Places to swim around Ottawa

Unless you have a pool at your house, Ottawa summers can sometimes feel unbearable! The heat and humidity we get is just as extreme as the cold/snowy winters. The good news is that we’re so lucky to be living next to many beautiful bodies of water, just waiting for us to take a wee dip!! Have something to add to this list? Send us an email and let us know your favourite pool or beach!

Remember for any beaches in Ottawa to check water quality readings before you go. For those beaches in Gatineau Park you can get water quality readings here. The kiddos will be SUPER disappointed if you arrive and discover the beach is closed for swimming!!

Beautiful Lac la peche in Gatineau Park

Beautiful Lac la peche in Gatineau Park

Mooney's Bay

You can find some great swimming at this beach, and lots of space for a tasty picnic. And with the new 150-themed park nearby, you can make a whole day of it! There is pay parking, but it’s not overly pricey.

Britannia Beach

In the west end of Ottawa, Britannia beach is super fun for kids to go swimming and sailboat watching! Bring a picnic or rent a volleyball net from the city.

Westboro Beach

Still west but more central, Westboro Beach is small and cozy, with so many fun things to do in the area before cooling off in the river. Grab an ice cream at the canteen or ride your bikes along the river pathway!

Petrie Island (East and River beaches)

Located in Ottawa’s east end, Petrie Island is unique in that it’s a nature reserve and home to lots of wildlife! Swim on the beautiful sandy east beach, or the more rocky river beach. Then take a stroll on the nature trails and check out the nature interpretive centre!

Burnstown Beach

Located off Calabogie Road, Burnstown Beach is a great alternative to Ottawa River swimming (especially when water quality is yucky here!) KIC reader Crystal Loukola had this to say about Burnstown:

There’s natural shade, a few picnic tables, canteen and bathroom, a play structure with a three-storey slide. The water has few stones and a few areas of weeds. Shallow area is wide enough and drops steadily so you can swim without going out super far. Apparently there is a great ice cream shop in town! The only negative is that the sand is quite dusty.
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Constance Bay

Auger’s Beach is a SUPER sandy beach, and a quick jaunt from the west end of Ottawa. However, unlike many beaches in Ottawa and Gatineau, there are no lifeguards here (see below for tips on water safety!) and the city also does not provide water quality readings for this area.

Meech Lake

Probably one of the most popular spots in Gatineau Park, Meech Lake is a favourite swimming hole for Ottawans and Outaouaisins (that’s not a word, I totally made that up.) Because it’s so popular it is BUSY! Expect Saturdays and Sundays to be very crowded, so plan to get there early if you don’t enjoy the crowds. Word on the street is that Blanchet beach is bigger and feels less crowded than O’Brien beach. Pay parking is available

Lac Philippe

If you want a bigger beach in Gatineau Park, drive a little further north to lac philippe! There are three different beaches, and if you want a nice hike along the lake, you can visit Lusk Cave. Pay parking is available.

Lac la Pêche

This is our family’s fave. We drive the extra distance past lac philippe just to get to this much more remote (and quieter) beach. The beach and shallow water is clean and sandy. A warning that the water is quite weedy near the buoy line, but if you can brave the weeds and get out into deeper water, it’s beautiful! Our favourite part is walking to the end of the beach where there is a rock outcrop. We jump from the rocks into deep water, which helps us avoid the weeds at the main beach. Pay parking is available.

Outdoor pools in Ottawa

Swimming doesn’t HAVE to involve a lake! There are so many great outdoor pools around Ottawa, and they’re perfect for those days when the sand is too hot or there are poor water quality readings. Or maybe you just prefer lounging by a pool!


If you’re out swimming anywhere this summer, please educate yourself on WATER SAFETY. Every year there are preventable accidents and deaths around water, so we need to do our bit to prepare ourselves for a fun and safe summer!

Road tripping with kids - tips and tricks to make it great!

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I have a bit of a romantic view of road trips - I think of the days in my teens and twenties when I took to the road with friends and we drove for hours, singing at the top of our lungs, stopping at random roadside attractions and were totally carefree.

This romantic view sometimes slides into thinking that a road trip with my husband and three kids will be the same, but we all know that’s not quite true. It can be fun and amazing, but there are a LOT more things to plan for and factor in.

