15 things to do in Gatineau (Canada)

Gatineau is located along the Ottawa River opposite the Canadian capital. A small city full of character. Gatineau has all the entertainment, attractions, and entertainment that any big city has, even though it’s much smaller.

Tourists often miss the city and visit Ottawa instead, but there’s a lot to see and do here. Well worth crossing the river and spending a few days here. Gatineau is full of parks, a vibrant nightlife, numerous attractions and some exciting annual events. If you are in the area, you should not miss the opportunity to explore the city and enjoy all it has to offer.

Let’s explore the best things to do in Gatineau:

1. Visit Canada’s most visited museum

Canadian Museum of History

The Canadian Museum of History is the city’s star attraction and a must-see. The museum explores the history of the country and its cultural diversity.

It is not only a museum, but also a major research centre, staffed by experts in Canadian archaeology, history, folklore and more. It also happens to be one of the oldest cultural institutions in the whole of North America.

The museum houses three permanent exhibition halls; the Great Hall, the People’s Fort Hall and the Canada Hall. It is also home to a large IMAX theater.

2. Take the kids to the Children’s Museum

Canadian Children's Museum

Inside the Canadian Museum of History is a dedicated area for children; the Canadian Children’s Museum. This is a great interactive museum that attracts over 500,000 visitors a year.

The museum is designed for children under the age of 14. Its main exhibit is “The Great Adventure,” an interactive journey through countries around the world.

Kids can visit Nigeria, India, Japan, Mexico and Indonesia without ever getting on a plane. There are cafés, cargo boats, desert hikes, and market fairs that allow kids to experience cultures from around the world first-hand.

3. Spend the day at the park

Gatineau Park

Not only is Gatineau Park a great place to spend the day, it’s also one of the largest outdoor playgrounds in Canada. There’s plenty to do all year round, making it a wonderland for any outdoor lover.

Head to the park in winter and enjoy skiing or snowshoeing. Visit Gatineau Park in summer and spend the day at the beach, hiking, mountain biking or canoeing.

In fall, the park is filled with brilliant colors that will make any photographer salivate. You can also go rock climbing, bird watching or spend the night in a tent under the stars.

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4. Play Poker

Dirac Lemmy Casino

Or roulette, baccarat, craps or blackjack. Or put your coins into one of the Casino du Lac-Leamy’s 1,800 slot machines.

Casino du Lac-Leamy is a government-run casino with over 65 gaming tables where you can try your luck 24 hours a day. There is also an amphitheatre, restaurant and numerous bars on site.

The casino was built on a quarry along the coast of Lac Leamy, hence the name. More than 3 million people come to the casino every year.

5. Go skiing

Fortune Camp Alpine Ski Center

Mount Gatineau sits at the foot of the majestic Mount Lauren. The hills are a popular ski destination not only for tourists, but also for residents of Gatineau and other cities in the area.

Gatineau Mountain has more than 190 kilometers of cross-country ski trails. If alpine skiing is your thing, head to Camp Fortune Alpine Ski Center or Vorlage Ski Resort.

If you’re visiting the city in the fall, you’ll also want to visit Mount Gatineau to see the leaves change color. It’s really spectacular.

6. Enjoy the festival

Gatineau Balloon Festival

Gatineau hosts numerous festivals and events throughout the year, the most famous of which is the Gatineau Balloon Fest. The festival, which takes place over Labor Day weekend, is spectacular.

Just after this festival is the Rendez-vous des saveurs de l’Outaouais, which is great for foodies who want to taste delicious food and wine. In summer, be sure to head to the Parc du Lac-Beauchamp for the annual Sandcastle Spectacular competition.

The biggest festival of the year is Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day; or Fête nationale du Québec. Hotels, museums and arenas all take part in Juneteenth with shows and exhibitions.

7. Food and Wine

Food and Wine

As a French-speaking city full of French charm, it’s no surprise that Gatineau has some great restaurants and bars. Enjoy delicious French cuisine, cooked to perfection, paired with a good bottle of wine.

Sip a cocktail, a bottle of craft beer or a glass of wine while listening to live jazz, funky beats or rock ‘n’ roll. Gatineau’s nightlife is top-notch, with the Vieux-Hull area being the trendiest.

