A whirlwind extravaganza of Ottawa museums

There is no better place to have a Canadian museum experience than in Canada’s national capital – Ottawa. We visited 7 museums in 6 days!

This week the Traveling Islanders go off island and take a trip to Ottawa, Ontario.

There is no better place to have a Canadian museum whirlwind extravaganza than in Canada’s national capital – Ottawa. I mean there is a museum on everything and anything, so much so that we were able to visit 7 museums in 6 days on one amazing, very affordable museum family pass. It’s funny, I was never much for museums when I was a kid growing up right outside of Ottawa, the mecca of Canadian museums. I don’t know what it was, but it just didn’t seem all that exciting to me when my parents said “Hey kids, get into the car we are going to a museum!”. It just didn’t have that same ring to it as some of our other family adventures, like “hey kids get into the car we are going to Disney World”. Something happened over the years of growing up where I not only enjoy  taking in a good museum every now and then, but I am now that dad that bellows out to the kids with excitement that we are going to visit a museum!

I’d like to think it’s because I have have become more cultured as I have matured over the years… but really what it is, is someone along the way got the bright idea to make museums more fun, exciting and interactive… they even have museums designed specifically for kids! Our kids loved hopping in the car and going for a museum adventure while staying in downtown Ottawa.  If your kids are new to museums, be sure to give them lots of lead up, and help shape their expectations. Many of the museums we visited had interactive websites that really helped get the kids excited. Some museums are meant for kids, some for families, and yet others just for adults… so be sure to plan your museum trips wisely to get the most out of your experience for everyone.

Okay then, let’s get right to it, shall we? Here are the museums we visited with a small blurb on each one. Feel free to ask any questions in the comment section below.

The Royal Canadian Mint

Royal Canadian Mint

Every wonder how our money is made? How they keep others from making counterfeit? Well you’ll learn it all right here at the Royal Canadian Mint. This is one of the museums where everyone must sign up for a tour… so it’s kind of hard to go at your own pace. The tour guide was excellent, but a little too much information for our little wee ones to take in. This is definitely one of the smaller museums in Ottawa… it felt more like a very unique factory tour than a museum. We were able to make it lots of fun though by looking through all the giant observation windows and watching the machines and workers do their work. One of the kids’ favourite things to do was to pick up a real gold bar. Those things are way heavier than they look in those Hollywood heist movies!

The Museum Of Science And Technology

Museum of science and techologyNow this is definitely a fun museum for kids and parents alike. Visit the crooked house and learn all about your senses as you try and stay upright, build a robot, see inside the old locomotives, dock a spaceship and so, SO much more. You know that glass ball with electricity bouncing back and forth inside, and then when you touch it your hair stands up? Yup they have that too! Although I had to live vicariously though my kids as those days of hair standing up for me are long gone. This is definitely a museum to bring the whole family to! You won’t want to miss this one.

 Canada Aviation and Space Museum


If you love planes, this is the place for you. They have models of the very first plane ever built all the way to space rockets. The kids and I really enjoyed zooming through the museum at our own pace. There was a lot of “hey look at that one! oooo that one is a big one! Cool that one has a gun!”. The highlight of our time at the aviation museum definitely had to be the exhibits where you could get right inside a real life cockpit or try and land a plane using a simulator. I think my two boys especially loved this one. We only spent about an hour 1/2 at this museum, and for my younger kids it was just the right amount of time.

Children’s Museum, Civilization Museum & IMAX

Childrens museum Ottawa

This is the cream of the crop of all Ottawa museums. This place was HUGE. I could have done a whole blog post on why this museum is extraordinary. The children’s museum had an incredible way of teaching the kids through fun. They were doing tons of learning, and didn’t even know it. Here is a picture of my daughter Kaia learning all about being a chef. The other part of this section of the children’s museum is a market where you first select a balanced diet and purchase your food in a market. When you first enter the museum you are given a kids passport. The goal is to stop at all the different zones in the museum and collect each stamp from traveling around the world.

We also took a quick look at the Civilization museum. We didn’t spend much time there because we wanted to spend all our time at the Children’s museum… that is, after the awesome IMAX show. We saw an underwater IMAX in 3D. First time for the kids thinking that the jelly fish were actually going to float into their face. I loved watching Titus reach out and try and grab one as it swam by, so cute!

National Art Gallery of Canada 

Art gallery Ottawa

This is Gretta writing – I have always dreamed of going to an art gallery and this absolutely blew me away.  Having never been to one before, I didn’t quite know what to expect.  We left the kids with our parents so we could enjoy the Gallery by ourselves. Then for 2 hours, we walked the halls of the International Gallery portion of the museum.  This gallery spanned hundreds of years of famous paintings and left me wanting more. There are 9 different collections at the gallery, and we only saw one of them in two hours. Needless to say, if you love art, definitely plan a whole day to take it all in.

Canadian War Museum

Ottawa war museum

This was our second visit to the Canadian war museum. Our first time, we started at the beginning and only made it to World War I. To truly take in this whole museum and capture everything you would need a full day at least. That is, if war and the history of war intrigues and draws you in. There are four different types of galleries covering the history of war in the museum. The first gallery starts in 1985 covering the first wars that were fought in Canada involving the First Peoples, the French, the British and then Canadians. Each gallery takes you on a walking tour covering a certain time period in our history all the way up to present day wars. The galleries were exceptionally well done with video, recordings, explanations, real life artefacts and uniforms. I found the World War exibits especially sobering to take in… learning about all the Canadians who fought and died for the freedoms we enjoy today.

Canadian Museum of Nature

museum of nature

First time seeing dinosaur bones! Checked that one off my bucket list that day. This was a wonderful family museum. The diverse galleries were designed in such a way where it had both the adult and child in mind. So many things to look at, touch and explore. I love when museums come alive! Listen to bird noises and try and match them to the right bird, learn about the arctic and feel the fur of a polar bear, steer the ship of an arctic research vessel and so much more.

Okay, you’ve read enough! The best way to show you this museum is by taking a look inside:

Have you been to any of these Canadian National museums? Do tell… Comment below.