go all Royal Tenenbaum on them (if you haven't seen the movie, the firedrill scene is hilarious) but you should certainly help your kids know where to exit, where to meet outside, and how to call 911.

SMOKE DETECTORS

Please, please, please...have working smoke detectors in your home. There should be one on every floor, and we also bought a couple extra for the girls' rooms (I may be slightly terrified of a fire.) Test any old smoke detectors to check if they need new batteries, and also take a look at the date of manufacture on the back. If your smoke detector is over 10 years old you should be purchasing a new one!

FIRE EXTINGUISHER

Do you detect a theme here? OK, I promise the last two tips will have nothing to do with fire. Did you know that a good fire extinguisher could be enough to save your entire home from burning down? A small local fire in the kitchen would be simple for you to put out (although please escape your home immediately if you think the fire is too big.) The extinguisher could also be the one thing you need to escape safely out your front (or back) door. 

There are three types of extinguisher classifications - A is ordinary combustibles (like wood,) B is for flammable liquids, and C is for electrical. Check the label at the store, as some will fight all three types of fires. Generally bigger is better, but you don't want it so big that you can't even use it to put the fire out. Get a bigger one for a garage or workshop, and keep the small one for the kitchen. And don't forget that extinguishers expire too. You can get ones that are refillable, so you will need to check when the pressure has gone down.

RADON TEST

Did you know that 16% of lung cancer deaths in Canada can be attributed to radon exposure? Radon is a radioactive gas found in the environment (soil, rocks or water) and can seep into buildings through cracks in the foundation. It is odourless and colourless, so you can't detect it!

Good news is that there's an easy way to test for radon in your home, and there are ways to secure your home if radon is found. The Government of Canada provides a ton of information on how to test for radon. We bought a testing kit from Amazon for $45, and writing this post reminds me that we need to send in for the results!

EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS

I've written about this before, but it's a smart idea to have a small emergency preparedness kit sitting somewhere in your basement. You don't need to go crazy and hoard all the canned chickpeas you can fit on your shelves, but it's a fantastic idea to have a few supplies on hand. I've occasionally filled my camping jug with water when I know we're getting a significant amount of freezing rain, just in case.

LEGAL WILL

We can't control when we're going to die, but we can control how things play out after we're gone. The worst thing you can do to your family is kick the bucket before you have a will completed (power of attorney is also important, and law firms will often include this in a legal will package.) 

If you think I'm spouting off this tip because I'm perfectly prepared at all times and had my will done many years ago you are WRONG. I still don't have a will, and I have a 7 and 4 year-old. I'm not sure why I've procrastinated, although it's really really common. Many of my 30-something friends with kids don't have one as well. 

So I'm following my own advice, and an appointment with a lawyer has been booked for this month! The cost will range from $500-$800 depending on your needs (more if your situation is complicated.) Just think about it this way - if your car broke down, you'd fork out the cash to have it fixed, right? Even if you didn't have the cash saved? So consider your will an expense that sucks the big one, but that you just have to do. And if you're really strapped, do a cheap legal will kit in the meantime, just so you have something on paper.

So there you have it folks - my list of six things I think you need to focus on in 2017. Would you add anything to this list?

Family Workshops at Nepean Visual Arts Centre

I had the pleasure of checking out a family workshp last month with the Nepean Visual Arts Centre (located at the Nepean Sportsplex.) The workshop was called "Trim Your Tree," and no, this didn't involve saws ;) This two hour workshop led us through two holiday ornaments for decorating the house and tree.

Family workshops are offered for one fee per family (maximum 4 participants,) but I had brought my 7 year-old alone. There is no age range, but your children should be interested in sitting for 2 hours and able to concentrate on the project. A 3 or 4 year-old may not have that patience.

We started with the feature craft - hand-painted Reindeer! We were supplied with the pre-cut/glued reindeer, and a huge table full of paints and decorations were at our disposable. There were four different reindeer samples to look at, but we were encouraged to be creative! Steps were broken down into manageable tasks, and my 7 year-old had no problem at all following along.

After the reindeer were painted, they got their faces and were adorned with bells, ribbons, stickers and stamps. We then took a break, and the workshop facilitator came in with delicious cookies and hot chocolate with marshmallows - YUM!

We finished the afternoon off with an ornament for the tree. My daughter was sad it was over, and said "when can we come back?" I loved the one-on-one quality time with her, and getting creative without having all the mess in my house was a bonus! 

Looking ahead, NVAC will be offering "Parent & Me" pottery classes in 2017. I'm excited to sign us up. If you're looking for last minute stocking stuffers, a gift certificate to NVAC or NCAC (Nepean Creative Arts Centre) would be make the perfect gift. Or sign your child up for a workshop or class, and make them a cute gift card that they can open on Christmas morning!

How do you like to get creative with your kids?