Ottawa in Fall is absolutely beautiful. The Ottawa-Gatineau region is quickly covered in beautiful fall colours, pumpkins and squash are in season, and everything is juuust a little bit spookier. Ignoring the inevitable winter cold fronts on the way, Ottawa in fall is pretty wonderful. Here are some ideas of what to do this season!
Things to do in Ottawa in Fall
Take the Chairlift at Calabogie
Enjoy a truly remarkable view of Calabogie and Calabogie Lake with a ride on the chairlift. This is an amazing way to get an aerial view of some fall colours! Chairlift rides are only $15 per person and are operational on the weekends + Thanksgiving Monday until mid October. Check out the Calabogie Peaks Resort website for more details.
Indulge in Fall-Themed Desserts
It’s time to bite in to all things pumpkin flavoured. There are lots of delicious fall-themed treats in Ottawa. Enjoy a spin on everyone’s favourite, the BeaverTail, by trying out a PumpkinTail at the permanent location in the BywardMarket. Scone Witch, off of Elgin Street, will be serving up delicious pumpkin scones. Always a favourite of mine, Moulin de Provence will be serving their usual delicious sugar cookies with fall-themed shapes like pumpkins. Maverick’s has a delicious pumpkin spice donut.
Oat Couture in Old Ottawa South is serving up pumpkin oatmeal for the month of October, and the Piggy Market in Westboro will be baking apple pies. Have not tried this myself, but I hear there’s even pumpkin spice ice cream at the Merry Dairy! Got a little bit hungry writing that up, honestly.
Enjoy the Colours of Fall Rhapsody
There’s nothing better than fall colours! Make sure you get out to explore Ottawa and Gatineau Park during the peak colours of the season. Use my Gatineau Park trails guide to find the perfect hike for you!Take advantage of the free weekend shuttles offered by the NCC on the weekends. Driving in the park can be very busy during Fall Rhapsody. If you have the option to visit on week days, that’s another great way to avoid the crowds. Visit the NCC website to check out the colour meter and for details on shuttle operations.
Wheeler’s Pancake House
Exceptional fall colours and pancakes… perfection! The fall colours are beautiful at Wheeler’s pancake house and while the maple season is over, there is still lots to do. Browse the Maple Heritage Museum, look around the sugar camp, hike the nature trails, and indulge in good food.
Gardens of Light at the Montreal Botanical Gardens
This special takes place at the Montreal Botanical Gardens every fall, and it’s worth the drive. The Chinese garden displays traditional lanterns and a fishing story, the First Nations Garden is illuminated with a multi-media experience, and the Japanese Garden takes you on an illuminated path through the seasons. This even has timed entry, and at no additional cost to the regular garden entry fees. Get more details.
Explore the Treetops at Camp Fortune
This is something that I’m doing myself this Fall. I have been to Camp Fortune and done the aerial course before, but never during Fall Rhapsody! The aerial course is made up of 5 sections, and takes about 2.5-3 hours to complete. It’s a beautiful drive through Gatineau Park to reach Camp Fortune, and I’m sure that the only thing better than seeing fall colours from the ground is being immersed.
Pumpkin Inferno is definitely an Ottawa in Fall classic. Head out to Upper Canada village and check out remarkable displays created out of jack’o’lanterns. They really are works of art! This has become a massively popular event, so I recommend going at the beginning of the season. Get the details here.
The ultimate Hallowe’en tradition in Ottawa is Saunders Farm. I’ll admit, I have never lasted long at the nighttime Fright Fest! Haunting Season is the daytime option, full of family themed events including hedge mazes, food booths, corns mazes, live shows, games, and more. After hours, Fright Fest is on. Walk through haunted buildings, climb aboard the haunted hay ride, and essentially have the life scared out of you. Good fun! It’s all open on the weekends, with extra opening days and hours leading up to Hallowe’en.
Miller’s Farm is a fantastic property located in Manotick, a beautiful village of Ottawa with lots of great things to do and cute cafés. Miller’s Farm is the perfect place to go in the fall. Get lost in the corn maze, take a wagon ride and pick your own pumpkins, and shop fall harvest fruits and vegetables like of squashes, corn and apples. They’ve also been sure to add a couple of great photo-ops!
The Third World Bazaar
Want to find the perfect Christmas gift? Decorating your home, or just looking for the world’s coziest scarf made from lama wool? The Third World Bazaar is the place to go for unique items from around the world. Essentially, the family that runs the Third World Bazaar travels the world for a large part of the year, purchasing 80% of their goods directly from sellers in countries around the world. All of those goods arrive here, for the Third World Bazaar.
Go on an Ottawa Haunted Walk
I consider the Haunted Walk to be the perfect Hallowe’en option for anyone who wants to encounter the paranormal… without being jump scared by someone disguised as a murderous zombie. I can personally vouch for the Mackenzie King Estate tour and even the Haunting or Laurier House tour as being totally spooky, but not in a way that will infiltrate your nightmares. I promise, as someone who cannot handle jump scares, I would never lead you astray on this.
Shop for Local Produce
Get in touch with Fall by shopping at the Byward Market, Lansdowne Farmer’s Market (Sunday mornings), Westboro Farmer’s Market (Saturday morning), or Miller’s Farm. There’s nothing more delicious than super-fresh fall harvest. This is best time of year for apples, corn, pumpkins, and squash! Here a couple easy suggestions on what to do with your harvest.
Go on a Fall Roadtrip
There are so many beautiful small towns and superb locations near Ottawa that are even more spectacular in the fall. Check out my guide to day trips from Ottawa, pick a place, and go! A few of my favourite places to visit in the fall include Wakefield and Mont Tremblant.
Get Creeped out at Billings Estate: Curse at Park Hill
The once peaceful Billings Estate museum has been taken over by a dark force. Venture inside, and you’ll encounter strange things, signs of a haunting, and try to piece together unsolved mysteries of the estate. This is a chilling new experience (that I haven’t tried yet!) so if you’re brave enough… venture inside. Get more details here.
Connect with Nature at Omega Park
I have thus far been to Omega Park in every season except fall and I’m very excited to finally be going this year! Omega Park is an experience where you stay in your car, and the animals can approach you (or not, usually depends how many carrots you’re holding). It’s located in Montebello, Quebec and is open year round. Summer and winter, every single day! Fall is supposed to be one of the best times to visit, and it’s when the elk’s antlers are most impressive.
Relax at the Nordik Spa
Going to the Nordik Spa during reading week (mid-October) is an academia tradition of mine. Fall is the perfect time to go. The water is warm but the air is crisp, and the colours in the area are beautiful. I don’t think the Nordik Spa gets enough credit for being a year round destination – I actually prefer going in the fall or winter because you really appreciate the warmth of the pools.