Category Archives: Attractions

The Butterfly Show at Carleton University

by Tiana

Last Sunday my mom and I brought my 2 year old son to the Butterfly Show in the Nesbitt Building of Carleton University. He really likes butterflies and we thought he would have a blast. We were correct!

Bobby becomes a Butterfly

For those not in the know, the show runs from Oct 2-11th inclusively and is absolutely free (although donations are recommended). You can find free parking on campus on weekends and the O-Train stop is a 2 minute walk from the show. Did I mention this is FREE? I love free activities for kids!

The show takes place inside the greenhouse. It is very warm and humid so wear layers that you can remove because it doesn’t take long to get too hot in there. The butterflies are loose in the greenhouse and are fluttering about, mating (!) and sometimes will even land on you. Visitors can bring slices of oranges to encourage butterflies to come have a sip of OJ. When we walked into the smaller greenhouse, a little boy with a butterfly on his sweater handed Bobby a slice of orange already hosting a butterfly. It happily sat there sipping away as it got passed from child to child.

Butterfly on Orange

We stayed for about 45 minutes total. In that time we went through 2 greenhouses, had butterflies crawl on our hands and even got to see two emerge from their chrysalises.

This is a must attend event for anyone who isn’t absolutely terrified of butterflies.

Tiana is mother to Bobby Hurricane. You can catch her being generally awesome over at Sassy Red Head.

My Kids Funky Closet
Sunday October 17th 10am- 3pm
The Glebe Community Center
175 Third Ave @ Lyon St in The Glebe


Filed under Activities for kids, Attractions, Events, Free

Miller’s Farm

by Deborah

A couple of weekends ago we spent the afternoon with our three grandsons at Miller’s Farm in Manotick (6158 Rideau Valley Drive north). This is a family friendly venue where kids are encouraged to be kids.

There is a lot to see and do. For a small fee we took a wagon ride to the pumpkin field where the kids picked out their own pumpkins. 

We then headed off for a walk through the corn maze. 

The farm includes a market where there are fall mums, decorative gourds and corn, and a beautiful gift shop with seasonal products for Thanksgiving and Halloween. We stocked up on fresh produce; apples for lunches and squash for soup.

Our youngest grandson enjoyed jumping among the haystacks and poking his head through the cut outs to have his picture taken.

We closed out the day with candy apple treats for all. Bring your camera as there are many great photo ops.
Deborah is the grandmother to three boys ages 13, 10 and 4.


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A visit to the Byward Market

by Vicky

I love the Byward Market this time of year. The pumpkins, squash and sunflowers are out, and the fall colours are just stunning. On Sunday, we were looking for something to do outside with the kids, and decided to take a drive downtown. There is so much to see, do and eat in the Market, and we definitely covered all three of these categories!

Street parking is free on Sundays, if you can find a spot. We cruised for a while before heading right to the parking garage on Clarence. We walked through the courtyard and threw some pennies in a fountain. Then we walked right up to Sussex to check out the giant spider in front of the National Gallery. This was very amusing for Joel, he spun around and around the spider’s legs and giggled when I pointed up to the net of spider eggs hanging from the middle. This led to some interesting questions about how the spider had babies in her tummy and if it was  just like the way he was once in my tummy.

Next we walked down Sussex and stopped to look at models of downtown Ottawa. We talked about the buildings and the different streets, pointing out the peace tower and Major’s Hill Park. We collected acorns and maple leaves and then took the elevator next to 700 Sussex back down to the market.We walked back down George and checked out the totem pole, and looked at some beautiful bunches of flowers. (I wish I had bought some).


There were buskers and musicians to watch, but little people were hungry! I suggested we get a Beavertail, you can’t really visit the market without eating one. But guess what? Little people didn’t like Beavertails! Shocking I know! (Daddy ate it).  So we wandered through the streets window shopping, and made our way to the Moulin de Provence bakery, (where you can buy the famous Obama cookies) for another snack – a pumpkin cookie fit the bill.

