Ottawa museums cover a broad range of family-friendly, art-focused, and historical exhibits. Whether heading inside from a frozen winter day, learning about Canadian cultures, or enjoying a relaxed summer holiday, a visit to an Ottawa museum means plenty to discover.
Best Ottawa Family Museums
Family-friendly museums are entertaining for kids and adults. Close to Parliament Hill and downtown Ottawa, select national museums do an outstanding job of engaging kids and providing interesting and hands-on museum activities.
Bytown Museum: On the banks of the Rideau Canal, the Bytown Museum keeps the history of Ottawa alive. During summer, family activities include dressing in historical costumes and special celebrations for holidays such as Canada Day. Seeing the locks of the canal makes a great summer exploration. The Bytown Museum lies between the Parliament Buildings and Château Laurier. 1 Canal Lane, 613-234-4570
Canadian Museum of Nature: One of the best Ottawa family museums, the Canadian Museum of Nature covers everything from fossils to space. Kids can discover how present-day mammals have adapted to survive, or look into the earth’s history and the animals that once roamed the surface. Interactive and interesting exhibits make the Canadian Museum of Nature a fantastic family destination. 240 McLeod St., 613-566-4700
Canadian War Museum: As one of the newest Ottawa museums, the Canadian War Museum blends history with the future. Exhibits range from North America’s colonial wars to peacekeeping, while life-size displays include a real fighter jet and infantry equipment. Opened in 2005, this Ottawa Museum provides a poignant view of the Parliament Hill Peace Tower from its meaningfully designed Regeneration Hall. 1 Vimy Place, 819-776-7000 or toll free 1-800-555-5621
More Downtown Ottawa Museums
Downtown Ottawa is also home to museums that appeal to all visitors. The National Gallery of Canada draws art fans, while the Currency Museum rates as one of Ottawa’s best free activities.
Currency Museum of the Bank of Canada: This Ottawa museum presents the full history of money through time, and Canada’s place in that story. Perhaps the best money-fact at the museum is the admission charge: visiting this Ottawa museum is free. 245 Sparks St., 613-782-8914
National Gallery of Canada: Housing a fantastic Indigenous art collection and many international works, the National Gallery provides plenty to see on an Ottawa day trip. 380 Sussex Dr., 613-990-1985
Things to Do in Downtown Ottawa
Ottawa public transportation, OC Transpo, offers bus routes to Ottawa’s main museums, but in the summer these museums are within comfortable walking distance of downtown and Parliament Hill. While in Ottawa, try to catch one of the capital’s popular festivals. Enjoy the spring Canadian Tulip Festival, summertime Canada Day celebrations, or Winterlude during the cold season.