Back in July my family went on a road trip to explore the Outaouais Region of Quebec located in the southwestern corner of Quebec – just a short hop from Ottawa.
If you are looking for a fun destination for families within Canada, the Outaouais region is ideal. From National Museums, waterparks, local events and festivals, to visiting wild animals in their natural habitat, there are diverse options that are sure to make for an exciting vacation experience.
During our family adventure we checked out just a small sampling of the activities that the Outaouais Region of Quebec has to offer. Before driving across the bridge that connects Ottawa to Gatineau we stopped in at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa.
The Canadian Museum of Nature is a world-class exploration of the natural beauty of our planet and Canada. It also happens to be one of the best museums for Kids that I have seen. As you explore the galleries there are plenty of opportunities to get hands on and really engage with interactive displays.
We started off in the Fossil Gallery where the girls got to walk amongst dinosaurs and were awed by the collection of over 30 complete skeletons. Keira and Ava are both really into dinosaurs and what better first encounter than with such an amazing collection.
Ultimately we spent the most time in the The Canada Goose Arctic Gallery, the Water Gallery and Nature Live, although the other galleries were really interesting and the Fossil gallery was an absolute hit. The kids just found the displays a little more engaging in these areas.
The girls especially enjoyed discovering what life on an Arctic research vessel was like and almost had to be dragged away from the Water Gallery because of how much fun they were having driving the ship, cooking meals in the kitchen and exploring.
It is obvious exploring the museum that a lot of thought has gone into making the galleries interesting for all ages and the Arctic research vessel is the perfect example of that planning.
One of the coolest displays in the Water Gallery though is that of the skeleton of a 19.8 metre-long blue whale – the largest animal in the world. It is such an impressive display that you definitely do not want to miss. You will also want to check out the small display that illustrates the rise and fall of tidal waters, it is really neat to look frame by frame at the ebb and flow of the tide.
I had to try hard not to squirm and itch at the collection of insects, slugs, and arachnids in the Nature Live gallery. The girls found themselves face to face with live ants, beetles, honey bees, stick insects, tarantulas and even a Hercules beetle.
The honey bee display was particularly interesting, it was really cool to see the inside of an active hive. Check out the video to see for yourself!
There were also stations set-up in Nature Live for kids to colour and make their own snow goggles. It was a nice break for the girls from walking and they had a lot of fun getting creative with this little craft that got them ready for our walk up to the Canada Goose Arctic Gallery.
The Arctic Gallery is a truly impressive introduction to the Arctic and it’s amazing diversity of plants and animals, along with the voices of its people. One of the stand-outs for me include the ice installation that greets visitors at the entrance – they are blocks of real ice illuminated by coloured light that manages to transport you to the stark beauty of the Arctic.
You could easily spend a full day of discovery at the Canadian Museum of Nature so I would plan for at least a 3 hour long trip, especially if you are bringing along children. This is definitely a must for visitors to the area and locals alike whether you plan to explore solo or as a family.
Elizabeth Lampman is a coffee-fuelled Mom of 2 girls and lives in Hamilton, Ontario. She enjoys travelling, developing easy recipes, crafting, taking on diy projects, travelling and saving money!