Ottawa, Canada’s beautiful capital city, has long been the country’s most popular destination for student travel. It’s little wonder—the city allows teachers to supplement in-class learning with a first-hand look at Canada while also delighting students with fun and excitement in the great outdoors.
As the nation’s capital, Ottawa is home to accessible national sites and landmark monuments that tell the stories of Canada and its people. From Parliament to the National War Memorial, the Supreme Court, Rideau Canal, and many more, Ottawa opens students’ eyes to all things Canadian.
And that’s just the beginning. Ottawa’s seven national museums tell the stories of Canadian history, science and technology, aviation and space, art, agriculture and food, nature and war—offering students and teachers boundless opportunities to supplement learning and knowledge across a wide range of interests with interactive exhibitions and experiences. Local museums include one that tells the story of the construction of the Rideau Canal, an underground Cold War bunker, and a local art gallery.
Ottawa is located on the traditional and unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabe people, whose continued presence is celebrated at two Indigenous attractions. Indigenous Experiences welcomes student tours to its reconstructed Indigenous village located next to the Canadian Museum of History, where they learn about traditional skills, dwellings, food, music and dance. The same organization runs Mādahòkì Farm, a new attraction that celebrates the enduring connection of Indigenous people with the land and offers a wide variety of workshops, a market, and seasonal festivals.
Of course, students are also interested in having fun. And Ottawa does not disappoint. For the more daring, there’s ziplining across the Ottawa River within view of Parliament Hill. On the other side of the river in the Gatineau Hills, there are aerial parks, a mountain coaster and mountain biking. Not for the faint of heart, Canada’s highest bungee jump is located on cliffs overlooking a flooded rock quarry. For a wet and wild experience, Ottawa offers some of the best white water rafting east of the Rockies.
In winter, there’s skating on the Rideau Canal Skateway, the world’s largest naturally frozen skating rink, plus cross-country skiing in the city and downhill not far away. And year round, visitors can take a Canadian safari and get up close to wildlife at Omega Parc in the Outaouais region east of the city.
Ottawa is also a city of celebration, with festivals and special events throughout the year that can add a whole new dimension to student visits. Winterlude in February celebrates the most quintessentially Canadian season with skating on the Rideau Canal, a giant snow playground with slides and ziplines, ice sculptures, and kid-friendly activities galore. The Canadian Tulip Festival in May is an Instagrammer’s delight with a million blooms and a fascinating backstory on their origin.
During June, it’s the Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival – the biggest of the year at Mādahòkì Farm. Autumn brings Fall Rhapsody, as the vibrant colors of autumn enliven tours to Gatineau Park, and the solemn marking of Remembrance Week during early November. The year wraps up with the dazzling Christmas Lights Across Canada brightening the long winter nights with displays on the Parliament Buildings and across downtown, and the Ottawa Christmas Market at Lansdowne Park.
Head to ottawatourism.ca to learn all about student-ready Ottawa attractions, experiences, tours, accommodations, restaurants and more.
Photo Courtesy of Ottawa Tourism.