Category Archives: Parks

Fall Leaves in Ottawa

Ontario in the fallOne of the best things about living in the Ottawa-Gatineau area in the fall is the changing of the leaves. As sad as I am to say goodbye to summer, I love this time of year. I love the sweaters, the hot cider and watching the leaves change color (which doesn’t mean I’m ready for winter at all!)

The end of September and all through October are the best times to see the changing of the leaves.  In Gatineau Park, there are tons of trails to explore and there are also quite a few special events occurring during its annual “Fall Rhapsody” celebration, which honours all things outdoors. My favorite place in the Gatineau region to get an absolutely awesome view of the leaves in the Gatineau Hills and the whole Ottawa Valley is, of course, the Champlain Lookout. It’s a nice hike up there are more than 90 kilometres of trails and bike paths in Gatineau Park. If you really want to learn more about the coloured leaves as you hike, you can head up on Saturdays and Sundays from September 24 to October 16 for “Follies of the Fall Forest”, a free guided tour. It is fun for the whole family with an introduction at the Gatineau Park Visitor Centre followed by a guided walk on the Sugarbush Trail.

For those adventurous hikers, the Eardley Escarpment rises 270 metres from the floor of the Ottawa Valley and extends over more than 30 kilometres. Also, Lusk Cave, in the Philippe Lake area, is an easy hike along but the 10-kilometre round trip takes about four hours to walk.

hiking in ottawaFor those with little ones who want a really nice nature trail to walk, there are lots of places around Ottawa like the Stony Swamp trails near Bell’s Corners, Green’s Creek, to the east of Ottawa and Pine Grove, to the south of Ottawa.

No matter where you go in the Ottawa-Gatineau area this time of year, you’re pretty much guaranteed a great view of the leaves. By next weekend, Fall Rhapsody will be in full swing so don’t forget to get out there and enjoy one of the things that makes living in the Ottawa area so great!

Where’s your favourite place to see the leaves in Ottawa?

Taking Advantage of Ottawa’s Wading Pools

wadingTomorrow is officially the first day of summer and what says summer better than visiting a splash pad? For those of us lucky enough to be living in the Ottawa area, a secret gem in the summer is the abundance of wading pools and splash pads across the area. Did you know that in Ottawa, there are 56 wading pools and splash pads all over the city?

What’s also pretty cool about our city’s wading pools are the special events that take place all summer. Almost every weekend, there will  Wading Pool Special Events.  All special events are held from 11 am to 4 pm, featuring arts and crafts, games, prizes, and lots of time to stay cool.  Some events even have featured guest activities, a free barbecue and a lunchtime Performing Arts Series between 11:30 and 12:30.  A new feature this year are Friday Fun Days . Every Friday, you and the kids can visit one of the City of Ottawa wading pools and participate in kid-themed fun and games.

You can also take part in the Waterplay program. This program uses fun and interactive games and learn-to-swim activities to offer a basic instruction in necessary water skills. This is a great opportunity for kids to have fun at the wading pools while also building foundational swimming skills and learning water safety. Waterplay is an informal program available to the public free of charge at all wading pools across the city.

For kids who don’t want to get wet, but still want to hang at the pool, they can participate in Park-ticipate, a free, informal drop-in program offered at various water parks throughout Ottawa. Children aged 4 to 10 are invited to join city staff sports, crafts and games led by city staff. A great way for you to relax, as long as you stay close by.

All the Ottawa area Wading pools are open daily from 11 am to closing time and will run from June 28 to August 16, 2013. Don’t know where to find a splash pad close to you? Use this City of Ottawa Map, to see where all the Splash pads are located.

What’s your favourite Splash Pad or Wading Pool in Ottawa? 

