Ottawans love spending time outside in the summer, enjoying every moment the warm weather and natural beauty the city has to offer. You can raft, paddle or relax on the beach along waterways, or hike, cycle and stroll the picturesque parks, pathways, trails and green spaces. There are also plenty of opportunities to attend professional sports events and indulge in local food and craft beer. Here’s a sampling of what to do over three summer days in Canada’s capital.
Start your day with a refreshing smoothie, artisanal toast or hearty egg dish at one of the city’s locally renowned brunch spots. Tuck an extra bottle of cold-pressed juice or infused water into your backpack to help you stay hydrated throughout the day.
Whether you like it flat or hilly, rough or smooth, you’ll find your ideal place to cycle somewhere in the Ottawa area. Take advantage of the paved pathways that line both sides of the Ottawa River, using one of several bridges to cross over to the Quebec side for an unparalleled view of Ottawa from its neighbouring city of Gatineau. Or drive just a few minutes north of downtown to Gatineau Park and tackle the hilly roads or forest trails on a mountain or road bike (you can rent one from many outlets in the region).
If you prefer to explore on foot, hiking options abound in the city and nearby countryside. Hike Gatineau Park’s hilly terrain, or stroll the trails in Canada’s Capital Greenbelt, which take you through diverse ecosystems.
Later in the afternoon, give your legs a break and work on your upper body with a game of mini-putt at Mini Golf Gardens in the Nepean area. If you’re a more serious golfer, play 9 or 18 holes at one of the dozens of golf courses throughout the city, such as The Marshes Golf Club at the Brookstreet Hotel in west Ottawa.
In the long, bright evening, enjoy an Ottawa REDBLACKS Canadian Football League (CFL) game at TD Place Stadium at Lansdowne, in the Glebe neighbourhood. If “the other football” (soccer) is more your speed, the new Atlético Ottawa Canadian Premier League team also plays at TD Place.
In addition to selling freshly picked fruits and vegetables grown within 100 kilometres (62 miles) of Ottawa, the Ottawa Farmer’s Market at Lansdowne also hosts artisans, makers and many local prepared food vendors. Pay them a visit on Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and pick up pastries, a freshly made sandwich, or some international treats, from Mexican tacos to Korean bibimbap.
If you’re a whitewater rafting enthusiast, you’re in luck: Several outfitters offer world-class rafting activities just over an hour’s drive northwest of Ottawa, in Foresters Falls, Ontario. For instance, long-running adventure resort OWL Rafting offers low, medium, and high intensity trips suitable for everyone from first-timers and kids to experienced adults. Make sure to bring dry clothes for after—this is splashy business.
Rather stay in town? Pick up some takeout from one of Ottawa’s great restaurants and bring it to one of the city’s sandy beaches. At Mooney’s Bay beach, southwest of downtown on the Rideau River, you can cool off with a swim (water conditions permitting) and play a few games of beach volleyball while picnicking.
Spend your evening with some pro athletes on the big screen at one of Ottawa’s many sports bars with huge TVs and great food, including Local Public Eatery at Lansdowne, where you can play a game of bocce outside on the patio while you keep an eye on the game and enjoy some snacks and a cold one. Ottawa’s craft beer scene is hopping, so be sure to try a local brew during your visit!
Start your last day off with an invigorating run along the scenic Rideau Canal (following part of the route for the Ottawa marathon, which takes place on Ottawa Race Weekend in mid-May) or through forested Rockcliffe Park and the Rockeries along the Sir George-Etienne Cartier Parkway, just east of downtown.
Continue east toward the Canada Aviation and Space Museum to explore its impressive collection of aircraft and take a real flight! Get spectacular views over the city from an open-cockpit vintage aircraft with Ottawa Aviation Adventures (formerly Ottawa Biplane Adventures), or from an enclosed helicopter ride with Heli-Tremblant.
It’s summertime—why not have ice cream for lunch? Head to the Old Ottawa South or Wellington West neighbourhood to enjoy a scoop or two of Stella Luna’s award-winning gelato (and they have sandwiches, too) or visit one of Ottawa’s many other unique ice cream shops.
In the afternoon, cool down with some flatwater fun within the city. Rent a canoe, kayak or stand-up paddle board (SUP) from Dows Lake Pavilion and enjoy urban views along the downtown portion of the Rideau Canal, or rent from the Rideau Canoe Club located on the west side of Mooney’s Bay to paddle the calm waters of the Rideau River.
Enjoy your last summer evening in Ottawa with dinner al fresco on one of the city’s best patios. There are plenty of options in the bustling ByWard Market neighbourhood, or choose a spot with a stunning view of the Ottawa River, Rideau Falls, or Parliament Hill.