8 Lovely Day Trips From Ottawa (+ How To Get There)

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Check Out These Awesome Day Trips From Ottawa!

There are quite a few places to drive to around Ottawa that make an awesome one-day adventure. Stunning nature parks, hikes, small towns, and other attractions can make for a great day whether you are travelling from Ottawa in the summer or winter!

We really like this area of the province known as Eastern Ontario. The Ottawa Valley and the surrounding landscape, which is dotted with lakes and rivers, is visually very scenic and tranquil.

Eric has had the chance to explore several smaller places over the years (like Almonte) but only so many of these places make a solid day trip from Ottawa (for the purposes of a visitor or a local).

There are even bigger cities that offer up a different option. Whether you are a family travelling with kids or you’re looking for a simple getaway with friends, there is a day trip from Ottawa to suit everyone. Let’s get started.

A “day trip” is anything that is 2.5 hours driving (or less) from Ottawa. Day trips from Ottawa are best completed if you have a car since minimal public transit options exist. So, you can compare here for rental car prices in Ottawa.

Diefenbunker Museum + Carp

Navigation Address: 3929 Carp Rd, Carp, ON K0A 1L0, Canada

people walking into metal barn entrance at diefenbunker.
Heading into the Bunker… looks normal from the outside!

In our opinion, one of the coolest day trips from Ottawa is to head to the Diefenbunker Museum. Located in the small town of Carp, the Diefenbunker is the name given to the Cold War-era bunker.

This special bunker was built to protect very important Canadians (government officials, mostly) in case nuclear war reached Canada. The Prime Minister at the time in the late 1950s was John Diefenbaker…. so you might get the name now!

Over the years, this massive underground facility has been restored and turned into a museum. It’s like a giant time capsule where you can learn all about the history of the bunker, Canada’s involvement in the Cold War, and lots of other cool historical points.

Did you know that the Bank of Canada built a vault in there to house all the gold? Well, you can go and see it!

scale model of bunker in diefenbunker museum.
The scale model of the bunker really puts things into perspective!

You can wander through the museum – spread around most of the 100,000 square foot bunker – on a self-guided tour or you can join one of the guided tours.

That is included with your admission ticket. We did a guided tour and it was honestly really, really great. We had a passionate and informative guide who brought the museum to life and we definitely learned a lot.

If you head to the Diefenbunker Museum, you’ll be passing through the small town of Carp which you should also explore before you leave.

There are a café, creamery, and even a brewery on the main street through town in case you’re looking for a place to eat before or after you visit the museum.

Ottawa to the Diefenbunker By Car

The best and basically the only way to get to the Diefenbunker is by car. Luckily, the route is very simple – just take Hwy 417 west out of Ottawa and then the exit for Carp Road northwest towards the town of Carp.

Once you pass through the small town of Carp, the entrance to the Diefenbunker is on your left. They have a very large parking lot so parking is really easy and free!


Navigation Address for Downtown Almonte: 79 Little Bridge St, Almonte, ON K0A 1A0, Canada

old stone mill by river with bridge crossing and blue sky above.
Nothing like a shot of the Mississippi River to put you at ease!

If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city, a great day trip from Ottawa is Almonte.

The small historic town located on the Mississippi River – which is not the same as the one in the United States – makes a quaint little getaway.

Eric stumbled upon Almonte many years ago through a local connection and the town has held a soft spot in his heart ever since.

There are actually a surprising number of things to do and see when you’re in Almonte.

Fun Fact: The inventor of basketball – John Naismith – was actually born and raised in Almonte and you can find a statue of him and a basketball hoop in the centre of town.

plate on table with fries and a wrap at pub.
Gotta love lunch or a drink at the Barley Mow!

The “downtown core” is full of boutique shops while the surrounding area has a few museums, parks, and beaches where you can relax. Eric has been to Almonte Beach and it was good for a dip in the summertime.

A highlight of visiting Almonte is to relax by the river at the local pub/eatery the Barley Mow.

It’s a great place to stop in for lunch or to enjoy a drink with locals and others passing through the area.

There is also a really good ice cream stand called The Almonte Ice Cream Shop which you can try out after!

Ottawa to Almonte By Car

If you’re looking to head to Almonte from Ottawa, the only way to get there is by car. Luckily the drive is very simple – just take Hwy 417 west out of Ottawa and head south on March Road (49).

You just follow this street all the way to the heart of Almonte – it turns into Main Street East. The drive takes roughly 45 minutes so it’s very easy to head out in the morning and return in the evening without much hassle.

