Summer Fairs in the Ottawa Area

One thing my family looks forward to during the summer are all the community and small town fairs that happen each year in Ottawa and the surrounding areas. With that in mind here is a list of where and when you can plan on heading out for some cotton candy, demolition derbies, carousels, concerts, live entertainment, and more!

Summer Fairs in the Ottawa area.png

July 13-15: Almonte Fair
Highlights include: Chili cook off, Zip-E the clown and Team T&J

July 27-29: Beachburg Fair
Demolition Derby, DJ Dancy Party, Buck-a-Roo Breakfast, and an ATV Poker Run

August 8-11: Navan Fair
Concerts with George Canyon, Chad Brownlee and more, PC Superdogs, Little Ray’s Reptiles and more!

August 8-11: Arnprior Fair
Miniature horse show, agricultural showcases, midway and more!

August 16-25: The Capital Fair
Monster Truck Show, Youth Talent search, birds of prey show, Soper Creek Wildlife

August 23-25: Chesterville Fair 
Homecrafts, Agiculture and Family Fun!

September 5-8: Russell Fair
Classic Auto & Bike Show, Craft and Merchant Market, Strongman Competition, Sheep shoes

September 19-22: Richmond Fair 
Emerson Drive concert, demolition derby, agricultural showcase

September 26-29: Carp Fair 
Superdogs “Canadogs,” agriculture shows, family circle tent, antiques area

October 3-6: Metcalfe Fair
Agriculture exhibitions, heavy horse pull, demolition derby, truck pull

 

Five ways to keep kids entertained at a cottage

We’re a cottaging family and spend at least two weeks at cottages every summer.

The packing list for the cottage may be long, but based on my years of cottaging with children I thought I’d make a list of my five favourites for keeping the family entertained.

I realized after writing it that my list falls to the less sporty type family so you may want to include some type of sporting equipment or balls or something too ;)

5 ways to keep kids entertained at a cottage

1) The super noodle

If you’ve ever been in a lake with children you know that, regardless of how well they can swim, their favourite place to be is attached to you. This is okay when you can stand up, but once you’re in water above your head, it can feel a bit like you’re about to drown. I quickly figured out that I needed multiple noodles in order to keep myself and a child up above water, but once I found the super noodles from Costco I was sold on spending $20+ on a noodle.

The super noodle will hold me and at least two, sometimes three children above water. It will even allow me to stay mostly above water as children catapult themselves off docks and into my arms. 

My general rule with the super noodle is that adults always get them first, as the only reason we invested in them is to help the adults stay afloat with the children who will undoubtedly try to sit on top of their heads while they’re trying to tread water. When all the adults are out of the water I’m willing to share and let the kids experience the fun of the super noodle too.

2) Child sized kayaks

kids kayaking

We previously wrote about kayaks on Kids in the Capital and I still think they are one of the best investments if you go to a cottage with any regularity. They cost about $100 and I have seen children as young as four master them really quickly.

Kids can spend a lot of time just trolling around close to shore while you supervise, the ones who are a bit more nervous about swimming out further or who just are less inclined to swim a lot can kayak themselves to floating docks, and you can go on a family kayak ride. Note: make sure you have some kind of towing rope on your kayak or theirs and an easy way to attach the kayaks together. I often end up towing kids back, but it’s well worth it to have had them kayak independently to start.

3) An art kit

Arts and crafts are a must at the cottage - especially for rainy days or quieter evenings. We come up with all kinds of projects while we’re at the cottage and many include crafting.

·      Painting rocks and sticks.

·      Scavenger hunts.

·      Simple paintings and drawings.

·      Creating a memory game.

·      Box monsters.

4) Books

Adults and kids alike bring many books to the cottage. We have comics and novels and activity idea books.

You’ll find people reading in hammocks, in bunkbeds, and sitting by the lake.

We’re a bookish family so we may lean a bit more heavily to the books than others, but I think the cottage is a great time to get a lot of great reading done – make it part of what you expect at the cottage! The Ottawa Public Library allows you to take most books out for three weeks (and they can often be renewed for another three), which is usually a perfect length of time for a cottage vacation.

5)   Lego and puzzles

Some kids are less outdoorsy than others – I have one like that in particular. While they might love it if we’d let them play on electronics all day, that’s simply not an option. Instead we make sure there are Lego or 500-1000 piece puzzles to play with. These cottage projects are perfect for the kids who want to stay indoors while the others are in the lake, and they are great for quiet creative time.

We can rarely find an activity that all five of us want to do at once, and now that our kids are a bit older (with our youngest being 8) we’re able to simply accept that we can split up and do what each of us wants to do. Having lots of options for every personality type has really helped everyone enjoy their time at the cottages.

What are your cottage must haves to keep everyone busy and entertained?

10 things to do with kids in Ottawa this summer

Summer vacation is rolling out the welcome mat for kids all across the Nation’s Capital. And if your kids are like mine, then they are ready to run off some energy and have some fun! Every summer my family and I make a “bucket list” of things we must see and do as a family to make summer awesome! This year our list is a little longer than 10, but here are our top 10 things to do as a family in Ottawa this summer:

10 things to do with kids in Ottawa this summer

1) Visit the new Canada-themed park at Mooney’s Bay

If you haven’t been to the new Canada-themed park at Mooney’s Bay with the family yet, pack a picnic lunch and plan a day or even a few hours to take in the play structures, slides and swings that each represent a different province or territory. The park is located next to Mooney’s Bay Beach—a great spot to cool off on a hot summer’s day!

