Get back in the swing of things with the kids this summer

It's the height of summer and the kids are feeling restless. As restrictions are further relaxed in Ottawa, here are a few ideas for keeping the little ones entertained.

Here’s a list of fun activities in and around Ottawa as COVID-19 restrictions gradually ease

Children are now allowed back on playground equipment, but the City of Ottawa is reminding families to continue practising physical distancing and proper hygiene. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

It's the height of summer and the kids are feeling restless. As restrictions are further relaxed in Ottawa, here are a few ideas for keeping the little ones entertained.

Outdoor adventures

As of Friday, playgrounds in City of Ottawa parks are no longer out of bounds.

The city has more information here, including a message about how to stay safe while using park equipment.

"Play structures are not cleaned frequently and care should be taken to practice good hygiene including washing or disinfecting your hands before and after coming into contact with high touch-point areas," the city reminds park users.

If you're looking for something a little more adventurous, how about paddling through a water maze at Éco-Odyssée near Wakefield. (By reservation only.)

Want a different kind of maze? The fun at Saunders Farm resumes Saturday.

Berry picking is alway popular with the wee ones. It's blueberry season, so get out and pick some of those sweet, juicy gems at such local spots as Proulx Farm and Vergers Villeneue & Blueberry Farm.

The National Gallery of Canada reopens to the public this weekend with free admission Saturday and Sunday. (CBC)


Many museums remain closed with no specific reopening dates, but a few are coming back.

The Diefenbunker Museum and Ottawa Art Gallery are open, and on Saturday, the National Gallery of Canada will once again welcome visitors through its doors. Admission is free this weekend, and the gallery will be open Thursdays to Sundays thereafter.

Be sure to stop by South African artist William Kentridge's piece More Sweetly Play the Dance. It's a cathartic, sound-rich, immersive exhibit reflecting on social inequities, said Sasha Suda, director and CEO of the National Gallery of Canada.

Instead of the traditional hands-on drop-in Artissimo program for children, families can pick up a self-guided activity kit including sketch paper and pencils to explore the gallery.

"It's fun, it's low-contact, but it touches on all those important parts of Artissimo that's been popular over the years," Suda said.

Other museums opening over the next few weeks: The Canada Agriculture and Food Museum on Aug. 1, the Canada Aviation and Space Museum on Aug. 8, and the Canada Science and Technology Museum is back Aug. 14. 

If you missed watching movies on the big screen, the Mayfair Theatre is back with some newer films and a classic: Back to the Future. (Andrew Foote/CBC)

The big screen

Go catch a movie with up to 49 others as cinemas get back to business, albeit with restrictions.

Ciné Starz Cinemas in Orléans (250 Centrum Blvd.) and at the St. Laurent Shopping Centre (1200 St Laurent Blvd.) reopened Friday afternoon.

The Mayfair Theatre has also raised the curtain, and the ByTowne Cinema is planning to welcome film buffs back July 24. 

There are also pop-up drive-in theatres where you can take in a movie from the comfort and safety of your car.

The Drive-In Experience at Wesley Clover Parks screens older films and offers concessions delivered right to your vehicle.

Ciné Parc Urbain at Place des Festivals-Zibi is offering double-bill movie nights for three more weekends this summer. Movies at Ciné Parc Urbain are in English and French.

Chase the rainbow: Splash pads and pools are back in business. (Carlos Osorio/Associated Press)

Cool off at the pool

City splash pads, swimming and wading pools have reopened.

The city is limiting the number of bathers at one time based on the size of the pool. All swimmers are expected to stay two metres apart, both in and out of the water. 

Visitors will have to book swim times in advance. At public pools, people can go online to schedule one-hour sessions for public and lane swimming. At wading pools, they'll have to secure a spot in person.

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) said in a statement there's little scientific evidence that COVID-19 can spread through properly treated water, but does caution users to be careful nonetheless. 

"Individuals should consider that the areas around pools and lakes, such as change rooms, beaches and docks can be transmission points for the virus because of crowding and lack of use of masks," OPH advises.


Jennifer Chen is a journalist and digital/radio producer at CBC Ottawa. Previously, she worked as a radio producer at CBC Vancouver for 14 years.

With files from Ottawa Morning and Hillary Johnstone

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