Family Travel: A Trip to Parc Omega

My family ended the summer with a trip to Parc Omega in Montebello, Quebec. My daughter, who is now ten, had never been before, and it had been on our to-do list for way too long! I have only ever heard good things about Parc Omega, so honestly, I don’t know what took us so long to visit!

What to expect when you arrive at Parc Omega

Parc Omega.jpg

You know you have arrived at Parc Omega because of the impressive arched sign at the entrance. Upon arrival you receive a warm welcome as well as a map explaining where everything in the park is and what you can expect. You can then drive up to the park house for refreshments and a bathroom break or head right onto the Car Trail. We were immediately greeted by elk and red deer. They were standing in the middle of the road just waiting to be handed carrots! It was suggested to us to snap the carrots in half for the larger elk and deer and snap them into quarters for the white-tailed deer and fallow deer, since they have smaller mouths and teeth. This also prolongs your carrot supply. My daughter took it upon herself to adjust the size of the carrot based on the size of the animal in question.

First Nations Trail

Our first stop was the First Nations Trail. All year long, the First Nations trail makes for a great family walk. Throughout the walk you can learn the history of 11 of the First Nations of Quebec through beautiful totem poles made by a Native American artist. My daughter loved learning about the creatures on each totem pole and what they stood for. Each totem illustrates the intimate relationship between aboriginal peoples, nature and their culture.

First Nations Trail, Parc Omega

First Nations Trail, Parc Omega

The First Nations Trail is about 1km (about a ten-minute family and stroller friendly walk, in the summer) and is surrounded not only by the totem poles representing the 11 First Nations, but also beautiful forest and of course, wild deer anxious to be fed. There are also picnic tables, tipi-shaped shelters (a great picnic spot on a rainy or sunny day!) as well as a picturesque waterfall, which makes for a memorable social media moment!

At the end of the trail is the Thunderbird. As noted on the Parc Omega website, the Thunderbird is a symbolic emblem often represented in first nation groups, marks the end of the trail, when passing under his wings you will benefit from its powerful protection. My daughter thought this was pretty cool and made sure all of us did it.

First Nations Trail picnic table Parc Omega

The Car Trail

After visiting the First Nations Trail we slowly made our way past Beaver Lake and the meadows. We fed many elk, deer, wild boars, as well as admired the buffalo and even a couple of raccoons we saw trying to steal some leftover carrots from deer. My daughter thoroughly enjoyed having animals of all sizes try to stick their heads through our half-opened car windows in an attempt to get as many carrots as possible. She made sure each of them got a piece of carrot and patted the nose of some of them too. There is more than 15 km of car trail covering animals representative of much Canada’s wilderness including meadows, hills, and lakes.

Car Trail Parc Omega.jpg

Colonization Trail

The Grey Wolves

The wolves observation area has two levels that allow you to observe the wolves in their natural habitat. Three times a day there is a show in which a guide shares facts about the wolves as well as feeds them. He explains the hierarchy of the pack as well as answers any questions members of the audience may have.

We watched the wolves walk around their area for nearly an hour. There were three cubs present and we found it very fascinating to watch them try to exert their strength with the older wolves in the pack. If you have never seen wolves up close and want to learn more about them, Parc Omega is the place to go!

Grey Wolves at Parc Omega

Kids Shows

During the summer, there are also kids shows taking place at various times. There was a wild birds show as well as a skit that took place while we were there. The little ones found the skit very funny – and the older kids loved the wild birds show.

KIDS SHOW.jpg

The Enchanted House

This original and unforgettable wood sculpture is created by artist M. Therrien. It is a must see! The detail in the house is unbelievable and whether you are 2 or 102 you will appreciate it as well as the many other wood sculptures that are located within the Colonization Area.

Enchanted house Parc Omega.jpg

Playground and Aerial Park

Take a break and enjoy this unique playground and aerial course for older kids and adults alike!

Aerial Park at Parc Omega

The Old Farm

Whether you take the five-minute wagon ride or take the ten-minute walk to the Old Farm, it is a must see. There are sheep, goats, chickens, rabbits, pony rides and more waiting at the farm. There is also a small coffee shop and a playground. When we were there, the farm’s garden was in full bloom and was simply stunning!

