10 Small Towns near Ottawa Perfect for Day Trips

10 Small Towns near Ottawa Perfect for Day Trips

One of the things that I adore about Ottawa is its closeness to many lovely towns. It makes it perfect for day trips where you can do all sorts of exciting activities and find awesome landmarks. 

Here are some small towns near Ottawa that I’ve traveled to which I’m sure will be worthy as your next destination! 

Carp

— Media Credit: carpfair

Notable Attractions: 

  • Carp Farmers’ Market
  • Carp River
  • Deifenbunker

When you arrive in this cozy little town, forget the bustling streets of the city center. Carp offers a laid-back, small-town atmosphere where you can breathe easy and soak in the scenery. 

Instead of malls and huge shopping centers, think of quaint shops lining the main street. I love how by simply walking around I get to meet friendly folks who wave and offer smiles at me. 

And if that wasn’t enough, I’m sure you’ll also appreciate the gentle hum of life away from the urban rush. Seriously, it’s so peaceful here you can walk around without a care in the world. 

I recommend that you lace up your boots for hikes along the scenic trails in the Carp Hills, cast a line for trout in the Carp River, or rent a kayak for a peaceful paddle. 

Are you feeling more mellow? Then you should scope out the migrating birds at the nearby Mer Bleue Conservation Area or have a picnic under the shade of towering trees.

Don’t let the small-town charm fool you – Carp boasts a surprising variety of culinary delights. 

From farm-to-table goodness at restaurants like Alice’s Village Cafe to the hand-crafted ice cream scoops at Carp Custom Creamery, your taste buds will be thanking you. 

Plus, don’t miss the chance to stock up on fresh produce and local goodies at the vibrant Carp Farmers’ Market.

And if you are a history buff, then I am 100% confident you will love what I have to tell you next. Carp is steeped in heritage with landmarks like the Deifenbunker, a Cold War relic turned massive escape room, and the historic St. James Anglican Church. 

Pro Tip: 

If you’re planning to visit the Carp Farmers’ Market on a Saturday, get there before noon. This will give you enough time to snag the best local produce and treats. 

Aylmer

— Media Credit: kevanangryskates

Notable Attractions: 

  • Parc des Cèdres
  • Aylmer Marina
  • Secteur Taché

Ah, Aylmer! For me, the best way to describe this little gem across the Ottawa River is France but in Canada. 

Let me tell you why this is the case for me and many other Ottawans and tourists. 

When you first enter into Aylmer, it feels like stepping into another world. Old-fashioned cafes line the streets, French chatter fills the air, and the architecture boasts a distinct European charm. 

But don’t worry my friend, you’re still in Canada! The friendly atmosphere and bilingual locals ensure you feel welcome and can easily switch between languages.

Now, the mighty Ottawa River is the lifeblood of Aylmer. A stroll along the scenic pathways is one of the most popular activities here, where you can soak up the sun on the sandy beach at Parc des Cèdres.

If you’re a more adventurous spirit, I’m sure you’d love to rent a kayak or paddleboard to explore the water from a different perspective. In the winter, lace up your skates and glide across the frozen river – pure magic!

When you feel your stomach grumble, you’ll be happy to know that there’s no shortage of restaurants here. From cozy crêperies to lively bistros, Aylmer’s culinary scene is a delight. 

You can grab a fresh coffee and croissant at a sidewalk cafe, indulge in decadent poutine at a local pub, or savor a gourmet meal with a river view. Don’t forget to try the local gelato – it’s legendary among us locals for a very good reason!

History buffs will love exploring the Aylmer Marina with its charming boats and rich heritage. The Secteur Taché boasts historical houses and museums, like the Maison Taché, offering a glimpse into the town’s past. 

And for art enthusiasts, don’t miss the vibrant galleries showcasing local talent.

Pro Tip: 

I recommend that you explore Aylmer on two wheels as it’s a fun and leisurely way to see the sights. Numerous bike paths weave through the town and along the river.

Almonte

— Media Credit: almonte_town

Notable Attractions: 

  • Almonte Train Station
  • Heritage Court
  • Secteur Taché

I and many other Canadians know this town to be a historic mill town nestled on the Mississippi River. It’s a 40-minute drive away from Ottawa’s usual bustle, and it’s a place teeming with so much history. 

Almonte’s soul lies in its 19th-century heritage. I remember the first time I strolled down Mill Street, I was greeted by the sight of many vintage houses. 

You’ll really feel like you’ve stepped onto a Victorian-era movie set. Everywhere you look, you’ll find homes that feature that distinct architectural style as well as converted storefronts. 

Don’t miss the Almonte train station, a National Historic Site that oozes old-world charm. If you want to learn more about the town’s history, the Gemmill House Museum often hosts events and workshops, offering a glimpse into its rich past.