As I was gearing up for a recent road trip with my family I thought I would collect some of MY best road trip tips, but I also went to our Facebook Page and asked others what their best road trip tips are - and there are some gems. Multiple times in the thread others responded, “I am printing this word for word for my road trip!”

So, here are some ideas, thoughts, and strategies to consider employing on YOUR next road trip.

If you have others to add, comment and we can either add them here (or maybe we’ll need a whole second post!)

Packing for a road trip

Janet said:

Socks, blankets and snacks. I have done many road trips with kids from when they were tiny between Ottawa and the east coast. For kids to sleep/nap/chill, they need to be warm and not hungry. I realized that when we are warm in the front and have air conditioning on, it can be cold in the back. Especially if they are barefoot and in sandals. So even in summer, I had my kids in socks with blankets in reach.

Gi Na said:

- Each person has their own packing cube for their clean clothes. We bring a large wet bag for dirty clothes until we can do laundry. 
- If we have some hotel stops along the way to our final destination I plan ahead and pack for hotel specifically (as there is often a pool and need for less clothes etc) to minimize what we have to carry in. And I label all the bags that are only for the hotel so it’s easy for my husband/myself to quickly identify what has to come into the hotel for the night and what can be left in the car. 
-aside from the usual we always have a potty in the trunk (our kids are 1, 3 and 5) and toilet paper and old grocery bags. And paper towels. And wet wipes. And a change of clothes easily accessible, including socks, for all the kids. 

Natalie said:

One of the best tips I’ve ever received is to pack things in a white bin tower in your trunk (if you have an SUV). That way you can easily access things you need without having to rummage through luggage every time.

Géraldine said:

Essentials on board are: one pillow each and their little special "road trip backpacks", that we keep packed and ready to go in the closet close to the front door. In each backpack, we have a notebook and pencils, one or two colouring books, (the magic ink ones are great!) and a rigid Crayola case they can use as a mini desk. Also a bottle of water and some snacks and Kleenex.

Give them food and other stuff

Activities and food can be the key to keeping kids entertained in the vehicle. Some people have a no food in the vehicle rule and some people say ALL THE SNACKS. You pick what works best for you and your family!

Misty said

They get a new wrapped gift every hour which was something they could read or play with (e.g colouring books, crayons, car games, silly putty etc.) Another thing I found super helpful was gum and/or suckers. For some reason they are always quieter when sucking on something.

Jennifer said

We also let the kids pack their own 'fun bag' of art supplies, books etc, which they like. And then I augment with maps from CAA showing where we're going (so when they ask 'where are we?' we can just tell them to check the map - it hasn't really worked yet, but I remain hopeful!), and a relevant book (the Dear Canada series is great for this), and my super secret bag of emergency sugar snacks.

Screen time for the road trip

Just like food, some people say yea and some say nay. I’m a yea but you pick what works best for you and your family here too! :)

  • Download movies from Netflix and have them loaded up on iPads and other devices.

  • Bring all the devices and charge cords you can find - we brought the Switch, the DSes, the iPods and the iPad. They got passed around and shared and for the most part, nobody whined about how long the drive was..

What to listen to

We loaded up a bunch of new and never heard songs onto our phones from Amazon music to keep things interesting and new.

We also loaded up on dozens of episodes of a podcast everyone enjoyed - Story Pirates (we also posted on Facebook and got some other great podcast recommendations!).

How to work out the sillies on a road trip

Rest Stop Rock Stretches

Rest Stop Rock Stretches

  • Look for hotels with a pool (and make sure their hours will work for when you’re arriving and leaving). A kid who spend 5+ hours in a car will almost ALWAYS have lots of energy to expend and a pool is an easy and contained way to let them get it all out before you try to have a big group of people trying to fall asleep in one room!

  • Rest stops - the ones without any restaurants and lots of picnic tables, are great for kids to get their wiggles out. We often will look for geocaches at them, and the kids will just run around and jump up and around on all the rocks and tables and around the bathroom building. Even at 10 and 12, for us this works just as well as when they were 4 and 6 :)

    Where to stay

    When we’re just driving with no precise plan on when or where we’ll stop, we have a tendency to look for the closest and easiest Holiday Inn Express with a pool. We know what we’ll get and we know the approximate price point.

