Free activities for kids – UPDATED LINKS AND MORE STUFF

I’m updating this list with more information AGAIN. If you know of any more activities ANYWHERE IN THE CITY that involve free admission or free programs for children, speak up and I’ll update the list.

  • The Ottawa Public Library runs free programs (Babytime, Toddlertime, Storytime etc) at many (if not all) of the branches. You need to register but they are totally free and in my experience, really captivating. There is a mix of singing, reading, playing with musical instruments and interacting with puppets.
  • Charlemagne Preschool Resource Center in Orleans offers a free drop-in playgroup every morning from 9-11 am and Mondays and Wednesdays from 1-3pm There are lots of toys and activities. It’s mostly free play and there is a break for ‘circle time’ which is similar to the Library’s program. Then there’s snack time (bring your own) and more play. There are also some birds to look at
  • La Coccinelle in Orleans offers a French language only playgroup on Friday mornings.  They also host a variety of workshops.
  • Boomerang Kids runs Strollercise year round (except for in the suburbs for the winter). Details at their website
  • The animal barns at the Canadian Agriculture Museum are free from November 1st to February 25th

  • The Canadian Museum of Nature has free admission on Thursdays from 5-8pm and free admission at all times for children 3 and under. In addition, you can go to the library and take out the ‘nature card’ which allows for free general admission for a family. They also have free admission on Earth Day, Museum Day and Canada Day
  • The Canadian War Museum offers free admission Thursdays from 4pm to 8pm, Canada Day and Remembrance Day .
  • The National Gallery of Canada offers free admission to the permanent collection Thursdays after 5pm and free admission to children 12 and under for all exhibits.
  • The Canada Science and Technology Museum offers free admission on International Museum Day and on Canada Day in addition to free admission for children under the age of 4.

  • Park-ticipate is a free program at public parks that runs weekdays and is for children aged 4 to 10. City recreation staff lead children in sport, crafts and games following the week’s theme. Info currently on the site is for summer 2010 so keep looking back for this summer’s update.
  • There are many wading pools across the city that are supervised and host daily activities and special events which includes a Water Play Program aimed at introducing swimming skills and water safety to children. They are free to use and a fun way to cool off in the summer. There’s one right by my work! They are not open all day long so check the site for locations and hours.

  • The Ottawa Catholic School Board has four locations for drop-ins. They are open every weekday and as far as I know, there is no limit to how often you can attend per week. They are for children aged 0-6 and a ‘light nutritious snack’ is given. Religion is not brought up at all.
    • Divine Infant – 8100 Jeanne D’Arc Blvd. Orleans -9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
    • Our Lady of Mount Carmel – 675 Gardenvale Rd. Ottawa – 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
    • Prince of Peace – 1620 Heatherington Rd. Ottawa – 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
    • St. Elizabeth – 1366 Coldrey Ave. Ottawa – 8:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
  • The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board runs the same program as the one above but is closed Fridays. 
    • Hilson Avenue Public School – 407 Hilson Ave. Ottawa – Mon-Thurs 8:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
    • Severn Avenue Public School – 2553 Severn Ave. Ottawa – Mon-Thurs 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
    • Charles H. Hulse Public School – 2605 Alta Vista Dr. Ottawa – Mon-Thurs 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
    • Cambridge Street Community Public School – 250 Cambridge St. North Ottawa (use Arthur St. entrance) – Mon-Thurs 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
    • Featherston Drive Public School – 1801 Featherston Dr. Ottawa – Mon-Thurs 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
    • Queen Street Public School – 557 Queen Mary St. – Mon-Thurs 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
  • The Children’s Welcome Centre in Blackburn Hamlet hosts Monday and Wednesday Playgroups from 9:00-11:45 am. Fridays are for family only (no non-family caregivers). I’m no longer clear on if this is free. Any info from somebody who has been would be appreciated.
  • The Parent Resource Centre is located at 300 Goulburn Private (an extension of Goulburn Ave.) in Sandy Hill. Their drop in schedule and description can be found here.
  • The Ontario Early Years Centres offer a variety of services, workshops and playgroups; Click on the location below to be taken straight to their site.
  • Grandir Ensemble offers several French language playgroups at a variety of locations( Registration – 613.789.3020 – not sure if required) They also have many non-regular free activities and workshops so check out their calendar of events for more information.
    • Marie-Curie – 860 Colson Ave. – Tuesdays and Thursdays 9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
    • Montfort – 350 Dan Haag room 119 – Mondays and Fridays 9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. AND for babies under 18 months Fridays 1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
    • Terre-des-Jeunes – 1303 Fellows Ln. Room 132 – Mondays and Fridays 9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
    • Trillium – 135 Alice Rd. Use Genest Rd entrance – Mondays 9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
  • The Child Care Providers Resource Network of Ottawa-Carleton organizes many events that are either free or at very low cost.  They range from musical performances, crafting events to fun exercise activities.  Check out their calendar of events.
  • Place D’Orleans Shopping Centre has an area called the Mini-Port where kids can go play. It’s run by the YMCA/YWCA and is next to the food court and washrooms so it’s very convenient.  It’s easy to supervise from the parents/bench area.  They also run a shop and drop program for kids ages 2-7. Add the fact that this mall has a water fountain that shoots water up to the sky and this place is aces.
  • The Changing of the Guard has a marching band that goes from Laurier, up Elgin to the Parliament buildings every morning from June 28th to August 27th at 10 a.m. weather permitting.
  • There are over 200 outdoor skating rinks in Ottawa to use free of charge. Not to mention the Rideau Canal!
  • Tours of Parliament Hill are totally free and could be interesting to older / politically inclined kids. There is also a hoard of wild cats to check out and statues on the grounds.
  • The Aviation museum is free every evening between 4 & 5pm and at all times for kids under 4. You can also park there for free and just watch the planes taking off and landing depending on the flight schedule.
  • Most Chapters locations have a play area
  • Most Mrs. Tiggy Winkles Locations have a play area
  • Play Value Toys has LOTS of play areas
  • There are a number of beaches to visit all around the city.

If you find this list useful please spread it around. I also encourage you to give me suggestions for additions to this list.

On this day:

In 2010 –
In 2009 – the miracle that is the Jolly Jumper
In 2008 – people who know when women are pregnant
In 2007 – what should I put in my "I’m turning 30!" b-day lootbags?
In 2006 – I taking voting VERY seriously
In 2005 –


7 Comments on “Free activities for kids – UPDATED LINKS AND MORE STUFF”

  1. tianadargent says:

    Toddlers should not be playing with lighters though. So as long as they light off their last butt that should be good.

  2. tianadargent says:

    Toddlers should not be playing with lighters though. So as long as they light off their last butt that should be good.

  3. pingback_bot says:

    From Twitter 01-15-2011
    User referenced to your post from From Twitter 01-15-2011 saying: […] Great list of free stuff for kids in Ottawa: […]

  4. sispistol says:

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    so useful!

  5. sispistol says:

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