Our Favourite Ottawa Parks

At Kids in the Capital we love parks. And since the weather is finally leaning a bit more to the spring and summer variety, what better way to celebrate than to share some great Ottawa parks with you. We asked our readers what parks are the bomb and here are a few of their favourites:

Brewer Park

Located near Carleton University, between Bronson and Sunnyside, on Brewer Way, Brewar Park is a great place for kids of all ages. It has plenty of open spaces and playing fields and is near a bike path for bigger adventures. There is a semi-fenced-in area with two play structures suitable for the littlest members of the family along with a play structure on rubber mats for preschool children, a multi-level splash pad (there is a large ramp and bridge to access the upper level and water slide), a larger play structure for elementary aged children, a sandy area with wheel-chair accessible sand tables, activity walls, and swings.

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There are also several shady spots to set-up blankets for snack time and picnics as well as one large covered picnic area in the middle of the park. The only disadvantage is that the play structure for older children is separated from the rest of the park (by the splash pad), which makes it hard to supervisor children of different ages. The best part is that there are (clean) washrooms located next to the toddler area.

Andrew Haydon Park

Located on Carling Avenue at Holly Acres Road, the best part of Andrew Haydon Park is the view since it’s right on the river. There are lots of pathways, boats on the water, and of course the wildlife…but not to worry, nothing wilder than geese and groundhogs.

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The play structure with water features is a big attraction here as well and particularly welcome on a hot day. Andrew Haydon park has several play structures that have sand brought in straight from the beach and most kids love spending time in the sand boxes and horsing around on the swinging structures designed for child use. A large and intricate play structure is also located on site to keep children a little older busy and active. Don’t forget to bring a towel and change of clothes for the kids, and waterproof foot attire for yourself. There’s also a number of charcoal BBQs here too so spend the day and bring a picnic.

The Splash Pad Water Park in Barrhaven

On Longfields Drive in Barrhaven, this waterpark here is a perfect way to keep cool on those hot summer days. It’s also a great spot for those who want water and those who don’t because there are two sand parks (one for toddlers and one for older kids) right beside the splash pad.

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The water has to be turned on by sensors but that makes it fun to see who is going to turn it on. There is a cantina and washrooms on site but many say that they are not always open. There is some area for shade and lots of space for a picnic. Your kids will love it!

Millenium Park

On Trim road in Orleans, just a few minutes south of Innes Road you will see some wonderful play structures as you drive up. There are soccer fields and swings, but also two amazing play structures that will impress kids (and parents) of all ages. The first one you see is a pirate ship; it is the smaller of two but lots of fun for all ages. Kids will love to slide, climb and imagine they are the captain of the ship.

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The second structure is a replica of the Parliament Buildings and has three levels to play in – an impressive two storey slide from the top brings them down to the front of the structure. The kids (and parents) can climb and slide to their heart’s content. Parents can grab a blanket or a lawn chair to keep an eye on them from below but there is not a lot of shade at the park so keep that in mind if you are there during the hot hazy days of summer.

St. Luke’s on Elgin

Situated on Elgin Street at Frank Street, the layout St. Luke’s is great for both kids and parents. The park has a wading pool in the centre. It’s the perfect depth for littles ones to play in the water and for parents to wade without getting too wet.

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There are two play structures there, a smaller one for kids aged 2 to 5, and a larger one for 5 to 12-year olds. There are also three swing sets, for babies, toddlers, and big kids. A large grassy area with picnic tables offers a place to change babies and have a snack. For the older kids there is a basketball court, field house, and more grassy areas between the field house and the tennis courts to play. There are also bathrooms in the field house which is an added bonus.

Walter Baker Park

Walter Baker Park has two play structures – one for toddlers and one for older children and a great splash pad to play in on hot days. There’s a big grassy hill that attracts children to repeatedly run up and down acting as a great nap inducer is an added bonus.

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There are plenty of benches for caregivers to sit nearby and supervise, lots of grass for the kids to run around on and some mature shade trees creating perfect snack time spots. And if that isn’t enough, there is ample free parking and a nearby bathroom in the Kanata Recreation Complex. Of course the one reason many keep returning to Walter Baker Park is that all the kids love cooling off in the splash pad area.

While these parks are awesome and a great way to spend a lazy afternoon, we also want to know of your hidden gem parks around town. Where do you love to go on a beautiful afternoon with kids?