Ottawa, Canada's capital city, sits on the south bank of the Ottawa River, a stone's throw from Quebec. Five million tourists flock to Ottawa annually and they're rewarded with a clean, attractive destination and plenty to see and do.
Hikers and bikers can enjoy 165 kilometres of trail in Gatineau Park, located just 15 minutes north of downtown Ottawa. A good bet for a family picnic, the area's hot spots include:
• Étienne-Brûlé Lookout -- equipped with a barbecue
• Eardley Road: Church Hill Picnic Area
• Black Lake
• La Pêche Lake
• Meech Lake
• Mulvihill Lake -- equipped with a barbecue
• Philippe Lake: Breton Beach, Parent Beach
• Old Chelsea Picnic Area (intersection of Kingsmere and Lac-Meech roads) -- equipped with a barbecue
• Hickory Trail
• Lauriault Trail
• Luskville Falls Picnic Area -- equipped with a barbecue
• Dunlop Picnic Area -- equipped with a barbecue
• Penguin Picnic Area -- equipped with a barbecue
Pack your picnic lunch from the fresh bread, cold cuts, cheeses, vegetables and fruits available from Ottawa's prolific Byward Market. Buskers frequent Byward Market and Sparks Street Mall, Canada's oldest pedestrian mall, during the summer.
Be a beach baby
Enjoy a soak in the sun at one of Ottawa's beaches:
• Britannia Beach: 2805 Carling Avenue, 613-820-1211
• Mooney's Bay Beach: 3000 Riverside Drive, 613-248-0863
• Westboro Beach: 234 Atlantis Road at Kitchissippi Lookout, 613-792-3832
Lifeguard supervision is provided by the City of Ottawa during the summer hours -- check for details.
National Gallery of Canada
Only $12 for a family, or visit on Thursday nights between 5:00 and 8:00 p.m. for free access to the permanent collection. This summer, check out the special Renoir landscapes 1865-1883 exhibit, open until September 9.
The Museum of Science and Technology
There are special activities throughout the summer, such as a railway weekend (August 12 and 13) and 10-minute rides in vintage rail cars (Wednesdays and Sundays). Admission is $14 for a family. For more information, call 1-866-442-4416.