Of course, I need to talk about the Mississippi River as it’s the main star of the show here. Every time I visit the town with friends and relatives, we like to hike or bike along the scenic Almonte Riverwalk as it offers stunning views of the falls and rapids. 

You can also rent a kayak for a peaceful paddle down the river, or simply relax on the riverbank with a picnic. 

As for shopping, Almonte is teeming with indie stores. One such example is Cheerfully Made, which offers some pretty unique finds with some thorough browsing. 

I’ve come across some pretty awesome handcrafted trinkets here that I’ve given out as presents.

If you’re craving a bite, there are plenty of great options here. One shop that comes to my mind is Baker Bob’s, which is legendary for its mouth-watering pastries. 

It doesn’t just end there though as you’ll also come across farm-to-table delights at places like Heart & Soil and Cafe Postino’s wood-fired pizzas. Needless to say, your taste buds will be thanking you!  

I also recommend that you drop by Equator Coffee’s roastery and cafe if you have a fondness for the beverage. It’s quite famous for being a haven for coffee connoisseurs! 

Pro Tip: 

When it comes to shopping, the vibrant Almonte Farmers’ Market is a must-visit part of the town. It features some fresh produce and some amazing artisan crafts and local goods. 

You should also visit the many antique shops scattered around the town as you might find a unique treasure as a souvenir. 

Kemptville

— Media Credit: explorenorthgrenville

Notable Attractions: 

  • Ferguson Forest Centre
  • Kemptville College
  • Secteur Taché

Kemptville is steeped in history, and it’s on full display thanks to its well-preserved architecture and landmarks. 

First off, I recommend that you take a leisurely stroll down Clothier Street East. Once there, you’ll find yourself surrounded by heritage buildings, each telling a tale of the town’s past. 

If you are an avid lover of nature, Kemptville is a natural playground near Ottawa. A favorite spot of mine is the Ferguson Forest Centre, featuring miles of hiking and biking trails winding through lush greenery. 

What I like to do with friends and family is to pack a picnic, and relax at one of the many scenic spots there. In the winter, the trails transform into a snowy landscape, perfect for cross-country skiing or a peaceful snowshoeing excursion.

Downtown Kemptville exudes a warm, small-town charm with its vintage boutiques and cafés. These stores offer everything from handmade crafts to antique finds. 

And when you need a break, pop into one of the local cafés. Trust me; they serve up some of the coziest atmospheres along with delicious treats that’ll please your taste buds.

A real gem for those interested in agriculture and horticulture is Kemptville College. 

The campus is a blend of education and natural beauty, and I simply adore the peaceful ambiance it provides. It’s a lesser-known spot but truly worth the visit, and I think it’s deserving of more attention.

Now for the real star of the show: the festivals. These joyous events are a testament to the vibrant community spirit, and you’ll definitely want to participate if your visit coincides with one of these occasions. 

Whether it’s the Kemptville Live Music Festival or the Kemptville RibFest, there’s always something happening that brings the community together. I was able to attend the Ribfest once and let me tell you, it was a meat lovers’ paradise! 

Pro Tip: 

Kemptville has some of the most amazing night sky views in Ontario. Take it as an opportunity to go stargazing in some awesome spots like Anniversary Park and Woollen Mill Ruins.

Merrickville

— Media Credit: merrickville.ontario.chamber

Notable Attractions: 

  • Rideau Canal
  • 1844 Woolen Mill
  • Merrickville Arts Guild

Are you someone who possesses an appreciation for the finer arts? Then this small town near Ottawa is one that you must visit.

Artistry is displayed front and center in this relaxing location and is a place that we love to go to when we want to bask in artistic bliss. Merrickville unapologetically wears its creative heart on its sleeve, being lined up with all sorts of amazing galleries. 

Everywhere you look, you can find pieces by some of Ottawa’s finest talent. It truly fills me with pride to see our artists being recognized for their incredible craftsmanship.

And if that wasn’t enough for you, then you should also give the Merrickville Arts Guild (MAG). Every so often, the guild and its amazing members hold exhibitions that feature the works of the town’s best artisans. 

This is also a prime opportunity for you to participate in its workshops which teach you some hands-on lessons to further increase your artistic know-how! 

Besides the art, Merrickville is quite famous for its industrial past too. One notable location I’ve visited is the 1844 woolen mill ruins which as its name implies, was the town’s primary source of wool and cotton.

Then you have the Blockhouse Museum, a restored military outpost offering a glimpse into the War of 1812 and Canada’s many war efforts during that time. 

Finally, you have the Rideau Canal, a personal favorite of mine. Merrickville is blessed with a breathtaking view of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, and you can spend hours just roaming the place and taking pictures. 

There were some occasions where I’ve ridden a kayak along the beautiful waters several times, snapping photos of the locks and the gorgeous scenery.

