No, not the University of Ottawa sports teams. The Governor General's Residence. Many of you may have been there for the annual CHEO's Teddy Bear Picnic. No? Well bookmark that one for next year. It's a must do kids in the capital thing. But have you ever ventured to the GG's on a regular day during the summer?
Surprisingly we don't go very often, even though we are only a 15 minute walk away. But every time we do go, I always say "We should really come here more often." First, there is LOTS of room to just run and play. Bring a soccer ball to kick around. Or some bubbles to blow. Or anything else you can think of to do on vast expanses of grass. Picnic anyone?
Then there is the play structure. Simple but fun. And it's on what looks like asphalt but is actually spongy. Although it is a little small, there is lots to do for both little and big kids. The visitor's information center is right near by which has toilets, a little gift shop and water fountains to fill up your bottles.
As we were playing we suddenly heard the sound of bagpipes approaching. What could that be? We gathered our stuff and ran off towards the sound (I'm a sucker for bagpipes). What did we stumble upon? The Changing of the Guard! It would seem that the Guard post changes every hour on the hour. And the ceremony lasts all but 5 minutes. So if the elaborate pomp and circumstance of the Changing of the Guards on Parliament Hill seems to be a little overwhelming, this is the perfect option. And you can get up close.
The jellybean thought this was the best thing and marched on behind them.
After the 5 minute ceremony there is lots of opportunity for photo opps with the guards, but we were off marching behind the returning guards, no time for photos. This was definitely a wonderful surprise.
In the early summer the rose gardens are beautiful with many different varieties. It's now the end of the season, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't wonder around the gardens. There is a great fountain that just begs for pennies to be thrown in and lots of walls and benches to stop and have a snack or just a little rest.
The GG's Residence is also home to the Ottawa Cricket Club. They were just setting up for a match when we were leaving, so we didn't get a chance to watch.
We were there for a couple of hours and barely touched on all there is to do. There are also tours of Rideau Hall and the art collection, which run all year round. And a tour of the grounds offered during the summer months. And a treasure hunt called Tell-a-Tale Trail that is good for people of all ages.
So let's get down to the nitty gritty. How much does all of this cost? Nothing! Zilch! Nada! Zero! And parking? FREE! When there isn't a special event like a concert, parking is really easy on residential streets. When there is a special event, parking can be a bit of a bear.
So make your way down to the Governor General's Residences. It is your's to discover. (yes, cheesy, but essentially true!)
Julie (a.k.a. smothermother) is mom to 3 yr old Jellybean and married to the hubby. You can read her blog at www.smothermother.blogspot.com.