Ottawa is a remarkable city with a lot of excitement and activity, but if you want to get away for a bit and experience something new nearby, you have no shortage of places to choose from. Ottawa’s central location makes it ideal for short weekend trips to destinations like Toronto, Niagara Falls, and Montreal, as well as idyllic natural areas. Best of all, these destinations offer something for everyone, including family-friendly attractions and nightlife. Whether you want sightseeing and tours, family activities, or relaxing time in the outdoors, take a look at the best weekend getaways from Ottawa to plan your trip.
If you want a quiet retreat in nature, Fort-Coulonge is an excellent weekend getaway destination. Less than 2 hours from Ottawa, Fort-Coulonge is home to the spectacular Rideau Falls and Chutes Coulonge Park, a dense evergreen forest park with extensive hiking trails and wildlife. You can spend hours exploring the park and checking out local waterfalls. There’s also Gatineau Park, a conservation park with hiking, biking, and other outdoor activities along with woodlands, lakes, and waterfalls.
Calabogie is a great destination for a mountain retreat. In just over an hour, you can leave the city behind and relax in the picturesque mountains. Calabogie offers a variety of activities, such as skiing and snowboarding in winter, golf and mountain biking in summer, and stargazing. The Eagles Nest Lookout offers overnight camping to take in the starry sky at night without light pollution.
Toronto is only about 4 hours from Ottawa, but it offers something completely new. You can spend time on the sandy beaches of Lake Ontario or take in the views of the city from the CN Tower. You’ll also have an array of museums to choose from, such as the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario. If you have the kids, be sure to stop at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada to see incredible sea life and the Toronto Zoo to see habitats with global wildlife species. The Toronto Islands are another spot for sightseeing and outdoor fun, especially for the kids. The islands have attractions like the Centreville Amusement Park and numerous beaches.
Niagara Falls is only about 5 hours from Ottawa, making it ideal for a weekend trip. You can see the incredible waterfalls from the Maid of the Mist boat tour and the Journey Behind the Falls, or simply watch the action from the viewing platform. The falls are stunning at night when they’re illuminated by colourful lights. Niagara Falls has a lot more to do over a weekend, such as seeing the quirky attractions of Clifton Hill like Ripley’s Believe It or Not! and strolling the garden paths in the Butterfly Conservatory. For a night out, head to Casino Niagara for gaming, entertainment, and cocktails.
Located in the Ottawa Valley just over an hour from the city, Pembroke is a lovely spot for a quiet escape. You’ll find unique historic attractions such as the Champlain Trail Museum and Pioneer Village, a museum with Canadian history exhibits and information on explorer Samuel de Champlain. If you want to spend time outdoors, Pansy Patch Park has a tranquil garden with picnic areas and songbirds.
Home to the St. Lawrence River and numerous historic sites, Montreal is a great city break that offers something different from Ottawa. After a 2-hour ride, you’ll be able to explore a historic, cobblestoned city with ancient architecture and heritage cathedrals. Montreal has many museums, including the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, and unique attractions like the Biodome nature centre. If you have the kids, La Ronde amusement park is sure to be a fun time. For views of the city, climb to the top of Mount Royal.
Combining both historic charm and natural beauty, Renfrew is just an hour’s ride away and offers peace, quiet, and relaxation. The town is home to Bonnechere Caves, an extensive natural cave system, and a majestic waterfall, Bonnechere Falls, that you can see on a hike. You can also paddle or kayak down the Bonnechere River to take in the scenery. You’ll find a lot to do in town, such as antique shops, dining, and the McDougall Mill Museum, a fascinating local history museum.