When I’m helping clients who are new to Ottawa find a home, I love telling them about our city and the natural attractions that make our area so appealing at any time of the year.

There’s so much to enjoy. Huge parks, ski hills, lakes, walking trails, outdoor spas, historic villages and farms you can visit for a taste of the harvest are all within short drives.

These destinations are particularly impressive during the weeks of autumn, when we marvel at those stunning fall colours.

Depending on your tastes, you could observe those colours from a chairlift, a soothing hot pool, a corn maze or while antique shopping and gallery-hopping in a 19th-century village.

Here are five places to visit that within a short drive will offer some stunning fall colour:

The village of Merrickville:

Many Ottawa-area residents love to take a weekend drive to Merrickville, about 80 kilometres southwest of Ottawa on the Rideau River. This charming historic village is known for its 19th-century buildings, art galleries, craft and antique shops, cafes and pubs. Stroll the galleries and you’ll find the work of painters, art glass designers, potters, sculptors, some of them demonstrating while you visit.

Merrickville is a popular destination at all times of the year. Getting there is part of the pleasure, taking you along a scenic country drive.  Take Hwy. 416 South to County Road 43 (exit 32) and follow Road 43 to Merrickville. Information: www.realmerrickville.ca

Soak in the hot pools at Spa Nordik:

For a different way to enjoy the fall colours, consider a visit to beautiful Spa Nordik on the outskirts of Gatineau Park in Chelsea, where visitors 16 and older can enjoy soaking in hot and cold pools nestled among trees. It’s a wonderfully designed complex that tastefully blends into its setting among the trees.

Inspired by the spas in Scandinavian countries, Nordik has multiple saunas, relaxation rooms, a restaurant and café. The spa also has massages services that can be reserved in advance.

Nordik is open through the winter too. Many regular visitors love to enjoy the hot pools as they look out at the snow-covered trees and grounds. Information: 819-827-1111 or https://chelsea.lenordik.com/en/

Saunders Farm:

About 15 minutes south of Kanata, in Munster, Saunders Farm is a working farm and a popular attraction for those looking for a taste of rural life.

The Saunders family have created a lovely retreat for city residents, with hedge mazes and labyrinths, a pumpkin patch hayride and play areas.  There are food booths, a shop and a bakery offering farm-to-table items. At this time of year, with Halloween approaching, the farm offers additional activities, including Halloween-themed performances and ghostly tours. Information: www.saundersfarm.com

Gatineau Park:

Lucky Ottawa and Gatineau residents have this spectacular park to enjoy all year round. And it’s just a 15-minute drive north of downtown Ottawa.

Managed by the National Capital Commission, Gatineau Park offers 361 square kilometres of parkways and trails for walkers and cyclists, with lookout points and stunning scenery in any direction you choose to wander. Visit for a few hours or a day, and you’re likely to leave feeling rested and re-charged. Through Oct. 21, the park’s annual “Fall Rhapsody” festival offers additional activities, including demonstrations by artists and chats with nature interpreters. As part of the festival, the park offers shuttle buses on weekends from Ottawa’s ByWard Market and Gatineau’s Camp Fortune, from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.. Information: http://ncc-ccn.gc.ca/places-to-visit/gatineau-park/fall-rhapsody

Camp Fortune:

Located in Gatineau Park, the Camp Fortune Ski Resort and recreational area offers skiing in the winter and an aerial park and zip lining. At this time of year, you can ride a chair lift for a bird’s eye view of the colourful trees and then enjoy a leisurely hike back down. On weekends through Nov. 6, zip lining is also available, but must be reserved. Information: 819-827-5517 or  https://campfortune.com/en/fall-colours-activities/

If you’re interested in buying or selling property in the Ottawa area, I’d love to chat about the market and our region. With more than 30 years of experience as a Realtor in this city, I have a lot of expertise to offer, and I can tell you about the services my team and I offer.

You can read more on my website, at www.nancybenson.com, where you can also have a look at my current listings to get an idea of the sophisticated marketing and presentation we offer to sellers.

Feel free to give me a call, at 613-747-4747.