3 Daytrips from Ottawa for a Change of Scenery

Ottawa is a busy city constantly buzzing with new events and new things to do, but we all get tired of the same-old activities with the same old-scenery eventually. Sometimes there is a need for a breath of different air, and a switch up of your regular routine. There aren’t very many cool places you could escape to and come back from within the same day, but of the few that exist, they are golden. Here are three day trips you can plan for with your friends that have you out of Ottawa for a quick adventure and back in time to get to your schedule for the next day.

1. Kingston

Let’s start off with the most obvious, and most accessible option. Kingston is undoubtedly beautiful, with breathtaking waterfronts and different site seeing adventures awaiting you. Kingston is also home to Queen’s University and Saint Lawrence College, so you can definitely drop by and visit any Gaels or Vikings you are friends with. They definitely seem to know how to have a good time at Queen’s. The drive should be well under 2 hours (depending on which part of Ottawa you live in) and takes you through some beautiful scenery you can actually enjoy while you stare out the window. The coolest thing to do in Kingston is head to the Kingston Penitentiary for a tour of Canada’s oldest prison, opened in 1835 and running up until its shutdown in 2013. The tour (which you have to remember to book online first!) takes you right into the buildings, through recreational areas, visiting rooms and even the cell blocks themselves. If you’ve ever wondered what solitary confinement looks like, this is your chance to stand in one of the cells and experience it for yourself. If you’re obsessed with Netflix prison documentaries like me, this will definitely satisfy your curiosity. After you are released from your sentence, be sure to head down to one of the local restaurants for some serious munching’. I suggest checking out Harper’s Burger Bar, which was featured on Food Network’s You Gotta Eat Here, for their delicious and creative burgers and their mean patties. Take some time to stroll down the streets, sit and enjoy some coffee by the marina, and breathe the fresh Kingston air before heading back to O-town.

2. Merickville

Merickville is the definition of a small town with a lot of heart. The whole town’s tourist area is lined on one road, but it packed with little places to explore and things to do. There are a ton of aesthetically pleasing photo-ops in the town to spice up your Instagram with or even just practice your photography skills. This trip probably wouldn’t even take you a full day and could probably be done in a morning or afternoon. Start your trip to Merickville with a cheap, made-to-order breakfast at The Village Bean Coffee Shop. Then, be sure to check out the Merickville Book Emporium and take a peek at some newer books as well as some old books from a few centuries back. After exploring the messy but very adorable bookstore, head to the local antique shop, Knock Knock Shoppe but don’t forget to go upstairs to explore all the small rooms packed with old furniture and decor. Its honestly a bit eerie to look and kind of looks like a haunted house, but is nonetheless intriguing. After exploring shop, be sure to walk around the block and visit any little boutiques you think you might like, there are lots of gift shops and unique places that sell things you may not find in a big city like Ottawa. For example, Wick Witch, which sells natural candles, bath bombs and body products that are good for the environment and smell absolutely delicious. Near the end of your trip, head to Sugar Belle Cake Shoppe for some coffee and a homemade pastry, and take some pictures in the cute café for your snap story or insta!

The Sugar Belle Cake Shoppe has the most adorable café with beautiful bright colours to match your delicious dessert

3. Montreal

Okay, this one takes a little more driving and a little more effort to plan, but the fun almost doubles itself when you get to this gorgeous, historic and lively city. Montreal is like Canada’s other Toronto. It’s the 2/2 of the only cities your favourite musician will ever come to in Canada (@HarryStyles, put some respect on Ottawa’s name). If you’re going for a more peaceful, scenic route, take the highway 401 to the city, avoiding traffic. It’s best to leave really early in the morning to really get the most out of your day here. Once you get to Montreal, the subway system is your best way to get around the city, and is super easy to use, so grab yourself a day pass! The first thing to do in Montreal is to visit Le Musée des Beaux-Arts for some very cultured and very intellectual art analysis. After the gallery, be sure to head to Old Montreal for a walk around the beautiful architecture and to check out the local views. The Notre Dame Basilica is located in this area, and is a quick activity you can pop in to do that is definitely worth doing. The inside (and outside) of the church is absolutely gorgeous and would make a good snapchat story. After exploring the historic architecture, be sure to get some grub in one of the local restaurants. A personal favourite, LOV, is one of the best vegetarian/vegan restaurants I have ever been to. Vegan mac and cheese, vegan poutine and vegan burgers that cannot be topped anywhere else. Not only is the food amazing, the restaurant itself is absolutely beautiful with swinging chairs and beautiful chandeliers everywhere. If you’re up for more activities, the botanical gardens in Montreal are the perfect place to get some cute Instagram pics in – no matter what time of year! Be sure to avoid driving home during rush hour by killing some time and grabbing dinner in the city before you leave!

The Botanical Gardens are a good opportunity for some gorgeous Instagram photoshoots for you and your friends

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