25 road trip ideas: Ziplining, shopping, cooking and Canadian at par!

Happy long weekend, everyone! I have 25 ideas for ways you can enjoy it. From a craft show in Manotick and an asparagus cooking class in Alexandria to ziplining at Tremblant, historical walking tours in Vanier, theatre in Cornwall, sheep shearing at the Central Experimental Farm and family fun all over, you’re sure to find at least one reason to hop into a car, bus or train this weekend. Happy Victoria Day!

Go ziplining or mountain biking at Tremblant

Ziptrek Ecotours, the zipline attraction at Mont Tremblant, opens for the season on Saturday, May 20, and tickets are 10% this weekend. The video above gives you a taste of the high-level thrills.

Perhaps mountain biking is more your speed? The resort is also hosting Vélomotion (May 19 to May 22), with cross-country and downhill races, as well as other activities, such as bike yoga and guided tours.

Learn about gardening and architecture in Merrickville

As part of its ongoing series of artist talks, the Merrickville Artists’ Guild is presenting a talk by avid gardener Susan D’Aquino about gardens and residential architecture, focusing on the architecture of Hart Massey and the gardens surrounding one of his designs in Rockcliffe Park. The talk will take place at the Sidecar Café on Main Street in Merrickville on Thursday, May 18, starting at 7:30pm.

Browse for art in Rockport

The Thousand Islands Art Spring Art Fair (May 20 to 22) features jewellery, pottery, textiles and more by 17 local artists in two locations in Rockport, on the St. Lawrence River.

Catch a play in Cornwall

Love a good love story? Then you might enjoy the Seaway Valley Theatre Company’s production of Almost, Maine, a romantic comedy by John Cariani. Under the Northern Lights one night in a small Maine town, various people fall in and out of love in mysterious ways. The show is on stage at Dream Builder Studios in Cornwall until May 27.

Cook with asparagus in Alexandria


Flickr/Creative Commons photo by Liz West.

If nothing says “spring” to you like asparagus, you’ll probably enjoy an asparagus-focused cooking class at the Quirky Carrot café and cookery school in Alexandria on Friday, May 19.

Get your electronic music fix in Montreal

Electronic music fans, it’s your big weekend: Piknic Électronik kicks off another season of cutting-edge shows in Montreal’s Parc Jean-Drapeau. Shows take place on Sundays, beginning May 21 and running until September 24.

Be sheepish in Ottawa

Summer is coming, and it’s time for the sheep at the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum to get rid of their thick winter coats. They’ll get some help in that department from staff during the Sheep Shearing Festival (May 20 and 21). As well as seeing sheep being shorn, you can meet lambs and alpacas, learn how to make felt or card wool, and see sheepdogs at work, among other fun.

God save the Queen in Morrisburg

At Upper Canada Village in Morrisburg on Sunday, May 22, enjoy Queen Victoria’s birthday just as her subjects might have celebrated it in her own time. Rousing speeches! Redcoats! 1860s-style games! And cake!

Do some plane spotting in Westport

small plane landing Rideau Lakes Flying Club Westport Ontario

Photo courtesy of the Rideau Lakes Flying Club.

The Westport/Rideau Lakes Spring Fly-In takes place on Saturday, May 20, at the Rideau Lakes Flying Club near Westport. Watch planes take off and land, visit the hangars, and enjoy sausage on a bun for breakfast.

Enjoy some family fun in Chesterville

Sometimes, by the end of a long weekend, the kids are getting a bit restless. If yours have cabin fever, you could take them to the Victoria Day Family Fun Day at the Maple Ridge Centre in Chesterville (Monday, May 22). The event, which runs from 11am to 4pm, features everything from tractors and emergency vehicles to a food court, bouncy castles, live music and a petting zoo.

Raise money for muscular dystrophy in Pembroke

Colby’s Crusade (Saturday, May 20) is an annual fundraiser in Pembroke to raise awareness about Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Family fun at the Pembroke Kiwanis Fieldhouse (Riverside Park) this year includes a barbecue, a 50/50 draw, a silent auction, face painting and a balloon-animal maker, and kids can visit with local firefighters and police officers. Wear your superhero costume!

