The Best Places to Visit from Ottawa on a Budget

If you’re looking to stay within a budget but still want to adventure out of the city and visit somewhere new and exciting, these six places need to be on your radar. They’re far enough to shake up your usual routine but close enough that you won’t have to blow your budget on transportation or expensive accommodations.

1. Gatineau Park, Quebec

Less than twenty minutes from Ottawa’s downtown core is Gatineau Park, a budget-friendly day-trip destination. The park is a conservation space belonging to the NCC (National Capital Commission) that has become a popular hub for outdoor recreation in all seasons — though the most beautiful time of year to visit is the fall when the region’s hills become vibrant with oranges and reds.

The park is free to visit and has plenty of trails to walk, hike, bike, or even cross-country ski. If you want to avoid the crowds on weekends (particularly in the summer and fall), head out to the park’s outskirts and check out spots like Meech Creek Valley, Luskville Falls, or the Lusk Cave.

2. Chelsea, Quebec

Right before you enter Gatineau Park, you’ll find yourself in the quaint town of Chelsea, an enjoyable, budget-friendly spot to explore. Walking around to admire the homes and the views of Gatineau Park never fails to entertain, and the many pleasant restaurants and cafes always make for an enjoyable time. Depending on your budget, you could even participate in activities like bungee jumping and zip lining, or on a much calmer note, you could visit the Nordic Spa. 

If you’re stopping in the Chelsea area after hiking through Gatineau Park, the Chelsea Pub is the perfect place to stop for a bite after being on the trails all day. A plate piled high with French fries after a day of exercise can’t be beaten.

3. Merrickville, Ontario

Just an hour’s drive outside the city, you’ll find Merrickville, which has been called Canada’s most beautiful village. Aside from being a lovely village to drive or walk through, Merrickville has plenty of attractions. 

Among these attractions are hiking trails and walking paths along the Rideau Canal, as well as historic buildings and sites like the Merrickville Blockhouse and Merrickville Locks. And, of course, being a charming village, it’s filled with an array of inviting cafes and specialty shops that will undoubtedly draw you through their doors with their unique treasures.

No one will blame you if you turn your visit here into an overnight or weekend getaway. And, with accommodations at a range of prices, you’ll likely find a spot to stay that fits comfortably within your budget.

4. The Thousand Islands, Ontario

The Thousand Islands have a reputation for being a picturesque escape from regular life, and the area lives up to this reputation. Between the waterfront vistas and historic buildings, the region has been described as being as beautiful as a painting — and it’s less than two hours away from the city.

The Thousand Islands invites tourists to spend the day on the water or meander along the waterfront trails. With boat tours starting at just $33, you’ll be able to get out and enjoy the scenery and learn more about the area — just don’t forget your passport. The tours often wander over to sites in New York State, like Boldt Castle. But you don’t have to hop on a boat cruise to enjoy the area; by bringing along a bike or kayak (or renting them when you arrive), you can enjoy the sights and scenery at your own pace.

5. Calabogie, Ontario

Calabogie is just over an hour outside of Ottawa and makes for a wonderful place to visit. In the winter, the Calabogie Peaks Resort is a great spot to ski or snowboard. In the summer, you’ll find a number of beaches where you can spend the day in the water or lounging in the sun. 

Any time of year, you can hike up to Eagle’s Nest Lookout, which overlooks the Madawaska Highlands. The hike can be done at two different difficulty levels and distances, so you can pick your comfort level when you arrive.

In town, you can enjoy a pint at the Calabogie Brewery or find a few restaurants and cafes to satisfy your hunger. The area is perfect for a day-long escape from the city, though if you want to turn your visit into a getaway, there are also plenty of inviting inns, resorts, and motels.

6. Wakefield, Quebec

Just a half-hour outside of Ottawa and fifteen minutes from Chelsea, Quebec, you’ll discover a village that delivers excellent food and a vibrant art scene, Wakefield. Though it’s a small village, you’ll find a few upscale French restaurants like La Muse at the Wakefield Mill Hotel and Spa during your time here. This restaurant lets you enjoy a finely prepared meal with views of Wakefield’s beautiful scenery and a vast array of local artworks. 

When it comes to art, you’ll also find it at the Art Mode Gallery and Khewa, a boutique and gallery. You can even catch live shows at the Wakefield Theatre, where talented performers from around the country hit the stage. 

During your visit, you’ll also want to watch for the Wakefield Covered Bridge and the Fairbairn House Heritage Centre.

The Best Places to Visit Are Just a Stone’s Throw Away

There are many places near Ottawa where you’ll find enjoyment, entertainment, and a break from regular life while staying within your budget. Ottawa’s proximity to so many great places to visit feels like a wonderful bonus to living here — one that BonusFinder compared in the article they wrote.