Where to skate in Ottawa

With all the cold weather we have been having it’s no wonder all the skating rinks around the city are filled with eager skaters young and old. To help you decide where to lace up, here’s a list of various ice skating rinks in and around Ottawa (and a little further out too). 

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Rideau Canada Skateway

Weather permitting, the Rideau Canal is open to skaters daily from roughly late December (whenever it’s ready!) to late February (when it starts to thaw). And it’s free! There are many change huts, skate rental shacks and snack stations (yum - Beavertails!) all along its 7.8 km length. We recommend checking the ice conditions before you head out to avoid disappointed little skaters should it be closed.

SENS Rink of Dreams

If the Rideau Canal is closed you can almost-always count on the SENS Rink of Dreams at City Hall to be open. This refrigerated outdoor skating rink is open from December to March from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. It’s a large rink that features LED lighting, a heated change hut, picnic tables and benches. Skate rentals and skate sharpening are available on weeknights and weekends, check out the City’s website for information on hours.

Landsdowne Park Skating Court

Weather permitting, the Lansdowne Park Skating Court is open from early December to mid-March. There is on-street parking nearby. Free open skating sessions are available daily.

Ben Franklin Place Skating Rink

Ben Franklin Place’s outdoor skating rink in Ottawa’s West End (Nepean) has a heated changing facility and is open daily from 11 am to 8 pm (weather permitting).

Rideau Hall Skating Rink

The historic skating rink at the Governor General of Canada’s residence, located on Sussex Drive, was established in 1872. Rideau Hall’s refrigerated outdoor skating rink offers free public skating sessions on Saturdays and Sundays from roughly December through March, weather permitting.

RiverOak Skating Trail 

Located in Metcalfe, RiverOak offers a unique outdoor winter experience with more than three kms of skating trails through old growth apple orchards. Their on-site facilities include a heated changing area in a charming log cabin, food and drink, and a hockey rink for pickup games. They also have unique events happening all winter long! For details visit their website at: www.riveroak.ca

Patinage en Fort (Skating Through the Forest)

Located Lac des Loups, Quebec (about 45 minutes north of downtown Ottawa), this skating rink is a 3-kilometer open-air ice loop which winds through tall trees. There is a heated chalet onsite. A very limited number of skate rentals are available, so if you can – bring your own! Visit their website for more information.

Perth Outfitters Skating Trail

About one hour south of Ottawa in Perth, Ontario is Perth Outfitters. They offer a 400-metre (0.2 mile) skating trail through the woods (including lantern skate events on Friday and Saturday evenings). There’s also a shinny hockey rink, log cabin and warm treats. A fun way to spend a weekend evening!

Arrowhead Provincial Park Ice Skating Trail

Although it’s a bit of a drive (about 3.5 hours from west Ottawa), this ice skating trail is considered one of the most stunning natural skating rinks around the world! The 1.3 km ice skating trail winds through think Muskoka forest and is magical anytime of day! The park is very busy on weekends, so the ark recommends visiting during the week if you can.  Visit their website for more information.

City of Ottawa Outdoor Ice Rinks

There are many volunteer-run outdoor community ice rinks across the city – several even have huts to change in and out of your skates. Check out the City’s website for more information.

City of Ottawa Indoor Ice Skating

Ottawa is home to several indoor arenas that offer affordable public skating sessions and skate rentals. Visit the City of Ottawa website for more information or to find an arena near you.

Nature Sleepovers - Museum Memories for the win!

Kids in the Capital is pleased to welcome back Antonia Cetin to the blog. Antonia is an educator and the author of You’ve Got This, Mom! A Mother’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving in Today’s Modern. She returns with a special post about the new Nature Sleepovers program offered by the Canadian Museum of Nature.

How do you spend quality time with family? Our family lives can easily become a race from one organized activity to another, a series of ticks on a list of things to do. We won’t remember the activities as much as the effort it took to get there. That’s why it’s so important to have family time to do simple ordinary things: reading together, playing a board game together, cooking, making a snowman, relaxing at home. Those are the times that will leave a lasting impression of what home feels like cozy, warm and comfortable.

We also want to create special memories that we can look back on as adventures or markers of special events. Those will be the instances we talk about as, “remember the time...” conversations.

The Canadian Museum of Nature now offers families a memorable evening that we can reminisce about with our kids: a sleepover with the dinosaurs!  

Gotta say when I suggested this activity to my family, I was surprised at the enthusiasm: WE GET TO SLEEP WITH THE DINOSAURS? And, that was just the co-parent! I was actually afraid that the program wouldn’t live up to our expectations because they were so high. However, there was nothing to worry about: the museum did not disappoint. The whole evening was so well organized everything went off without a hitch.

Nature Sleepovers at the Canadian Museum of Nature

There were people welcoming us, guiding us, and even staying over in case we needed them during the night. We enjoyed a guided flashlight tour of the dinosaurs in the dark - who knew they were even more fascinating in the dark! We got to examine and hold some pretty cool insects including stick insects who walked across our hands. I drew the line at the huge cockroach, but you know, that’s just me. We also did scavenger hunts in the mammal area that got us moving around before we got a private viewing of a 3D movie about a night at the museum! So cool. By the way, when your name is Kaz, falling asleep in your sleeping bag with a view of the Kazmasaurus can’t be beat! And, when your name isn’t Kaz, it’s fun to look up and see the dinosaur watching over you as you drift off.

