25 road trip ideas: Art, ATVs, birds, bedding plants, Dr. Who and Sam Roberts!

From Beachburg and Montreal to Carleton Place and Kingston, it’s another packed weekend. Shop for your garden or picnic in a park full of tulips. Bike through the forest, run with your kids or rev an ATV along a forested trail. See Sam Roberts play for free or try to meet Dr. Who. Or learn about birds, frogs, sound art or map reading. Those are just a few of the ideas I’ve unearthed for you this week.

But before you start reading, a few notes: First, please call ahead or check online before setting out to any destination—particularly one near a river—to make sure an event hasn’t been cancelled, rescheduled or moved due to flooding. Second, be aware of the potential for flash floods and check the weather regularly when you’re on the road. And finally, if you can give time, money or items to those affected by the devastation, please do—and thanks.

Tiptoe near the tulips in Ottawa

Photo copyright Laura Byrne Paquet.

The Canadian Tulip Festival rolls into town this week for 11 days of spring fun (May 12 to 22). Along with gorgeous displays of tulips at Commissioner’s Park, on Parliament Hill, at Lansdowne Park and elsewhere, you can enjoy art workshops, culinary tours, concerts, fireworks (next weekend) and more.

Find your way around Frontenac Provincial Park

The Friends of Frontenac Park are presenting an introductory wilderness navigation workshop on Saturday, May 13, which will help you learn to read topographic maps and use your GPS. The seven-hour workshop costs $25 per person plus park fee. Register in advance by calling the park office at 613-376-3489.

Shop for local art in Almonte or Deep River

The Valley Artisans’ Co-op in Deep River is celebrating its 30th anniversary with an open house on Friday, May 12, from 2pm to 8pm. You can meet many of the co-op’s artists, see demonstrations, and nibble on treats as you browse.

The Art in the Attic show and sale at Almonte’s Old Town Hall (May 12 to 14) is a community-wide affair. First of all, it features art by everyone from pre-schoolers to octogenarians. Second, local retailers get into the act by displaying featured artworks in their windows in the days leading up to the event. Third, there will be a fashion show featuring clothing by local designer AVENIR on Friday night.

See a new exhibition of sound and art in Maberly

Stone mason and sound artist Hilary Martin, Stone Song, Fieldwork

Stone mason and sound artist Hilary Martin installs her work Stone Song. Photo courtesy of Fieldwork.

A new exhibition called SOUNDWORK, focusing on the intersection between sound and art, opens on Saturday, May 13, at Fieldwork, a free outdoor art space near Maberly. Eleven artists have created six new outdoor works blending art and sound, inspired by the local landscape. During the opening (2pm to 5pm), you can tour the site with the artists, interact with the works (some of them require visitors to activate the sounds) and celebrate Fieldwork’s 10th anniversary. The exhibition runs until October.

Join a series of 375th birthday parties in Montreal

Starting this weekend and continuing until September, La Grande Tournée is a roving festival celebrating Montreal’s 375th anniversary. Each weekend, a different neighbourhood will throw a party featuring amusements of all descriptions. The celebration kicks off this weekend (May 12 to 14) in Rosemont-La-Petite-Patrie, with circus performances, treasure hunts, outdoor movies and other fun.

Buy some new plants in Ottawa or Eganville

Photo courtesy of Friends of the Farm.

The Eganville and District Horticultural Society is holding its Spring Plant Sale on Saturday, May 13, from 9am to 11am at the Eganville Legion (57 Pontiac Street). Check out the plants from members’ gardens, browse at a book sale, try your luck at a raffle, and fuel up with muffins and coffee.

On Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 14), the Friends of the Farm are holding their plant sale at the Central Experimental Farm from 9am to 1pm. Thirty growers and nurseries from across the region will be on hand, along with master gardeners. You can nosh on goodies from the refreshment tables and shop for gardening books, too.

Blast back to the past in Carleton Place

On Thursday, May 11, downtown Carleton Place is going to be awash in bobby soxers, greasers and hippies during Night on the Town in Carleton Place. Bridge Street will be packed with food trucks, craft vendors and more, and visitors (in ’50s, ’60s or ’70s duds, if they choose) can rock out to live oldies tunes.

Rock out to Sam Roberts in Kingston


The Sam Roberts Band is playing a free concert in Kingston’s Springer Market Square on Friday, May 12, with local band Kasador as the opening act. The concert is part of the closing celebrations for the Breakout Project, a confab of innovators from May 10 to 12. (The conference looks really cool, actually; I’d have told you about it earlier, but I just found out about it today!)

Get your geek on at Ottawa Comiccon

I use the word “geek” in the most affectionate way possible. (Hey, I’m such a big Scott Bakula fan that my husband tracked him down to send me a happy birthday video a couple of years ago!) SF, fantasy, anime, comic books—you can immerse yourself in the whole fandom world all weekend at Ottawa Comiccon at the EY Centre (May 12 to 14). See actors from Dr. Who, artists for Archie Comics, the ’67 Impala from Supernatural…heck, even John Cusack will be there.

