Lansdowne, Christmas

Couple’s Ottawa holiday activities: An itinerary

Canada’s capital city comes alive every winter during the holidays. With so many wonderful things to experience this time of year with the love of your life, you’ll feel like you’re in a magical snow globe.

Day 1: Romantic night out

Take your significant other out for a night they’ll never forget! Enjoy a cozy dinner at one of Ottawa’s many romantic restaurants. Try Beckta Dining, located in a renovated heritage building on trendy Elgin Street, for a curated wine list and international menu, within the most elegant of dining spaces.

For Northern Italian small plates perfect for sampling and sharing, check out North & Navy. Nestled in an old, large brick house that has been converted into a stunning restaurant complete with beautiful wallpaper and furniture, you’ll both never want to leave.

Found on the cobblestoned Sparks Street you’ll find Riveria, which was voted as one of Open Table’s “100 Most Romantic Restaurants of 2023.” The locally inspired cuisine and handcrafted cocktails are sure to impress your date.

Once you’re full, you’re ready to get swept away in a phenomenal Nutcracker performance by Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet at the iconic National Arts Centre taking place November 29 - December 3 on Elgin Street. You’ll both be delighted by the cultural references about life in Canada, like a hockey game on a frozen pond, in this holiday classic. Throughout the season, the NAC hosts numerous  incredible productions including Winter Light, Christmas GOOSE 2023, Home Alone in Concert, A Tyler Shaw Christmas, A Christmas Playlist and more.

Day 2: Magical outdoor adventures

Prepare for a day full of outdoor winter adventures with a scrumptious brunch. There may be a line at places like Chesterfield’s Gastro Diner in Westboro and Wilf & Ada’s on Bank Street for their casual fare, but it’s for good reason. For breathtaking brunch spots to start a romantic day try Cantina Gia in the Glebe for Italian-inspired dishes or Cocotte Bistro, located right downtown Ottawa, for French-inspired cuisine.

Want to experience wildlife up close? At Parc Omega, you can be amongst wildlife as you drive through a Canadian safari featuring deer, bison and more. Buy some treats and these majestic animals will come over to say hi! This is truly an unforgettable experience for you and your partner.

Head over to one of the many incredible skating trails in the Ottawa area! Skate leisurely hand in hand through the forest at RiverOak Skating Trail, Icelynd Skating Trails, Countryside Adventures or Little Penguin Trail. Afterwards, warm up by a fire.

Cozy up over a glass of wine and delicious food at one of Ottawa’s incredible wine bars. Play Food & Wine, located in the lively ByWard Market neighbourhood, has an exceptional wine menu and artfully crafted dishes perfect for savouring. Arlo Wine & Restaurant boasts an incredible list of natural wines and locally sourced ingredients in their dishes. Arlo was voted as one of Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants in 2023

Finish the day in a festive way by enjoying the Winter Lights Across Canada. Be awe struck by thousands of dazzling lights showcased on Parliament Hill, national museums, embassies and other significant sites in the Ottawa region. It is truly magical!

Day 3: Get in the holiday spirit

Go all out and finish your trip in Ottawa by really getting into the holiday spirit! Treat yourself to the delightful tastes of  Zoe’s. Located in the historical, castle-like Fairmont Château Laurier, Zoe’s offers inventive and delicious small and sharing plates in a gorgeous setting. Then explore the festive halls filled with stunningly decorated trees, throughout the grand lobby and foyers.

Did you know that there have been so many holiday movies filmed in Ottawa that the city has been dubbed as the holiday movie capital of Canada? Go on a romantic tour of the city and check out the various filming locations around the ByWard Market like Fairouz Café or Luxe Bistro, or places in the Glebe, like Patterson’s Creek Park and Irene’s Pub.

Next, head to Lansdowne for their annual outdoor Ottawa Christmas Market. Every weekend for four weekends leading up to Christmas, you and your significant other can experience food, drinks, installations, fire pits, Christmas lights and more. Don’t miss the giant holiday tree perfect for your couples' photos!

Enjoy one last dinner together before heading home and check out Nan’s Parlour in the ByWard Market. This charming spot looks like, you guessed it, your Grandma’s home, with vintage furniture, wallpaper and decorations. Plus, Nan’s Parlour gets a Christmas makeover each year that you can’t miss out on. Indulge in pierogies, kimchi dumplings and more.  

Wrap up your romantic winter getaway to Ottawa with a visit to Wesley Clover Parks for their Magic of Lights exhibit. From November 17-January 6 you can drive through a dazzling array of holiday lights that take the shape of holiday scenes and characters. You’ll both be left absolutely enchanted.

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