Rafting on the Ottawa River

Navigation Addresses: 40 OWL Lane, Foresters Falls (Owl Rafting) and 1260 Grants Settlement Rd, Foresters Falls (Wilderness Tours)

If you’re looking for a bit of an adrenaline rush, you might consider a more extreme day trip from Ottawa. How about going whitewater rafting on the Ottawa River? To do this you should check out Owl Rafting or going with Wilderness Tours.

Eric has been rafting with both companies (located relatively close to one another) and both companies made for an incredible day out on the water.

Rafting the Ottawa River itself was super fun and very safe given that the guides and the both company are very knowledgeable and well-accredited.

The area is just one part of the Ottawa Valley which is quite beautiful so it’s also a great way to go and “get outdoors” for the day.

As a side note, both Owl Rafting and Wilderness Tours have large grounds with cabins, camping facilities, and a main area with cafeteria (Wilderness had a large outdoor patio and bar area with lawn games), waterfront amenities, and more.

Both companies served up breakfast at the main hall and bus you out to the starting point to meet the rafts. There are also different intensities to suit your group. We’d highly recommend a trip to either!

If you’re in the area, check out Whitewater Brewing Co. for a locally-made pint after rafting!

Ottawa to Owl Rafting By Car

If you’re thinking about going rafting for the day, Owl Rafting is located in Foresters Falls. This is a small town located northwest of Ottawa along the Ottawa River.

You basically just take Highway 417 (the Trans-Canada Highway) almost all the way there and the driving time is only about 1 hour 30 minutes. This distance makes it quite easy to get there and back in a single day.


Navigation Address for Calabogie Brewery (right in town): 12612 Lanark Rd, Calabogie, ON K0J 1H0

large rock extending off cliff over top of green trees in below valley.
The classic shot of the rock at the Eagles Nest Lookout!

Known for its rugged, rolling landscape, beautiful lake, and numerous trails, Calabogie is a gem of the Ottawa Valley. It’s no surprise that Calabogie is a popular day trip from Ottawa in all seasons.

Calabogie is likely best known for Calabogie Peaks Resort. This all-season resort is situated at one of the larger mountains in Ontario with excellent skiing/snowboarding.

The area also has some great hiking trails – like the famous Eagles Nest Lookout Trail which is part of the larger Manitou Mountain Trail (which snakes around the same area as the Resort).

There are a number of other hikes in the area like Dacre Heights, Sugar Mountain/Wabun Lake, and the K&P Trail, among others.

The area is also known for its immense ATV/dirt biking trail system – and Tom Irwin Adventure Tours, a local company, will take you out safely and show you how it’s done!

If that’s not for you, you can always head to Calabogie for a relaxing day by the lake – or paddle the lake with a rental from Mad River Paddle Co.

As for “in town”, there are several local shops and businesses you can check out. Calabogie Brewing Co is a popular stop for some local beer. 

You can swing by to grab a few take-home cans or you can choose their back patio with chairs that overlook the Madawaska River as it heads out of town.

You can also grab a bite to eat at Redneck Bistro on the other side of the street. They have a huge menu and lots of beer on tap!

red barn with garage door and brewery sign in front.
Calabogie Brewing Co was great – try the “Front Porch” Kölsch-style beer!

For coffee, head to Oh-el-la is a cute café with both indoor and outdoor seating. It’s a good place for a coffee but they also do a nice light breakfast and have a few other food items you can munch on. 

You can check out lots of other things to see and do in this detailed guide on things to do in Calabogie.

Ottawa to Calabogie By Car

The best (and pretty much only) way to get to Calabogie is by car. The total driving time is about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Leaving Ottawa, you take Highway 417/Trans-Canada Hwy west towards Arnprior. 

Then, exit the highway for Calabogie Road/508 around Glasgow Station (shortly after the 417 becomes one road). Route 508 will head southwest and hug the Madawaska River bringing you right into town. 

Pro Tip: You’ll pass through Burnstown on the 508 so stop into Neat Cafe for a wood-fired pizza, coffee, or even a live show if you’re planning on staying out late!


Navigation Address for Visitor Information Centre: 209 Ontario St, Kingston, ON K7L 2Z1, Canada

downtown kingston ontario buildings and boats at historic waterfront.
The views of Kingston from the water looking inland – City Hall is the big building!

Diving into Canadian history is very easy to do if you head for Kingston on a day trip. If you’re new to Ontario Away, you should know that we have a slight bias towards Kingston.

Eric lived and worked in Kingston for the better part of a decade and so we really enjoy the city and make frequent visits. You can even watch us explore Kingston on YouTube.

Having said that, there truly are many things to see and do in Kingston. Kingston was the original capital of Canada back in the day and is known as the “Limestone City” because of the material used in many of the historic downtown buildings.