Bike off-road trails in Beachburg


Sure, the trails are a bit wet, but the BORCA Spring Chicken off-road bike race is still happening in Beachburg this Saturday, May 13. Hey, what do die-hard mountain bikers care about a little mud, right?

Shop local in Winchester

Do you like to support local entrepreneurs? Then head to Winchester on Saturday, May 13, for the Local Business Expo, taking place at the Joel Steele Community Centre from 9am to 6pm. Browse for everything from wedding dresses to flooring, enjoy live music, take the kids to get their faces painted, check out the fashion show and workshops, and get a bite to eat.

Have a picnic in Spencerville

Enjoy a picnic among 1,000 red and white tulips at the Canada 150 Celebration Garden Picnic at Spencerville Mill Park on Saturday, May 13. You can bring your own lunch or buy your picnic onsite. Mary Moore and the Sunnyside Singers will be providing musical entertainment.

Learn about frogs in the Laurentians

frog grenouille

Flickr/Creative Commons photo by Charles de Mille-Iles.

It’s one of the unmistakable sounds of spring: the dusk chorus of countless tiny amphibians. Take a guided hike with a naturalist to learn about the songs of frogs on Saturday, May 13, from 6:30pm to 8:30pm, at le Park régional de la Rivière-du-Nord in Saint-Jérôme. Advance registration required.

Entertain the kids in Ottawa

Dance performances, puppets, an African-Québécois circus, baking demonstrations, Italian acrobats and fiddler Ashley MacIsaac—all that and more is on the schedule for the Ottawa Children’s Festival (May 10 to 14). The main festival site is LeBreton Flats, but events are also taking place at La Nouvelle Scène on King Edward Avenue and at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau.

Raise a glass in Perth

In Perth, Top Shelf Distillers will be hosting a Food Truck, Cocktails and Live Music Party in its parking lot on Friday, May 12, starting at 6:30pm. The cash bar will be serving libations from Top Shelf and Perth Brewery, while Bytown Bayou will be dishing up southern-style barbecue. Musical entertainment includes Jono Townsend and River City Junction.

Watch for birds in Ottawa and Murphy’s Point Provincial Park

The northern parula is one of the birds that migrate through Ontario at this time of year. Flickr/Creative Commons photo by Josh Noseworthy.

Did you know that Saturday, May 13, is International Migratory Bird Day? Celebrations are taking place across Canada, including events at Brewer Park in Ottawa and a bird count at Murphy’s Point Provincial Park near Perth (assuming the parks aren’t too damp from the recent rains).

Rumble down trails between Petawawa and Algonquin Park

ATV fans, this event may be right up your trail. The Renfrew County ATV Club is hosting its Rally in the Valley on Saturday, May 13. Take your ATV along wooded trails in the Laurentian Valley, between Petawawa and Algonquin Park. You can camp or stay in your RV overnight, too.

See beautiful quilts in Ottawa

Flickr/Creative Commons photo by amslerPIX.

The Ottawa Valley Quilters Guild is holding its Festival of Quilts 2017 at the RA Centre in Ottawa (May 12 to 14). There will be special exhibits of youth quilts and Canada 150 quilts, and you can vote for your favourites.

Go for a run in Franktown or Mont-Laurier

Naturally enough, the Where’s Franktown race on Saturday, May 13, takes place in the village of Franktown—which, to answer the question, is on Highway 15, partway between Carleton Place and Smiths Falls. The event features 5K, 10K and 15K runs, as well as a 1K family fun run/walk, and there’s a barbecue lunch for all participants at the finish line. You can register online before the race or in person on race day. The event is organized by Calvary Christian Academy.

The next day, a similar selection of runs (with the addition of a 2K route) makes up les Courses de la Lièvre, a fundraising event for le Centre collégial de Mont-Laurier in the Laurentians.

Want more tips on road trips from Ottawa—including info on hotel discounts, contests, festivals and other cool news? Subscribe to my free weekly e-newsletter! I will never spam you—promise.

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4 Responses to 25 road trip ideas: Art, ATVs, birds, bedding plants, Dr. Who and Sam Roberts!

  1. patricia May 14, 2017 at 7:41 am #

    this sight is wonderful…thanks.

    • Laura Byrne Paquet May 14, 2017 at 8:11 am #

      Thanks so much, Patricia–I’m glad you enjoy it!

  2. Brenda Ambrose May 14, 2017 at 6:45 pm #

    I look forward to your email information EVERY week!…I have lots of company coming this summer…adults…kids…so it sure helps to plan a super visit! And even if I can’t use the places & things to do that particular week I “save” the info …towns, events etc for furture outings! Thanks..you help alot!!

    • Laura Byrne Paquet May 14, 2017 at 9:56 pm #

      Thanks so much, Brenda! I’m really glad you enjoy the site and find the info useful! 🙂

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