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Your Guide to the Best Family Day Weekend in Ottawa’s Original Downtown

February 15, 2024

Racking your brain for the perfect activities to keep your little ones busy this Family Day long weekend? A visit to Ottawa’s Original Downtown is sure to impress! From outdoor to indoor activities, dining options, museums, and music, your family is sure to be smiling from ear to ear.

Day One: High Tea and Music Festivals 

Start your family fun long weekend with Afternoon Tea at Ottawa’s historic castle, the Fairmont Chateau Laurier! Sit in the cozy dining room of Zoe’s and take in the beautiful views of Ottawa’s Original Downtown while sipping on deliciously selected teas and scrumptious finger sandwiches, desserts, and scones for the Little Prince or Princesses. They can also indulge in rich hot chocolate if they prefer.

Head down Elgin Street towards the National Arts Centre and participate in the Big Bang Festival. With two full days of colorful garlands and musical confetti in the air, the National Arts Centre is transformed into a delightful treasure trove of surprises. The kids are guaranteed to have so much fun, including a musical rise, wacky sound machines, mini-concerts, and a brass band!

Don’t miss the BIG BANG Festival during Family Day weekend and Winterlude from February 17 to 18. (Image by National Arts Centre)

Day Two: Outdoor Winter Adventures and Historical Views

The best part about Ottawa this time of year is the largest outdoor winter festival, Winterlude. It’s jam-packed full of fun activities and adventures for all the family to enjoy. Head down to Sparks Street to check out the extraordinary ice sculptures and then head towards the historic ByTown Museum in front of the Rideau Locks to take part in winter crafts and trivia; it also comes with a FREE beverage of choice.

As you walk along the historical paths of Downtown Ottawa, take a mini tour of your own and check out the historical landmarks, like the Rideau Canal, the National War Memorial, and Parliament Hill, and act like a tourist in your neighborhood.

Make sure you get your picture with the Winter Hogs and enjoy the last weekend of Winterlude 2024! (Image by Ottawa Tourism)

Day Three: Art and Shop, or Shop and Art 

One of the best things about being in Ottawa’s Original Downtown is that the fourth largest mall in Canada is steps away from all surrounding areas. The CF Rideau Centre offers many retail shops that will blow the whole family away. If your kid is looking for new snow boots, they’re there, or if they are looking for the ultimate Lego set, it’s there.

Enjoy some relaxing time with your family. Head to the Ottawa Art Gallery on Daly Avenue steps away from the Rideau Centre, and wander along the beautiful, curated galleries created by local artists. It’s also the last weekend where the exhibit 83 ‘til Infinity is showing, so don’t miss out on your opportunity to learn more about the 40 years of Hip-Hop in the Ottawa area.

After a long day of shopping and museum tours, eat and sip on some delicious gourmet sandwiches and roasted coffee at the Jackson Café in the Ottawa Art Gallery. It is the perfect place to unwind and reflect on the fun times you had with your family this Family Day in Ottawa’s Original Downtown!

If you’re looking for something to do with your toddler(s) join the OAG in the first Wednesday of the month for Toddler Mornings (Image by Ottawa Art Gallery)

Are you worried about where you are going to park? Check out our Parking Blog to help you find all the parking options and rates downtown! 

Click here to check out other blogs we’ve written about Ottawa’s Original Downtown!