Gatineau is a vibrant city located in the province of Quebec, Canada, just across the Ottawa River from the nation’s capital, Ottawa. It offers a perfect blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Whether you’re a history buff, an outdoor enthusiast, or a lover of the arts, Gatineau has something to offer for everyone. Here are some of the best places to visit and things to do in Gatineau:
1. Canadian Museum of History
As one of Canada’s most visited museums, the Canadian Museum of History showcases the country’s rich history and culture. Explore fascinating exhibits, including the First Peoples Hall, the Canadian History Hall, and the Children’s Museum. Don’t forget to take a walk along the museum’s scenic riverfront and enjoy the breathtaking views of the Parliament Buildings across the river.
2. Gatineau Park
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Spanning over 360 square kilometers, Gatineau Park is a nature lover’s paradise. It offers an array of outdoor activities, such as hiking, cycling, picnicking, and skiing in the winter months. The park’s highlights include the picturesque Pink Lake, Champlain Lookout with stunning vistas, and Luskville Falls Trail.
3. Parc de la Gatineau
Another wonderful green space, Parc de la Gatineau is a vast urban park that’s perfect for leisurely strolls, family outings, and recreational activities. The park features beautiful gardens, walking paths, and play areas for children. In the summer, you can rent a kayak or canoe to explore the park’s waterways.
4. Casino du Lac-Leamy
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If you’re feeling lucky, head to the Casino du Lac-Leamy for an evening of entertainment. This popular casino offers a wide range of table games, slot machines, and hosts live performances and shows.
5. Canadian Museum of Nature (Musée canadien de la nature)
While technically located in Ottawa, just a short drive away from Gatineau, this museum is well worth a visit. It houses an impressive collection of natural history exhibits, including dinosaurs, minerals, and live creatures in the animalium.
6. Promenade du Portage
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For a taste of the city’s bustling atmosphere, take a stroll along Promenade du Portage. This lively street is lined with shops, restaurants, and cafes, offering a variety of dining and shopping experiences.
7. Nordik Spa-Nature
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Treat yourself to a relaxing day at Nordik Spa-Nature, one of the largest spas in North America. This serene retreat offers various thermal baths, saunas, and relaxation areas, allowing you to unwind and rejuvenate amidst nature.
8. Maison de la culture de Gatineau
If you’re interested in arts and culture, visit the Maison de la culture de Gatineau. This cultural center hosts art exhibitions, live performances, and cultural events throughout the year.
9. Aylmer Marina
Experience the city’s waterfront charm at Aylmer Marina, situated along the Ottawa River. Enjoy a leisurely walk, rent a paddleboard, or have a picnic by the water, all while admiring the stunning views of the river and downtown Ottawa.
10. Mackenzie King Estate
Venture into the heart of Gatineau Park to explore the Mackenzie King Estate, the former summer residence of Canada’s 10th Prime Minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King. The beautifully landscaped gardens and historic buildings make it a fascinating destination for history and nature enthusiasts alike.
11. Les Brasseurs du Temps (BDT)
If you appreciate craft beer, make sure to visit Les Brasseurs du Temps, a popular brewpub located in an old mill along the Gatineau River. This unique venue offers a fantastic selection of handcrafted beers, delicious food, and a lovely waterfront terrace where you can enjoy the scenic views.
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Located within the Gatineau Park, the Ecomuseum is an educational and immersive experience that focuses on the area’s ecology, wildlife, and conservation efforts. Explore the interactive exhibits, learn about local flora and fauna, and gain a deeper understanding of the region’s biodiversity.
13. Jacques Cartier Park
This beautiful park is known for its striking sculptures and vibrant events. It hosts several festivals and celebrations throughout the year, including the famous Canadian Tulip Festival, which showcases stunning displays of colorful tulips during the spring.
While technically located in Carp, Ontario, just outside Gatineau, the Diefenbunker is a unique attraction worth the short drive. It’s a former Cold War nuclear bunker built to protect key government officials in the event of a nuclear attack. Now, it serves as a museum, offering guided tours that take you through the fascinating history of this underground facility.
15. Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival (Festival de montgolfières de Gatineau)
If you happen to visit Gatineau in late summer or early fall, don’t miss the annual Hot Air Balloon Festival. It’s a spectacular event featuring a sky filled with colorful balloons, live performances, and various family-friendly activities.
16. Magasin Général Wakefield
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A short drive from downtown Gatineau will take you to the charming village of Wakefield. Explore the historic Magasin Général Wakefield, a former general store turned into a boutique featuring local crafts, souvenirs, and artisanal products.
17. Chocolate Shops
Indulge your sweet tooth at one of Gatineau’s delightful chocolate shops. Treat yourself to artisanal chocolates, truffles, and other delectable confections crafted with love by local chocolatiers.
18. Musée d’art de Gatineau (Gatineau Art Museum)
This contemporary art museum showcases a diverse collection of Canadian and international art. From paintings and sculptures to photography and multimedia installations, the museum offers a thought-provoking experience for art enthusiasts.
