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Byward Market, Cookies, Le Moulin de Provence

Romantic staycation in Ottawa: a summer 2020 itinerary

You don’t have to go far to get closer to your partner this summer—just plan a romantic retreat in your own beautiful city! Ottawa attractions like spas, cruises and culinary experiences have unlocked their doors—with physical distancing in mind—and are welcoming locals with open arms. Use the itinerary ideas below to plan your own memorable and romantic getaway in Canada’s capital.

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—Hotels, cruises and spas

Nothing rekindles the flame like an overnight stay away from home (perhaps a break from the kids is in order?). Treat yourselves to a stay at a historic hotel, cozy B&B or other accommodation throughout the Ottawa area. Many are open and offering special deals.

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.

The ultimate way to explore the historic canal is to rent one of Le Boat’s luxury, self-drive houseboats. Spend quality time together as you travel the 202 kilometres between Kingston and Ottawa.

Get pampered at one of Ottawa’s relaxing spas. Look for special couples’ treatments offered at Holtz Spa, Au Naturel Spa and Renu Massage Therapy and Spa. Or visit the largest spa in North America, Nordik Spa-Nature, to benefit from their indoor-outdoor amenities.

Take advantage of beautiful views and romantic settings on the many patios that that are open for business—a welcome alternative while indoor dining is restricted. Some neighbourhoods have even closed certain streets to maximize patio space! Get some insider inspiration by consulting our list of some of the city’s best patios.

Drive to one of the new pop-up drive-ins and cuddle up while watching a movie. This retro experience is being offered within the city at Place des festivals-Zibi Gatineau, and in the countryside at Wesley Clover Parks.

DAY 2—Flying, rafting and paddling

Take your sweetie for 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. Ottawa Biplane Adventures is currently operating from the Rockcliffe Airport while its usual home, the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, is closed until further notice.

Keep your blood pumping with some of the world’s best whitewater rafting action, just one hour west of Ottawa! Several rafting outfitters offer excursion options for all levels, as well as lodging and entertainment on site.

Ottawa is also a flatwater paddling paradise, right in the urban core. Use your own equipment, or rent a canoe, kayak, paddleboard and other paddle craft at outfitters and marinas. Or sit back and relax at one of Ottawa’s sandy beaches located along the Rideau and Ottawa Rivers.

Beaches are epic sunset-viewing spots, but 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.

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 3—Food, urban activities and culture

Stroll some of the city’s farmers’ markets to see what’s in season. These include the daily ByWard and Parkdale markets, as well as the Ottawa Farmers’ Market (Sundays at Lansdowne and Saturdays in Westboro).

Savour some of your purchases while on a romantic picnic in one of the city’s greenspaces. Or order takeout brunch specials—mimosa kits optional—from your favourite local restaurant. If you prefer a countryside setting, some farms are offering picnic packages that include pre-made lunches.

Discover other foodie hotspots by taking a C’est Bon Cooking culinary walking tour. Food samples are included!

Cool off indoors at attractions that are open to the public, such as the beautiful Ottawa Art Gallery (always free!) and the Diefenbunker Museum. Several more attractions, including some of Canada’s seven national museums, are reopening this summer. Contact attractions directly to confirm schedule and whether guided tours are required.

Use your own bikes or rent some (consider a tandem bicycle to pedal together!) and explore on two wheels. Ride picturesque urban pathways or roll through rural communities on your own or with a tour.

Stroll or hike hand in hand through Ottawa’s many natural spaces. Choose a trail you haven’t yet explored in Gatineau Park, or visit the sand dunes and boreal forests of Ottawa’s vast Greenbelt. The options for connecting with your loved one are endless in Canada’s capital!

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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