Located in the southwestern corner of the province of Québec, adjacent to Ottawa, Canada’s capital, the Outaouais region offers an ideal balance of city and country delights. Completely bilingual, and easily accessible from Montréal and Toronto, Outaouais is a popular year-round destination packed with hidden gems. These 10 spots were featured in the Outaouais Travel Guide, produced by Outaouais Tourism.
1. Gatineau Park
In this bucolic setting, groups find micro-adventures at every turn. Rock climbing? Hiking? Kayaking? Snowshoeing or cross-country skiing in the winter? That’s just for starters. Gatineau Park offers 140 miles or 361 km2 of possibilities. Definite must-sees: the Mackenzie King Estate, the meromictic Pink Lake, the Champlain Lookout and the Lusk Cave.
2. Cycling in summer
From urban neighborhoods to unspoiled wilderness, a trail awaits. In summer, ride bikes along any section of the 497 miles or 800 km of recreational pathways. Discover a city beach and even museums along the way.
3. Nordik Spa-Nature
Relax and unwind at North America’s largest Scandinavian spa, located just outside Gatineau Park. Step into a thermal experience in the spa’s seven outdoor baths and eight saunas, infinity pool with a spectacular view of the surrounding area, and Nordic waterfalls. The Källa saltwater pool is the only one on the continent.
4. Casino du Lac-Leamy
Discover over 1,800 slot machines and 64 gaming tables, including Texas Hold ’em poker. Immerse the atmosphere of the Zone, a unique multigame space with 51 interactive terminals. Dining is also an option at the Five Diamond-rated Le Baccara restaurant. Plus the casino’s nightclub, Club Aléa! For ages 18 plus.
5. Eight national museums
In Gatineau area, discover eight national museums from history to visual art, from animals and nature to aviation. The Canadian Museum of History is the country’s most visited national museum. Marvel at the world’s largest indoor collection of totem poles.
6. Short hop from Ottawa
A few minutes aboard an Aqua-Taxi, the group can travel to Ottawa, Canada’s capital. Do a little shopping in the ByWard Market, one of the oldest public markets in the country, and visit the nearby federal institutions, including Parliament Hill. Discover the history and vibrant street life of Ottawa’s neighborhoods, such as Chinatown and the Glebe. Stroll along the city’s iconic waterway, the Rideau Canal, Ontario’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site. In winter, it’s also the site of the world’s largest skating rink; in the winter many residents skate to work.
7. Parc Oméga
On the motorcoach, follow a 9-mile or 15-km road winding through 5,436 acres or 2,200 hectares of hills, lakes and pastureland. Open year-round, the wildlife park, the only one of its kind in Quebec, allows guests to observe several species of wild animals in their natural habitat. These include bison, elk, bears, wild boars and wolves.
8. Fairmont Le Château Montebello
Built in 1930 of red cedar logs, the hotel is an architectural marvel. Once an exclusive private club, the elegant historic jewel has been respectfully updated, and the Château now offers 211 rooms and an exquisite menu featuring local products. Discover the impressive rotunda with its six-sided stone fireplace.
9. Cross-generational travel
For cross-generational groups, July is Family Month in the Outaouais region. To help with planning, download or pick up a copy of the Outaouais family activity guide.
10. Events large and small
Discover North America’s largest winter playground. Admire millions of tulips, ski with international athletes, cheer the bands at Canada’s largest rock music festival, or build a sand castle. Watch hot air balloons rise into the sky and fireworks explode overhead, meet artists in their studios, be a cowhand for a day, and sample locally brewed beers and fresh local produce.
Plan to join the excitement in 2017 to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday.