5 Reasons to Take a Road Trip to Ottawa

5 Reasons Why You Should Visit Ottawa

More than just the nation’s capital.

Ottawa is the perfect road trip destination if you only have a weekend (or maybe a long weekend) available, as it is just over a two hour drive from Montreal. That’s not even enough time to get bored of your playlist.

Of course, it is our nation’s capital, so there is always a tour of the Parliament buildings to keep you busy once you arrive, but we thought you’d like a few more creative ideas for your road trip to Ottawa.

5 Reasons to Take a Road Trip to Ottawa

Here are 5 of our favourite Ottawa activities, that are not the Parliament buildings:

1. All the festivals

Ottawa is a city that likes to party. No matter when you plan your trip, there will likely be some kind of festival going on.

There’s Italian Week Festival, The Kennel Club Dog Show, Glowfair Music, Light & Art Festival, Latin Sparks Festival, Ottawa Beer Fest, Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival and Competition Pow Wow, Bluesfest, Celtfest, Kingdom of Osgoode Medieval Festival, Torchlight Shakespeare Series, Lebanese Festival, Arboretum Festival and so, so many more.

And of course, there’s the biggest festival of them all… Canada Day! What better place to celebrate? Just be sure to park your car and experience the festivities on foot, as traffic gets crazy and some streets become pedestrian-only.

Ottawa is a city that likes to party. No matter when you plan your trip, there will likely be some kind of festival going on.

2. The Diefenbunker

In 1959, our then Prime Minister, John Diefenbaker, decided the Cold War was getting a little too… heated. In response, he built himself a bunker. He actually built it to protect key members of government in the event of a nuclear attack, you know, to keep the nation going. But you’ve got to imagine there was a little self-preservation behind the move as well.

While not being used as a fallout shelter, it was from the bunker that much of Canada’s top secret Cold War operations were carried out. Very 007!

This 4-level, 100,000 sq ft bunker is pretty cool to tour. What’s even better is that one whole level has been turned into an escape room. “Escape the Diefenbunker” is the world’s largest escape room and only operates during the evenings, for maximum creepiness (although there is never sunlight in the bunker, so it’s always a little creepy). If you want to take things up a notch, plan your road trip for October and join the Halloween special event, “Zombies in the Bunker”!

John Diefenbaker Bunker in Ottawa

3. You can stay in jail

HI (Hosteling International) Canada is a non-profit hostel organization with hostels around the world. One of those is housed in the former Ottawa Jail. And they’ve left much of the original… decor… intact.

Ever wanted to experience solitary confinement, or find out what it’s really like to sleep in a cell? The accommodations are definitely kushier than when this was a fully operational jail, and you are free to leave and move around as you please, but many of the entrapments (pardon the pun) of prison life are still quite visible, including the iron bars and concrete walls.

Some say the former jail is haunted. Others say it’s just a really cool experience. One thing almost everyone can agree on is that “Mugshots” was an awesome name choice for the hostel bar.

4. “The Most AMAZING Farm in the World!”

Saunders Farm probably gave itself that designation, but this truly is an AMAZING farm and goes way beyond a petting zoo and apple picking.

First, are the hedge mazes. The have the largest collection of hedge mazes and labyrinths in the world. Are there that many collections to compete with? We honestly don’t know. But we do know that these are some pretty cool, pretty massive mazes to test your skills.

After the hedge mazes, there are Jumbo Jumpers for all ages, a pedal cart race track, three unique treehouses, a 40 ft “Mountain Slide”, a gem mining activity and hayride tours. This place is more of a massive, all-ages playground than a farm. You’ll have fun, that’s for sure.

5. You can go urban rafting

Ottawa City Rafting will take you on a whitewater rafting trip THROUGH THE CITY!

You’ll start out in flat water as you travel along the Ottawa River, learning key rafting skills you’ll need when you soon hit the Deschenes Rapids!

Once you conquer the rapids and get your adrenaline pumping (your guide can take you through the “adventure” rapids or the “family friendly” rapids), you get to relax a little and learn about the historic Ottawa River as you see the city and Parliament from a truly unique perspective.

Ottawa City Rafting will take you on a whitewater rafting trip THROUGH THE CITY!

BONUS: All the museums!

Ottawa is kind of known for its museums, so it isn’t all that imaginative to suggest a museum visit. In fact, you may have already visited some of them on school trips back in the day.

However, if you didn’t know about the museums, or you weren’t aware of just how many there are, you should definitely check them out!

Museums in Ottawa

Do you have a favourite spot to visit or activity to do in Ottawa? Share it in the comments!

Images source: https://unsplash.com/ & Instagram: @taou