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Ottawa Family Fun

Whether you’re looking for something to do together, or an exciting activity to keep the kids busy, we’ve got your guide to good old-fashioned family fun. By Misa Kobayashi.

The Artissimo program. Photo credit: National Gallery of Canada.

LITTLE ARTISTS
If you want to get your little ones interested in art early, there’s no better way than the Artissimo program at the National Gallery of Canada. Every weekend and on statutory holidays from 11am to 4pm, children three and older and their parents can take part in building their own “Super Structures,” using the unique architecture of the gallery as inspiration. Other hands-on activities include making artwork to take home or display in the Artissimo gallery, and going on a self-guided search with mom and dad for paintings in the national collections that feature animals and children. Included with gallery admission. 380 Sussex Dr., 613-990-1985.

SWEET SEASON
Ottawa’s maple syrup season is something to write home about. With several sugar shacks in the region less than an hour away, there’s no shortage of outdoor adventures to be had in the spring. Indulge in the heavenly sweetness of taffy on snow or a hearty pancake breakfast, take a horse-drawn sleigh ride, and see demonstrations of how syrup is made. A couple of our favourite places to visit are Stanley’s Olde Maple Lane Farm, which is open weekends until April 24, and Proulx Farm, open weekends until April 25. See websites for holiday schedules and full lists of activities. Stanley’s Olde Maple Lane Farm, 2452 Yorks Corners Rd., Edwards, 613-821-2751, and Proulx Farm, 1865 O’Toole Rd., Cumberland, 613-833-2417.

March Break "Boot Camp."

LOOK I COOK
Enroll your budding gourmand in cooking classes at Urban Element. From March 14 to 16, children ages nine to 12 can participate in Kids Culinary Camp with Chef Stephen Pollock. Youngsters will gain confidence in the kitchen through basic skills and techniques that include ingredients selection, reading recipes, and hands-on experience. Teenagers 13 to 15 years old can take part in Teen Culinary Boot Camp on March 17 and 18, which is a crash course in kitchen fundamentals. Participants will learn to whip up soups and sauces, make homemade bread and pasta, and discover plenty of other techniques that come with cooking from scratch. Kids camp: $330; teen camp: $250. 424 Parkdale Ave. (Old Firestation No. 11), 613-722-0885.

IT’S A ZOO IN HERE
Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo isn’t for the faint of heart, but it is for those who love animals. One of the largest and most diverse animal education and outreach programs in Canada, a trip here will get you up close and personal with the natural world. We’re talking pythons, alligators, marmosets, tarantulas, and more. With 250 creatures on display, you should leave at least two hours to experience everything the zoo has to offer, from hands-on presentations to feeding demonstrations. $10; seniors: $8; children two and under: free; family rates: $38 for four people. 5305 Bank St., 613-822-8924.

Cosmic Adventures

PLAY DAY
Shake off cabin fever at Cosmic Adventures. This is the mecca of indoor playgrounds with more than 20,000 square feet of ball pits, slides, tunnels, obstacle courses, climbing spaces, and more. Children will love scampering shoeless through this fun zone, and parents are welcome to join in the fun. There’s also a toddlers-only area so the wee ones can play safely. Adults: $5.99; children vary by age (one to 12 years old): $10.99-$16.99. 1373 Ogilvie Rd., 613-742-8989.

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