    For our time in Washington, DC we knew we would be there for a number of days and wanted a home base and we used Air BnB (that link gives you a discount if it’s your first time using the service) for the first time. What a treat to have three bedrooms, a kitchen and a place to watch TV so we weren’t on top of each other all the time. We will definitely use that option again when we are somewhere for a few nights!

    Find these tips and tricks useful? Comment and let us know which one you liked the most. Or share your tips in the comments below!!

10 Things to do with Kids in the Byward Market

1) Take a ride on the train

The train currently runs every day except Mondays, 10AM to 6PM. Cost is $3 per person for an 8-minute ride, and you can pay cash or debit. Most suitable for kids under 8.

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2) Walk the new pedestrian street

So many fun games and places to sit along this new pedestrian street!

3) Take a picture with the Ottawa sign…while eating ice cream

4) Visit Librairie du Soleil

A wonderful independent French bookstore - watch out if you take a bookworm there, as you’re guaranteed to leave with a few books ;)

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5) Find the Tin House

6) Have your kids search for statues/public displays of art

Ottawa is full of public displays of art, which you can see here. Find the ones in the Byward Market!

7) Buy some fruit at the Farmer’s Market

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8) Get a cookie where Obama famously did in 2009

9) Grab a bite to eat at Zak’s Diner

Kids love this traditional diner, where they can get all their favourite foods AND be loud.

10) Listen to some of the buskers

The Byward Market is full of super talented folks, and kids love stopping to listen and dropping a toonie for the performers!

Family Travel: Dynamic Earth, Sudbury, Ontario

I grew up in Sudbury, Ontario, and although I didn't appreciate it as much at the time, it is a beautiful city with lots of things to do for families. A five-hour drive from Ottawa's west end, Sudbury offers families a plethora of beaches including Moonlight Beach, Bell Park, and Windy Lake and makes for a great long weekend destination.

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I now visit Sudbury twice a year, every spring and fall, to spend time with my grandfather. My most recent trip up was with my mom and my ten-year-old daughter. We all thought spring is the perfect time of year to check out one of Sudbury’s most popular tourist destinations, Dynamic Earth.

Of course, there is also Science North, which is known for its Bed of Nails, resident beaver and porcupine, flying squirrels, as well as many other interactive nature and science-related exhibitions. I hope to explore Science North again more when I return in the fall!

In the meantime, if you have never heard of the Bed of Nails before, check out this fun promotional video from Science North:

Dynamic Earth

This trip, we decided to visit Dynamic Earth. I hadn't been "down in the mines" since I was a kid and I was excited to share the Underground Tour experience with my daughter. When you arrive at Dynamic Earth, you are assigned a start time, which is typically every hour on the half hour. We got there 45 minutes before our underground tour started, so we took advantage of the additional exhibitions that are included with admission.

It was a beautiful day so we, of course, took the opportunity to snap pictures of the infamous Big Nickel that stands on the top of the hill at Dynamic Earth. The Big Nickel is a replica of the 1951 Canadian nickel and has been a selfie hotspot since before selfies were a thing! According to the Dynamic Earth website it, “symbolizes the wealth that Sudbury has contributed to the Canadian economy through nickel production.” I love that access to the nickel is barrier-free, which means anyone can walk or use a wheelchair to get up close with the Big Nickel. You may have heard that there were once other large coin monuments that shared space with the Big Nickel… you can learn what happened to them by visiting the Big Nickel, but I still believe the rumour that they rolled away. ;)

The always accessible Big Nickel

The always accessible Big Nickel

After visiting the Big Nickel, my daughter explored the Outdoor Science Park. This park is unlike any other! It features science and mining themed play structures, vehicles and slides safe and fun for kids of all ages. My daughter lived sliding down the “molten slag” slide towards a real slag pot and climbing the net climbing structure.

When we finally ventured back inside, we spent time learning about colour minerals on the mineral wall and playing in the mine training centre downstairs that featured virtual operating equipment such as a rock breaker, excavator and mining drone.  

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Of course, the real attraction was the underground tour. The tour starts by taking a big glass-windowed elevator down seven storeys. The guided group tour takes you through their demonstration mines through the ages. During the approximately hour-long underground tour, you learn the evolution of mining in the Sudbury region from the turn of the century to modern mining and also includes a mock-dynamite explosion. It's unlike any other tour I have been on, and I found it very interesting to learn about what went on under the ground all those years of living there. Also, you can purchase a postcard at the gift shop before heading down and mail it in their underground mailbox – a fun way to let others know how much fun you’re having! It’s a very realistic experience and makes you appreciate the dark and damp conditions miners continue to work in every day!

