One week in Ottawa, Canada, with kids

Ottawa is the capital of Canada. A small city, but oh so beautiful! Check what there is to do there in a week!

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We had only one week in Ottawa, but just because it was during the celebrations of Canada’s 150th anniversary – and things got A LOT more expensive there during that period because everything happens there. It is the capital, after all.
It was June 2017.

Ottawa is kinda small, we found. Not a problem, we like small. And we only had a week so the smaller, the better. Because we only had a week (I know, you get it), we ended up doing the same things over and over – just because we loved it.

We named it as the Castle city – so many castles everywhere! Every building (not our rental, though) looks like a little castle. Gorgeous little place.

We rented this Airbnb and it was a shock. When we arrived, we found the porch stairs to be all crooked, the porch itself disgusting, lots of littering near the windows (and it was the apartment on the back side of the building, not accessible from the street.). Not the best first impression.
When we saw the inside, well, it was better than the outside. Still, the floors were crooked (I mean really inclined on the bedrooms, where we literally glided from one side to the other), the extra towels and beddings were on the floor of the cupboard, there were beer caps and plastic cups under the couch, the lighting fittings in the kitchen were loose, the oven door didn’t close, and I didn’t even mention that the roof of the front wardrobe was broken. It was also full of cobwebs on the roof and crumbs under the kitchen table.
They also listed as having a laundry with washer and dryer BUT we didn’t find it. We were told to enter the main building (a separate entrance, but that’d be fine) and there’d be a door. We never even managed to enter the main building because we didn’t have the key. Nobody knew where to find the key and their answer was ‘I’ll look into it’. We never heard back, even though we asked for it a lot of times during the week. We ended up using the laundromat a few blocks away and paying for it.
This was one of the worst places we’ve ever rented, and we’ve been Airbnbing for over a year. So, don’t rent it.
We would have left it but everything else around was at least double the price, so we decided to suck it up.

Apparently, this listing is no longer available. Wonder why?

Rideau River and the Parliament building in Ottawa, Canada

All this complaining and it was still a great trip. The Hogwarts vibe was awesome.

To be really honest, this apartment had 2 great things about it: the location and the silence. It’s very close to everything. We could walk everywhere, there were supermarkets, restaurants, and everything else super close. It was super quiet all day long, even though there’s a daycare next door. So, if you have only a couple of days, this might be a good option. Just know that it’s not clean enough and the responsible people don’t really answer anything.

(If you’re new to Airbnb, click here to receive a discount on your first booking – and we receive one too, without any additional cost to you!)

Ottawa is a city filled with castles! Magic place, specially for kids!

The Castle City, as we named it. It was magic just wandering around!

Enough complaining, now I’m going to tell you what we did in the area. We tried to remain close, walking distance only, and it worked fine. We didn’t do anything special, but it was a fine week.

Well, except for the 2 days when Coral (5) started feeling sick, but luckily, it was just her and for just 2 days.

We went to Ottawa from Toronto with Via Rail. The train is fine and comfortable, and this time, we had the food on the train. It was fine. I loved that it had a vegetarian option of veggie sticks with hummus. The rest of the family all had croissant ham and cheese sandwich. It was nothing spectacular, but it was nice and better than airplane food!

Here’s what’s in Ottawa for families


We used Your Independent Grocer because it was closer to the apartment. It’s fine, it had a big selection of ‘healthy’ food and we liked it!

Families will love the amount of restaurant options in the Byward Market area!

The Byward Market was one of the most delicious places we’ve visited in Canada. Definitely a must!

To eat

The Byward Market is the shopping district, but it’s got so many food options that I can’t not include it here. Even more because we didn’t do any shopping. We tried getting Coral a set of Lego but didn’t find it. We wanted a simple set and all we could find were the horrible huge sets of the special sets, so…

Burger & Fries Forever was the only burger we tried there. It’s pretty good and I loved the poutines. The kids loved the soda machine, where they could customize their drinks. Well…

Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory is a, well, chocolate shop. Couldn’t go wrong there! I LOVED the sea foam covered in chocolate. It reminded me a lot of New Zealand’s hokey pokey and I miss it. That’s all I tried. Well, that and a bit of the kids’ ice creams. All good too.

BeaverTails came highly recommended by everyone who knows Ottawa, so we had to try, right? It’s a flat dough, shaped like a beaver tail, with toppings. They had around 10 options, only one savory (cheese and garlic). Everyone loved it, except for Melissa, who got a very salty dough with maple syrup topping. She said it didn’t match and it was weird. The rest of the family loved it dearly.

Beavertails is a great option for a quick snack - just make sure you share because they're big!

It’s just a stall, but it’s always full, and always delicious! Ah, beavertails!

To do in Ottawa

There were many options there, but they were all super expensive and we didn’t really feel the need – just walking around that beautiful place was enough for us. I believe most of them were family friendly, though not all, of course.
From Ghost walk to amphibious rides (buses that also work as boats), there’s a bit of everything there.

We, on the other hand, concentrated on walking. It’s a beautiful place, so walking is delightful. We walked by day and by night and it was always nice.

Watch the sunset by the Rideau Canal was one of the best things we did in Ottawa. So worth it!

I mean, oh another sunset photo. But yes, and it was so much more beautiful live!


A walk around the Rideau Canal is one of the best things ever. Go around sunset and you’ll have the prettiest sightings ever. So beautiful! We walked to the Canal itself, then one day we crossed the Rideau River, also beautiful. Just walk around and absorb the incredible number of postcard perfect photos.
Close to the water, there were tons of tiny flies. Even then, worth it.

The Parliament grounds are amazing and open to visitors. We weren’t expecting so many people just lazying around on the grass, but it was even hard to walk. It’s definitely worth the visit. You can even bring a picnic to have lunch there.
We were hoping to see the prime minister but weren’t lucky. 


The city signs are always so much fun! The Ottawa sign in the Byward Market area couldn't be different!

Who doesn’t love a city sign? We sure do!


The Byward Market Inspiration Village is only there until September 4 but it’s pretty comfy with exhibits and a play area for the kids. Coral (5) never wanted to leave.
That’s where there was the Canada 150 and the Ottawa letters. My smaller kids love them.

The enormous spider by the Science Museum was also a hit. We took so many photos there… And it’s gigantic!

If you miss the Inspiration Village, it’s fine. The Market area is beautiful enough for you to not even notice something’s missing.
Walk around, get an ice cream or a Beavertail, sit and watch all the people around, stop to watch the buskers for a moment, try some maple stuff. I loved it! We went back quite a few times.

Ottawa is a beauty any time of the day or night.

Stunning during the day, sunset, and night. Couldn’t get any better, could it?

Those are our tips for Ottawa! I’m sure you’ll enjoy it! You can see our photos on Instagram! Follow us there too!

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