Head for the hills!
Aylmerites know they are lucky. They live in a heritage-rich community nestled between the mighty Ottawa River and the Gatineau Hills. But how many of us take the opportunity to explore the treasures of the Gatineau Hills? There is really something for everyone. Between the natural beauty of the trails in the park and the charming shops and eateries sprinkled through Chelsea and Wakefield, there’s a something-for-everyone.
Head out for a day-trip, yes, but you’ll return and maybe for a well deserved over-night break. There are gorgeous places to stay, for any budget. For the day-tripper, there are a few tricks to keep in mind.
The first is to head out early! There are no crowds, but there really is far more to see than can fit in one day, or even one weekend. Pink Lake, a jewel of the Gatineau Park, has a walkway around the lake that can itself take a half-day to fully enjoy. With little wetlands and inlets along the path, any little person can stop to examine the water-dwellers. Pink Lake is a common park destination, but everyone has their favourite spot, and most have plenty of free parking. Paid parking costs about $9.50 at Meech Lake and Mackenzie King Estate, so bring cash or a credit card for these locations. And, of course, a towel and bathing suit! Washrooms and changing rooms are at Meech Lake’s farthest beach.
Strolling in a quaint setting with interesting shops? Wakefield’s the favourite! There’s plenty of parking along the main streets -- the village is small enough to leave the car behind for the afternoon. The same is true in Chelsea.
Park-and-stroll is the beauty of both places. Chelsea’s art centre, La Fab, is in the old Rectory of Saint Stephen’s Church on Old Chelsea Road. It is walking distance from much of what Chelsea has to offer in the way of shops, artisan brews, food, and unexpected treats.
Both communities have dynamic arts and cultural activities. Before planning a trip to either, or any of the neighbouring communities, check their municipal websites to see what events are on. On the pages of this Gatineau Hills section are advertisers who are committed to making your visit better than expected – stop by to say hello from Aylmer, and, most of all, take lots of pictures! Your enjoyment will live on!