Canadian Museum of History, Parliament, Summer

Romance in Ottawa: a summer 2021 itinerary

With its easygoing charm, memorable activities and easy access to the outdoors, planning a meaningful romantic retreat in Ottawa is a breeze. Whether you prefer relaxing experiences such as spas, cruises and food, or bonding over activities like flying, ziplining and paddling, you’ll find the perfect way to reconnect in Canada’s capital. Get inspired with the itinerary ideas below and plan your own romantic getaway in Ottawa this summer.

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—Cruises, spas and Van Gogh

Nothing rekindles the flame like a few nights at a historic hotel, cozy B&B or other accommodation. Choose your ideal place to stay and see our special offers.   

Start with a relaxing cruise on Ottawa’s picturesque waterways. Enjoy panoramic views from the Ottawa River—including Rideau Falls and the Ottawa Locks—on World Famous Paul’s Boat Line. Or drift through downtown Ottawa on Ontario’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site with Rideau Canal Cruises (an eco-friendly, electric boat). Both cruises have multilingual narration.

The smaller Au Feel de l’eau Aqua-Taxi (also eco-friendly and electric) links several locations on both shores of the Ottawa River. The continuous short trip circuit travels between the Ottawa Locks near the Bytown Museum, the Canadian Museum of History, and Richmond Landing near the Canadian War Museum. The longer Resto bar circuit goes between two waterfront dining spots east of downtown: the Rockcliffe Boathouse and Rest’O’Bord Le Pirate. For a custom private excursion (captain included), book their Aqua-Limo.

Take it up another notch with Ottawa Private Yacht Tours and Rentals. You can rent a luxurious boat with crew, or pilot it yourself for time periods ranging from half-day to overnight. Imagine sitting on the yacht deck with a glass of bubbly as you cruise on the many waterways in the Ottawa region.

Get pampered at one of Ottawa’s relaxing spas. Look for special couples’ treatments offered at Holtz SpaAu Naturel Spa and Renu Massage Therapy and Spa within the city. Or visit the largest spa in North America, Nordik Spa-Nature, located just 10 minutes from downtown Ottawa in Chelsea, Quebec, to benefit from their indoor-outdoor thermal therapy amenities and multiple dining options.

Visit the special event Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience for a magical journey through a giant multimedia exhibit. As you walk through the space, moving images of the painter’s masterpieces are projected around you to the sound of symphonic music. The event takes place in the Aberdeen Pavilion at Lansdowne in the vibrant Glebe neighbourhood, where you can do some shopping and nibbling.

Take advantage of beautiful views and romantic settings on some of the city’s best patios. Choose from rooftop lounges, quiet hidden courtyards and streetside spots.

In the evening, cuddle up while watching 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).

Or round out the day with a nighttime campfire at Saunders Farm, west of the city. Their Date Night package includes everything you need, plus a charcuterie and cheese board, wine or cider, and S’mores.

DAY 2—Flying, rafting and paddling

Take an unforgettable flight above the city in an authentic, open-cockpit WWII-era WACO UPF-7 biplane! Hold hands and take selfies (hold on tight to your device!) while seated side-by-side behind the pilot. Flights with Ottawa Aviation Adventures depart from the Canada Aviation and Space Museum or the nearby Rockcliffe Airport just east of downtown.

Keep the adrenaline pumping and bond over a truly unique experience: the first interprovincial zipline in the world! The new Interzip Rogers zipline 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). Get outfitted at the departure location (the Zibi site just west of downtown) before enjoying the thrilling panoramic journey.

Discover why Ottawa is a flatwater paddling paradise by using your own equipment, or renting a canoe, kayak, paddleboard and other paddle craft at outfitters and marinas. Put-in locations abound within the city centre and beyond.

Relax at one of Ottawa’s sandy beaches located along the Rideau and Ottawa Rivers. While they’re epic sunset-viewing spots, the entire city is a photographers’ dream! Take lots of memorable photos together by visiting the best places to photograph this summer in Ottawa.

Cool off with some of Ottawa’s best locally-made ice cream and other frozen treats offered throughout the region. You’ll find the perfect match no matter your dietary restrictions.

Tickle your tastebuds over a meal at one of the city’s many ethnic eateries. Ottawa has many must-try international cuisine options—you might even find one that’s new to you!

Hold each other tight while on a spooky and entertaining Haunted Walk tour. You’ll be guided through the surprisingly dark side of the city’s history.

DAY 3—Food, tours and outdoor exploration

Discover local goodies at some of Ottawa’s farmers' markets which range in frequency from daily to monthly, and in location from city centre to countryside. You can get a snack or a meal from food vendors, as well as browse plants, artisanal items and housewares.  

Continue treating your tastebuds by taking a culinary walking tour of different neighbourhoods (including food samples, or consider many other informative and fun walking and cycling tours (some of which have private options)!

If you both love exploring on two wheels, use your own bikes or rent some (consider a tandem bicycle to pedal together!) and go cycling. Ride picturesque urban pathways or roll through rural communities on your own or with a tour.

You can also explore many of the city’s gems at your own pace with self-guided experiences that lead you to urban art, outdoor sites and even filming locations.

Stroll or hike hand in hand through Ottawa’s many natural spaces. Visit the lookouts, lakes and forests of Gatineau Park, or the sand dunes, boreal landscapes and conservation spaces in Ottawa’s vast Greenbelt. The options for connecting with your loved one are endless in Canada’s capital!

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