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Ottawa has tons to do all year long — from ice-skating on the Rideau Canal to picnicking in Gatineau Park — but sometimes it’s nice to spend some time in museums. And these aren’t just any museums; they’re some of the best in Canada. Here are our Forbes Travel Guide editors’ picks of the five best museums in Ottawa.
1. Canada Science and Technology Museum. Explore more than 400 exhibits with many do-it-yourself experiments. It’s the kind of place that’s very hands-on — from the hair-raising static ball to the space simulator. You’ll see innovative gadgets like a fridge with a TV in it, as well as Canada’s historic role in science and technology like the steam locomotive that pulled the Royal Train during the 1939 royal visit.
2. National Gallery of Canada. As one of Canada’s oldest national cultural institutions (it was created in 1880), this museum is interesting in itself. But the exhibitions are what lure you in — you’ll discover art that ranges from Canadian to European and American. The museum also has special exhibits like the recent Van Gogh: Up Close that spotlight an artist or time period.
3. Canada Aviation and Space Museum. Home to some of the world’s most historic aircraft, this museum celebrates all things flying. Accented by giant hangar-like walls, Canada Aviation and Space Museum is a great way to get a peek into Canada’s military history. Come spring and summer, you can take a flying tour of Ottawa in a plane with an open cockpit.
4. Canadian Museum of Nature. Its location is intriguing, as it’s set within the castle-like Victoria Memorial Museum Building. This natural museum shows off everything from dinosaurs and fossils to a real skeleton of a blue whale and even living creatures in the Animalium; it’s fun for the whole family.
5. Royal Canadian Mint. As the capital of Canada, Ottawa is home to the Royal Canadian Mint. And while it’s a different kind of museum, it’s always interesting to see where the country’s money was once made (though now the high-volume manufacturing facility is in Winnipeg). You can take a guided tour and see where the tools are created that stamp the coins for both circulation and commemorative coins.