Bunnies at old farm.jpg
Old Farm Parc Omega

Tips & Suggestions


Buy carrots

  • You can purchase carrots in the park house for $3 a bag. We easily went through four bags in the course of the day, but one bag of carrots per child would do (us adults were having fun too).

Don’t forget the wild boars!

  • The wild boars are friendly too and they will take carrots, but we were told by a friend to bring apples, and when we rolled an apple their way – they devoured them. Just be gentle and don’t throw them at them – we gently tossed them near them and they would work their way over. It was very cute watching the younger ones play-eat with the apples.

Other tips

  • Plan to spend an entire day at Parc Omega. The First Nations trail area took us about an hour to walk, take pictures, read and savour. It is a beautiful and serene area.

  • Take your time driving through the park. Remember, everyone is there to enjoy the animals and the scenery, so be patient with other drivers and feed as many of the hungry wild deer, elk and caribou as you can.

  • The Colonization Area is a popular stop. We spent nearly three hours here! We brought a picnic lunch, which intrigued the deer in this area, but we also splurged on soft serve ice cream and poutine -yum!
  • Arrive early. The Parc is definitely a full day experience, so plan to come when the doors open and spend the day exploring, taking pictures of the many animals including the adorable arctic foxes, cinnamon bears, and arctic wolves.
  • Parc Omega is open year round. We very much look forward to returning in the winter to see the changes in landscape, snowshoeing as well as visiting the “Cabane à sucre!”
  • Stay overnight. Parc Omega has cabins and lodging available for an overnight visit – this is something we will be looking at for future visits! Imagine being able to feed deer right outside your door!
Arctic wolves

Arctic wolves

Cinnamon bears

Cinnamon bears

There is so much to see and do at Parc Omega. It is a fun way to get to know the animals of Canada’s vast and varied landscape, as well as learn more about the First Nations and their culture. The park is clean and the animals look well cared for. I look forward to our next trip to Parc Omega.

Have you been to Parc Omega? If so, share your favourite memories and moments with us!

Feeding Deer at Parc Omega

Disclaimer: We received free admission to Parc Omega for the purposes of this review, but all thoughts and opinions are my own... and we will be back!

Exploring the Outaouais with kids: Eco Odysee

We love to explore the greater Ottawa area in the summer ,and sometimes we come across a gem! Eco-Odysée is one of those places. Beautiful scenery, boats, maps, clues, and puzzle solving! It can't get much better in my children's opinion.

My oldest son made a video about our trip there last summer - take a quick peek before I tell you more about it.

 

Water maze adventures

Hop in a paddle boat or canoe and spend a couple of hours going through the swamp maze hunting for animals!

All throughout the maze there are plastic statues of animals. Depending on which adventure you take, you can can move through the maze in a different direction (I love this because there are adventures for different skill levels, but you can continue to do the same level without getting bored).

If you'd rather not paddle or you're just pair, you can get a canoe (it's also a bit cheaper). We managed to get all five of us into one paddle boat, even though it said that the max was two adults and two kids. If your kids aren't too big they're happy to let all five of you in the same boat.

Beyond the maze

Once you're done in the water maze you get to solve puzzles and search for a final answer, which you can bring to reception at the end for a (very) small prize. The kids were really proud of themselves for having solved the entire adventure!

There is also a walking maze and a nice area to picnic.

If you're looking for something fun and a bit different to do this summer, make sure to check out Eco-Odysée!

Small word of warning: we were there on a day that wasn't too hot. I have heard that it can get really hot on the water, so make sure to stay hydrated and use good sun protection.

 

 

Mother–Daughter Time

I was given two opportunities recently for some mother-daughter time and I took them both. The first was a Groupon for a night's stay at Montebello and the second was a day out in a Ford Focus Electric to explore my city

The first I took with my daughter, the second I took with my mom. 

My daughter and I have done special Mommy-Daughter things since she was born, but staying over night and going swimming not once, not twice but three times at a hotel with a sundae bar? That's super special. And it's something she's only really done with Daddy in the past. 

