There’s no better place than Canada's capital city of Ottawa for a picture-perfect winter holiday. If you're a local looking to fill your vacation calendar with intense family fun, or if you’re a traveller dreaming of a snow-covered wonderland and mesmerizing scenery, we at Jim Tubman Chevrolet want to help make this winter season merry and bright for everyone. We've compiled this extensive list of our favourite winter family activities in Ottawa to give you a strong start at a winter full of memory-making.
Ottawa is home to some of North America's prime ice-skating spots. Among the most famous is the Rideau Canal Skateway . This 7.2 km frozen waterway of pure, natural ice makes the Rideau Canal the world's largest skating rink. This completely free skating spot usually opens in early January and runs through late February. There's truly no other place in the world like the Rideau Canal Skateway, which is why you need to add it to your winter to-do list in Ottawa.
If you're not up for a hefty 7.2 km trek, we don't blame you. We suggest a nice skate through the forest at Lac de Loups. Lac de Loups is a frozen 3 km trail through the beautiful Gatineau Park. There are endless snow-covered trees, fresh air, and breathtaking scenery in the village of Lac de Loups, and this is sure to be a favourite route for every member of the family. If skating isn't your forte, there’s also an enchanting trail along the ice, where you can snowshoe and enjoy the wonderous landscape of Gatineau Park.
Stop by Sens Rink of Dreams for a completely different ice-skating experience conveniently located at the Ottawa City Hall. Skating is free and open from 6 a.m. Ottawa City Hall is lit up until 11 p.m. for the ultimate evening skating experience. Make a special visit to Sens Rink of Dreams in February to see the amazing ice sculptures of the Winterlude professional ice-carving competition.
Much like ice skating, Ottawa has the holy grail of snow sports hot spots. Camp Fortune, located in Gatineau Park, is the place to be for all your skiing and snowboarding needs. Not only is Camp Fortune known for its enthralling 190 km of cross-country skiing trails, but it’s also known for having more than 20 downhill runs for thrill seekers. Each run varies in difficulty, from beginner to expert, with its highest elevation at 180 metres.
A 30-minute drive to Wakefield, Quebec, will lead you to another skiing adventure at Ski Vorlage. This is the perfect place for beginner and novice skiers and even offers lessons. With over 18 different runs, the highest elevation is 149 metres. If you’re feeling brave, you can ski into the late hours of the night with 13 well-lit runs or try your skills at the trick rail. Check out the First Visit page for more information about what to expect from your first time at Ski Vorlage.
Complete your tour de ski with another Wakefield jewel: Sommet Edelweiss. Sommet Edelweiss is as serious as it sounds. It offers 20 different runs ranging in difficulty from beginner to absolute madman, with the highest elevation topping off at 350 metres. Of the 20 runs, 14 stay open for the die-hard night skiers. There are also trick snow rollers, rails, boxes, and walls for the pros. Families can also enjoy a day of snow tubing at the tubing parks.
Spending any time in magnificent Ottawa is a waste if you don't get out and enjoy its natural beauty. Parc Omega is a must when indulging in a Canadian winter. This 2,200-acre wildlife park is just 50 minutes from Ottawa and is full of playful animals, extraordinary sights, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Take a drive through the park and see arctic foxes, caribou, bison, grey wolves, bears, and more roaming freely in their vast natural habitat. Make it a day trip, or book an overnight stay in one of the many lodging accommodations.
The Dominion Arboretum is a fantastic place to wander through all year round, but its beauty during the holidays is unmatched. Transforming into a winter wonderland for the holiday season, the Dominion Arboretum is 64 acres of gorgeous rolling hills, snow-covered trees and plants specifically grown with the Canadian weather in mind, a picturesque view of the frozen Rideau Canal, and countless more attractions. A local favourite is the 3 km walking trail that loops around the arboretum.
It's hard to ignore the urge to indulge in holiday shopping when the markets and shops in Ottawa are to die for. You have to stop by the Ottawa Christmas Market for some wholesome Ottawan gifts and food. Local vendors bring their best, so your pockets can do the rest. From hand-crafted wool products to artisanal maple syrups, fine woodworking, candles, and more, the Ottawa Christmas Market is the best place to get your holiday fill and find those perfect last-minute gifts on the weekends.
December is said to be the best time to pay a visit to ByWard Market — the pinnacle of all shopping in Ottawa. The outdoor farmers market stays open and fully functional all year round, and the indoor markets offer you an escape from the chilly Canadian winter weather. Find countless local specialty shops and eateries, along with spas, lounges, and other goods and services, with over 300 businesses in a span of roughly four blocks. There’s something for everyone at the ByWard Market.
No list can truly encapsulate the magnificent winter fun waiting for you in Ottawa. Did we miss any of your family's favourite Ottawan places or activities? Let us know , and we'll be sure to feature them in future lists showcasing the best city in Canada. Until then, check out our impressive lists of available new cars and used vehicles at Jim Tubman Chevrolet. Whether you're looking for adventure or some nice holiday shopping, Jim Tubman Chevrolet can get you there safely.