Exploring Ottawa’s Incredible Museums and Art Galleries for Date Night

Skip the dinner and drinks! Explore Ottawa's Museums and Galleries for a fun and educational indoor date night this winter.
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Ottawa has several incredible national museums and galleries that cater to a diverse range of interests. From impressive art collections at the National Gallery of Canada to an exploration through Canada’s past at the Canadian Museum of History, visiting our local museums is a fun and educational way to escape the cold this winter!

Photo Credit: @johareid via @museumofnature

Located in a beautiful castle-like building, the Canadian Museum of Nature allows you to explore the wonders of Canada and the greater planet.

Explore the land from coast to coast and through time in six world-class, natural history galleries. From dinosaurs to climate change, you can spend a whole day here learning new things about the place we call home! 

datenight pro tip: General Admission is free for everyone on Thursdays from 5-8 p.m. (tickets are still required). You can also borrow a Nature Card from your local public library which grants admission for up to 5 people (3 adults max, must contact the museum a min. of 24 hours in advance to secure tickets)

Location: 240 McLeod St, Ottawa

The Canadian War Museum stands as a tribute to Canada’s military history and the sacrifices made by its servicemen and women. The museum offers a deep exploration of Canada’s involvement in conflicts spanning from the early days of European colonization to contemporary peacekeeping missions.

Visitors are immersed in a powerful narrative through a vast collection of artifacts, personal stories, and interactive exhibits. The Canadian War Museum not only honours the bravery of Canadian heroes but also encourages reflection on the profound impact of war on individuals and society, fostering a deeper understanding of the nation’s military heritage.

datenight pro tip: Admission is free on Thursdays from 5-7 p.m. (timed ticket is required)

Location: 1 Vimy Place, Ottawa

The Canada Aviation and Space Museum is a captivating destination for enthusiasts of flight and space exploration! This museum showcases the evolution of aviation in Canada, featuring an extensive collection of historic aircraft, from early biplanes to modern jets.

Beyond airplanes, the museum delves into the wonders of space exploration, with exhibits highlighting Canada’s contributions to the field. Visitors can marvel at artifacts such as the flight suit that Marc Garneau wore as he blasted off into space! Interactive displays and immersive experiences make the museum engaging for visitors of all ages.

datenight pro tip: Admission is free daily from 4-5 p.m. (does not apply to special exhibits and events) and complimentary parking passes are available to Veterans at the admission desk.

Location: 11 Aviation Parkway, Ottawa

National Gallery of Canada

The National Gallery of Canada stands as a pinnacle of artistic expression and cultural heritage. This prestigious institution houses an extensive and diverse collection of Canadian and international art, spanning centuries and encompassing various styles and movements.

Notable works by iconic Canadian artists, including the renowned Emily Carr, are prominently featured, providing a comprehensive overview of the country’s artistic evolution. The gallery also boasts the finest collection of Indigenous art in the world.

Be sure to snap a pic with Maman – the iconic giant spider sculpture in front of the museum! 

datenight pro tip: Admission is free on Thursday evenings after 5 p.m. (tickets required). You can enjoy seasonal refreshments and snacks in the Scotiabank Great Hall along with tunes from a local DJ. You’ll also have the opportunity to participate in free art-making activities or take a 3 to See Tour! 

Location: 380 Sussex Dr, Ottawa

The Bank of Canada Museum offers visitors a captivating journey into the world of finance, currency, and the role of the central bank. Explore the history of Canadian currency through engaging exhibits, interactive displays, and a diverse collection of banknotes and coins.

Visitors can explore the evolution of money, gain insights into the economic functions of the Bank of Canada, and learn about the intricate design and security features of currency. The museum’s innovative approach to financial education makes complex economic concepts accessible to a broad audience, making it an informative and entertaining destination for those interested in the intersection of money, history, and economics.

Bonus: Admission is always free!

Location: 30 Bank St, Ottawa

The Canada Science and Technology Museum is a dynamic and educational exploration of the country’s scientific and technological advancements. With a focus on interactive exhibits and engaging displays, this museum offers a hands-on experience for visitors of all ages!

From the history of innovation and technological breakthroughs to the evolution of communication and transportation, the museum provides a comprehensive journey through Canada’s contributions to science and technology. You can explore a diverse collection of artifacts, including vintage cars, locomotives, and incredible pioneering inventions. 

datenight pro tip: Admission is free daily between 4-5 p.m. (does not apply to special exhibitions and events). Free admission is also offered to all all active Canadian military personnel, Canadian military veterans, Indigenous peoples, including First Nations, Inuit and Métis, and a support leader accompanying a person with disabilities.

Ottawa Art Gallery

The OAG is an independent, not-for-profit, charitable organization governed by a volunteer board of directors. Since its founding in 1988, the museum has built a significant permanent collection that now numbers more than 1,020 works including paintings, sculpture, graphic arts, photographs, and new media.

Two new exhibits are coming to the OAG this winter: The Marks We Make on January 19th and Visions and Views on February 11th. You also don’t want to miss 83 ‘Til Infinity – a celebration of 40 years of hip-hop in the Ottawa-Gatineau region. It’s on until February 18th!

P.S. Admission is always free! 

Location: 50 Mackenzie King Bridge, Ottawa

Located in the heart of downtown Ottawa, the Bytown Museum explores the stories of a thriving city and its people, from the early days of Bytown to the Ottawa of today.

The Museum is located near the Ottawa Locks on the Rideau Canal, between Parliament Hill and the Chateau Laurier Hotel, a picturesque UNESCO World Heritage Site. Nestled at the Ottawa Locks Canal, the Bytown Museum offers a breathtaking view of the canal and its surroundings, with an exciting and diverse schedule of activities, bridging history and nature in an unforgettable scenic setting.

During the winter season, the museum is open by appointment in January to groups of 10+ and will be open during Winterlude 2024 in February. 

Location: 1 Canal Lane, Ottawa

The Diefenbunker is a once-top secret, four-storey underground bunker! The museum offers a unique and intriguing glimpse into Canada’s Cold War history.

Visitors can explore the labyrinthine tunnels and rooms, gaining insights into the political and military strategies of the period. The Diefenbunker also showcases a variety of Cold War artifacts, including communication equipment, decontamination chambers, and emergency rations.

Location: 3929 Carp Rd, Ottawa

Photo Credit: @diefenbunker
Photo Credit: @diefenbunker

The Canadian Museum of History, stands as a captivating testament to the rich cultural heritage and history of Canada. Overlooking the Ottawa River and facing Parliament Hill, the museum is an architectural marvel that showcases diverse exhibits and artifacts spanning Canada’s past.

Visitors can explore engaging displays that delve into the country’s Indigenous history and contemporary cultural achievements. The museum’s Grand Hall, adorned with towering totem poles, exemplifies the grandeur of Canada’s indigenous cultures. With a focus on interactive exhibits and immersive storytelling, the museum offers a comprehensive and enlightening journey through the nation’s fascinating past.

datenight pro tip: Admission is free on Thursdays from 5-7 p.m. (a timed ticket is required)

The museum is currently closed from January 8-12 for annual maintenance but will reopen on January 13th.

Location: 100 Laurier St, Gatineau

Looking for a romantic escape this winter? Here are 5 getaways in and around Ottawa to add to your bucket list!

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