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Fun Things to Do in Ottawa in Fall with Kids

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Fall in Ottawa is particularly pretty and full of fun activities for kids. Ottawa, Ontario is where your family will find historic attractions, the impressive Rideau Canal and, of course, our Parliament where the Prime Minister and elected officials get down to business. Here’s a look at seven fun things to do in Ottawa in fall.

Prince of Wales Bridge and Ottawa River in Ottawa in Fall

Prince of Wales Bridge and Ottawa River in Ottawa in Fall (Photo credit: Valleyboi63, Depositphotos.com)

1. Go leaf peeping at Gatineau Park.

Ottawa bursts with color in fall. Plus, three weekends of special activities typically take place in early October in Gatineau Park. Located less than a 20-minute drive from downtown, this park’s nearly 90,000 acres are laced with picturesque hiking trails. The Sugar Bush Trail makes an easy, 45-minute stroller-friendly jaunt. Besides hiking, you can taste farm-fresh products, watch animal demonstrations, or enjoy a picnic in the great outdoors in this park. If your kids have ever wondered why leaves change in the fall, then they can learn from on-site nature interpreters.

Gatineau Park ~ Why Visit Ottawa in Fall with Kids

Gatineau Park in Ottawa (Photo credit: Ottawa Tourism)

2. Warm up with afternoon tea.

When the weather turns chilly in fall in Ottawa, there’s nothing quite as cozy as a warm cuppa. For a memorable experience, book afternoon tea at Zoe’s Lounge at Fairmont Chateau Laurier. As the tea trolley rolls over to your table, you’ll realize this is no ordinary service. Guests pick their favorite blend. After it’s poured, your family will be showered with scones, petit fours and delightful tiny sandwiches. Kids are treated like royalty when tucking into the Little Prince and Princess Tea, filling themselves with hot chocolate, kid sandwiches, cupcakes and other sweets.

After your tea experience, soak up the grand ambiance of this legendary property. Famed portrait photographer Yousuf Karsh once lived at the hotel. Parents will enjoy viewing many of his famous portraits in the Reading Lounge.

afternoon tea

Kids love the tea service at Fairmont Chateau Laurier. (Photo credit: Jody Robbins)

3. Taste the bounty of fall harvest at ByWard Market.

There can be no better place to experience the bounty of harvest than at one of Canada’s largest farmers markets, ByWard Market. Kids will love to watch the street performers, who are in abundance here on weekends. There’s much to sample at the stalls, too, like maple syrup tapped from trees just outside the city.

Kid-friendly restaurants such as The Grand Pizzeria and Zak’s Diner also lie within this district. It’s just as much fun to grab a snack from one of the 250 market vendors. If you’ve got little foodies on your hands, then take a tour of this historic neighborhood with C’est Bon

Ottawa's ByWard Market

Ottawa’s ByWard Market (Photo credit: banhdha.media, Depositphotos.com)

4. Experience the Haunting Season at Saunders Farm.

Get this, there are over 1,100 farms within Ottawa’s city limits! Saunders Farm is an amusement farm that delivers on all counts, especially in fall in Ottawa. From late September through October’s end, special attractions range from hedge mazes and live shows to carnival-style games. Too much stimulation? Chill out in the pumpkin patch or the fairy gardens. For mild frights, choose the Haunted Hayride. If traveling with tweens or teens who like a scare, then brave the Barn of Terror together (kids must be age 6+ for this attraction). 

The Fairmont Château Laurier in fall

The Fairmont Château Laurier beside the Rideau Canal in fall (Photo credit: truthfunctional, Depositphotos.com)

5. Spend the night Ottawa in spooky style.

Fairmont Chateau Laurier is rumored to have some ghostly visitors from time to time. Most notably, this grand castle of a hotel is rumored to be haunted by its founder, Charles Melville Hays, who died aboard the Titanic days before the hotel’s completion. Book the Charles Melville Hays Suite, if you dare.

For families seeking a scarily affordable stay, the HI Ottawa Jail Hostel (formerly the Carleton County Gaol) is the site of the last working gallows in Canada. You can spend the night and get a complimentary tour of the jail the next morning.

Find an affordable stay and ghost stories at HI Jail Hostel ~ Fun Things to Do in Ottawa in Fall with Kids

Find an affordable stay and ghost stories at HI Jail Hostel (Photo credit: Hostelling International)

6. Take a haunted tour of Ottawa in fall.

Fall is a frightfully fun time of year and Ottawa is reputed to be one of Canada’s most haunted cities. For a sampling of all things spooky in Ottawa, book the Haunted Walk of Ottawa Tour. Your tour guide will share Ottawa ghost stories and lead you by lantern light to some supposedly haunted spots, including the Bytown Museum, the Fairmont Château Laurier and Ottawa’s haunted high school. 

Go trick-or-treating at the Canadian Prime Minister's official residence on Halloween ~ Fun Things to Do in Ottawa in Fall with Kids

Go trick-or-treating at the Canadian Prime Minister’s official residence on Halloween (Photo credit: National Capital Commission, Flickr)

7. Go trick-or-treating at the Prime Minister’s house.

In years past, kids could go trick-or-treating at 24 Sussex Drive. What’s that? It’s only the Prime Minister’s Official Residence! The Prime Minister, his staff and family handed out candy to visitors. Betcha can’t do that at the White House

For years, however, 24 Sussex Drive has been undergoing renovations. Meanwhile, Justin Trudeau and his family have been living at Rideau Cottage since he became Prime Minister in 2015. That’s where trick-or-treaters have headed for Halloween treats instead.

