Six ideas for Family Day long weekend

Jan 2024

Family Day long weekend is just around the corner, so we’ve come up with half a dozen fun ideas for family togetherness this February 17 to 19.

The clock is ticking

If your family is a bit older, challenge them with a trip to one of four Escape Manor locations across Ottawa. The goal? To use your collective detection skills to escape from a locked location while the clock ticks down. You’ve got a choice of themed rooms, including space invaders and a spy mission with the fate of the world hanging on your escape. If you have younger ones, head to Escape Manor Junior for kids and their families at the Nepean site. More on Escape Manor.

Winter biking

Don’t let a little snow stop you and the family from biking. Le Harfang in Gatineau has 28 kilometres of groomed biking trails and rents fat bikes, which are an off-road hybrid with studded, oversized tires and wide handlebars for winter fun. It makes for a great workout with the rest of your family, friends or on your own. Le Harfang also has more than two kilometres of snowshoe trails in a maple grove and rents snowshoes, helmets and even lights for nighttime outings. Check it out here.

Sonic extravaganza

Sonic adventures take centre stage during the National Arts Centre’s Big Bang Festival Feb. 17 & 18. The free, always-popular event for all ages includes musical plants, mini concerts and the Aerophone (“The World’s Most Useless Machine”), which creates an interactive symphony from a piano keyboard and a bunch of old tape recorders. At the Liminal installation, participants’ movements produce a soundtrack and distorted images. Hip Hub features an avatar of Congolese singer Junior Akwety turning your movements into music. Learn more.

He sure plays a mean pinball

How much pinball can one family play? Find out on Sundays at Ottawa Pinball Arcade, 2559 Baseline Rd. With more than 36 pinball machines plus classic video games, the arcade offers a full day of entertainment for just $15 a person (kids 12 and under are just $5). What’s on tap in the games? Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Foo Fighters Premium. Space Shuttle. Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy. And more. Details here.

Down under

Unlike a video game, the Cold War was real, and the Diefenbunker in Carp captures a slice of Canadian and international history that’s at once chilling and fascinating. The Diefenbunker is a massive four-storey underground bunker, built between 1959 and 1961 as a shelter for top Canadian officials in the event of a nuclear war. Now a museum with award-winning tours and programs, it immerses you in a time and place not that distant from today. Bonus: the museum includes one of Escape Manor’s four locations. The Diefenbunker website.

Connect by disconnecting

Imagine an entire morning, afternoon or evening when no one checks their phone, when tablets and other screens sit dark, when the only communication is the sound of family voices gathered together. Yes, you may all get a bit twitchy without the digital stimulation, but the feeling will pass. What do you do instead? Try making a meal together, playing a board game, reading. Go for a walk around the neighbourhood. If it’s a clear, mild night, drive to the countryside and teach your kids to identify constellations and watch for shooting stars. The screens will still be there in the morning.

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