I’ve made a ton of memories in this artificial body of water, and its beauty is most certainly something you don’t want to miss out on! 

Pro Tip: 

If you want to see the mesmerizing art of glassblowing, I recommend attending a session at the Grey Art Glass. You can get a firsthand look at how artisans create amazing glass pieces and even try it out yourself! 

Prescott

— Media Credit: townofprescott

Notable Attractions: 

  • St. Lawrence River
  • Sandra S. Lawn Harbour & Marina
  • Fort Wellington National Historic Site

Do you want a small town near Ottawa that features a scenic waterfront? Then head on over to Prescott, where an amazing riverside view awaits you. 

The St. Lawrence River is the show’s main star, weaving through the heart of the town. I enjoy the sight of ships navigating the river, which I would say is comparable to a dance that echoes the municipality’s maritime history. 

The Sandra S. Lawn Harbour & Marina is my go-to spot. There’s just something mesmerizing and calming to me about watching the boats bob gently in the breeze that’s hard to put into words.

For an even more engaging experience, why not rent a kayak or paddleboard? This is in my opinion one of the best ways to get a completely different perspective of the St. Lawrence River. 

Prescott isn’t lacking in historical marvels of course. A prominent example of this is the Fort Wellington National Historic Site, which stands as a living testament to the town’s past. 

It takes us back to the 19th century, with costumed interpreters and interactive exhibits making history come alive. I’ve found these to add an extra level of flavor to the whole experience. 

Then you have Prescott’s downtown, which is chock full of charming boutiques, cafes, and historic architecture. One restaurant that stood out to me was the Red George Pub, which offered some delicious takes on well-loved pub food such as burgers and fries. 

You may want to grab a cup of coffee too, it’s a great companion while strolling down King Street.

Pro Tip: 

If you happen to visit Prescott during June, check out the Prescott Art Walk which is exclusively held during this month. 

You can find local artists showcasing their work in various locations throughout the downtown core, transforming Prescott into an open-air gallery.

Perth

— Media Credit: elizabethpotterphoto

Notable Attractions: 

  • Perth Town Hall
  • Perth Chocolate Works
  • Tay River

History, charm, and small-town vibes are what define Perth. It boasts a rich heritage, evident in its beautiful stone buildings lining the main street. 

I remember strolling down the historic Gore Street, and it gave me a feeling like I was transported to a quaint European village. 

The impressive Perth Town Hall is one of the most stunning examples of Victorian architecture I’ve ever seen, and honestly? It left an awesome impression on me, something I’ll remember for a lifetime. 

Beyond the main street, you can explore the fascinating Matheson House, a historic museum showcasing the life of a prominent Perth family. 

There’s also the Perth Museum, which I discovered houses the artistic side of the town with its diverse exhibits and events. It features some incredible works from local artists that I feel deserve more recognition due to their quality.

Then you have the amazing Perth Farmers’ Market that’s open from May to October, which offers us a taste of awesome local produce and artisanal goods. 

For even more culinary delights, head to Code’s Mill at 17 Wilson Street where you can find the Perth Chocolate Works shop. It features all sorts of delicious confectionery to satisfy your sweet tooth and let me tell you this: the chocolate cheesecake is top-tier!  

Now if you want to bask in the beauty of nature, head on over to the sparkling Tay River where you can do all sorts of exciting outdoor activities. 

You can go hiking or biking along the breathtaking trails of Stewart Park, or you can rent a kayak and get up close and personal with the river’s currents. 

And if you happen to visit Perth during the winter, I think you should grab your ice skates as the river turns into a dazzling skating rink! 

Pro Tip: 

I recommend that you stretch your legs here! When looking around, ditch the car and explore Perth on foot. 

The compact downtown core is easily walkable, allowing you to soak in the charming streetscape and hidden nooks. It’s also a good workout. 

Chelsea

— Media Credit: chelsea_quebec

Notable Attractions: 

  • Gatineau Park
  • Le Nordik Spa-Nature
  • The Chelsea Pub

As someone who’s explored Chelsea’s winding trails and cozy corners plenty of times, I can confidently say that this town is a perfect blend of natural beauty, outdoor adventures, and a laid-back vibe. 

In short, it’ll make you want to stay for quite some time! 

Chelsea shares its backyard with none other than the magnificent Gatineau Park. Hiking enthusiasts, brace yourselves! 

The park offers a plethora of trails, each unveiling a new slice of nature’s grandeur. My personal favorite is the Pink Lake Trail – a serene escape with the reward of breathtaking views. 

In the winter, the park transforms into a snowy wonderland, perfect for cross-country skiing or a peaceful snowshoeing excursion.

For those seeking relaxation, Le Nordik Spa-Nature is Chelsea’s crown jewel. This Scandinavian style is tucked between the trees and has a that spa offers thermal baths, saunas, and relaxation areas that’ll transport you to a world of tranquility. 

