We tried that when Emily was about 20 months old and decided that we wouldn't be back until she was at least 18 or so. It just isn't a fun experience for either the kids or the parents. You're constantly worried that you'll lose one of them and they can't see a thing given that they're about thigh high on a good day.
This year we found ourselves in Ottawa on Canada Day which is rather remarkable to be honest given that, although we live here, we tend to flee Ottawa for a good chunk of the summer and spend it at the cottage. This year, however, we decided to ease into the summer and have some downtime at home right after school ended. This was largely Emily's preference but we fully supported it (and we've been having a great time right here in little old Ottawa).
We needed to find something to do on Canada Day and given that we're a family of history nerds, we decided to check out the goings on at Pinhey's Point. Pinhey's Point is one of the City of Ottawa's historic sites. It's way out in middle-of-nowhere Kanata (Dunrobin, actually) but from now on I'll be referring to it as a hidden gem (in middle-of-nowhere Kanata). It's the remains of the estate of Hamnett Pinhey who was granted that land for his service as the King's Messenger during some war or other (yeah, that's me with the Masters Degree in History being all precise and whatnot). He wisely chose pretty much the best piece of land in the west end, right on the Ottawa River, gorgeous views of Quebec, and made himself into a very rich man. You can walk through the house and poke around in most of the rooms learning about the history of the family, see some special exhibits (I particularly liked the one on 19th century toilets) and of course view the furnishings and learn about the architecture of the house.
On Canada Day, there were other special activities as well: a barbecue, wagon rides, a petting zoo, period music and historical games. Most things were free or really reasonably priced. And, while the parking lots seemed pretty full, it was not at all crowded. We didn't have to wait in any lines. Not once.
It was a lovely day. We all had a great time. The girls splashed in the river, we rode the wagon twice. We ate freezies and hot dogs and drank pop and listened to lovely music.
Hope decided that "cool-down" means "fall-down" and get entirely soaked. To be honest, I was a little jealous of her wet clothes: built-in air conditioning.
Pinhey's will be our go-to from now on for Canada Day in Ottawa.
I'm thinking Will and Kate would have preferred it to all the crowds they had to deal with at that other site.