Aside from walking the beautiful waterfront you can also check out top attractions like Fort Henry, the Kingston Penitentiary, or head out on a guided cruise of the Thousand Islands or on the Kingston Trolley Tour.

red old trolley car parked on street with old building behind in kingston ontario.
The Kingston Trolley Tour is worth it if you have never been before!

If you’re not into history, downtown Kingston is absolutely packed with shops, restaurants, cafes, and pubs.

We won’t get too into the details because we have numerous posts on all these topics which you can find below.

Of course, to give you something to work with – you might want to check out Kingston Brew Company which is down near the Kingston Visitor Information Centre (located in an old train station).

Kingston is also a good day trip option at any time of the year because there are many ways to enjoy the summer sun as well as activities to do in the winter – like skating at Springer Market Square.

Ottawa to Kingston By Car

If you want to explore Kingston from Ottawa, there are many ways to get there. For the purposes of a day trip, the best way to travel is by car – but you have two options for routes:

The first option is to take Highway 416 south out of Ottawa until you hit Highway 401 heading west.

The total driving time is around 2 hours and it’s very straightforward on just the two highways. Kingston has many highway exits – an exit at Division Street will bring you right to downtown.

The other more scenic driving option is to sneak your way across the rural landscape on a route that is made up mainly of Hwy 15.

You’ll pass through several small towns like Carleton Place and Smiths Falls and eventually end up a bit northeast of Kingston. Just keep driving, turn right on Highway 2, and cross the Causeway Bridge to head downtown.

The driving time is a tad bit longer than the strict highway option above but it is a little more scenic and adventurous. It’s actually one of Eric’s favourite drives in all of Ontario – a post that we are planning to write in the future!

Ottawa to Kingston By Train

If you don’t want to drive to Kingston, you actually could take the train – but it comes with some details to consider.

The Via Rail train does run between the two cities but the schedule might not work for a day trip to get there and back.

Another thing to consider is the fact that the train station in Ottawa is a little bit far from downtown and the train station in Kingston is very far from downtown.

In either case, you are likely to grab a bus or taxi to get into the different city centres which add to your travel time. That said, the train trip is around 2 hours and it’s quite pretty. You can learn more at the Via Rail website.

Ottawa to Kingston By Bus

To get to Kingston from Ottawa by bus, you can choose to take the Megabus. They run an Ottawa-Toronto route twice daily and it stops in Kingston. The earliest route leaves Ottawa at 9:10 am from St. Laurent Station, Platform E.

They also run a return route from Kingston to Ottawa later in the day (5:55pm Kingston departure).

The other bus company that is recently into Ontario is FlixBus. They are European (German) and we’ve travelled with them numerous times in the past.

They also run an early route most days (leaves 7:30 am or 9:00 am most days) and a return route that leaves Kingston at 6:20 pm latest.

So, for the sake of a day trip, it’s possible to get to Kingston to Ottawa and back in a single day with a few hours to explore the city. One thing to note, however, is that tickets are cheaper the more in advance you buy them.

A last-minute bus day trip to Kingston is possible – but might be a little costly when you work out the bus fares for your particular day.

Also keep in mind that Megabus leaves from St. Laurent Station while FlixBus leaves from closer to Downtown Ottawa at ByWard Market (33 George Street, Ottawa)!

Bonnechere Caves

Navigation Address: 1247 Fourth Chute Rd, Eganville, ON K0J 1T0, Canada

Full disclosure: We haven’t actually been to the Bonnechere Caves but they are a very popular natural phenomenon/attraction in Ontario and we didn’t want to leave them off the list.

We are dying to visit and we will write up a whole post when we do so keep you posted on that!

The caves are located in Eganville which is definitely easiest to get to with a car.

The driving time is about 1 hour and 20 minutes to the northwest of Ottawa so it’s definitely doable in a day trip.

Gananoque/1000 Islands

Navigation Address for Gananoque 1000 Islands Visitor Centre: 10 King St E, Gananoque, ON K7G 1E6, Canada

woman with sunglasses posing for photo on 1000 islands cruise.
There’s Lisa on the 1000 Islands cruise – with Gananoque in the distance!

If you’re looking to get out on the water for the day, you could always head down to Gananoque which is located on the Saint Lawrence River.

This is another smaller historic city that is similar to Kingston in that there are a handful of attractions you can check out like the 1000 Islands History Museum. There are also some parks and beaches along the shoreline for a bit of a relaxing time.

Of course, it’s no secret that Gananoque is the gateway to the 1000 Islands – a large island chain that extends along the river between Canada and the USA.

The islands are beautiful to sail through and also hold important cultural and historical significance due to their location between the countries.

