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Paddle Boarding on the Ottawa River

Outdoor staycation in Ottawa: a summer 2020 itinerary

Take advantage of being home this summer and plan a vacation full of outdoor activities in your own city! Whether you’re exploring solo or with your bubble of friends and family, you’ll find tons of fun options like flying, jumping, rafting and cycling—all with physical distancing in mind. Start planning your epic outdoor staycation in Canada’s capital with the itinerary ideas below!

Note: The suggestions below are based on information available on the publishing date, during Stage 2 of the COVID-19 pandemic. Please contact businesses directly to confirm.

DAY 1—Flying, jumping and plunging

Start your adventure with an overnight change of scenery. Stay at a unique hotel, a historic jail-turned-hostel (you can sleep in a jail cell!) or campground. Many accommodations throughout the Ottawa area are open and offering special deals.

Get your blood pumping by flying above the city in an authentic, open-cockpit WWII-era WACO UPF-7 biplane with Ottawa Biplane Adventures! Flights seat two passengers and currently depart from the Rockcliffe Airport while their usual home, the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, is closed until further notice.

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.)

While you’re in the Outaouais region of Quebec, visit Arbraska Laflèche for their thrilling aerial courses, ziplines, and cave discovery tours.

Celebrate your achievements with evening drinks and a meal al fresco. While indoor dining is restricted, many of Ottawa’s patios are open for business, and some neighbourhoods have even closed certain streets to maximize patio space! For insider inspiration, see our article on some of the city’s best patios.

After dinner, consider an entertaining and informative walking tour with Haunted Walks (you’d be surprised how much you don’t know about your own city). Or watch a movie at one of the pop-up drive-ins, including Place des festivals-Zibi Gatineau near downtown Ottawa, and Wesley Clover Parks west of the city.

DAY 2—Rafting, paddling and pedaling

On hot summer days, nothing beats getting soaked during a fun paddling trip on the Ottawa River. Some of the world’s best whitewater rafting action—including class V rapids—is accessible just one hour west of Ottawa! Several rafting outfitters provide high adventure excursion options, 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 that is your hometown. Use your own equipment, or rent a canoe, kayak, paddleboard or other paddle craft at outfitters and marinas.

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

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

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—Walking, hiking and pampering

Head out to one of Ottawa’s easily accessible and diverse walking and hiking destinations. Visit an area of Gatineau Park you haven’t explored yet, or one of the unique sites—such as sand dunes and a boreal forest—in Ottawa’s vast Greenbelt.

If your muscles are sore from all these outdoor activities, consider pampering yourself at a wellness centre like Holtz Spa, Au 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 staycation!

Note: For information on open restrooms and toilets throughout the Ottawa region during COVID-19, please visit the article Open washrooms in Ottawa, Eastern Ontario and the Outaouais on our friend’s website Ottawa Road Trips

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