Canadian Museum of History#11 in Best Things To Do in Ottawa
Spread across four floors and nearly 300,000 square feet, the Canadian Museum of History (formerly the Canadian Museum of Civilization) is a behemoth. Welcoming more than 1.2 million people annually, it's also one of the country's most-visited museums. And it's easy to see why: Not only does the museum house artifacts and exhibits that detail 20,000 years of human history, it's also home to the Canadian Children's Museum and an Imax theater, CINÉ+. Among the museum's standout attractions are its collection of totem poles in its First Peoples Hall exhibition and its life-sized recreations of Canadian settlements over the past 1,000 years.
Recent visitors marveled at the building itself and praised the museum's vast collection of totem poles. Reviewers also appreciated that the children's museum offered plenty of hands-on activities for little ones (though some griped that the general museum admission does not include access to the children's museum or CINÉ+).
You'll find the Canadian Museum of History across the Ottawa River from Parliament Hill in Gatineau, Quebec. OC Transpo route No. 8 will take you to the museum, but you can also ride your bike along the scenic Voyageurs Pathway to reach the facility. Aqua-Taxi also transports visitors between the museum, the Ottawa dock (located below Parliament Hill) and the Casino du Lac-Leamy. The museum is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., with extended hours until 8 p.m. on Thursdays. Admission costs CA$15 (about $11) for adults and CA$9 (around $7) for children ages 3 to 12. You can purchase discounted combo admission to the museum's other facilities, such as the children's museum and the theater. Enjoy free admission by timing your visit for Thursday between 4 and 8 p.m. For more information, visit the museum's website.
More Best Things To Do in Ottawa
#1 Rideau Canal
Snaking its way through the center of Ottawa, the Rideau Canal is one of the city's most historic attractions. This 125-mile waterway was originally constructed between 1826 and 1832 to create a secure supply and communications route between Montreal, Québec, and Kingston, Ontario – roughly 120 miles southwest of the capital. It's also a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the city's most beloved features.
During the summer, you'll find the Rideau Canal filled with boats (both private and commercial) and the paved pathways surrounding it crowded with walkers, runners and bicyclists. If you'd like to tour the canal by boat, consider signing up for a trip with Rideau Canal Cruises. Cruises, which take visitors from Chateau Laurier to Dow's Lake (round trip), typically last 90 minutes and take visitors past nearly 30 sights along the canal. You can also borrow a bike from RentABike for CA$10 (around $8) an hour. As the temperatures begin to drop, the canal transforms into the world's largest skating rink, spanning 4.8 miles and featuring a surface area equivalent to 90 Olympic-sized hockey rinks. It's also lined with stands selling hot chocolate and soup, as well as heated huts in case you need a break from the cold.
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