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Paddle Boarding on the Ottawa River

Outdoor activities in Ottawa: a summer 2021 itinerary

Take advantage of Ottawa’s beautiful summer weather by planning an outdoor-themed trip full of exciting adventures, old and new! Go flying, ziplining and rafting, and mix in some more leisurely-paced cycling, hiking, golfing and spa-ing. Of course, there are delicious treats and refreshments along the way. Start planning your epic outdoor visit to Canada’s capital with the itinerary ideas below!

Note: The suggestions below are based on information available on the publishing date. Please confirm details with direct sources and stay informed on the current COVID-19 situation in Ottawa.

DAY 1—Flying, jumping and plunging

Whether you prefer modest accommodations or luxurious surroundings, you’ll find the perfect home base in the Ottawa area. See a range of options on where to stay and take advantage of special offers.

Start with a new bucket list item: the first interprovincial zipline in the world! Ottawa’s newest and most exciting activity, Interzip Rogers, takes you soaring 37 metres (120 feet) over the Ottawa River between Ontario and Quebec at speeds of up to 40 kilometres per hour (25 miles per hour). After getting outfitted at the departure location (the Zibi site just west of downtown), you’ll be sent on a thrilling panoramic journey.

If you want to get even higher, fly above the city in an authentic, open-cockpit WWII-era WACO UPF-7 biplane with Ottawa Aviation Adventures, or look straight under your feet on a helicopter ride with Héli-Tremblant. Flights depart from the Canada Aviation and Space Museum or the nearby Rockcliffe Airport just east of downtown. 

Check another item off your bucket list by taking the plunge at Canada’s highest bungee. The 200-foot jump at Great Canadian Bungee gives you the option to get dunked into the spring-fed water below. (Their RIPRIDE zipline is also a blast.)

For even more wind in your hair, ride the new mountain pipe coaster at Camp Fortune, just fifteen minutes from downtown Ottawa. Take a chairlift ride to the top of the hill, board a passenger cart and zoom down the 1-kilometre-long (0.6 mile) monorail track. Try not to use the hand brake as you twist and turn through the forest at speeds of up to 40 kilometres (25 miles) per hour! This activity centre is also one of the great mountain biking locations in the region.

While you’re in the Outaouais region of Quebec, visit Arbraska Laflèche for their thrilling aerial courses, ziplines, and cave discovery tours. Exploring underground is a refreshing option on hot summer days!

Celebrate your achievements with evening drinks and a meal al fresco on some of the city’s best patios. From quiet hidden courtyards to streetside spots, patios are abundant in Ottawa.

After dinner, join Haunted Walks for one of their entertaining and informative outdoor tours to learn about Ottawa’s spooky hidden history.

DAY 2—Rafting, paddling and pedaling

On hot summer days, nothing beats getting soaked during an epic paddling trip on the Ottawa River. Some of the world’s best whitewater action—including class V rapids—is accessible just one hour west of Ottawa! Several outfitters offer high adventure rafting, kayaking and canoeing lessons and excursions, as well as lodging and entertainment on site.

Less intense paddling options are available just a few minutes’ drive west of the city centre. Float down an urban section of the Ottawa River on a gentle rafting trip or during a fun tubing experience—both offered by Ottawa City Rafting.

If adrenaline is not a must, explore the flatwater paddling paradise of Ottawa’s waterways, including the Ottawa River, Rideau River and Rideau Canal (UNESCO World Heritage Site). Use your own equipment, or rent a canoe, kayak, paddleboard or other paddle craft at outfitters and marinas. Take a break at one of Ottawa’s sandy beaches along the way.

Take advantage of the epic cycling opportunities within the city and in rural communities. The region boasts over 800 kilometres of recreational pathways! Grab your bike and plan your own adventure, or rent one and take a tour with an expert. Some tours even combine cycling and food!

Plan to stop for a refreshing, locally-made refreshment along the way, including some of Ottawa’s best ice cream and other frozen treats!

In the evening, go retro and catch a movie at one of two Drive-In Experience locations: the RCGT Park parking lot (just east of downtown Ottawa) and Wesley Clover Parks (west of the city).

If you can’t get enough of the outdoors, consider a nighttime campfire at Saunders Farm west of the city. Their packages include everything you need to make a fire, as well as food options like hot dogs and S’mores.

DAY 3—Markets, greenspaces and spas

Start your last day by shopping local at one of Ottawa’s many farmers' markets. Depending on the day, you could visit urban locations featuring exclusively locally-produced items, or daily markets that offer products from near and far.

Head out to one of Ottawa’s easily accessible and diverse walking and hiking destinations. Visit sprawling Gatineau Park just 15 minutes north of Ottawa for its forests, hills and lakes, or visit one of the city’s unique conservations areas—such as sand dunes and a boreal forest—in Ottawa’s vast Greenbelt. These are great places for birdwatching!

If the golf greens are calling your name, take a look at our golfing highlights in the Ottawa area. Your only challenge will be choosing from the dozens of golf courses throughout the region.

No matter where you end up, you’ll be near any of the dozens of local breweries where you can tap into Ottawa’s flavours. Many have outdoor patios where you can enjoy a refreshing beer as well as other local drinks and food.

If your muscles are sore from all these outdoor activities, consider pampering yourself at a wellness centre within the city, like Holtz SpaAu Naturel Spa and Renu Massage Therapy and Spa. Or visit the largest spa in North America, Nordik Spa-Nature, for a relaxing indoor-outdoor experience. A wonderful way to cap off an outdoorsy getaway!

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