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There are many small towns within an hour of Ottawa that make for nice day trips. Places along the Rideau Canal and the Mississippi River offer snapshots of the Ontario of days gone by. Perth, Merrickville and Almonte have picturesque downtowns with opportunities for antiquing, dining and visiting artisans.
North of Ottawa, trips along the Gatineau River will take you to lovely Quebec towns such as Old Chelsea and Wakefield. You may want to pair these visits with activities in Gatineau Park such as swimming at Lac Phillip in the summer, hikes in the fall and spring, or cross-country skiing in the winter.
Slightly further afield, the Thousand Islands region is only about 75 miles away by expressway and can be reached in about 90 minutes.