All in all, the Byward Market provided nearly 2 hours of entertainment on a beautiful sunny almost-autumn day.  Add in a couple of history lessons (and an Entomology lesson on spiders!) and our afternoon was also educational.

I encourage you to take in what our city has to offer! I know I often take for granted all the beautiful and historical landmarks we have right in our own backyard. Why not play tourist for a day with your kids, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it just as much as we did.

Vicky is the mom to 3.5 year old son named Joel and 1 year old daughter named Mieka. You can read her blog at blog Some Kind of Wondermom.


Filed under Activities for kids, Attractions, Free

The Richmond Fair: Fall Fair Series Part 2

By Shawna

 Last weekend saw your intrepid heroine at the Spencerville Fair.  I made it just in time for the last round of the greased pig contest, then met up with a friend and we took my kids through the Small Animal and Poultry Barn before checking out a couple of the horse competitions.  We were contemplating hitting the midway when my husband arrived with his friend (such a social day!), and they ferried the kids off to go on a few rides and play a few games, though my youngest eventually ended up at the tractor pull and my daughter got to ride the kiddie roller coaster and cajole her uncle Bob into pretty much anything she wanted.  Since both my friend Raceytay and I are into the photo thing, this freed us up to wander around and take some pics.  In addition to the de rigeur shots of my kids on the carousel, we both ended up with, among others, shots of candied apples; mine were caramel while hers were the classic red sugar.


Other highlights: the classic fair food (pogos, Beavertails, fries ‘n hotdogs, soda, GIANT multicoloured lollipop), a high-diving show, watching my husband hit a sensor with a giant sledgehammer to win inflatable aliens for my kids, and trying to shoot the star out of a piece of paper with a BB gun (I can never resist trying at least once).

 This weekend we’ll be hitting the Richmond Fair.  If it runs true to form, there will be a petting zoo, a show by Little Ray’s Reptiles, an activity centre for the kids (last year, in addition to the usual music and drawing, they could try to identify full-sized plastic horse’s bones based on comparing them to a skeleton model), and a good display of antique tractors.  Though we no longer need it, it’s nice to know they have a space for both baby-changing and breastfeeding too.

 Maybe we’ll see you there!

 Shawna is mom to 4-year-old Sage and 2-year-old Harris.  She has  been writing online since 2003, and her latest project is a fledgling photography blog.  She loves fall fair season as much as her kids.


Filed under Activities for kids, Attractions, Events, Out of town ideas, Outings

The Spencerville Fair

By Shawna

It’s that time of year again: the harvest ripens and, to celebrate, rural communities everywhere put on agricultural fall fairs.  This weekend is the Spencerville Fair (about an hour south of Ottawa off the 416), and a few years ago our family started a tradition of going. 

 There are tons of things to do for kids.  In addition to the midway and candy floss that come to mind whenever you think of even the smallest, parking lot fair, there are tractor pulls, animal displays, horse riding competitions, farm-oriented displays, awarding of ribbons for baked goods, and a corn-boil.  There’re are also special events aimed at just kids: Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo always puts on a display, last year there were acrobats, and this year we’re planning on getting there in time for the greased pig chase at 3pm.  

 Alas, the pumpkin and squash crop did not thrive at our place this summer, but last year my daughter Sage even entered a pumpkin in the giant pumpkin contest and got a ribbon for 5th place!  Next year we’re going to build raised beds and try to scoop some actual prize money.

Too late to make it to the Spencerville Fair?  Next week is the Richmond Fair (which has a special section put aside for kids only, and a breastfeeding area), and the week after is the Carp Fair.

Shawna is mom to 4-year-old Sage and 2-year-old Harris.  She has  been writing online since 2003, and her latest project is a fledgling photography blog.  She loves fall fair season as much as her kids.


Filed under Activities for kids, Attractions, Out of town ideas

The Sunnyside Library

by Brie

We live not too far from the Sunnyside Library and yet I had never been with the kids. When I heard they had reopened after a period of renovation it seemed like a perfect time to throw the kids in the stroller and go.

