10 Things You MUST do before summer ends

It’s already the middle of August (how did that happen)? But summer is not over yet! Enjoy the last few days and weeks of summer with this list of 10 things you MUST do before school starts back up - and with it, everyone’s extra-curricular activities and regular routines.

summer must do list

1)   See the Parliament Hill Sound & Lights Show

The Sounds & Lights Show on Parliament Hill ends in September, but why not take the kids to see it now? The start time is 9:30 p.m., so if there is a day where the kids have napped and you think they can handle a later night, why not grab a picnic blanket, sweaters and snacks and head out to Parliament Hill to watch this year's beautiful Northern Lights show!

2)   Play at a Splash Pad

We have had a hot, hot summer, which means it was the perfect summer to tour Ottawa’s best splash pads! There are hundreds of splash pads within the City of Ottawa, many of which are new within the last 10 years. It’s a great way to stay cool and let the kids run off some of their boundless energy. So, go out there and enjoy them before they are turned off for the season.

3)   Tour the Outaouais

Just across the bridge from downtown Ottawa are some of the region's best hiking and outdoor activities the entire family can enjoy. From the water slides at Mont Cascades to letting the kids explore the mazes of Eco-Odysée or feeding the animals at Parc Omega, there are many fun and exciting things for families to do in the Outaouais!

4)   Jump in a Lake

This might sound silly, but for me there is nothing more refreshing (and signifies summer more!) than jumping off a dock or running into a fresh and cool lake. There are many lakes around the Ottawa area, including some within the city limits. Do yourself a favour and jump in a lake (before we’re once again skating on them!)

5)   Spend an afternoon at a park

Every spring we ask readers to share their favourite Ottawa parks with us. This year we shared our thoughts on the new Millennium Park in Orleans as well as Barnabe and Cardinal Parks in Ottawa East and last year we discussed the popular Walter Baker Park in Kanata. Park play is always a memorable part of a child’s summer, so get out there and spend an afternoon at a park (and then share your favourites with us!) 

6)   Read together on a hammock

The best way to get your children reading is to read yourself! Earlier this summer we shared a post with classic kids books for summer, so head over to your local library and pick up a couple. Then get reading or just lay together in a hammock!

7)   Stay up late and star gaze

Now that the sun is setting a little earlier, why not set up a star gazing haven in your backyard? Even if you’re in the city if it’s a clear night chances are your kids will spot a star or two and there are many websites that have information on star names, including this site that has a printable star chart for kids: http://kids.lovetoknow.com/wiki/Printable_Star_Charts  

8)   Go to Calypso

Calypso Waterpark has water slides and fun for kids of all ages and is the perfect way to cool off on a hot summer’s day! The best part is that there is plenty of free parking and you can pack your own lunch and picnic on site or buy food there! Some family favourite activities at Calypso include Pirate’s Aquaplay and Zoo Lagoon. Claypso is a great way to exhaust the kids on a day that may otherwise be deemed as too hot for outdoor play. 

9)   Take the kids kayaking

Kids as young as four can kayak! It’s true! And while they may not paddle far, their love for the sport will increase as they get older and so will how far you can paddle together.  You can still purchase kid’s kayaks at many local retailers and there are plenty of nice evenings left to spend kayaking together.

10)  Feed some ducks

What child doesn’t enjoy feeding ducks? Feeding the ducks near Billings Bridge made our 50 Things to Do With Kids in Ottawa list this summer, so why not grab some bird seed and head down to where ducks live near you and count the ducks who come to you! A great math exercise for younger kids and a test of patience for older kids.

So, what is on your to-do list of activities to do with the kids before everyone’s fall routine settles in? Leave a comment and let us know.

The New Millennium Park

I visited Milleninum Park (on Trim Road in Orleans) a couple of years ago, when the giant slide structure had gone up, and baby trees lined the playground. It was HOT. Although the kids loved the play structures, I found myself choosing different parks with more shade.

Fast forward to the present, and the City of Ottawa has made major upgrades to the park, including an awesome new splash pad. My husband and kids visited the other weekend for the grand opening.

The multi-million dollar expansion makes it the biggest build and expansion for a park, besides the development of Lansdowne Park. The roads got an upgrade, new parking and sports field, and of course - the new splash pad. 

The splash pad was designed by architectural engineers, and all the water drains into to a rocky riverbed and then into the sewer (the environmentalist in me is cringing slightly - water recovery systems cost about $100,000, but that's around what the City will be paying for all the water that gets used here!!)

Of course, the two main play structures are still a big hit, and the trees are growing slowly to create some shade. A brand new shelter helps, as well as the ability to run to the water for a cool down - perfect for these scorching summer days.

Wondering about bathrooms? There are public washrooms right across the road, and a port-a-potty right beside the park for those brave souls ;) 

Our girls love pretending to be pirates and princesses atop the pirate ship, and a replica of the Parliment buildings has a giant slide and plenty of room for both parents and kids to climb. The twirly big top is also a hit (although watch out...they will get dizzy!!)  

All in all, we will definitely be back to Millennium again!

Have you visited Millennium Park? What do you love about it?