Canadian Museum of Nature

#7 in Best Things To Do in Ottawa
Canadian Museum of Nature picture
Martin Lipman/Canadian Museum of Nature

Key Info

240 Rue McLeod


Museums Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend


  • 4.0Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

Housing more than 10 million specimens, the Canadian Museum of Nature showcases 4 billion years of Earth history. Recent visitors agreed this is a must-see, especially if you're traveling with children, thanks to all of the museum's hands-on exhibits. Here, you'll learn more about prehistoric fossils, insects, wildlife and more. Start out in the Mammal Gallery, where you'll view dioramic displays on Canadian animals, then head over to the Bird Gallery to see the largest collection of Canadian birds in the world.

Sitting southwest of downtown Ottawa near Jack Purcell Park, the Canadian Museum of Nature welcomes visitors from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day during the summer and every day (except Monday) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the winter. On Thursdays throughout the year and summer Fridays, the museum stays open until 8 p.m. and offers free admission from 5 to 8 p.m. General admission costs CA$13.50 (about $10) for adults and CA$9.50 (around $7) for children ages 3 to 12 (special exhibitions are not included in general admission). You'll find plenty of parking near the museum, but if you don't have your own set of wheels, several OC Transpo routes can drop you off within a block of the museum. Or, if you'd rather use your own two feet, you'll find that the facility is about a 20-minute walk from Parliament Hill. For more information, check out the official website.

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Time to Spend
#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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