Was I ever glad I did! The new space is fabulous.

The kids section is in the basement. As my friend pointed out “It’s great because the kids can’t get in or out!”. The door to the stairs is too heavy for my young kids to open and as long as they don’t sneak into the elevator, they have free range of the floor. Which means I can slack off for a bit. Or as much as you can slack off in a room full of books with two kids that want to be read to.

The space is well laid out with a little nook with board books and picture books for the younger kids. The nook area also had a table and chairs, some colourful cubes to sit on and a magnetic story wall. Bliss!

It looks like they are still settling into the space, but with the addition of some more seating it will be perfect. I was happy to see an automatic book check out right there in the kids area so I don’t have to lug everything upstairs and then try to check out the books while also stopping my kids from running off and exploring a new part of the library.

We were there on a Monday morning and it was packed. And understandably so. We will be back!

Brie is the mom of a 4 year old daughter “the girl” and 2 old son “the boy”. You can read her blog at Capital Mom.

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Out of town activities: Granby Zoo

by Vicky

Recently we took a trip to the Granby Zoo, and LOVED it. I’m pretty sure I can speak for my whole family and say we can’t wait to go back again. On a scale of 1-10, this place is an ELEVEN.

Granby is about a 3 hour drive from Ottawa, just past Montreal. We thought about doing the trip in one day, to avoid a potentially sleepless night, trying to get the kids to sleep in a hotel room without waking each other up. In the end we decided to just go for it and spend the night. I’m glad we did.

The drive down went well, except for the major grid lock we got stuck in waiting to cross the Champlain bridge off the island. We were stuck for about 45 mins, and the kids were just starting to get fed up by the time we made it through. Luckily we were traveling with friends who were a bit ahead of us and warned us of the upcoming traffic.

We stayed at the Hotel Granbyen, which had a zoo package deal. We paid $210 for a one night stay, 3 zoo passes (kids 2 and under are free) and breakfast the next morning. I don’t think I’d stay at the Granbyen again, but there are several hotels in Granby and most of them have zoo packages, so shop around. We got to the zoo around 11:30, and ate a quick lunch in the parking lot. I packed sandwiches, drinks, fruit, hummus & pita and some cookies.

Zoo Tip #1 – Bring a picnic lunch, or even a cooler! The zoo encourages you to bring your own food, and you can even rent a wagon, double stroller or single stroller while you are there. We saw a lot of people towing wagons with coolers on top. We rented a double stroller for $10 for the whole day and it was well worth the money! The kids all took turns having a ride when they got tired from all the walking.

Zoo Tip #2 – Pick up a map and a passport at the front gates. There are stamps throughout the zoo that you can collect, similar to the Children’s Museum at the Museum of Civilization. Sadly we missed the passports on our way in.

Our first stop was Africa where we saw giraffes, zebras, flamingos and hippos. I really enjoyed the hippo river, which you can go behind to get a close-up view of the hippos under water. Along our way there were many installations like the Madagascar style plane, or a desert jeep, for the kids to climb on.

Next stop was the rides park. Can you imagine how exciting it was to find out that most of the rides were FREE? The kids hopped on the airplanes, then ran to the bumper cars, then on the bus ride, and we finished off with a train ride. We had a quick snack and then headed over to South America.

Zoo tip #3 The ice cream in the amusement park is REALLY good and not very expensive!

The kids were excited about taking the Orient Express elevated train, so we all hoped on for an aerial view of Asia. There was an extra charge for this ride, but it was fun. You can park your stroller at the train gate.

After this train ride, we popped into the petting zoo! This was lots of fun for the kids, since they were allowed to climb right in this large gated pen to get right up close with the pigs and goats! The animals ate hay right out of our hands.

Next it was time for dinner. We decided to eat in Le Marche, which I thought was a restaurant. It turned out to be a food court, and the selection was not great, and not very healthy. Next time I think I’ll pack extra food so we can have a picnic for dinner as well.