2) Check out the new Canada Goose Arctic Gallery at the Canadian Museum of Nature

The  Arctic Gallery at the Canadian Museum of Nature just opened June 21st and is filled with interactive activities, games, interesting facts and educational fun for the entire family. This new permanent gallery is full of unique ways to celebrate Canada's Arctic!

3) See the Northern Lights Sound and Light bilingual show on Parliament Hill

The Sounds and Lights show is always impressive, but with Canada 150 it’s a must-see summer event this year! Grab some snacks and a picnic blanket and head down to Parliament Hill in the late evening from July 11th to September 16th to enjoy Northern Lights, a show about the foundations of our nation and so much more. For tips on how to make the evening a memorable one, check out our tips here.

4) Check out MosaiCanada 150

MosaiCanada 150 is a FREE horticultural event featuring paintings, sculptures, artistic works, as well as 40 impressive horticulture arrangements (some larger than life!). MosaiCanada 150 is held at Jacques-Cartier Park in Gatineau from June 30th to October 15th and is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. This unique horticultural event is a part of the ongoing activities celebrating Canada 150.

5)  Watch an outdoor movie

Every year we try to watch an outdoor movie and this year we not only plan on returning to the Port Elmsley Drive-In, but also grabbing a lawn chair and going to one of the more urban outdoor movies. Capital Pop-Up Cinema runs local outdoor movies that look like a lot of fun– here’s their schedule: https://www.capitalpopupcinema.com/2016-schedule.

6) Be wowed by La Machine at the end of July

I keep seeing the La Machine event pop up in my Facebook newsfeed and every time I see it, I can’t get over how impressive it looks. From July 27 to the 30th these big machines – including the dragon, LongMa, which according to the event website, stands 12 metres high, 5 metres high and weighs 45 tons, will be roaming the downtown streets of Ottawa. This incredible weekend is a part of the ongoing celebrations for Canada 150.

7) Visit a summer fair

Cotton candy, demolition derbies, carousels, concerts, live entertainment, and more, Ottawa offers many local summer fairs including these:
July 14-16: Almonte Fair 
July 28-30: Beachburg Fair
August 10-13: Navan Fair
August 17-20: Arnprior Fair
August 18-27: The Capital Fair 
August 25-27: Chesterville Fair 
September 7-10: Russell Fair 
September 14-17: Richmond Fair 
September 21-24: Carp Fair 
September 28-October 1: Metcalfe Fair 

8) Pretend we’re pirates at Pirate Adventures Ottawa

If you have ever wanted to bring out your inner Jack Sparrow or Jake the Neverland Pirate then this 75-minute interactive pirate-theatre cruise may be for you! Located at Mooney’s Bay this pirate ship adventure includes costumes, face painting, treasure maps, and much more!

9) Actually make it through the Mile Maze at Saunders Farm

Jumping pillows, an amazing play structure, and of courses mazes! Saunders Farm is a lot of fun and one of these days I WILL make it through the mile maze without having to ask complete strangers if they can help me find my way out. ;)

10) Connect with nature at Eco-Odysee

Beautiful scenery, water maze adventures, exploring and puzzle solving – Eco Odysee in the Outaouais is a great way to spend a summer’s day outside and in nature.

So, what’s on your must-do summer list this year? Share by leaving a comment! Happy Summer

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.

5 Things To Do Before Summer Ends

Summer is just flying by. Given that my daughter is in the French-Catholic Board, she'll be back to school on August 26th! Which means I'm starting to think about what we still need to do before summer ends, so that I don't wake up in October kicking myself for letting the sun and sand pass me by: 1) BEACH DAY. I just can't bring myself to go to a city beach for "beach day." I love Petrie Island (given that I live in Orleans), and support my city as much as I can, but until the Province and City of Ottawa clean up our water, I'm totally grossed out. Instead, we will be enjoying the clean and sandy waters out in Bon Echo provincial park!

2) FAIR. There are so many great Ottawa-area fairs, and we are definitely going to check out the Navan Fair on August 9/10th! Although my girls don't really enjoy crowds, I love that there are many different activities that don't involve the noisy midway :)

3) FARM. Although our vegetable garden is huge, it certainly doesn't compare to the greenery at Eco Honey Bee Spa and Gardens. It's my favourite eco-spa in the Ottawa area, and Deborah welcomes families to come check out her beautiful gardens, doves, chickens and rabbits. And as a bonus, we can take a walk through Kemptville and stop at The Branch for lunch!

4) MOSAIKA. We still need to get my oldest out for the evening sound and light show on Parliament Hill. I think she'll love it!!

5) POOL. I grew up with a pool, so it's slightly sad that my kids don't get to experience daily swimming in the backyard (although I'm not regretting the incredible costs and work associated with a pool!!). So before the summer is over, we plan to crash my friend's backyard and use their pool to cool off :)

What do you hope to do before summer ends?