As I mentioned yesterday, this summer I’m launching a new bloggy series: Friday Family Fun! I thought I’d get us started with one of my favourite summertime activities: meeting the animals. Here’s five great places to visit if you’d like to get to know our furry friends in and around the Ottawa area.
1. Valley View Little Animal Farm
Valley View is the perfect place for the toddler to early school age set. There’s fun stuff to climb on at the front of the park, and a small barn with goats, chickens, rabbits and the usual petting zoo type creatures that you can feed by hand. My boys have always been fans of the dozens of metal yellow Tonka trucks strewn around near the entrance… when they were toddlers, I think we could’ve just paid our admission fee, play with the trucks for three hours and then leave again without actually looking at the rest of the farm! If you do that, though, you’ll miss the wonderful animal barns (pigs, ponies, peacocks, geese and chickens, bunnies, ostrich and deer and so much more), the most amazing playgrounds and climbers, and a fantastic agricultural museum. You can read my blog post about Valleyview from 2009 or visit the Valley View website for more details. Valley View is open every day except Monday, and admission is $8 per person.
2. Papanack Park Zoo
It’s been quite a few years since we’ve been out to the far east end of town to visit the Papanack Park Zoo, but I’m surprised that I’ve never blogged about it. At this zoo off Highway 174 near Wendover, you’ll find an assortment of animals from lions and tigers to gibbons and squirrel monkeys to arctic wolves and black bears and much, much more. Admission is $17.50 for adults, $10 for kids 6 – 18, and $8.00 for kids 2 – 5 years old (kiddies under 2 are free!)
3. Parc Omega
Parc Omega is on our list of places to visit again this summer! Parc Omega is a kind of African Lion Safari with native Canadian animals like wapiti and wolves and bears instead of lions and baboons. It’s the same concept, though. You drive a 10 km loop through gorgeous forests and plains amidst the (mostly) free-roaming animals. Instead of baboons crawling on your car, you can feed carrots (and, in our case, soda crackers) to wapiti and red deer. There are also hiking trails and an interpretive centre.
Parc Omega is about an hour from Ottawa, down Hwy 148 to Route 323 near Montebello. Rates are as follows: adults $18; children 6 to 15, $13; and 2 to 5, $7. I blogged about our visit in 2008.
4. The Canada Agriculture Museum
We! Love! The! Farm! I’ve had the joint membership to the Canada Agriculture Museum, the Aviation Museum and the Science and Technology Museum for years, and they have paid for themselves over and over again. It just wouldn’t be summer without a morning at the Farm, visiting the smelly cow barns, petting the baby calves, admiring the muscular horses and the chubby pigs, and taking a ride in the tractor simulator. And have you checked out their relatively new (2009, I think?) play structure? It’s awesome! The Agriculture Museum is definitely one of the best places in Ottawa to visit with kids.
Admission is an affordable $16 per family (oh how I love family-pack admissions!) but there are excellent membership and day-pass combo prices as well. Check out their website for details!
5. Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo
Let’s face it, summer is not all sunshine and clear skies. If you’re looking for a rainy day activity or need to get out of the blazing sun for a while, consider a trip to Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo in the city’s south end.
You may have encountered Little Ray’s traveling show at a summer event or a birthday party, but if you’ve never made the trek out to see them on the south end of Bank Street, you should! They have an amazing array of slithering, swimming, creeping and flying creatures, and an amazing educational program that keeps kids riveted. Family admission for four (sigh) is $38, and $8 for each additional person. I’m particularly fond of Little Ray’s because that’s the first place I ever took all three boys on my own back in 2008, and we make sure to go back at least once a year.
That’s my five recommendations – do you want to play along? If you blog about animal adventures in the national capital region this week, let me know and I’ll put up a link to your post. Or you can play along in the comment box. Got a suggestion for family fun with animals in or around Ottawa?
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