19. Gatineau Olympiques Hockey Game
If you’re a sports fan, catch a Gatineau Olympiques hockey game. This major junior ice hockey team competes in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and attending a game is a great way to experience the local sports culture.
20. Gatineau En Lumière
If you visit Gatineau in the winter, don’t miss the Gatineau En Lumière festival. This enchanting event showcases stunning light displays and features various activities, including ice sculptures, outdoor concerts, and delicious food offerings.
21. Gatineau Golf Clubs
Golf enthusiasts will appreciate the city’s selection of golf courses. Gatineau boasts several well-maintained golf clubs where you can enjoy a round of golf surrounded by picturesque landscapes.
22. Mont Cascades Water Park
For some family-friendly fun, head to Mont Cascades Water Park. This water park offers a variety of thrilling water slides, wave pools, and play areas, making it an ideal destination for a day of splashing and laughter.
23. Local Cuisine
Gatineau boasts a diverse culinary scene with numerous restaurants offering delicious dishes influenced by French, Canadian, and international cuisines. Don’t miss the opportunity to savor traditional Quebecois specialties like poutine, tourtière, and maple syrup treats.
24. Heritage Village of Val-Jalbert
A short drive from Gatineau will take you to the Heritage Village of Val-Jalbert, a historical site frozen in time. Step back in time to the early 20th century and explore this well-preserved village, complete with its original buildings and water-powered pulp mill.
25. Snowshoeing and Cross-Country Skiing
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During the winter months, Gatineau Park becomes a haven for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing enthusiasts. There are numerous trails to explore, catering to various skill levels and offering breathtaking winter landscapes.
26. Plaisance National Park
Just a short drive east of Gatineau, Plaisance National Park offers a serene setting for nature lovers. Enjoy hiking trails, wildlife observation points, and canoeing on the meandering waterways.
27. Gatineau Loppet
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If you’re a cross-country skiing enthusiast, consider participating in the Gatineau Loppet. It’s North America’s largest cross-country ski event, attracting participants from all over the world.
28. Local Markets
Gatineau hosts several farmers’ markets and artisanal markets where you can find fresh produce, locally made crafts, and unique souvenirs to take home.
29. Hot Air Balloon Ride
Experience the stunning landscapes of Gatineau from a different perspective by taking a hot air balloon ride. Floating above the city and its surroundings provides a truly unforgettable experience.
30. Outaouais Gourmet Way
Embark on a delicious culinary journey along the Outaouais Gourmet Way. This food trail takes you to various local producers, farms, and restaurants, where you can taste and purchase fresh, locally-sourced products.
31. Les Promenades Gatineau
If you’re in the mood for some shopping, head to Les Promenades Gatineau. This indoor shopping center features a variety of stores, boutiques, and eateries, making it a convenient place to spend an afternoon.
32. Parc du Lac-Beauchamp
This picturesque park is an ideal destination for family outings and picnics. It offers a large lake where you can paddleboat or fish, as well as walking trails, playgrounds, and picnic areas.
33. Wakefield Covered Bridge
A visit to Gatineau isn’t complete without a stop at the picturesque Wakefield Covered Bridge. This historic wooden bridge is a favorite spot for photos and offers a charming view of the Gatineau River.
34. Nordik Beach
During the summer months, the Nordik Beach provides a refreshing escape from the heat. Located at Nordik Spa-Nature, the beach features sandy shores and a serene lagoon where you can relax and enjoy the sun.
35. Symmes Inn Museum
Step back in time at the Symmes Inn Museum, a historic stone building dating back to the 1830s. Explore exhibits and artifacts that offer insight into the region’s early settlement and history.
36. A Taste of Gatineau Food Tour
Join a guided food tour to discover the city’s culinary delights. The tour will take you to various eateries and specialty shops, where you can sample a variety of local dishes and treats.
37. Canadian Museum of Agriculture and Food
Located on the Experimental Farm in Gatineau, this museum offers an insightful look into Canada’s agricultural history and innovations in farming practices.
38. Ghost Tours
For those who enjoy a bit of spooky fun, consider joining a ghost tour of Gatineau or Ottawa. These guided tours share eerie tales and legends, adding a touch of mystery to your visit.
39. Village en Fête
If you visit Gatineau in the summer, keep an eye out for the Village en Fête festival. This lively event celebrates local culture with music, dance, food, and various entertainment for the whole family.
40. Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography
Art lovers should not miss the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, which exhibits an impressive collection of contemporary photography by Canadian and international artists. The museum offers thought-provoking exhibitions that showcase the power of visual storytelling.
41. Leamy Lake Casino Sound of Light
If you happen to visit Gatineau in late summer, the Leamy Lake Casino Sound of Light is a spectacular fireworks competition that illuminates the night sky with breathtaking displays synchronized to music. The event draws visitors from far and wide to witness this dazzling visual extravaganza.
Places and Things To Do