For stretching your vacation dollar further, it’s hard not to vote for Ottawa. Check out these cheap, fun things to see and do.
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Albert at Bay Suite Hotel, TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence winner.
Best Western Plus Victoria Park Suites, TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence winner.
Travelodge Hotel Ottawa, largest hotel waterpark in Ottawa.
More ideas: Cheap Hotels & Places to Stay in Ottawa
One great way to save on local fun things to do in Ottawa is to check Groupon, the money-saving website that features local discounts in 150 cities. Visit the Ottawa Groupon page and you’ll find savings of anywhere from 40-90% on attractions, tours, boat cruises, theatre tickets, dinner spots and accommodations. The Groupon Ottawa page is a smart place to check out when you’re first planning your trip and even when you’re in the middle of your Ottawa visit because new deals get added weekly and even daily many times.
Just down Sussex Street, a little ways past the National Art Gallery, you’ll find the Royal Canadian Mint where all of Canada’s money used to be produced. Established in 1908, these days the main responsibility of this outlet of the mint is to produce hand-crafted collector and commemorative coins, gold bullion coins, medals (including the 2010 Vancouver Olympic medals) and medallions. commemorative coins.
Take one of the affordable, guided tours of the mint during a weekday and you’ll actually witness parts of the coin production process. Along the way, you will learn interesting insights about the features and details of coins, how imperfections can make a coin more valuable, what makes the mint-produced Vancouver Olympic medals so unique and the intriguing stories that the mint-created one-million dollars coins created. TIP: This is a popular Ottawa attraction. Purchase your tour tickets first thing in the morning.
The RCMP Musical Ride, a ceremony where Royal Canadian Mounted Police display their horse riding abilities by performing a variety of cavalry drills to music, has been a Canadian tradition dating back to 1887. A wonderful cheap, fun thing to do in Ottawa is to visit the Rockcliffe Stables where the Mounties train their horses. See the musical ride being rehearsed, visit the tack room, walk through the museum and see various uniforms and the carriage the Queen uses when she visits Canada. Admission is free but donations to support the RCMP Foundation, which funds programs for at-risk children, are welcome.
With the Rideau Canal, the Ottawa River, beautiful neighbourhoods and gorgeous gardens Ottawa is one of Canada’s most picturesque cities. What better way to see it and take it all in than by bicycle. Ottawa makes it easy to do just that with over 170 kilometres of scenic bike paths winding through the city. Didn’t bring your bike? No problem. Renting a set of wheels is a cheap thing to do—just $7 a day from BIXI Bike. Parliament Hill isn’t the only place where people spend their day trying to climb to the top. Channel your inner mountaineer and head to Clip ‘N Climb, the indoor climbing centre. Colourful, exhilarating and fun, here you can challenge your strength and nerves by undertaking a variety of climbing quests. Cost is just $13.95.
Ottawa may seem like a civilized city but it has its share of skeletons in the closet too–and we don’t just mean on Parliament Hill! Learn more about them by taking a Haunted Walk of Ottawa tour. Your spirited tour will take place in the black of night. Ooooo, scarey fun or what?! Each walk is well-researched and led by a lantern-carrying guide dressed in a cloak. Embark on this cheap, fun thing to do and you’ll feel a shiver go up your spine as you hear some of Ottawa’s most famous facts, harrowing ghost stories and tongue-wagging tales from its dark past. Adults are $13.75, students $11.75 and kids (if they dare) are just $8.75.
If it’s a hot, sunny day there’s no better place to be than a waterpark. Luckily for you Ottawa has a good one—Mount Cascade Waterpark–and it’s a cheap fun thing to do, too—only $12.99 per person, with kids 2 and under free. Here’s something else the thrifty side of you will appreciate—unlike those expensive waterparks, this one allows you to bring in a picnic lunch if you want. There are picnic spots located throughout the park. If you want an even cheaper way to stay cool, hitting an Ottawa beach is the thing to do. There are four located in the city, so grab your speedo, shades, towel, sunscreen, snacks and a good book and make a dash to enjoy some splash.
Feel like talking to the animals? Visit the Canada Agricultural Museum. This cheap thing to do is an actual working farm. Head to the barn for fun and see animals like dairy and beef cattle, pigs, sheep, horses and chickens. Learn about beekeeping too and check out the tractor display. Admission is only $9 for adults, kids are $6 or you can get a family pass for $23. Another great place to see animals and experience the farming way of life is the Valleyview Little Animal Farm. They have a newborn section where if your timing is good, you might see an animal that’s just a few days old. You can feed the animals too; a handful of feed is just 25 cents. Admission is an affordable $8 per person. If you prefer your animals with a little more bite, than the cheap thing to do would be to visit Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo. Here you’ll find over 150 species on display including giant pythons, huge alligators, cobras, rattlesnakes, tarantulas, marmosets, and birds of prey. Admission is $10 per person or a family pass is $38.
If you’re fascinated by birds, a visit to the Wild Bird Care Centre is a must. Located in the Stoney Swamp Conservation Area, every year the Centre treats and releases over 2,000 birds that have been injured. You never know what types of birds you’ll see—they’ve treated everything from falcons and turkey vultures to a bald eagle and even a pink flamingo–so every visit is a fun surprise. To see the birds is a cheap cheap thing to do; all it costs is a donation.
The Cold War (1945-1991) was a period in history where the Western world, led by the United States, and the Communist world, led by Russia feared a possible nuclear attack from one another. That fear motivated the Canadian Government to build a top-secret, four-storey underground bunker to house the Prime Minister and over 500 key personnel in the event of an attack. Hidden in the countryside, 30 km west of Ottawa, the bunker cost between $30-50 million to build and was completed in 1961. Today the Diefenbunker (named after John Diefenbaker, the Prime Minister at the time of the bunker’s construction) is a National Historic Site and museum. Marvel at the 14-foot thick, steel doors that were designed to withstand the blast of a nuclear bomb, a massive vault for housing 65,000 gold bars, escape hatches, the Prime Minister’s quarters, a military command centre, radio station, medical centre, cafeteria–everything you can think of to survive a nuclear attack, underground. For $40, a family of five can take a tour or, if you’re visiting solo this affordable thing to do is just $14.
In the mood to venture a little beyond the city limits? Gatineau Park makes an awesome day trip. Over 350 square kilometres, the park is the perfect outdoor playground for hiking, swimming, mountain biking, cycling, rock climbing, boating, fishing and geocaching. In the winter, there are maintained trails for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and hiking. Admission to the park is just $10 per vehicle. For an affordable outdoor experience that’s a little different, make your way to the Philippe Lake area and hike to Lusk Cave. Oh, did we mention you’ll need a flashlight, bathing suit and a spare pair of shoes (water shoes if you’ve got them) because you’ll be walking along a stream to explore this cave and at certain points the water can be up to your waist! All this thrilling, fun, cheap thing to see and do will cost you is 10 bucks to park your vehicle.
Want to see a movie on the cheap? Ottawa’s Rainbow Cinema is the spot for you. It shows newly released movies for only $5. Go to a 10:00 A.M. show and it’s only $3. And if you go on a Tuesday it’s even cheaper– just $2, all day!
In the mood to kick back and enjoy a few laughs? Open Mic Mondays at the Absolute Comedy comedy club is ideal. It’s fun and cheap. Every Monday night they feature amateur Ottawa comedians on their downstairs stage and to get through the door you only have to cough up $4. Want to see the professional comedians? It’s just $10 bucks to split your gut on Thursdays.
Be thrifty and practical! This information was accurate when published, but can change without notice. We recommend you confirm all details with the provider in question before planning your excursion.