Traveling is something that many people want to do in retirement. However people often forget that travel doesn’t have to mean boarding an airplane and forking out a ton of cash. There are plenty of small towns around Ottawa that are just as worthy of exploration as any overseas destination. Here are our top five must-visit towns less than an hour outside Ottawa.
Historic Almonte sits on the banks of the Mississippi River just 45 minutes from downtown Ottawa. It is an old mill town which boasts beautiful heritage buildings and quaint little shops and restaurants along it’s main drag.
If you are a history buff you might enjoy visiting the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum located in the annex of the old Rosamond Woolen Company right in the heart of Almonte, or the Mill of Kintail which is just a a 10 minute drive outside of the town’s centre.
If arts and culture is more your thing Almonte offers many artists galleries and shops to browse and summer festivals to choose from. If you want to make your visit a two-day vacation there are a number of charming inns and B&Bs to choose from located in historic homes and mansions around town.
Just an hour drive from Ottawa, Merrickville is considered by many as the Jewel of the Rideau. It sits on the historic Rideau Canal which was designated as a UNESCO world heritage site in 2007.
In the summer months you can grab a homemade ice cream cone and sit by the canal, watching as the boats come in and out of the locks, traveling up the Rideau towards Ottawa and down towards Smiths Falls.
History is ever-present in this small village with the Blockhouse Museum right at the locks and the many shops and restaurants that line the main drag in some of Ontario’s oldest buildings.
There are many artist galleries and shops to peruse and artisan shops to check out, including Mrs. McGarrigle’s who are rennound for the mustard and fine food. If you want to stay overnight there are several B&Bs and Inns to choose from including the historic Baldachin Inn and Restaurant, just step from the Rideau Canal.
Located 20 minutes from downtown Ottawa across the Quebec border sits the river-side town of Wakefield. Founded in 1830 Wakefield offers a wide variety of cafés, pubs, galleries and boutiques, all set along the Gatineau River. It is known for its eclectic and lively arts scene and houses the historic Black Sheep Inn which has launched the careers of many artists over the years.
Wakefield is also launching pad for those wanting to explore the exquisite landscape of gatineau park. Cross country skiing, hiking, mountain biking canoeing and kayaking are all activities that are available just a short drive from the Village.
If you are planning on staying the night consider visiting the Wakefield Mill Hotel and Spa which offers elegant suites, fine dining and a beautiful view of the scenery that manys Wakefield one of the prettiest villages in the Ottawa area.
This little town nestled in the Gatineau Hills is just 15 minutes from downtown Ottawa. While small Chelsea is right at the entrance to Gatineau Park which offers 361 square kms of wildlife to explore. Take advantage of one of the many trails or sandy beaches in the summer or ski the Gatineau Hills at Camp Fortune in the winter. There is something to do for every outdoor enthusiast.
If you are looking to relax you can visit the Nordik Spa which offers outdoor thermal pools that are open all year-round. It is particularly beautiful in the fall when you can look out over gatineau park from a warm pool and take in all the leaves changing colour for the season.
End your day with dinner a low key dinner at the Chelsea Pub or if you are looking for something a little more upscale check out Les Fougeres, a fine dining restaurant focused on fresh, local ingredients.
Dubbed by many as one of Ontario’s prettiest towns it is definitely worth the one hour drive from Ottawa. The town sits on the Tay River and boasts many heritage buildings crafted by 19th century masons.
Perth is well known for it’s arts and theatre scene and also offers many outdoor recreational activities. Take a stroll in the beautful Stewart Park, stop in on one of the town’s 12 heritage properties and have lunch at one of the many cafes and restaurants that line Perth’s main drag.
Perth is a day trip from Ottawa that won’t disappoint.