They are a popular place for cottage rentals and you might even want to head for Boldt Castle if you are in the area!

green trees and cabin on small island with lake water around in 1000 islands.
Just one of the many islands you’ll encounter if you cruise through!

A top activity is to head out on the water on a 1000 Islands boat cruise (which you can do from Kingston or from Gananoque).

The cruises are different lengths and some even offer live entertainment as well as a meal so check the Gananoque cruises website and choose one that works best for you and your group.

We have done the 1000 Islands Cruise but left from Kingston so if you want to read about that experience you can do so. The area is beautiful and feels very Canadian – like from a postcard, at times – so we’d recommend Gananoque as a day trip for sure.

Ottawa to Gananoque By Car

Once again the easiest way to get to Gananoque from Ottawa is by car. The drive is very simple and it is similar to the route to Kingston but shorter at 1 hour 40 minutes.

Just take Hwy 416 south out of Ottawa to the 401 and head westbound. There are few exits for Gananoque but Highway 2 takes you right downtown to the waterfront.

Ottawa to Gananoque By Train

It’s theoretically possible to take the Via Rail from Ottawa to Gananoque. However, for the purposes of a day trip, we’re not sure if the schedules would work out.

You can have a look at the Via Rail website. The train would be the same amount of time as driving at around 1 hour 40 minutes, in case you were wondering.


downtown montreal high rise buildings from vantage point with blue sky behind.
The views of downtown from the Mont Royal lookout!

Last – but certainly not least – you could always head for the city of Montreal on a day trip from Ottawa.

Admittedly, we like to focus on more Ontario-based locations on this website but for the purposes of thoroughness, we’ve decided to slip in Montreal because it is a great option.

You could also head for Mont Tremblant and or other provincial parks in Québec – but we’ll leave those off the list for now.

Montreal is the largest city in Québec and it is also one of the largest cities in all of Canada so there is quite a bit to do and see if you visit.

For those of you unaware, Québec is the French-speaking province in Canada but you can converse in English in Montreal quite easily as it is a bilingual city. There are lots of shops and cafes to visit – and places where you can eat local delicacies like smoked meat or poutine if you want!

Montreal also has quite a bit of history tied to the founding of Canada. You can learn all about this rich history in the Old Town down at the Old Port of Montreal along the water.

A top attraction here is the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal which you shouldn’t miss. There are also a number of museums around the city and interesting attractions like La Ronde Amusement Park.

A must-do, if you’re visiting Montreal, is to hike up Mount Royal – the place from which the city is named – to the panoramic lookout over the city.

You can take great photos from up there and the surrounding green space (Mount Royal Park) on the mountain makes for great exercise.

We’ve been to Montreal many times and actually have a number of posts about exploring the city – like how to spend one day in Montreal – on our other travel website (Penguin and Pia) which we have linked as a resource for you.

Ottawa to Montreal By Car

Once again, the easiest way to get to Montreal is by car. You basically just take Highway 417 heading East out of the nation’s capital and eventually cross into Québec. From there you’ll only be a short distance to downtown Montreal.

The total driving time is around 2 hours and there’s lots of paid parking downtown. Quick note: Some Montreal drivers can be a little aggressive so keep that in mind!

Ottawa to Montreal By Train

If you don’t have a car, travelling by train is actually an option for once. The Via Rail train runs between Ottawa and Montreal numerous times a day and if you purchased the “Escape Fare” it can actually be affordable.

The train station in Ottawa is further from downtown so you’ll have to get there but the station you arrive at in Montreal is right in the heart of downtown.

It also connects to the Metro for easy navigation. The train travel time is only about 2 hours so it’s certainly doable in the course of a day trip.

Ottawa to Montreal By Bus

Since Greyhound shut down their routes in Canada in 2021, there is, unfortunately, no bus option between these two cities. As of 2024, not even Megabus to the newly-arrived Flixbus service this route. Kind of shocking – we’ll keep this updated if it changes.

Related Articles

Oh, and if you want to explore more of Ottawa, we have you covered with these detailed guides:

And there you have it – a short and sweet list of day trips from Ottawa that you can take!

Of course, these are not all the places suitable for a day trip but these are places we have loved visiting and think are worth your time to explore.

Over time, we will be adding more places to this post (like Perth or Westport!) so be sure to check back for any new additions!

As always, Keep Exploring, eh?

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Photo of large building with dome and green trees and small boats on water with text overlay lovely day trips form ottawa.
Eric Wychopen is a Canadian content writer who loves to share his passion for Ontario. Originally from a small town in Simcoe County, he has almost 50 countries under his belt - but Ontario will always be home. Having travelled thousands of kilometres across the province for work and play, Eric has a wealth of knowledge about the province and is always looking for new experiences in Ontario.