My mother lives with me and while we do go out to movies or go shopping sometimes, we don't often get to spend a day just out without the kid. We drove around Gatineau Park, we went to high tea at Mackenzie King Estate, we stopped for some window shopping. 

There's something about the relationship between mother and daughter. It's special, often tense, sometimes frustrating. Not always easy, to put it mildly. So a bit of time removed from reality is sometimes required. 

Getting away – exploring together away from reality a bit – is the best way to reconnect. 

My daughter, who enjoys being photographed

My daughter, who enjoys being photographed

My mother, who does not enjoy being photographed

My mother, who does not enjoy being photographed

I highly recommend getting out with your kids, having some time. Just being together, talking, doing the fun things they choose to do. One of my greatest memories from childhood was the trip to Toronto my mother took us on - just her, my sister and me. We took the train, we spent three days, saw Phantom, shopped at the giant Sam the Record Man. It was great. 

It's great getting to repay a bit of that, and it's great paying it forward, doing things with my daughter that I know she's going to remember. 

Mont Cascades

As part of #Outaouaisfun this summer, Lara and I are checking out so many great places to visit with our kids in the Outaouais region. Visit Outaouais Tourism for more information and follow along with the hashtag #Outaouaisfun on Facebook and Twitter! Disclosure: I was provided with free passes to visit Mont Cascades, but all opinions are my own.

Slip Slidin' Away

I've visited Mont Cascades once, when my daughter was 3 years-old. I was hugely pregnant at the time, and the morning ended in disaster when I let my daughter go ahead of me on the slide (hey, other kids her age were going alone!). She landed face first into the water at the bottom, and refused to try the slides again.

The Kiddie Slides for those 48" and under. My almost-6 year-old liked these the best

The Kiddie Slides for those 48" and under. My almost-6 year-old liked these the best

This past weekend was a much better experience. Now almost 6, my daughter and her younger sister (2) had a great day at Mont Cascades. Pictured above are the kiddie slides, and Big Sister worked up the courage to do the slides by herself. There was rarely a line-up, and we went up and down the slides many times.

My favourite part about Mont Cascades is that you can do the kiddie slides with your children. Other waterparks will not allow parents to go down the kiddie slides, which is disappointing for toddlers who aren't big enough (or brave enough) to do it themselves.

The Kiddie Pool

The Kiddie Pool

The Kiddie Pool was a lot busier, so we had a quick splash in there before stopping for lunch.

Seating area with lots of shade

Seating area with lots of shade

There is TONS of seating at Mont Cascades, but a lot of it is in full sun. I highly recommend you get there early (we arrived at 10:30 am, and most spots were gone) to snag a shady spot. It makes a big difference when you're trying to eat your food before it gets fried under the summer sun.

Enjoying our picnic lunch

Enjoying our picnic lunch

Our biggest mistake of the day was taking both girls down Black Magic. I saw so many other parents coming out of the tube slide holding onto their little ones, so I thought "hey, that looks like fun!" I didn't realize that a) the slide is SO fast; and b) it's really dark (duh, "black magic"). I was probably more scared than my daughter, and I think the entire park heard my screams of terror (in my defense, I was worried that the tube would flip and I would lose hold of my little one - even with a life jacket on, eek!)

SO, if you have young children who are generally cautious little beings, I would recommend avoiding the larger tube slides. Instead, you can check out the new Splash Forest for families and kids of all ages. A huge red bucket fills up slowly and then dumps all over the unsuspecting people below. The slides are small, but fun enough for older kids.

A terrible picture (the angry clouds had rolled in!) of the new Splash Forest, exclusively for families and kids of all ages. 

A terrible picture (the angry clouds had rolled in!) of the new Splash Forest, exclusively for families and kids of all ages. 

Another great plus for Mont Cascades is that it's affordable - seasons passes go for $39!! A single pass is $19 and kids 2 and under are free. This makes it a great destination for families who can't afford some of the pricier attractions in our area.

So make the drive up to this beautiful part the Gatineaus and have a splash! (bonus points if you stop for ice cream at Le Cigale on your way home)

Have you been to Mont Cascades? Share your experience in the comments!