Bike on car-free roads in Ottawa and Gatineau

Get your bike out of the garage—NOKIA Sunday Bikedays start on Sunday, May 21! Until September 3, 25 kilometres of roads in Ottawa and 27 kilometres of roads in Gatineau Park are closed to cars but open to cyclists, pedestrians, runners and inline skaters. (Note that Sunday Bikeday is cancelled in Ottawa—but still on in Gatineau Park—on Sunday, May 28, because the roadways are needed for the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend.)

Shop for crafts in Manotick and one-of-a-kind fashions in Merrickville

Watson's Mill, Manotick

Photo of Watson’s Mill in Manotick copyright Laura Byrne Paquet.

Watson’s Mill in Manotick kicks off the long weekend with a Spring Craft Market (May 19 and 20). Hours are from noon to 8pm on Friday, and 10am to 5pm on Saturday.

In Merrickville, the focus is on fashion at The Art of Dressing Makers Market (Saturday, May 20). Guests at the evening event can enjoy a fashion show, wine, hors d’oeuvres, live music and gifts.

Keep an eye out for birds in Prince Edward County

The Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory at the eastern tip of Prince Edward County is holding its annual Spring Birding Festival from May 13 to May 22. Activities include lots of guided walks, a bus tour and a photo contest.

See Riverdance in Kingston

Are you among the three remaining people on the planet Earth (more or less) who want to see Riverdance but haven’t done so yet? Or are you keen to see it again? Then you’re in luck. The 20th anniversary world tour of the extremely popular Irish dance show is coming to the K-Rock Centre in Kingston for one night only (Sunday, May 21).

Sample wines in the Finger Lakes

It’s a five-hour drive from Ottawa to Watkins Glen, New York, but the chance to sample some of the 200 wines being showcased at Seneca Lake Wine & Food 2017 (Saturday, May 20) may just make it worth the trip. The event—which takes place at waterfront Clute Park—also features food vendors and live music. Online ticket sales end on Friday.

Discover local history on a walking tour of Vanier

Flickr/Creative Commons photo by Michelle Tribe.

The Vanier Museopark is offering a series of guided walking tours of the neighbourhood this weekend and next (May 20 and 21, and May 27 and 28), led by actors from le Théâtre du Belvédère. Tours are offered multiple times each day and cost $10 per person.

Save some money in Alexandria Bay

It’s Canadian Appreciation Weekend (May 18 to 22) in Alexandria Bay, New York, with discounts galore for Canucks. Lots of places are taking the loonie at par or offering other deals.

Cycle through the Laurentians for a good cause

You’ll probably want to make sure those hill-climbing muscles are in good form before attempting the Vélotour des Pays-d’en-Haut (Saturday, May 20), a 100K biking event through the Laurentians. It’s a fundraising event for the Fondation André-Laurendeau, which helps children in Nepal.

Discover new books in Notre-Dame-du-Laus

Keen to find some new French books? There’s a book sale this weekend (May 18 to 20) in Notre-Dame-du-Laus, in the northern Outaouais. Enjoy live music and author interviews, as well as the chance to buy books. The family-oriented sale is open to kids only all day Thursday and on Friday until 4pm, then opens to the general public on Friday evening and Saturday. Check the road reports before heading out, as some roads in the area have been closed recently due to flooding.

Dance the night away in Montreal

Put on your dancing shoes and get ready to move! The 13th annual Montreal Salsa Convention (May 18 to 22) will draw competitors from around the world. Cheer on your favourite dancers or take a workshop to polish your own moves. (And you don’t have to be a “So You Think You Can Dance”-level dancer; beginners are welcome.)

Shop for plants in Delta

The Rideau Lakes Horticultural Society is holding its annual spring plant sale—featuring annuals, perennials, vegetables, herbs, shrubs and trees—on Saturday, May 20, from 9am to 11am, at the Delta Fairgrounds Agricultural Hall (110 Main Street). Go early for the best selection.

Watch the sun set over the Thousand Islands

The 1000 Islands Tower on Hill Island opens for the season on Friday, May 19, and on Saturday and Sunday this weekend, it’s open late enough that you can enjoy the sight of the sun setting among the many islands in the St. Lawrence River. Bring your camera!

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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