A dip in the outdoor pools with the crisp air kissing your skin – it’s a rejuvenating experience I find myself coming back to time and again.

Of course, no visit to this place is complete without a stop at the Chelsea Pub. The resto’s rustic ambiance, live music, and a menu boasting local flavors make it a quintessential experience of the town. 

For my personal recommendation, I’d say you should try their craft beers if you’re a fan of alcoholic beverages. It’s a taste of the town in a cold and soothing glass.

Pro Tip: 

While Mill Street is the heart of Chelsea. Venture off to explore the charming backstreets like Rue de L’Église and Rue Old Chelsea where you’ll find hidden gems like art galleries, local boutiques, and cozy cafes.

Manotick

— Media Credit: vicki.photography

Notable Attractions: 

  • Watson’s Mill
  • Rideau River
  • Dickinson Square

Manotick’s hidden nooks make it a gem of a day trip just a short hop from Ottawa. It’s got small-town charm oozing from every cobblestone, rich history whispering from its buildings, and enough activities to keep you busy, or relaxed, as your heart desires.

The town’s main attraction is the Watson’s Mill, which stands proudly along the Rideau River. Upon entering this historic gristmill, it feels like we are taken back to a period when electronics weren’t a thing and manual labor was the norm. 

Speaking of the Rideau River, it graces Manotick with its serene presence and offers a peaceful backdrop for various activities. 

If you want something that offers plenty of peace and quiet, go on a picnic with your friends and relatives and find a quiet spot near the riverbank. It sets up a perfect afternoon where you can just hang out and chill with them. 

Now a personal favorite of mine is kayaking along the river, an activity that’s exactly what the more adventurous crowd is looking for. 

The rhythmic paddle strokes and the gentle current create a perfect harmony with nature, allowing me to appreciate the natural beauty of our world. 

At the heart of Manotick is Dickinson Square, a public space surrounded by historic buildings and a fountain at its center. During the warmer months, it becomes a hotspot for community events and gatherings. 

I’ve found that the square’s charm lies in its simplicity, making it a perfect spot for us to unwind and soak in the local ambiance.

Just like any good town, Manotick’s village core is filled with lovely boutiques and charming cafes. There’s a ton of hidden gems waiting to be discovered! 

The Manotick Mews is my favorite location if I want a souvenir or a gift. This particular part of the town features a collection of local shops showcasing everything from handmade crafts to unique gifts.

Now if you’re feeling peckish, treat yourself to restaurants like the Mill Tavern for some comfort food. For dessert, I recommend the homemade treats at Mimi’s Donuts and Dairy Barn for a good little palette cleanser. 

Pro Tip: 

Sunsets in Manotick are absolutely gorgeous along the Rideau River. The waterfront turns into a natural work of art as it comes alive with vibrant colors as the sun dips below the horizon. 

It’s the perfect spot for a romantic stroll or a moment of peaceful reflection.

Montebello

— Media Credit: fairmontmontebello

Notable Attractions: 

  • Fairmont Le Château Montebello
  • Parc Omega
  • Manoir Papineau

Montebello is a delightful blend of history, natural beauty, and French-inspired allure. Let me show you why it’s earned this reputation. 

The town’s crown jewel is undoubtedly the Fairmont Le Château Montebello, one of the most iconic accommodations in Canada. This resort, with its rustic charm and grandeur, is practically a living piece of history. 

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve wandered through its halls, marveled at the massive fireplace, and sipped coffee on the expansive veranda overlooking the Ottawa River. It’s a tiny bit of luxury that adds a magical touch to any visit.

Next up is the famous Parc Omega, one that I’m sure nature lovers will adore. It’s a wildlife park where you can observe animals roaming freely in their natural habitat, giving you a look into their untamed lifestyles like never before. 

The best part? You’ve got an option to either drive by the animal trail where the wildlife approaches your car for a very close encounter or go on foot to watch them from a distance. 

Now, do you want to immerse in the town’s history? Then check out the downtown area where you can see some vintage houses and buildings. 

Among those structures, the Manoir Papineau stands out as one of the most famous residences in the area. From what I’ve seen, it was the home of Louis-Joseph Papineau, a very influential Canadian politician who helped shape the country. 

Finally, the town’s also rather close to the Ottawa River, which opens up plenty of activities in the water for us. I’ve found that a relaxing cruise on the waves is perfect for passing the time and seeing more of Montebello from a different view.

Pro Tip: 

If you’re feeling extra adventurous, I recommend that you hike the scenic “Sentier Chute à l’Ours” trail for a hidden gem: the cascading Chute à l’Ours waterfall. 

This hidden paradise offers some breathtaking scenery that makes it a perfect place for a picnic.