Winter in the Outaouais is not simply a season, but rather a time when the extensive outdoor region is transformed into a snowy playground, a place enticing and thrilling for the whole family, a perfect close-to-home destination for Spring Break. The Outaouais, (pronounced Oo-ta-way), is tucked between the Laurentian Mountains and the Canadian Shield and just across the Ottawa River from our nation’s capital.
For the Adults: Located just minutes from downtown Ottawa, Gatineau Park has one of the largest networks of cross-country ski trails in North America with over 200 kilometres of groomed runs and 45 kilometres of back-country trails. There are day shelters with wood-burning stoves, and cabins and yurts for overnight stays. We stayed in the cozy Muskrat cabin at Kenauk Nature, a private backcountry chalet on its own private lake, surrounded by 140 square kilometres of pristine wilderness.
For the Kids: Visit Parc Oméga, a wild animal park. Sitting behind the wheel of your vehicle you can follow the 10 kilometre road around a 1,500 acre park, and observe bison, muskox, bear, moose, deer and fox. Here you can slip on your snowshoes and go exploring among the elk and white-tailed deer, or stay overnight in one of the park’s new lodgings near the wolves’ enclosure: choose from a prospector tent, yurt or house on stilts. In the morning follow the Park guides as they feed the wild animals.
Another fun stop is at the Arbraska Laflèche Aerial Park where the kids will love the tree-top trekking, ziplining and the 55 other challenging obstacles that will have you dangling high above the ground. Once you have conquered the trees, your kids can experience life below the ground with a tour through the largest visited cave on the Canadian Shield.
For the Family: Discover a wealth of Canada’s culture as you travel across 1,000 years of history at the Canadian Museum of History. There is an imposing collection of totem poles as you discover the traditions and achievements of our nation’s First Peoples. While you are there, don’t miss the IMAX Theatre. When your family has worked up an appetite, then plan a trip around the world with the international cuisine of Buffet des Continents in Gatineau. You can choose from over 150 dishes inspired by the traditions of such places as China, Italy, France, Spain, the Middles East, India, Asian and North America.
The Outaouais region boasts a network of hundreds of kilometres of cross country ski and snowshoe trails. After a day out exploring, warm your toes at a trailside hut or rustic inn. Then there are caves to explore, nature to experience, the thrill of adventure parks and the wonder of museums. Your family has to experience this 30,000 square kilometre winter playground to believe it.
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