As Canada’s Capital, Ottawa offers lots to see and do at any time of the year. From national museums that house some of Canada’s most priceless treasures, to the iconic Parliament Hill, to important national historic sites such as the Rideau Canal, you won’t be at a loss on how to spend your time in this beautiful city.
But did you know that Ottawa is also a fantastic destination to visit as a group? From world-class outdoor adventure, to scenic countryside attractions, to different types of intriguing urban adventures, Ottawa is home to some great activities that are sure to bring any team closer together.
With so many group activity options however, where do you begin? We’ve put together a list of five suggestions for some unique activities that will help your group get to know each other better and build a strong team moral. See what we recommend below!
ESCAPE MANOR: Launched in November 2015, Escape Manor is one of Ottawa’s newest attractions and is a fantastic group activity! Located on Queen Street, right in the middle of Ottawa’s downtown core, this indoor attraction offers four darkly-themed rooms in which small groups are locked up and must escape within 45 minutes or… meet a tragic end.
Opt to escape from a crazy winemaker in the Wine Cellar escape, flee death row in Prison Break, run from a mad scientist in The Asylum or save your soul by escaping The Darkness, which is Escape Manor’s brand new challenge. Each room offers a series of well-hidden clues and challenging puzzles that force team members to work together to make their escape. No one will be able to escape on their own.
The escape experiences can accommodate small groups of two to three people to groups of 10 or more. If you have a special event, a custom escape experience can be set up. In addition to the escape rooms, you’ll also find a cozy, fully-licensed bar area with more challenging puzzles and games.
SAUNDERS FARM: Located at about a 40-minute drive south of Ottawa’s downtown core, “Saunders” as it’s known locally, is a lovely countryside retreat for all ages at any time of the year.
This working 100-acre farm is home to the largest collection of full-sized hedge mazes in North America as well as beautiful, rustic meeting facilities with catering services. This is the perfect place to host a backyard-style bash, as Saunders can help you organize fun group activities such as relay races, different friendly skills competitions and more. Saunders also offers activities such as hayrides, a high Witch Mountain slide and gigantic jumping pillows. Everyone is sure to bond while laughing and jumping on these huge bouncy pillows!
Saunders Farm is open for special group events year-round and the availability of activities changes with each season. Here, you’ll find summer activities, fall and ‘Haunting Season’ activities as well as traditional winter and holiday-themed events.
WHITEWATER RAFTING: Did you know that the mighty Ottawa River is one of the top five whitewater destinations in the world? It’s true! And you can experience it no matter what your level of whitewater expertise might be. This is a great spring or summertime team building activity.
About 90-minutes west of Ottawa’s downtown core on the upper Ottawa River, you’ll find three rafting companies that offer various adventures for the beginner to the expert rafter. Here, participants will get into a 12-person raft and together, they will spend the day paddling through big Class III and Class IV rapids. Work hard and paddle together to make it down the river and afterwards, chat casually as you make your way through the calm flat water. These full-day rafting trips also come complete with a fireside barbecue lunch on a scenic riverbank. You can be sure that people will know each other better by the time they get to the bottom of the river.
The Ottawa River’s beloved rafting season begins at the end of May each year and runs until September or early October, weather depending. The rafting trips go out on the river rain or shine!
INDIGENOUS EXPERIENCES: Located on the scenic Victoria Island in the middle of the rolling Ottawa River (just a few minutes from Ottawa’s downtown core), this unique, group-only outdoor experience is available from May through September. Come to this attraction together and learn about how Indigenous people live across North America.
Experience an authentic Indigenous meal, complete with bannock; a staple bread of many Indigenous groups. Also, take in a dance performance and Indigenous craft activities. And if you’d like to experience the Ottawa River as the First Peoples and early explorers once did, canoe-paddling activities are also offered. Make sure to have a camera ready!
These are only a few suggestions to get you started. For more ideas on group-friendly activities in Ottawa, visit the Travel Trade or Meetings sections of Ottawa Tourism’s website.