It was getting close to 6:00pm and the kids started to get cranky, but I really wanted to check out the water park. So we sent the husbands back to the car to get our swimsuits, and started walking toward the water park. I am SO happy we decided to go, that was the best part of our visit!

Zoo tip #4 You can go back and forth between the zoo and the water park as often as you want!

We could have spent the entire day at the water park, it was like being at a resort! With older kids, I would even recommend buying a 2 day pass to the zoo and going back the next day to spend the whole day playing in the water. Joel loved the wave pool, and had a blast jumping in the waves. We didn’t even have a chance to check out the splash pad, or the lazy river.

All in all I can’t say enough good things about this place. The price, the cleanliness, the quality of care for the animals, the installations. It was definitely the highlight of our summer!

The zoo is open all winter, and they also have a special Halloween themed events on the last three weekends of October. For information about hotels and camp sites, you can call the Tourist Information Center at 1-866-472-6292 or visit the Granby Bromont Tourist website. I would recommend checking out the map on the he Granby Zoo’s website before you go!

Vicky is the mom to 3.5 year old son named Joel and 1 year old daughter named Mieka. You can read her blog at blog Some Kind of Wondermom.


Filed under Attractions, Out of town ideas

Pop Life: Taking a trip to the National Gallery

by Barbara

I’ve been excited about the Pop Life: Art in a Material World exhibit at the National Gallery since they started advertising their search for identical twins to be part of one of the works of art. Somehow, though, the summer passed and we didn’t go to the exhibit until recently. Luckily, the exhibit will be open until September 19th and you still have time to go.

I went with my six-year-old daughter, Reid, my mom and my 30-year-old niece and we all enjoyed ourselves. I asked Reid if she thought I should recommend that other moms take their kids and she said, “Yes! I am a kid and I liked it and so will they.”

Reid’s favourite parts of the exhibit were the Andy Warhol pieces. He is her favourite artist right now, thanks to the Dropping in on Andy Warhol book and video we signed out from the library. She watched a bit of the Love Boat episode starring Andy Warhol, giving me time to read a bit more of the labels.

The piece featuring the twins – two young women playing cards when we were there – was more of a fascination to me than to Reid. When you’re six, I guess you have less of an expectation about what will appear in a work of art. Reid enjoyed the room depicting anime art, especially the video of Kirsten Dunst singing “Turning Japanese”. The video is on YouTube but it is marked as possibly unsuitable for children. I didn’t find it to be inappropriate, though.

We both liked Keith Haring‘s chalk drawing-like images. You can purchase items featuring his art right in the midst of the exhibit but it’s a passive offering and the kids (probably) won’t notice. Ashley Bickerton‘s “self portrait”, in which he presents himself through the logos of products he uses, was the springboard for a surprisingly good conversation about the things we use. I think Reid and I could do something like this at home. The other artists and their works provoked conversations as well. Reid didn’t have any “they call that art?!” reactions but she did have some questions about what she saw and why it was included in the exhibit.

Admission is $15 for adults, $7 for youth 12-19 and kids under 12 are free. There are a few rooms with explicit artwork but these are well-signed and easily avoided.  There is a horse with something stabbed into it that isn’t signed and you might want to be ready to avoid it or explain it.

There is a sign in the foyer indicating the cameras are banned in the gallery and there are many guards in the exhibit and so I took no pictures. The exhibit is visually powerful and I agree with Reid, kids will enjoy it. You may want to explore other galleries while you’re at the National Gallery but don’t be too ambitious. Good behaviour is tiring and you’ll want your kids to be as eager to return as you will be.

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The GG’s

by Julie

No, not the University of Ottawa sports teams. The Governor General’s Residence. Many of you may have been there for the annual CHEO’s Teddy Bear Picnic. No? Well bookmark that one for next year. It’s a must do kids in the capital thing. But have you ever ventured to the GG’s on a regular day during the summer?

