Spend a week in Ottawa

Caleb hikes the GatineausRookie Moms is heading North to Canada. Our local correspondent, Kim-Anh, suggested a week’s worth of fun ideas for moms and babies in Ottawa.

Avoid the weekend crowds by going shopping with baby on a weekday! Many Ottawa shopping centers offer special facilities for changing and nursing baby. St-Laurent Shopping Centre, Rideau Centre, and Place d’Orleans are just some of the local shopping centres that offer private nursing rooms, some with stalls and rocking chairs.

Strollers (single and multi-kid) are available at most if not all shopping centres. And should you forget to bring anything – you can always buy it there! Shopping centres offer many interesting things for baby to look at, and can be an especially good escape from excessively hot or cold weather.

Take baby to the movies and catch a flick you would otherwise miss! Every second Tuesday at the Barrhaven Cineplex movie theatre, recent movies are shown at 1pm in a special “Stars and Strollers” screening. Movies are shown at reduced volume, with dimmed lighting, changing stations, and a theatre full of understanding parents should baby decide provide ongoing commentary on the movie you’re watching.

Stars and Strollers is also available on Wednesdays at SilverCity Gloucester and Thursdays at the Coliseum.

Take baby to the library. If it’s been a while since you’ve been to the library, you’d be surprised at what’s available at your local library. Many stock a huge selection of children’s books and offer baby/toddler activities. Programs include storytelling, songs, and toddlertime are available at many Ottawa branches on various days of the week, including the Main/Central branch downtown on Wednesdays.

Some branches require advance registration – check your local branch for details. If you live in the South part of Ottawa, check out the brand-new Greenboro District Library with a huge selection of children’s books and DVDs, a kids play area, a wading pool out back, and tons of computers.

Take in some fine arts at the National Gallery of Canada. The permanent exhibition includes some of the finest European, Canadian, and contemporary artwork. The current featured exhibitions bring in some of the most interesting international exhibits. The gallery is stroller-friendly and they also provide strollers free of charge.

Admission for children under 12 is free; adult admission is $6 but is free on Thursdays after 5pm. Enjoy lunch at the cafeteria, picnic at nearby Major Hill’s Park, or take a short walk to dine at one of many cafes and restaurants in the Byward Market.

Strollercize with baby and meet some other new moms by attending one of Boomerang Kids’ free Strollercize classes. Between their two locations, classes are available 5 days a week from 10:15 to 11:15 – Mon/Wed/Fri at their Bank Street location and Tue/Thu on Richmond Street.

After class, go grab a bite to eat or a coffee at the many restaurants and cafes in the surrounding areas of both locations. Meeting up at the store also gives you a great excuse to check out their impressive selection of quality second-hand toys and clothes priced just right.

Take in some fresh air and the great outdoors by exercising on stroller-friendly trails at Gatineau Park. The Pioneer Trail is a 1.3 kilometre gentle stroll accessible from the Welcome Area of the park near Gamelin Boulevard. The Hickory Trail also offers a shorter, half-kilometre flat trail with a picnic area.

Both trails are equipped with interpretation panels to help you discover natural wonders along the way. The website includes trail maps and directions.

Spend the day exploring beautiful downtown Ottawa. Park for free at the City of Ottawa lot at 234-250 Slater Street (near Bank Street) and start your day right with an amazing brunch at Eggspectation (Bank and Laurier). Enjoy a stroll and the shops on Sparks Street, with many opportunities for food stops along the way.

Those wishing to venture further can head north on Bank Street to Parliament Hill to get a glimpse of Canada’s political hub. The Byward Market is a short stroll from there – where you can explore tons of shops, restaurants, the Farmer’s Market, and indulge in a quintessential Ottawa treat – a BeaverTail pastry. The Rideau Centre is a baby-friendly rest stop nearby.

Thanks so much to Kim-Anh for sharing her ideas with us. Merci beaucoup a Kim-Anh de partager ses idées avec nous. :-)