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Visiting Ottawa in February--help from Ottawa moms?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
Hi Ottawa Mamas,

We are visiting my MIL in Ottawa in February for a long weekend. My son is 3 years old. What are some of your favorite things to do in town with your children, and with the wintry weather? Just wanted to get some ideas, so we are not completely dependent on my MIL (who is great, but a little kooky and out of it).

Also, can you tell me your favorite restaurant(s)? DH and I are planning to have a romantic valentine's day date, and I'd love to go somewhere that's been personally recommended.

Thanks so much!!!
post #2 of 7
Well, I'm no expert on Ottawa (we live nearly 60 miles away), but I can tell you what my 3.5 yo enjoys when we spend time there.

The Museum of Nature (http://nature.ca/nature_e.cfm ) Yes, half of it is under renovation, but the other half includes the mammal and dino exhibits and I hear they are getting an exhibit on chimpanzees at the end of January. We could spend all day there (mind you, they have a lunchroom, but only vending machines, so bring your own lunch if you do this). There are activities for preschoolers - a dressup theater on the second floor and a wild bird rescue playcentre on the fourth floor - but sheesh, my kids spent over half an hour playing in a little "cave" under the "ice" in the polar bear diorama.

The Agriculture Museum (http://www.agriculture.technomuses.ca/ ) Admission is free to the animal barns at this time of year. If you have a nature or animal lover, they have horses, cows, calves, sheep, pigs.... and at this time of year, NO crowds, so your little one can get up close and spend some time checking them out. I think the exhibit on tractors is open and free too.

And depending on when you visit, there is Winterlude (http://www.canadascapital.gc.ca/bins...&lang=1&bhcp=1 ) with lots of outdoor cold weather fun (skating, sledding, ice sculptures, etc.).
post #3 of 7
Well, how about the Museum of Civilization, great kids' museum. If you're' there for winterlude, that's also loads of fun, and near the Museum of Civilization....

have fun!

post #4 of 7
There are also play places, like Cosmic Adventures, and there's the Museum of Science and Technology.
Even if the main Winterlude isn't on while you're in town, you can still skate the canal if you want.
As for restaurants, my husband works at the Milestone's downtown. There's another in the west end just off the Queensway (main highway through Ottawa). It's fairly kid friendly. I think they have a kids' menu, and they bring crayons and a colouring mat so the kids have something to do while they wait. It would also be a good place for a date night. There are other restaurants, but I don't know them as well. There are some nice, small Italian restaurants on Preston, west of downtown, which is Little Italy.
Enjoy your visit!

post #5 of 7
If you're coming in for the Famly Day weekend you're right in teh middle of Winterlude which is GREAT. bring skates! There are ice sculptures in confederation park (downtown, Laurier x Elgin), and snow sculptures, sleigh rides, all kinds of outdoor activities in Jacques Cartier Park (downtown on the Quebec side of the river, use the bridge next to the National Gallery). there is tobogganing at the Experimental Farm as well, and there's a great Agriculture Museum there where you can meet the cows, goats, horses, etc. we LOVE the experimental farm!

I don't personally like the Children's Museum (at the Museum of Civilization), I find it completely overstimulating. My kids love it, though. We're all fans of the Museum of Nature (Metcalfe x the 417), and of the Museum of Science and Technology (St. Laurent Blvd in the East end).

There is good winter hiking (or snowshoing, or xc skiing) in the Greenbelt. Our favorite trail is Jack Pine Trail, which is off of Moodie Drive, between Hunt Club and Fallowfield. Be sure to bring bird seed with you because the chickadees & nuthatches are very used to eating seeds out of hand, they'll even come to my 2yo.

Our favorite "anniversary" dinner place is l'Oree du Bois. It's in Gatineau Park, and I'm very sorry to say I can't actually tell you where it is because I don't know the road names. It's a great spot though, quebecois/french cuisine, and they really do "shop local" for their ingredients. The food is great, the service is great, the decor is sort of hunting-lodge-ish. We usually dress up if we're going but lots of people will be there in their jeans, too - not a snobbish place, just really good food & elegant service.

If you like Thai there's a really good Thai place in Bell's Corners (west end) called Sukothai, it's on Robertson Road.

have a great trip!!!
post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 
Wow, ladies! Thanks so much for all the great information and good tips.
We will be there for Winterlude, so we are super-excited about that.
And now I've got a bag-full of wonderful other options of things to do, too.


post #7 of 7
Hope I'm not too late for you. I wanted to second the Little Italy recommendation for the romantic dinner. I'm assuming you're not bringing the little one for dinner, so I'm going to recommend Il Piccolino on Preston St. (in Little Italy). It's a very intimate little restaurant with in house/from scratch prepared Italian specials. So delicious. Due to the size you need to reserve well in advance for a time like Valentines.
Hope you have fun and we keep some good weather for your visit.
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