What are you doing this summer? I personally intend to spend a lot of time at the park, lounging around in bed in my jammies, and sipping lemonades beside our 3-foot wading pool. AWESOME.
But sometimes the kids do need to get out of the house a bit, just to avoid killing each other. And there is SO much to do in our city. I’ve been collecting ideas all year and last night I sorted through them all to decide what I really want to do this summer. There was more than enough to fill up every weekend, with scads left over for weekdays, too. I’m not keen on overbooking our summer months so I’m sure we won’t get to them all, but I thought I’d list my ideas here to see if anyone has anything else to add. Let me know what’s good, what’s not, and what I’ve forgotten.
Calypso Water Park – Everyone’s talking about the new water park, and I’ve heard good things about it. We plan to visit in August when Sir Monkeypants has some vacation, so we can hopefully avoid the weekend crush.
Museum of Nature – We loved this museum when it was only half as big… now it’s full of new and exciting things to see. We’ll be buying an annual pass so I’m sure we’ll head here more than once this summer.
Wakefield Steam Train – This has been on my to-do list for a few years now, and finally the time has come because we no longer have a toddler who needs a midday nap. There are plenty of things to do on the train during the ride up and on the way back; the stopover is for a picnic, shopping, and watching the train turn around.
Papanack Zoo – This is another for-sure item. We went last year and the kids just loved it. Get as much information about their feeding schedule as you can in advance, and then you can basically walk around the park with the feeding staff and see each animal up close as they eat. There’s not a lot of shade here, so wear lots of sunscreen and try to pick a cloudy day.
Carp Farmer’s Market – Last year I toured all the farmer’s markets in town and didn’t end up finding one that quite felt like home. The only one I didn’t drag the kids to so far is Carp, and I’ve heard it’s great, so hopes are high. We might leave this one for later in the summer so that there’s a greater choice of produce, although Carp also has crafts, antiques, and plenty of baking stalls to enjoy at any time of the summer.
Biodome in Montreal – This is an easy day trip, but this year we are flirting with the idea of booking a hotel and staying overnight on a Saturday. We are terribly nervous about travelling with the Captain because we never know where we are going to find safe food for him, so we want to kind of push ourselves to try it by going somewhere not far away where we can always just drive home if need be.
Parliament Buildings – My kids love the Parliament Buildings, much to our surprise. They love the tower and the cats and running around on the lawn. This year we hope to catch the Changing of the Guard – last year we tried to go but it turned out the last performance had been the day before. DOH.
RCMP Rockcliffe Stables – I have the Musical Ride on my list every year, but since it runs from 7pm to 9pm, our kids are just a wee bit too young for it yet (plus, it’s over now for this year). I just found out, though, that you can still visit the stables and see the horses and stuff during the day over the summer. The Little Miss is kind of into horses so this is a good possibility.
Saunders Farm – I always think of this as a Halloween destination but in the summer you can play on multiple climbing structures, enjoy several huge mazes, and take a turn on their giant slide. Plus there are hayrides that leave on a regular basis and baked goodies to buy.
Karter’s Korner – My kids love the 4x4s here, plus a round of mini golf is always a hit. This place is pricey but they often have some half price days during the summer so check their website for any deals.
Britannia Beach – We love the beach but I’m always so nervous to take the kids by myself, since they don’t really know how to swim. Britannia has a really nice play/park area set back from the water so we can settle in, play and snack, and then take small, supervised excursions for a little swimming. I’m going to try this one at least once this summer by myself.
AMC Movie Tuesdays – At 10am every Tuesday morning in the summer, you can see a movie at the AMC in Kanata for just $1. We went this week to see Monsters vs. Aliens and it was a great time — jam packed with kids, so no worries if your babies want to cry or walk around or ask VERY LOUD questions. I had the schedule, and now I can’t find it, of course, but I can tell you that we’ll be there for Madagascar on July 6, Madagascar 2 on July 13, Kung Fu Panda on July 27, and the mystery title on August 10 (the last week of the series). These showings get VERY crowded – do not expect to show up at 9:55 and sit anywhere other than the very front row.
Valleyview Little Animal Farm – This place gets mixed reviews from parents but my kids like it well enough, and it’s like, two minutes from my house so we’ll be going there at some point, for sure. There’s a little train ride and a place to play in the sand and mulitple climbers, plus a puppet show and a small petting zoo. It’s a good place for very young children and toddlers.
Splash Pads – There’s a new splash pad opening near us in August so we’ll be checking that out for sure. Find a splash pad near you on the City of Ottawa site.
Chapters – We’ll be visiting the library a whole lot, but the kids like Chapters too, as it has a huge kids area where they can play and ride plasma cars and flip through endless books about Star Wars. It’s a tradition here that I buy the kids a book to celebrate the end of the school year, and we made our trip this week to do that — there was a buy 3, get 1 free sale, so don’t miss it!
Merivale Bowling Lanes – The Little Miss is not that interested in bowling so this one is a bit of a challenge — trying to keep her from wandering off is tough. Still, the older two are into it and quite frankly, so am I, so I’d like to try to work this one in if possible.
Upper Canada Village – I’m iffy on this one. I’ve heard lots of other parents talking about it but it seems too much like a school field trip. Does anyone know what the appeal is? I’ll consider it if it comes highly recommended.
Rideau Canal Festival – Last time we were downtown, we spent a lot of time looking at the locks and trying to explain how they worked, but I think the kids were confused without a visual. During the festival – July 30 to August 2 – plenty of boats will be parading through the locks. There’s other stuff going on, too, but it’s the boats that I definitely want to see.
SuperEX – My parents used to take me and my sisters to the CNE every year, and it remains one of my happiest childhood memories. We’d spent hours in the craft building agonizing over what to buy with our $5, and we’d eat those little doughnuts until we almost burst. Good times. I’ve never been to the SuperEX and I’m sure it’s not quite as great as the CNE, but I’d like to take the kids.
Canada Day – I can’t stand the Hill, so we do Canada Day in Kanata, which is still almost more busy than I can stand. I’m sure we’ll check it out though. And speaking of Canada Day, we started a new tradition last year of breakfast in bed for the kids on this day – they were begging for breakfast in bed and I wanted to assign it to just one day per year. I was actually kind of hoping the kids would forget about it this year, but yesterday Gal Smiley reminded me, so DOH, looks like it’s happening.
Backyard Camping – The kids want to camp, but you all know how I feel about camping. So this year I am setting aside a weekend for camping in the backyard – well within reach of a bathroom, a kitchen, and shelter from rain. AWESOME.
Ray’s Reptiles – The kids really like it there, even though we’ve been dozens of times. I’m sure it’ll be on our rainy day list.
Geocaching – I’d like to try this out this year, I think it sounds interesting and I’m sure the Captain will love it. However, it could be really hard to attempt with the Little Miss in tow — if we have trouble finding the cache, we won’t be able to wander endlessly looking for it, which could be very frustrating for the Captain. So we’ll see — this one might have to wait until next year.
And on top of all this, we’ll be baking, crafting, making comic books, riding bikes, and going for walks in the woods to find acorns and pinecones for FameThrowa’s wedding centerpieces.
Whew! So, how are you spending your summer vacation?