Less than two hours from Montreal and just steps from Ottawa lies Outaouais, where bustling city life and the quietness of nature intermingle. Its main city, Gatineau, is across the river from the country’s capital. It’s home to the Canadian Museum of History, Canada’s most-visited museum. Outside Gatineau, less than an hour drive, is Parc Omega, where you can observe a number of species of wild animals living free in their natural habitat year-round. Outaouais is also home to Fairmont Montebello, the world’s largest log castle famed for its rustic yet luxurious accommodations. Outaouais is so magnificent that even during this lull between the beauty of fall and the magic of winter, there are plenty of activities and experiences to enjoy during an Outaouais road trip. Here’s are Outaouais Bucket List that can be enjoyed any time of year and any day of the week.
Outaouais Bucket List
Number One: Fairmont Le Château Montebello
The 5-star Fairmont Montebello is the world’s largest log castle. This architectural beauty offers 211 rooms, stunning surroundings, and over 40 exciting year-round activities. We love visiting Fairmont Hotels and always have a remarkable, luxurious Fairmont experience. Fairmont Le Château Montebello didn’t disappoint.
In winter, Fairmont Montebello guests can enjoy activities like tubing, hockey, ice skating, curling, sleigh rides, dog sledding, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, ice fishing, and snowmobiling. Summer at Fairmont Le Château Montebello includes kayaking and canoeing, mini golf, tennis, bicycles, pontoon boats, golf, and all-terrain vehicles. Four-season experiences include the spa, the sports complex, indoor tennis, horse wagon rides, virtual golf, and the Land Rover Experience.
As a family, we loved the indoor, heated, 75-foot swimming pool. With underground connections to the hotel, the indoor pool can be enjoyed year-round without having to set foot outside. Aux Chantignoles, the Château Montebello restaurant, makes the experience complete. Fairmont Le Château Montebello offers every amenity you could need for a complete resort getaway.
Number Two: Aux Chantignoles
Aux Chantignoles, the Château Montebello restaurant, delivers fresh and seasonal dishes using an array of local products and inspirations. The unforgettable culinary experience begins when you immerse yourself in the soothing atmosphere and continues through their mouth-watering desserts.
Begin with the cheese plate to have a taste of local flavors and pair it with the Goat’s Cheese Crusted Rack of Lamb to bring the best of dining to your Outaouais bucket list.
Number Three: Fromagerie Montebello
Once you’ve tasted the local cheeses at Château Montebello, you’ll be longing for more cheese on your Outaouais bucket list. Fromagerie Montebello will help to satisfy the cravings. Opened in August 2011, Fromagerie Montebello sells locally made fresh cheese, cheese curd, cheese strings, and fine cheeses, as well as a selection of cheeses from across Quebec. You can’t go wrong at Fromagerie Montebello but if you can only choose one item, go for the cheese curds.
Number Four: Parc Omega
At Parc Omega, you will follow a winding 10-km road in a 1,500-acre park and discover animals all within their natural environment. Observe bison, elk, bears, deer, moose, goats, and wolves. You can step out of your car and walk along trails, around the lake, and among white-tailed deer. Open year-round, the park offers several activities for all ages.
As you drive into the park, you’re greeted by elk and deer. They’re not shy to stick their entire head into your vehicle for a carrot so be prepared for some animal lovin’. One of the most magical moments at Parc Omega was when a gentle, female deer walked up to me and licked my face. Getting sweet deer kisses is a beautiful way to spend your afternoon. Another dear moment during my Parc Omega experience was when a deer rested its head on my shoulder and nuzzled my neck. Parc Omega is a great place to have a unique and unforgettable day.
Pro tip when visiting Parc Omega – if you see an employee named Serge during your visit, be sure to say hello and ask him about the wolves. He’s a remarkable man who’s adored by all of the animals, especially the wolves and bears, in the park. When he speaks to them, they all come running. There is no better way to see the wolves than to see them when Serge is around.
Additionally, purchase bags of carrots at the local grocery store to save a few dollars. The animals love carrots. You can break them in half to give the best bite size to the animals while having plenty of opportunities to feed them. Use the few dollars that you saved on carrots to purchase the apple dessert at the Park House. It’s so good that we went back for seconds before leaving the park.