Surprisingly we don’t go very often, even though we are only a 15 minute walk away. But every time we do go, I always say “We should really come here more often.” First, there is TONNES of room to just run and play. Bring a soccer ball to kick around. Or some bubbles to blow. Or anything else you can think of to do on vast expanses of grass. Picnic anyone?

Then there is the play structure. Simple but fun. And it’s on what looks like asphalt but is actually spongy. Although it is a little small, there is lots to do for both little and big kids. The visitor’s information center is right near by which has toilets, a little gift shop and water fountains to fill up your bottles.

As we were playing we suddenly heard the sound of bagpipes approaching. What could that be? We gathered our stuff and ran off towards the sound (I’m a sucker for bagpipes). What did we stumble upon? The Changing of the Guard!

It would seem that the Guard post changes every hour on the hour. And the ceremony lasts all but 5 minutes. So if the elaborate pomp and circumstance of the Changing of the Guards on Parliament Hill seems to be a little overwhelming, this is the perfect option. And you can get up close.

The jellybean thought this was the best thing and marched on behind them.

After the 5 minute ceremony there is lots of opportunity for photo opps with the guards, but we were off marching behind the returning guards, no time for photos. This was definitely a wonderful surprise.

In the early summer the rose gardens are beautiful with many different varieties. It’s now the end of the season, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wonder around the gardens. There is a great fountain that just begs for pennies to be thrown in and lots of walls and benches to stop and have a snack or just a little rest.

The GG’s Residence is also home to the Ottawa Cricket Club. They were just setting up for a match when we were leaving, so we didn’t get a chance to watch.

We were there for a couple of hours and barely touched on all there is to do. There are also tours of Rideau Hall and the art collection, which run all year round. And a tour of the grounds offered during the summer months. And a treasure hunt called Tell-a-Tale Trail that is good for people of all ages.

So let’s get down to the nitty gritty. How much does all of this cost? Nothing! Zilch! Nada! Zero! And parking? FREE! When there isn’t a special event like a concert, parking is really easy on residential streets. When there is a special event, parking can be a bit of a bear.

So make your way down to the Governor General’s Residences. It is your’s to discover.  (yes, cheesy, but essentially true!)

Julie (a.k.a. smothermother) is mom to 3 yr old Jellybean and married to the hubby.  You can read her blog at


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Day tripping : Storyland

by Lara

A few years ago there was a big radio campaign on the radio advertising the last summer of Storyland before they closed down. I immediately knew I wanted to bring Kiernan and put it on our to do list. But it was a crazy summer and we didn’t make it – I was sad.

But here’s the thing – someone bought it, and it never actually closed! (although I’m pretty sure many people think it did)

Last summer, while we were staying at my in-law’s cottage in the Renfrew area, we actually made it over and the kids had a BLAST! (even though I was there with 8 week old twins – that part was more than a little crazy 🙂

Storyland has been around for a long time, and so have some of their displays.  But the new owners have been working hard to update the place.

The park is located in a mainly wooded area just past Renfrew (tip: a regular stroller would have troubles here so either bring baby carriers or a jogging stroller. I did see some strollers that you could borrow, but a small baby couldn’t be put into them) and you walk through the trails and see a variety of different story displays, petting farm animals, rides, and there is also a theatre area where they put on shows.

There is also a splash pad, a pond, paddle boats, mini golf and inflatable slides and bouncers.  There is enough to keep you busy for a full day!

The cost is $13.50 for everyone over 3 (free for under 3) so it is a lot more affordable than a lot of other amusement parks. It may not have a lot of bells and whistles, but I find most kids don’t need those.  I recommend checking it out and plan to make a day of it some time in August!  Maybe I’ll see you there?

Lara is the mom to 3.5 year old Kiernan and 1 year old twins Quinn and Juliette. You can find her at her blog Gliding Through Motherhood.


Filed under Activities for kids, Attractions, Out of town ideas, Outings