One of the best things about Ottawa it’s proximity to other amazing places. There are so many beautiful small towns, outdoor adventures, and nearby cities that make for fun day trips from Ottawa. Winter, summer, and fall many of the small towns and park near Ottawa are beautiful and have different activities and scenery to offer.
My criteria for a day trip is somewhere that you can drive to (or reach by train, or bus) in under 2 hours. Get an early start, and you can be there before breakfast and enjoy a full day exploring before you head home. I like to spend my summers taking day trips from Ottawa in between exploring Ottawa itself. Here are some of my favourite places!
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Day Trips from Ottawa
Merrickville is tiny little town less than an hour from Ottawa, and it’s perfect for a relaxing day trip. The main street (St Lawrence) is all independent shops that sell clothes, soaps, garden decorations, and beautiful glass pieces. Merrickville is along the Rideau River, and part way across the bridge from one side to the other is a small island that is home to the Merrickville Ruins. The ruins were once a woolen mill, and today you can explore the ruins and there’s a small museum in the main building.
Don’t miss the Goose & Gridon pub for the perfect Instagram photo opp, or the beautiful Stella Luna location on Main St West. It’s my favourite Stella Luna location, and few people know it’s there! Get yourself a gelato and explore the town.
The Bonnechere Caves are an awesome, unique way to spend the day. Most of the day trips from Ottawa in this list are small towns that keep you above ground, so the Bonnechere Caves are a little different! My boyfriend and I went one day, and really enjoyed it. There are interesting fossils to look at before you descend in to the caves, and the caves themselves are incredible. Take a picnic lunch with you or stop in Renfrew afterwards for lunch! There’s not a lot else near the Bonnechere Caves, but they’re still worth the drive. You can crawl through a small tunnel within the caves, and you get to experience the caves in the dark.
The caves are open all summer and you can access them on a guided tour. Guided tours start every 20 to 30 minutes and are about one hour long. There’s no pre-registration required, just show up. Admission is $19 for adults. It’s cool in the caves, so even if it’s a warm summer day bring a light sweater or jacket. Wear sneakers or running shoes!
Wakefield is already one of the most famous day trips from Ottawa, and with good reason. Wakefield is a lovely town in Quebec, so getting there from Ottawa includes a scenic drive through the Gatineau Park. Come for a walk in the town, and to see the red bridge. On warm days in the summer, bring your swimsuit so you can hang out by the water below the bridge.
If you want a relaxing day, the Wakefield Hotel & Spa is located in Wakefield along the Gatineau River.
The best pizza MJMD Pizza de Luigi is some of the best pizza around. It’s handmade in a wood oven, and tastes amazing. I also highly recommend Pipolinka Bakery for great cookies and Le Hibou for lunch. They have delicious vegetarian and vegan options!
Day trips from Ottawa to Chelsea are always awesome – it’s the place that I go most often when I feel like being outside the city. The interaction of Chemin Scott and Chemin du Lac Meech is the nicest area. Park at the Gatineau Park Visitor Centre, and go for a short walk along the Sugarbush trail. It’s beautiful all seasons! Come back in to Chelsea and explore the main street, stop for ice cream, or lunch. Biscotte & Cie is great place for drink and a sandwich or pastry, and La Cigale is one of my favourite ice cream places.
Love hiking and the great outdoors? Of course you do – and how could you not with a view like this. Gatineau Park is just across the river from Ottawa. Those of us who call Ottawa home are so incredibly fortunate to live next to this amazing place, it’s so close and so much considered to be like a part of Ottawa that putting it on a day trips from Ottawa list might even be a stretch! Hike, cycle, or make your way to Meech Lake and enjoy the beach.
There are hiking trails for every one in Gatineau Park, no matter the level or difficult that you want. Use this guide to the Gatineau Park Trails to find your next hike!
Montreal is one of the most interesting cities in Canada. There is so much history, and so many beautiful places to discover! Montreal is only 2 hours away, and you can have any day trip experience you want here whether it’s spending a day in the botanical gardens, eating in Mile End, visiting museums, or exploring Old Montreal! Or, even roller coaster. La Ronde is a fun amusement park day trip.
I have several Montreal guides to help you plan your day trip (or a longer visit to Montreal!)