Number Five: Parc Omega Wi-Tent
These conic-shaped tents will connect you to nature and the unique Parc Omega experience. Located near a small lake, the rustic tents can accommodate up to four people. They are strategically placed near the bears and wolves to give you the feel of being immersed in the wild, while being separated by a fence. You have access to the boardwalk where you can see the wolves, which is exclusive to Parc Omega lodging guests and fallow deer roam freely in the lodging area.
This time of year, I’d suggest several bags of wood to keep you warm and toasty during your stay. It can be purchased when you check into the lodging area. Also helpful is a flashlight to guide you along the path if you are out after dark and a pair of slippers will be a treat for your feet when you wake up in the morning.
These tents may be rustic but they are a must for your Outaouais bucket list. Where else can you sleep next to a pack of wolves, hearing them howl and move in the woods, while feeling completely safe? It was a first for us.
Number Six: Altitude Gym
Welcome to Altitude Gym, a unique indoor rock climbing facility featuring over 17,000 square feet of climbing surfaces and climbs up to 45 feet. Altitude Gym brings the world of indoor rock climbing to another level.
The Clip ‘N Climb section of Altitude Gym is an action-packed activity with individually themed climbing challenges. This section allows children and families to become familiar with the first steps in climbing in a playful, colorful environment. There is also a 6,000 sq. ft. bouldering area, a dozen auto-belays for solo climbers, a training room with Moonwall, an outdoor park with boulder, training facilities including a Rig from Platinum Rig, and over 100 routes of top rope and/or lead from a height of 30 ft. in the main room up to 45 ft. in the Annex.
If you’re thinking about climbing courses at Altitude Gym, ask for Max. He is the most helpful, patient, knowledgeable guy who will make you feel like a pro climber after only a couple hours.
Number Seven: La Station
From Montreal-style smoked meat to pizza baked in a wood-fired oven, La Station offers a full menu to satisfy every taste. Don’t let the relaxed setting fool you; La Station is no fast food quality restaurant. They offer a wide selection of succulent, home-made items offered at exceptional prices.
Go with a partner and order their Smoked Meat sandwich and the Gourmet Poutine. It’s plenty of food for two and you get the best of both worlds – mouth-watering smoked meat and squeaky cheese curds covered in gravy. Oh just thinking about it makes me want to go back.
Number Eight: Ramada Plaza Le Manoir du Casino
Facing the Lac Leamy, Ramada Plaza Le Manoir du Casino features 174 rooms and bi-level suites, all equipped with an air jet bathtub and an electric fireplace.
What we love about Ramada Plaza Le Manoir du Casino is that it’s in the heart of Gatineau yet it feels like you’re at a country cabin when you sit in front of the fire place or soak in the air jet bathtub. The massive windows allow you to be bathed in light and the comfy linens keep you cozy all night and all day if you please.
Number Nine: Canadian Museum of History
Explore the Canadian Museum of History’s new 40,000 square feet gallery: the Canadian History Hall. This signature gallery traces Canada’s history from the dawn of human habitation to the present day. It is the largest and most ambitious exhibition project ever undertaken by the museum.
If you’re traveling with children, be sure not to miss the Children’s Museum in the Canadian Museum of History, but be prepared to spend several hours discovering the endless opportunities for knowledge and education at the different pavilions. The Children’s Museum lets the kids travel the world, while enriching their lives and broadening their experience by exploring other cultures through exhibitions, costumes, hands-on props, and artifacts.
Number Ten: Bistro Boréal
Enjoy a lunch at Bistro Boréal, located in the Canadian Museum of History. Bistro Boréal offers a tasty and affordable menu, an amazing decor and ambiance inspired by the northern lights, and attentive service.
The best part of adding Bistro Boréal to your Outaouais bucket list is that you don’t have to leave the Canadian Museum of History to get there. You can enjoy lunch with your family before going to see an exhibition or a film.
Do you have an Outaouais Bucket List?
The region has so much to offer that this is just the beginning of Outaouais fun. Start your Outaouais bucket list with this ten items and add to your experiences based on season and interest.