a peek inside the fishbowl

06 Aug, 2014

Road trip to Arnprior, part two (green spaces, a crazy moth, and a side of fries)

Posted by andrea tomkins in: - Ottawa for kids|Easy ways to make kids happy|Ottawa|travel talk

Click here for part one of this post about our road trip to Arnprior.

So we left Macnamara Nature Trail and decided to continue our journey. We had no plan, no schedule, no nothing, which is how we ended up at a tiny beach down the street from the trail entrance. A lone picnic table on a stretch of grass was nothing to write home about so I consulted the interwebs and saw something about a local park. I wasn’t able to find much about it quickly enough but we decided to forge ahead anyway after I read the magic words: SNACK BAR and BEACH.

Robert Simpson Park (at the end of 400 John St N. in Arnprior) is located where the Ottawa and Madawaska Rivers meet. It was only a five-minute drive away from Macnamara Trail and – SURPRISE – totally worth the visit.

Robert Simpson Park is very well maintained. There’s ample parking and plenty of green space, picnic tables, a small playground, a splash pad, a guarded beach, and a snack bar and washrooms. Basically, everything a family needs to hang out for an afternoon in the summer! Woot!

I was so taken aback that I only took minimal photos, so you will have to imagine stately trees and soothing shade, well-tended lawns, pretty flowerbeds, families spread out with blankets on the grass, older folks playing bocce, and kids scooting around on their bikes.

This is a glimpse of the beach. Note there are two levels of parking. The lower level makes the beach area easily accessible for those with mobility issues:

A peek at the beach, Robert Simpson Park in Arnprior. #latergram

There’s a large covered gazebo at Robert Simpson Park too, which is where we shifted ourselves when it started to rumble and thunder. It would have been really cool to see the storm roll in, but it skirted us and the rain never did come. We did, however, have a pretty view of the water and the boats floating by while we waited:

A view from the gazebo at Robert Simpson Park, Arnprior

It was mostly peaceful there. Mostly. I wrongly thought we’d left all the bugs behind us on the trail, but I was mistaken. This geedee moth WOULD NOT LEAVE ME ALONE even though I stank of bug spray. Was it playing chicken or what? It came close to fluttering up my shorts a number of times. Gah.

Moth to a flame

After awhile the girls had been in and out of the water and in and out of the splash pad and done cartwheels all over the park and Mark and I had just had the Best Coffee Ever, so it was time to finally pack it in.

Sidebar: I’m fascinated by menus for some reason. I always picture my grandkids reading them in disbelief. (“What’s a POGO and why was it only $2.00 grandma?”) Of note, there was homemade pulled pork to be had at the snack bar. Oh well. Next time!

Snack bar menu at Robert Simpson Park, Arnprior

Speaking of menus, I sent out a tweet about being in Arnprior and within seconds there was a change of plan. Mostly because of this tweet from local food writer Paula Roy:

So that’s how we ended up at Wes’ Hot Chips, en route back to Ottawa:

… with a large one of these to share:

Conclusion: twitter didn’t lie and the fries were pretty darn good. It was a great way to end a good trip to Arnprior.

Maybe next time we visit we’ll poke around the main strip. What else is good to see and do in Arnprior?

3 Responses to "Road trip to Arnprior, part two (green spaces, a crazy moth, and a side of fries)"

1 | Emilie

August 6th, 2014 at 8:25 pm


plenty of things to do out within the vicinity: arnprior book tree, morris island conservation area, gillies grove, cedar cove resort, Penny’s fudge factory, the press cafe.. the list goes on! :-)

2 | andrea tomkins

August 7th, 2014 at 10:49 am


I’ll definitely look into your recommendations. Thanks Emilie!

3 | Robin Smith

August 7th, 2014 at 2:03 pm


Andrea, so glad you visited our lovely town. There is more to see for sure. If you were impressed by the MacNamara Trail (a gem for sure!), you will be blown away by the Gillies Grove. You will think you’ve disappeared into Algonquin park for a while! There is an entrance off the end of Ottawa Street, which runs off John Street on your way to Robert Simpson Park. The main streets of the downtown core (its a triangle not a long street) are Elgin, John and Madawaska. There are boutiques, cafes and treasure shops. Not to mention the O’Brien Theatre (recently updated to digital and running first run movies). There is a waterfront trail that will bring you from Robert Simpson Park to the downtown core, past the marina along the Madawaska River. Fireworks are let off every Canada Day from the island at the bridge you pass along the way. And you’ll pass the library, book tree and museum as well. The museum is first class and full of interesting history of the Town and area. See the Discovery Guide in the Grow section of the town’s website for more information and maps of all the trails. Hope we see you again soon!

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (23) and Sarah (21). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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