The province of Ontario is opening up its doors for us to enjoy certain aspects. Outdoor dining is now open, select campsites are open, shops and city tours are also now open. There are lots of great things that you can start to do again and life is slowly returning to normal! If you are still a little uncertain about travelling outside the province or country, we’ve got you covered with 10 great day trips from Ottawa! You are going to love exploring all that Eastern Ontario has to offer!
The following list offers day trips that are less than 3 hours away from Ottawa. Many of them are only a short drive outside the city. These small Eastern Ontario towns are beautiful and are the home to lots of friendly people.
The list is sorted from closest locations to farthest away from downtown Ottawa.
Distance from Ottawa: 45 minutes
The town of Arnprior is just a quick drive west down the 417. This small town offers beautiful views of both the Ottawa River and the Madawaska River. They call it the town where the river’s meet. And this couldn’t be more true! With lots of great water sport activities and the beautiful beach and picnic areas at Robert Simpson Park, it’s no wonder Arnprior has become such a great summer destination. Explore the historic downtown area and snap a few pics of the Arnprior Museum! Go for a nature walk at the Gillies Grove trail or take a stroll by the Ottawa River. There are lots of cute little shops you can stop at as well as outdoor patios to sit at and enjoy a drink. This hidden gem is only 45 minutes from downtown Ottawa. You won’t be disappointed!
Distance from Ottawa: 1 hour
The artsy village of Merrickville boasts lots of great sights and things to do. Named “Canada’s Most Beautiful Village” in 1998, you will see how true this is when you get here! The historic Rideau Canal locks in Merrickville offer a great spot to brush up on your history and learn about the canal system. Explore the Merrickville Ruins and enjoy a scenic walk beside the Rideau River. Be sure to check out the shops and restaurants on St Lawrence Street, they have everything you want and more! Don’t forget to indulge in some award-winning gelato at Stella Luna Cafe! Merrickville is a great summer destination if you are a boater, shopper or if you are just looking for a scenic walk through a charming village!
Distance from Ottawa: 1 hour
The town of Smith’s Falls also has a gorgeous waterfront (seeing a theme here?). With so many areas along the Rideau River to explore, you might even want to bring your bike so you can see even more! Check out the scenic pathway along Turtle and Duck Island and be sure to stop to see the abandoned train bridge. Though the inside of the railway museum is currently closed, you can still take a walk along the outside to see all of the old trains. There are tons of great fishing spots and walking paths along the river. Be sure to check out the great restaurants downtown and fantastic golf courses just outside of town!
Distance from Ottawa: 1 hour, 5 minutes
Another great day trip from Ottawa is the village of Perth. The quaint downtown area will have you feeling like you stepped into a Hallmark movie! The historic town hall towers above the town with its picturesque bell tower. Another landmark you will notice in this village is the water tower. You can see it from almost anywhere in the town! The historic buildings paired with the Tay River that runs through the town make for the perfect spot to sit on a patio and enjoy lunch. If you enjoy Mexican food, Mex & Co. Restaurant is definitely the spot for you! Enjoy a walk through Stewart Park and check out the Crystal Palace and the fountains! If you enjoy a good craft beer, don’t miss the Perth Brewery!
Distance from Ottawa: 1 hour, 15 minutes
If you are looking for a unique day trip from Ottawa that reminds you of something like the Florida Keys, check out the Long Sault Parkway. A series of 11 islands sweep in an arc through the St. Lawrence River. Causeways and bridges connect these islands making for this unbelievably scenic drive. These islands used to be part of the Canadian mainland and were flooded in 1958 to make way for the St. Lawrence Seaway. There are still remnants of the communities that were flooded including the former highway #2 which you can see under the water in some areas. The parkway is home to 3 campgrounds with over 600 campsites. There are 2 beaches with picnic areas and lots of beautiful scenery. Bring your tent and enjoy a couple of days on one of these unique man-made islands!
Distance from Ottawa: 1 hour, 20 minutes
The seaside village of Brockville has so much to offer with its amazing views of the St. Lawrence Seaway and ships passing by. Brockville features an adorable downtown area as well as many wonderful shops and restaurants to enjoy. Have a picnic at one of the many parks along the seaway, or enjoy a round of golf at the Brockville Country Club. This beautiful town is located just a few kilometres South of the 401 highway making it easy to get to. You will love the historic buildings, towering churches and lush parks and fountains. Everything about Brockville is very picturesque, making it a must-see day trip from Ottawa. You are going to love it!
Distance from Ottawa: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Westport offers a lakeside village in a parklike setting. The waterfront is connected to Upper Rideau Lake meaning that you have hours of boating along the Rideau system. Take the hike up to Sky Rock for an amazing view of Upper Rideau Lake and the Westport Pond for some unique photo ops! Be sure to take a walk down by the water and explore the shops and restaurants on Main Street. Don’t forget to walk over the bridge out to Westport Harbour to get some amazing vistas of Upper Rideau Lake! Westport is a great summer and fall destination making it one of our great day trips from Ottawa!
Distance from Ottawa: 1 hour, 45 minutes
The town of Pembroke has all kinds of interesting surprises! The Kiwanis Way Waterfront Trail is a 2.5km trail that wraps all along the Ottawa River from the Waterfront Park to the Kiwanis Club. This trail is primarily used as a walking path, but bicycles are also allowed. With stunning views of the Ottawa River along the way, this is a must-see attraction in Pembroke! Take a stroll down Pembroke Street and you will find all kinds of cute shops and restaurants. The massive murals scattered throughout the downtown area on beautiful old buildings gives the town of Pembroke even more charm!
Distance from Ottawa: 2 hours
The City of Kingston has so much to offer, it’s tough to narrow it down to just a few things to see and do! A few notable sights are City Park and MacDonald Park. Both are huge parks with walking paths offering a ton of greenspace. Be sure to bring your bicycle so you can bike down the 8km Waterfront Pathway winding around the St. Lawrence River. Take a walk around Portsmouth Olympic Harbour and the Kingston Waterfront. If you have time to take the ferry out to Wolfe Island, you can enjoy a picnic on the island or ride your bike through the Wolfe Island Wind farm with 86 gigantic wind turbines on either side of you. Once you’re on Wolfe Island, take another short ferry ride over to Simcoe Island where you can check out Nine Mile Point Lighthouse, a historic lighthouse built in 1860.
Distance from Ottawa: 2 hours, 15 minutes
If camping is your thing, you are going to love Bon Echo Provincial Park! Bon Echo features several lakes including Mazinaw Lake, the seventh-deepest lake in Ontario! Mazinaw Lake boasts the famous Mazinaw Rock, a towering escarpment rising out of the water. With over 500 campsites in the Mazinaw and Hardwood Hills, you won’t be hard pressed to find the perfect campsite with amazing views! There are tons of great hiking trails throughout Bon Echo Park ranging in difficulties. A few notable hikes include: the Abes and Essens Trail, the Bruce Trail, the Shield Trail and the High Pines Trail. You can also rent boats, kayaks and canoes at Smarts Marina so you can explore the waterways as well!
We hope you enjoyed these 10 day trips from Ottawa. Perhaps our list has inspired you to take a drive out to some of these places and enjoy everything that these towns have to offer. There are many more great towns in the Eastern Ontario area, it is such a beautiful part of Canada and we are so lucky to live in this area.
Stay safe everyone!