Ottawa's Parliament Hill in fall

Ottawa’s Parliament Hill (Photo credit: rabbit75_dep, Depositphotos.com)

Why Visit Ottawa in Fall

With so many attractions and museums in Ottawa, this city makes a pleasant destination any time of year. Fall, though, is probably my favorite. There are less crowds, the weather is pleasantly cool but not too cold, and the fall foliage is so pretty. American visitors are sure to be impressed with how far their dollar stretches, too.

Families enjoy watching the Changing of the Guard in Ottawa

Families enjoy watching the Changing of the Guard in Ottawa (Photo credit: ClickImages, Depositphotos.com)

Explore More of Canada

Take a look at the top 10 things to do in Ottawa with kids all year round.

Canada’s most popular theme park, Canada’s Wonderland near Toronto, is typically open from late spring through summer, and then on weekends during the fall. Read our tips for visiting Canada’s Wonderland.

Niagara Falls is also located within the province of Ontario. Discover what to do at Niagara Falls with kids and teens.

For all sorts of fun things to do in Canada with kids, check out my book, 25 Places in Canada Every Family Should Visit!

Save these Fall in Ottawa Travel Tips

For future travels, be sure to save this list of things to do in Ottawa in autumn. Simply pin the image below to Pinterest. We hope you’ll follow Travel Mamas on Pinterest while you’re at it!

Fun Things to Do in Ottawa in Fall

Would you like to experience fall in Ottawa? Let us know in the comments below!

A Note from the Saucy Travel Mama: Thank you Ottawa Tourism for hosting my Ottawa fall visit. As always, all opinions are my own.

About Jody Robbins, The Saucy Travel Mama

After a career in international marketing and a few years spent living the high life as an expat, Jody now resides with her family in Calgary, Canada. Figuring travel writing was a good way to combine her wanderlust and parental duties, she’s spent the past few years working with both print and online media, contributing to the Calgary Herald Travel and Real Life sections and blogging about her adventures at Travels with Baggage (JodyRobbins.com). When not circling the globe with her precocious children (one daughter, one husband, one dog), she can usually be found snowboarding or pretending to enjoy hiking. Find Jody on Twitter at @Jody_Robbins.

Comments
  1. Stacie @ Divine Lifestyle says

    Oh my. I had no idea that Ottawa was so beautiful. It looks like something straight out of Europe.

  2. Ottawa looks so beautiful in fall. I would to try one of those tea services.

  3. Chrystal | Nevermore Lane says

    So gorgeous! Fall is my favorite time of year. I love watching all the leaves change colors. Sadly, here in MI it doesnt last too long and winter will be here as soon as we blink.

    • Jody Robbins, The Saucy Travel Mama says

      I live in Alberta, just north of Montana and I know EXACTLY what you mean. I feel like winter will arrive any day now.

  4. Jocelyn Cañasa Brown says

    Oh what a gorgeous place. I know the kids would love to visit there in any season! Looks like a fun place.

  5. Melisasource says

    I’ve never been out to Ottawa before but it looks like a beautiful place! I’ll have to add it to my destination list.

  6. I never knew it there ws such cool place. Im going to have to check it out.

  7. Wendy @ ABCs and Garden Peas says

    I am so excited for all things FALL. I absolutely cannot wait for the leaves to start changing colors and cooler temps! Ottawa looks like a great place to visit in the Fall.

  8. Oh my gosh, how fun! Ottawa sounds great. I’d love to check out the special events at Saunders Farm!

  9. Ann Bacciaglia says

    We live in Ottawa and love the ByWard Market. Ottawa has so many fun things for family’s to do.

    • Jody Robbins, The Saucy Travel Mama says

      So glad to know even a local loves going to the ByWard Market. Do you have any favourite family activities that didn’t make the list? You’re the expert! 🙂

  10. There are so many different options! I would love to go on a haunted tour it sounds like fun.

  11. Toni | BoulderLocavore.com says

    Oh wow! I’m falling in love with Ottawa! Sounds like a great place to spend fall!

  12. What a way to enjoy the season with the kids! I love that there’s a lot of activities that each member of the family will love. That’s what it’s all about anyway, doing things together as a family. I think Ottawa is a great place to go to!

    • Jody Robbins, The Saucy Travel Mama says

      You’re right. So long as you’re doing things together as a family the vacations tend to go so much smoother.

  13. Love Ottawa! Been there quite a few times but can’t say I’ve ever been there around Fall. Usually Summer or Winter, so this great to see there are things we can do!

    • Jody Robbins, The Saucy Travel Mama says

      You’ll have to let us know how you enjoyed your fall visit when that happens.

      • ELlen Lanin says

        Ottawa is so beautiful. Since I live in Arizona it’s a little hard to think of getting there during the pandemic. When we lived in Michigan we loved going to Toronto.

  14. Your trip looked like so much fun. I adore your beautiful photos!

  15. Most years I’m all about summer, but it’s been so unreasonable this year. I could not wait for fall. Looks like there’s a lot of fun this season in Ottawa.

  16. Rach Ferrucci says

    Wow Ottawa is beautiful, I would love to visit minus the spooky stuff. I’m amazed that the kids can go trick or treating at the PM’s house- that’s pretty amazing!

  17. Nicole Escat says

    Oh, such an incredible place! I would love to go there next fall, I hope to bring my whole family.

  18. Mellissa Williams says

    I would love to have the chance to visit Ottawa. It looks so beautiful and like there is so much to do and see.

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