When the holidays are getting close, I am certainly looking forward to some time off with my family. Two weeks off together spent in the city – my idea of relaxing! I keep thinking about all the fun stuff we will do, but at the same time, I don’t want to overbook us, and I don’t want to spend a lot of money. When planning activities around the holiday, I like to think back to what I did with my family when I was little and remember all the fun we had. So here is my list of activities in Ottawa with the family: frugal, convenient, and fun for everyone.
Outdoor activities in Ottawa
I have never officially gone stargazing at night. Still, I had noticed that the stars were exceptionally breathtaking in the winter when I spent the holidays at the family cottage. Nature Canada has a great blog post about stargazing with helpful hints. When my kids are older, I will be taking them out to watch the stars.
Christmas Lights and a Beavertail
One of my favourites during the holidays was to go downtown with my family and check out all the Christmas lights. Check out Ottawa Tourism for more information on Christmas lights in Canada. Admiring the lights and chomping down on a delicious Beaver Tail made for the perfect night.
Snow / Ice activities in Ottawa
Of course, this is a weather-dependent activity, but it is just so much fun! I always try and get out immediately after a snowfall so that we beat any pending rain or mild weather which ruins the hills. We did a lot of sledding last year and I’m not sure who liked it more – the kids or us! Since my kids are quite young, the little hill at Katimavik Elementary School sufficed nicely. Older kids might prefer the hill off of Terry Fox at Walter Baker. Moreover, there is tubing at Edelweiss, which is a ridiculous amount of fun!
Most Canadians are skating fans, and the Ottawa area has hundrends of outdoor rinks! Of course, you can always enjoy skating inside if the weather is poor. The Bell Sensplex in Kanata offers free public skating on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Let’s face it, sleigh rides are fantastic! And there are many places to go dashing through the snow! Free carriage rides are available in the Byward Market every Saturday & Sunday before Christmas during December.
Cross-Country Skiing in Kanata and Gatineau
It’s actually quite impressive just how many cross-country ski trails there are so close to home. There are beautiful trails off Moodie, Hazeldean, and Timm Drive in Kanata. Cross-country skiing is an affordable way to enjoy the winter and great exercise. If your kids aren’t old enough yet to ski, they may enjoy going along for the ride in a sled. Last year I got a $15 plastic sled at Canadian Tire, attached the rope to my backpack, and pulled my son. This worked out really well and it wasn’t too hard to pull. If you’re looking for trails that are a bit more challenging, there are plenty of terrific trails in Gatineau Park.
Indoor activities in Ottawa
My 3-year-old absolutely loves swimming, so it is an activity that we do regularly. There are many pools around town. If you’re worried about the crowds, the pool at The Brookstreet Hotel is a great choice and isn’t that much more expensive. Get there early in the morning and enjoy a kiddie pool and hot tub.
If your kids are younger and starting to get rambunctious, I recommend taking them to Brinkeetos for scheduled or drop-in play. The place has fun activities, including a ball pit, a climbing wall, and swinging ropes. It is spacious and clean; you can sit back and enjoy a coffee while your kids let loose!
The public libraries
I loved the library and its book smell when I was a kid. There are two libraries in Kanata that offer different programming daily. It’s a wonderful place if you need a bit of downtown but still looking to get out of the house!
Museums Museums Museums!
There are so many fantastic museums in Ottawa that it makes me feel truly lucky to live here! Starting in December through the winter, animal barns at the Agriculture Museum (aka the Experimental Farm) are open on a pay-what-you-can basis. And the fabulous Children’s Museum at the Canadian Museum of Civilization and the National Gallery are free on Thursdays after 5 pm.
Going to the movies is kind of an obvious choice for a holiday activity. Still, if you’re trying to be frugal, I recommend the Ottawa Family Cinema on Broadview Street. The theatre is located in the auditorium at Notre Dame High School. It offers a modern Dolby Digital surround sound system and a big Cinema screen. In addition, the Cinema sells snacks (pop, coffee, hot chocolate, chips, popcorn and chocolate bars) starting at $1.50 each.
Activities in Ottawa – Having fun at home
Sometimes winter deserves to be enjoyed from the comfort of our homes where it is cozy and warm!
Playing with the new presents
On boxing day, I used to just love how everything quieted down after the rush of Christmas day, and I could sit down and enjoy my new gifts. This is fun to do as a grown-up too! The post-Christmas quiet is so enjoyable, and it’s nice to just take everything in!
Game night / Movie night
Kids love games, and there are so many to choose from that everyone can enjoy. I used to love Snakes n’ Ladders, Pictionary, Scatterogies, and puzzles when I was a kid. Now that I am a grown-up, I am partial to Scrabble and Cranium. Game night is traditional for a family to bond, isn’t it?
Furthermore it is so lovely to just sit with my son! Nothing beats snuggling in on the couch and watching a movie together that everyone enjoys.
Putting on performances
I know, it’s kind of dorky, but getting together with family and friends and putting on performances makes for a great time and fabulous memories. And it’s just so easy to pull out the iPad or iPhone and get a recording, so there is no reason not to film homemade talent shows! What’s even more fun than putting on performances? Watching them a year later!
Any frugal activities that you are looking forward to doing over the holidays?