Have the diaper bag and stroller ready to go as this is the home base for the day. Bring a water bottle and snacks for your nugget. If you prefer to take public transit, google transit instructions and save them on your phone. Regardless, wear comfy and supportive footwear.
Good to know
A stroller is the best option for carrying your nugget on this mini-adventure (a hiking carrier is the next best choice).
The breakfast joint gets pretty busy on weekends. Try to be there before 9 a.m. if you are doing this itinerary on a Saturday or Sunday. The National Gallery has discounts on certain days of the week.
Recommended time of the year
This day out is most enjoyable on sunny days anywhere between May and October. If you plan to visit during the winter, skating on the canal is a great way to get from point A to point B. The canal is only open during the coldest time of year (January and February), so additional prep beforehand (winter gear, layers, extra clothes) is a good idea. You can also bring strollers on the canal.
Save money on admission to the National Gallery by viewing it's website for the discounted days.
About This Day
Enjoy this exciting full-day itinerary in Ottawa for kids. Kick start this mini-adventure at Elgin Street Diner with a balanced breakfast. Next, walk down one of Ottawa's oldest streets and view the Parliament buildings. This is a must-do for any visitors new to the area. There is a multitude of fun family things to do in Ottawa and so much history and beautiful architecture to be seen. Also, the food at Elgin Street Diner won't disappoint. Moving on with the adventure, connect to the Trans Canada Trail to get up to the National Art Gallery. There are plenty of views of the Rideau River and the Parliament buildings. After a visit to the National Gallery, a delicious latte and a tour of the ByWard Market hits the spot. Lastly, finish off with a relaxing visit to one of the Parliamentary Parks (Majors Hill). It's a lovely way to end your day, leaving you with great memories of all the views of the area you visited. Feel free to follow up this mini-adventure with a walk down the Rideau Canal in the evening. Plus, grab dinner at one of the many fine establishments on Elgin Street. With all the historic sites, great food and gorgeous scenery, there is no better way to spend a day in Canada's capital.
Elgin Street Diner is considered an Ottawa classic. With over 20 years experience serving customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, you can rest assured the staff will take great care of you. It is currently listed as one of Ottawa’s top restaurants by Frommers, Lonely Planet, Yahoo!Travel, American Airlines and virtualtourist.com. Everything screams 1950s diner, including the menu and the spunky décor. All that, plus the smell of coffee, make for a very cozy atmosphere. Elgin Street Diner was voted best breakfast and best service by readers of Xpress Magazine which is why I've listed this as the first stop on this mini-adventure. A perfectly balanced breakfast served with a smile is the best way to start your day in Ottawa.
DIRECTIONS Elgin Street Diner is located at 374 Elgin, in downtown Ottawa. The #5 and #14 buses run in front of the restaurant.
TIP Elgin Street Diner is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike. Weekends are busy so try to get in before 9 a.m. if you're visiting on a weekend. Weekdays are quieter and staff will often let you seat yourself. If it's not too busy, the booth by the window is my favourite breakfast corner of all time.
The Parliament buildings are a must see for anyone visiting Ottawa for the first time. At the gates, you are greeted with some serious history: the Centennial Flame with a Parliament of Canada building backdrop. Check out statues on the grounds, located behind the Parliament of Canada building, and catch some history on their corresponding plaques. After having a good look around, head back to Wellington and head left toward the Chateau Laurier. There will be a staircase on the left once you've crossed the bridge section which leads down to the locks that connect the Ottawa Canal to the Rideau River. This is another lovely photo op. This area is the perfect spot to take a break and feed your nugget a snack while you enjoy the view.
DIRECTIONS From Elgin Street Diner, head north towards the downtown core. Continue walking until you reach the National War Memorial. This memorial is stunning and a perfect photo op. Just beyond the memorial is Wellington Street. The Parliament buildings will be across Wellington street to the left, and the staircase leading down to the locks will be on the right. Cross Wellington Street and admire the view of the locks from the bridge. Before heading down to the locks, head to the Parliament buildings and enjoy some sightseeing. You can access a map of the grounds on the website listed. Head back to Wellington street and head left to go back over the bridge. Just before the Chateau Laurier, there is a staircase that leads down to the locks connecting the Canal to the Rideau River.
The National Gallery of Canada is jam-packed with Canadian history and breathtaking artwork. Although its focus is on Canadian art, it holds works by many noted American and European artists. The contemporary art section has an extensive collection, notably featuring works by Andy Warhol. The architecture and interior design of this building is as stunning as the art within. There are many water features and an indoor garden that breathe a peaceful atmosphere throughout the gallery.
DIRECTIONS After a break at the locks, continue north and connect to the Trans Canada Trail. This connects to a road that leads to the Alexandra Bridge. Head right, up the side walk and cross the road at the nearest crosswalk which is located near the giant spider sculpture. Take a few minutes to check out this bronze beauty, an exciting piece by Louise Bourgeois with a heartwarming backstory. The entrance to the Gallery is located just beyond the spider.
TIP Go to the information desk to get a map and locate elevators if you are traveling with a stroller. This is the perfect opportunity for young nuggets to nap in their stroller while parents enjoy all that the gallery has to offer. This is also a good location to use public washrooms to change your nugget's diaper before heading back out for more walking.
Le Moulin de Provence is a popular french bakery located in the ByWard Market. I never pass on the opportunity to grab a latte when I'm in the area. It has a wide selection of pastries, cookies and other baked goods. If you would like something a bit more substantial for lunch, the soups, salads and sandwiches are freshly made with lots of love. They are displayed at the counter at the back of the restaurant by the doors that lead into the Market Building. After a quick late lunch at the bakery, explore the shops in the market building before heading off to the next location.
DIRECTIONS From the National Gallery, head toward the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica across the street. Get a glimpse of this stunning piece of architecture, then head south down Sussex Drive. Take a left onto York Street (about 3 blocks) to arrive at the ByWard Market. Continue down York for one block. Le Moulin De Provence is on the corner and is attached to ByWard Market Square.
TIP It's best to visit the bathrooms at the Art Gallery before you leave as the bathrooms in the ByWard Market building are not in a stroller-friendly location.
Major's Hill is a historical park in Ottawa's downtown. It is a beautiful, grassy park with many areas to view the Parliament buildings and Rideau River. I personally love the viewpoints of Parliament from this park because you get a clear view of the circular Parliament Library building, which is the only original section of the Parliament buildings that withstood the fire in 1916. In May, this park is littered with tulips for the annual Tulip Festival. With many photo ops and plenty of space for your nugget to explore, this park is a wonderful place to finish off your mini-adventure.
DIRECTIONS From ByWard Market Square, return down York street and head back toward Sussex Drive. Majors Hill is located behind the Chateau Laurier. There is a large staircase leading to Major's Hill on the opposite side of Sussex Drive.
TIP Bring a picnic blanket and pick one of the many beautiful trees to set up camp. Park the stroller and explore the park with your nugget on foot. This park is another great place to relax and feed your nugget so have your snacks handy.