Calabogie is a bit of day trip gem, so this one stays between you and me! There aren’t many day trips from Ottawa that are well-kept secrets… but this one is. My friends and I drove to Calabogie Peaks Resort to hike Skywalk Trail to Eagle’s Nest Lookout. There are a lot of different trails that connect together, so you can take as long (or as short) a route as you want to Eagle’s Nest.
After your hike, relax at the beach by the resort with some snacks and drinks. There are only a few food options on site, so bring your own food. We didn’t kayak, but there are kayaks available for rent too and the lake is beautiful and calm! Calabogie is a popular ski destination in the winter, but most people don’t know what a lovely place it is in the summer.
Here’s the full guide on hiking to Eagle’s Nest and enjoying a day in Calabogie!
Almonte is a lovely mill town along the Canadian Mississippi River. I went on a day trip from Ottawa to Almonte last summer and surprised by how many great cafés and cute shops there are! And, there’s an amazing waterfall going through the middle of the town. Walk the River Walk from Heirloom Cafe & Bistro to Almonte town hall to see it.
The inventor of basketball, James Naismith, was born and raised just outside of Almonte and you will find a statue of him in town too!
The 1000 Islands
The 1000 Islands is an exceptional destination for a day trip from Ottawa. Only 1.5 hours away, 1000 Islands has everything from adventurous activities to relaxing patios. On a day trip, take a boat tour in the 1000 Islands and spend some time exploring the town of Gananoque. Enjoy a view from above at the 1000 Islands Tower, or go hiking at one of the many trails in the area.
This is easily one of my favourite places that I have ever visited. If you haven’t already visited the 1000 Islands, make it your next day trip! Check out my full 1000 Islands Visitor Guide for a detailed itinerary and restaurant recommendations.
Westport is one of my favourite small towns, mainly because of the amazing view from above that you can see from Foley mountain. There is a wonderful, family run vineyard just outside of town and the few bakeries and restaurants in town (it’s a really small place!) are all really good. This is one of the quainter day trips from Ottawa, perfect if you want a relaxing day.
Gatineau is just across the river – it’s so close that it blends right in to Ottawa so while this isn’t a day trip that requires driving, it is one if you haven’t yet explored Gatineau! The Culture Trail was introduced in 2018, and it’s a great way to see the area. Follow the red line from Jacques Cartier Park and it will take you all through Gatineau.
Make sure to take the detour onto Laval Street to see the beautiful Gatineau umbrella street. There are plenty of great patios here to stop for a drink. The trail is 2km long and will lead you along the Ruisseau de la Brasseurs, to a restaurant called Les Brasseurs du Temps. The beer is excellent, and this restaurant has a lovely patio. Best of all, there’s an amazing (and massive) museum in the basement that goes all through the history of beer in Canada.
Kingston is on my own day trips from Ottawa bucket list for this summer. I have been many times, but not since starting Nina Near and Far! Kingston is a city with lots of history. I’m most excited for the penitentiary tour, which was at one time home to some of Canada’s most notorious criminals.
Other things to check out include Fort Henry, built during the war of 1812. One hour guided tours depart regularly. For another bit of history, hop aboard a Trolley Tour. I’ve heard that Chez Piggy or Wooden Heads Gourmet Pizza or great places for lunch!
Here’s another popular winter destination that is also a summer gem – Mont Tremblant! Truth be told, a lot more people know about Tremblant than Calabogie but it’s still less popular in the summer than in the winter.
Mont Tremblant is one of the best, multi-season day trips from Ottawa. Go to Tremblant for skiing, snowshoeing, and cozy cafés in the winter. Come summer enjoy hiking, luge rides down the mountain, cycling, and exploring. The best part about Mont Tremblant is the pedestrian village. It’s easy to walk around, without having to worry about cars! It’s also a very dog friendly area, so bring your fur friend for the day.
Truth be told, I think that Omega Park is mentioned in every Ontario or Quebec blog post that I have. I love this place. Omega Park makes a great day trip, or you can stay the night! Omega Park is another one of the all-season day trips from Ottawa, it’s stunning summer or winter.
Omega Park entry is just under $30 per person. Get there right when it opens (usually 10 AM) and drive the loop. In the summer, you can take a wagon ride out to the farm. Come winter, enjoy a sleigh ride through the snow. There are some surprises coming to Omega Park this year… I promise to keep you posted!