As a Realtor with more than three decades of experience in the Ottawa area, I’ve worked often with families who are new to our region. As I help them find a new home, I enjoy filling them in on the many attractions that make our city such a great place to raise children.
There are the many outdoor attractions such as parks, ski resorts, beaches, bicycle trails and the nearly 8 km-long Rideau Canal Skateway, the world’s longest naturally frozen skating rink.
There are superb recreational facilities, including ice arenas, swimming pools, sports fields and horseback riding and lesson opportunities at Wesley Clover Parks (a favourite site of mine, as a longtime showjumper myself).
Our region is home to superb national museums, including the National Gallery of Canada, The Canadian Museum of Nature, the Canadian War Museum, the Canada Science and Technology Museum, the Canada Aviation and Space Museum and, across the river in Gatineau, the Canadian Museum of History.
These institutions offer family-friendly programming year-round, and they are particularly popular during March Break, Christmas holidays and other periods when children are not in school. Many of them offer special activities at these times to entertain children and families. And even if you find that some of the special hands-on activities for children are fully booked, you have an entire museum to visit to see the regular exhibits.
If you’re looking for ideas to entertain your children during the Ottawa March Break this year, here are just a few suggestions for activities worth checking out in our area:
The Canadian Museum of History: Always popular with children because of its Children’s Museum and many hands-on activities presented there, this museum is offering an animation-related exhibit this year likely to be especially popular with families. Continuing through April 8, “DreamWorks Animation: Journey from Sketch to Screen,” celebrates 20 years of the studio whose animated films include Shrek, Madagascar and How to Train Your Dragon.
The exhibit traces the journey of the films from original idea to finished product, and includes more than 350 items, including original drawings, models, interviews with animators and interactive displays.
In conjunction with the exhibit, the museum is presenting screenings of the film Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted, from March 3 to 18, on the spectacular big screen of the museum’s 295-seat cinema. Information: https://www.historymuseum.ca/marchbreak/
FunHaven: This large family activity venue, about 15 minutes west of downtown Ottawa near the Pinecrest exit from the Queensway, offers a laser tag arena, an indoor roller coaster, bumper cars, mini bowling lanes, a jungle gym, a climbing wall, escape rooms and more. A licensed dining area includes pizza and a self-serve sundae bar, where little visitors can choose from 10 flavours of frozen yogurt with more than 50 toppings. Games are half price on Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Information: www.funhaven.com
See How Maple Syrup is Made: If your kids have never seen how maple syrup gets from the tree to the bottle, this is the perfect time of year.
There are many maple syrup producers in the Eastern Ontario/West Quebec area offering activities and tastings for visitors. One of the closest to Ottawa is Proulx Maple and Berry Farm, in Cumberland, just east of Ottawa. The farm offers guided tours of the syrup producing process, a store with products you can take home and a breakfast menu that includes pancakes and eggs. Usually open on weekends through April 15, the farm will be open the full week of March Break.
If you enjoy the farm, you can return at other times of the year as well. In summer, for example, visitors can pick their own strawberries. Information: www.proulxberryfarm.com
Canadian Museum of Nature: This museum has a special attraction bound to thrill young children and adult visitors: Continuing through April 2, the museum is presenting “Butterflies in Flight,” offering visitors the chance to take a stroll among live butterflies. Reservations are required for specific days and times. Visitors stroll through a warm, tropical-style environment with flowering plants and hundreds of butterflies. Along the way, you’ll learn about the range and diversity of the butterflies, their contribution to the environment and how you can help protect them.
The museum also includes a children’s activity zone with Costa Rica-themed activities and screenings of a 3D movie filmed in the Brazilian rainforest. Information: https://nature.ca/en/plan-your-visit/whats/march-break-museum.
Ski at Camp Fortune: Ottawa has several resorts within easy driving distance, including Camp Fortune, just a 15-minute drive from downtown Ottawa in Chelsea, Quebec. If you’re new to the sport, sign up for some of the lessons that are offered for children. Camp Fortune offers ski and snowboard lessons to children as young as four, teaching both fun and safety. Information: https://campfortune.com/en/holiday-programs
Bargain March Break Prices at the Movies: Cineplex cinemas are offering special screenings during Ontario’s March Break week, with four family-oriented movies screened every day, starting at 11 a.m. Titles include Ferdinand and Despicable Me 3. Tickets are offered at a specially reduced price of just $2.99, helping to make a family trip to the theatre more affordable. Information: www.cineplex.com/promos/marchbreakmovies
If you’re interested in buying or selling property in the Ottawa area, I’d love to meet and chat with you about the services we offer at Nancy Benson and Associates. On my website, www.nancybenson.com, you can read about me and my team. You can also view my current listings to get an idea of the marketing and presentation we offer our clients. Feel free to give me a call, at 613-747-4747. Happy March Break, everyone.
If you are looking for more ideas for March Break activities, check the excellent website of Ottawa Tourism, at www.ottawatourism.ca/ottawa-insider/march-break-activities/
For a link to the March Break activities offered by the City of Ottawa’s Recreation and Parks facilities, including swimming camps, visit https://ottawa.ca/en/residents/recreation-and-parks/camps#march-break-camps