Kid-Tested: Ottawa

National Geographic Traveler columnist Heather Greenwood Davis is the magazine’s family travel advocate, guru, and soothsayer.

Here’s her latest advice:

Reader Question: We want to take our grandkids to Ottawa for a blast of winter. Best spots?

My Answer: Canada’s capital city gets a good dose of winter every year, and locals celebrate it with gusto.

Spend a day or two on essential experiences:

  • Skate on the 125-mile-long Rideau Canal.
  • Explore the Winterlude festivities, which include ice sculptures and a snow playground.
  • Eat a Beaver Tail (fried dough dusted with sugar), a thoroughly Canadian cold-weather favorite.
  • Catch a pickup hockey game in action at any local rink, or book seats in advance for the home team, the Ottawa Senators.

Candace Derickx, a 15-year veteran of the city who runs the lifestyle website Life in Pleasantville, suggests discovering nearby Gatineau Park (25 minutes from the city center) for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and downhill skiing (at Camp Fortune). “The mountains are just the right height for beginners,” says Derickx.

Heather Greenwood Davis pens the “Traveling With Kids” column for National Geographic Traveler magazine (this exchange appeared in the February 2015 issue)Follow Heather on Twitter @GreenwoodDavis

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  1. Kristin
    Portsmouth, VA
    February 10, 2015, 11:46 am

    As somebody who used to live in the Ottawa area, you have listed the length of the Rideau Canal, but for the purposes of a winter experience, the portion that is cleared and available for walking or skating is approximately five miles long.

    • Heather Greenwood Davis
      March 8, 2015, 6:28 pm

      Absolutely right Kristin.