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If you’re planning a family trip to Sudbury, Ontario make sure to include Dynamic Earth! Here are some tips to make the most out of your time there: 

  • Pick up your underground tour pass for the next available tour time as soon as you arrive (you may be tempted to visit the Big Nickel first, but depending on when you arrive there will be plenty of time to do that!).

  • The temperature underground is approximately 13C (55F), so make sure you are dressed for cool and damp conditions by bringing a jacket and wearing running shoes.

  • I recommend the underground tour for children aged three and up, but there are strollers available underground!

  • It is dark when you first get in the elevator and when you first arrive underground. Make sure little ones are prepared by letting them know it will be dark, but also that there will be lights and that they are safe.

  • There are flashing lights.

  • There is a café on site if you want a quick bite to eat as well as numerous bathrooms.

  • Dynamic Earth is typically closed from October to March each year.

  • The Big Nickel is free to visit any time of the year!

For more information on Dynamic Earth, visit: https://sciencenorth.ca/dynamic-earth/.


Disclaimer: I received passes to Dynamic Earth for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are my own.

Skateboarding & Scooter Camps with Evolve Camps In Ottawa

Sports camps come in many varieties from the general all-sports camp offered for all ages to intense training for a specific sport. We get it - choosing the right summer camp for your child is not easy. Evolve Camps operates action sports programs for children across Canada including here in the Capital.

Evolve Camps In Ottawa


Some Great Questions Ask Your Child

Many times parents like yourself think to themselves “I found the best program, I can’t wait to register my child for this they are going to love it!”, but they do not consult their child before signing them up. In most cases, the parent just ends up with an unhappy camper because the child was put into a program they were not excited about.

Before choosing a program - whether it is with Evolve Camps or not - make sure you ask some of these questions to your child:

  • What do you want to do this summer?

  • Do you want to skateboard or scooter every day?

  • Do you want to learn how to ski or snowboard this winter?

  • Would you have fun at a sleep-away overnight camp?

  • Do you want to just hang out at home?

  • What are some of your friends doing this summer/winter?

  • Do any of your friends want to try skateboard/scooter/ski/snowboard with you?

  • I found this program called [Evolve Camps]. Here is what they do; how does it sound?

  • Out of the camp options that [Evolve Camps] offers, which would you prefer?

Skateboarding & Scooter Camps with Evolve Camps  In Ottawa

About Our Skateboarding & Scooter Summer Camp Sessions In Ottawa

Drop off Summer Camps vs. Bussed Summer Camps

Summer camps also offer a variety of services to help you have easier mornings and even easier afternoons. Generally speaking drop off summer camps are cheaper. These type of summer camp options are great for parents or guardians who work from home or have a flexible schedule a camp.

Evolve Camps like many other programs offers a pick-up and drop off service in various areas throughout Ottawa. The beauty of Evolve’s program is that the kids visit different skateboard parks throughout Ottawa. Campers get picked up in the morning between 7:45AM and 8:30AM and drop off back at the same spot between 3:45PM and 4:30PM.

Some of the pick up locations include:

Earl of March Secondary School, Merivale High School, Hopewell Public School, Lester B. Pearson Catholic High School and Broadview Avenue Public School. Full Details HERE.

Read Online Reviews

We could spend all day telling you about all the amazing things that your child will experience as a camper with Evolve Camps in Ottawa. Rather than hearing it from us, you can read for yourself from our many reviews on Facebook and Google that were written by parents of other children that had a great experience with Evolve Camps. We encourage you to hear first-hand from these parents about the positive growth and benefits that they have seen in their child since attending one of our programs. We also recommend to do the same for any other camp you are considering.

Kids In The Capital Discount

If Evolve Camps skateboarding and scooter camp in Ottawa sounds like a good fit for your child use the following code to SAVE $25 of any session. At check out use KIDSINTHECAPITAL.

Register here: https://www.evolvecamps.com/scooter/ottawa-scooter-camp/?dp=OTTAWA

Follow Evolve Camps online:
Evolve Camps: http://www.evolvecamps.com
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/evolvecamps @evolvecamps
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/evolvecamp


Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Evolve Camps.