If French food isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other delights to enjoy in this city. Authentic Italian food is common, as is food from other parts of the world.

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8. Back in Time

Sims Inn

Visit L’auberge Symmes to learn about life in Gatineau in the 1900s; or the Symmes Inn. The hotel was built by Charles Symmes in 1831 and became a museum in 2003.

The National Heritage site was once a hotel that welcomed people passing by from Montreal before boarding a boat along the Ottawa River. It is located on the banks of the river and Lac Deschê​​nes.

The main focus of the museum is the Ottawa River and its branches. Guided tours in French and English are available for approximately 60 minutes.

9. Go to the beach

lake limy

From June to September, the beaches of Lake Limi are open to the public for swimming and more. Of course, the lake is open year-round, but if you visit during the summer, there are lifeguards on hand.

Leamy Lake Beach is particularly good for swimming, although many people just come here to lay and sunbathe. There are restrooms and changing rooms on site, as well as a picnic area.

If this beach is too busy, there are other beaches in Gatineau. A great thing is that you can buy a day pass that gives you access to Leamy Lake Beach and other beaches in the area.

10. Gaze at historic aircraft

Canada's Vintage Wings

If you’ve ever wanted to see classic airplanes, a visit to Canada’s Vintage Wings is a must. The Aircraft Museum is located in a 2,100-square-meter hangar at Gatineau-Ottawa Executive Airport.

Combat aircraft such as the North American Airlines P-51 Mustang and trainer aircraft such as the Fairchild PT-19 as well as civilian aircraft are on display. Vintage Wings of Canada even has airplanes for sale.

Nearly all of Canada’s Vintage Wings aircraft are in working order or under restoration, and all are flying in parades and air shows today. You can also arrange to fly in one of these vintage gems.

11. Go to Wakefield

wakefield

Just a 25-minute drive from Gatineau, this Quantum Village is a great day trip destination. The village is known for its picturesque setting along the Gatineau River.

There are several things to see in the village, including the covered bridge and the historic McLaren Mill. Wakefield also hosts the annual Wakefield Covered Bridge Run.

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The village has a bohemian vibe to it, with a plethora of lovely cafés, galleries and bars. This is a great place to spend a sunny summer afternoon.

12. Visit the farm

farm

Not just any farms, but farms. This is the home of the Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons. It was named the farm because it used to be an old farmstead.

The property was purchased by William Lyon McKenzie King in 1927. After his death, he left the house to the government for use by Canadian officials.

The farm covers an area of ​​1.74 hectares and includes not only the main building but also five other buildings. There are also beautiful gardens on site.

13. Explore Parliament

Capitol Hill

Being so close to Ottawa, it’s hard to visit Gatineau without exploring Canada’s capital.It’s hard to do this in one day, but a must do around Capitol Hill

Parliament Hill is the seat of Canada’s Parliament. This is a remarkable set of Gothic Revival buildings that welcome over 3 million visitors each year.

Explore 88,480 square meters of grounds and admire gardens, statues, monuments and architecture. It was a jaw-dropping experience.

14. Go for a bike ride

Parc des Cèdres

Gatineau has numerous bike paths throughout the city and its suburbs. In fact, there is an extensive trail network in the area.

Cycle through some of the city’s beautiful parks, such as Jacques-Cartier, Lac-Beauchamp or Parc des Cèdres. Or choose to ride on designated lanes in the city itself.

Gatineau is a beautiful place, and taking a bike to see it all is a great way to enjoy it. Also, you can get some fresh air.

15. Run a ski marathon

Canadian Ski Marathon

The annual Canada Ski Marathon is a three-day cross-country ski marathon held every February. The trail runs from Lachute to Gatineau and is divided into 10 sections.

Each section of the trail has a different difficulty, from easy to extremely difficult, with endless ups and downs. All in all, the marathon track is over 160 kilometers long.

If you’re not planning to run a full marathon, there is also a half marathon where you can ski in the last 3 sections of each day. You can also just be a taster, or even just whatever part you want.

Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Gatineau, Canada
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