Nature Sleepovers at the Canadian Museum of Nature - Dinosaurs

The whole experience was amazing and super well orchestrated by the friendly and informative staff. They really had everything covered - even snack time and breakfast. And, thank goodness for coffee in the morning at the museum because when the museum doors opened to the public, we had time to explore on our own.  

When I asked my family members how they enjoyed the visit, they each had a special memory to share. And, then they asked if we could do it again next month! Memorable moment success! Thanks Canadian Museum of Nature.

Nature Sleepovers at the Canadian Museum of Nature - Sleeping with Dinosaurs

Check out the Canadian Museum of Nature website for other memorable experiences including their sleepovers, themed birthdays and special events such as Butterflies in Flight and Survival of the Slowest. If you’re looking for an adult getaway activity, they have Nature Nocturne (a night of science and dancing), Nature tastes (cider and whiskey) and an Escape room. Go and create some great memories!

Celebrate a farm-tastic birthday at the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum

If you’re looking for a memorable, hands-on experience for your child’s next birthday party, look no further than the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum. They don’t “horse around” when it comes to birthday parties…they take fun seriously!

The excitement begins with a special tour of the animal barns, led by a knowledgeable museum guide. Children enjoy face-to-face interaction with the farm animals — including calves, rabbits, chickens, and horses — while your guide discusses animal habits and routines. Animal experiences are subject to seasonal changes (spring is lamb season!). Of course, we’re always happy to answer questions about the animals from curious, young minds.

Each two-hour birthday party also includes a game and a craft, as well as making and eating a delicious treat. Choose from two “udderly amazing” party themes:

  • A MOOving Experience: An ice cream-making party (for kids ages three-12)

  • Pizza Party: A pizza-making party (for kids ages five to 12)

Are “ewe” ready to join us? The 2018-2019 calendar is filling up fast – visit our website for pricing details and to reserve your party. They also offer free party invitations – just download and print!

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum.

Family Fun at Room Escape Ottawa

KITC would like to welcome back, guest blogger, Stephen Johnson. Stephen Johnson is an Ottawa writer who loves to write about family travel.  During the summer, you will most likely find him and his family at a local fair or festival.  During the winter, a beach in Mexico is a likely bet.  

Two years ago,  I didn’t understand all the buzz about escape rooms.  The concept of locking yourself up in a room and having to escape within a certain time seemed crazy to me.

My perspective totally changed when we recently tried an escape room in Kingston, Ontario. Our family had a great time searching for clues and working together. It left us wanting to find an escape room closer to home in Ottawa.

We checked online and found one close to our house that looked like fun,  Room Escape Ottawa. There were five different rooms to choose from with three being listed as youth-friendly. Despite our son, David’s, protests to try the scariest room, we all settled on Boom Room. The description listed the room as being a rigged enemy bunker that was timed to explode with only sixty minutes to escape. Our house has a similar feel in the morning to get everyone up and out the door on time so I thought our chances were good.

We arrived at Room Escape on Bank Street and found out it was in the same facility and business as Archery Games Ottawa. I wondered if perhaps we did not finish the room on time, we might have to do archery games without a bow and arrow!

We were greeted by our escape room host who went over some of the procedures and gave us the scenario. We entered the room and quickly got to work. The room was dimly lit except for a red emergency light giving the space the feel of a World War II bunker. It was authentically decorated with camouflage and other military paraphernalia.

Room Escape Ottawa

We were also provided with a walkie-talkie where we could request assistance. Clues were provided either via a television or our host would come in to assist. I thought this was a great feature especially for those with younger kids as it could be frustrating to be stuck on one puzzle for too long.   

I do not want to give away too much of the escape room in case you try it, but let’s just say there were many different elements including cracking codes, interpreting a board game and diffusing bombs. Ultimately, we did not make it all the way out of the room but got very close.

This experience is a great way to teach problem-solving skills, working together and generally just having a great time.   

Room Escape Ottawa has two other rooms which are suggested for the younger set. Stranded explores being stuck on an alien planet while another De-Composed is listed as being Canada’s first multiplayer virtual reality escape room.

We will certainly be back to Room Escape Ottawa whether to try out another escape room or archery games.  I still don’t think anyone from their staff could escape our house as quickly as we do on a Monday morning!    

The Hockey Sweater: A Musical

Many Canadians, young and old, are familiar with Roch Carrier’s story, The Hockey Sweater. In 1940s Quebec, life centred around school, church and the hockey rink and every kid wore the number 9 Habs sweater as a tribute to the legendary Maurice Richard. But when young Roch outgrows his, he’s mistakenly sent a Maple Leafs sweater instead…

Roch Carrier’s timeless tale, The Hockey Sweater, has been transformed into an energetic and magical musical for the whole family. Presented as part the National Art’s Centre Holiday programming , The Hockey Sweater: A Musical is suitable for all ages and the story of finding your own way in the world will resonate with hockey fans and theatre lovers alike.

The Hockey Sweater is not only a great way to introduce kids to the fun of musicals, but it’s also a fun way for fans of opposing hockey teams to come together and celebrate what everyone can agree has become a classic Canadian tale!

Don’t miss out! Make The Hockey Sweater a part of your holiday plans this December! Tickets start at only $29 and the show runs from December 5th to the 23rd. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the NAC official website.

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by the National Arts Centre.