National Arts Centre

7 can’t-miss indoor activities this winter

Ottawa has a wide variety of unbeatable winter outdoor experiences like Winterlude, skating, skiing and much more. But if you prefer to stay warm, Canada’s capital region boasts numerous can’t-miss indoor activities as well!

Indoor retro roller skating

Step back in time at 4 Wheelies Roller Skating Center, where the vibrant colours of neon lights and the 70s’, 80s’ and 90’s beats feel like a time capsule of nostalgia. The disco ball hanging from the ceiling casts dazzling reflections across the rink and you won’t be able to help but feel a connection to the colourful past.

Whether you're a seasoned skater or a novice, this retro indoor skating rink will give you a night to remember. Keep the party going with private party rooms, an arcade and a live DJ!

See a show at the National Arts Centre

No matter the performance — a symphony, a theatrical production or a contemporary dance number — the National Arts Centre (NAC)’s commitment to excellence in the arts is undeniable.

The NAC is showcasing a variety of Christmas performances during the second half of December. Toddler Tuesdays, Ottawa Jazz Orchestra and Pony Girl make appearances in January. In February, you can see the Old Black Maple, Disney’s FROZEN and Les Royal Pickels, along with many other shows and performances taking place during the winter months. Refer to the National Arts Centre website for up-to-date information about dates and times.

Visit one of Ottawa’s incredible museums

Ottawa is lucky to be home to seven of Canada’s nine national museums, each one a treasure trove of knowledge and heritage. The Canadian Museum of History chronicles Canada’s diverse history through engaging exhibits and artifacts. The Canadian Museum of Nature showcases the country's natural wonders, housing an extensive collection of flora and fauna.

At the Canada Science and Technology Museum, learn about innovation, from the early days of technology to the cutting-edge advancements of today. The Canada Agriculture and Food Museum in Ottawa takes you through the country's agricultural history, providing you with a hands-on and immersive experience to explore the vital role of farming in shaping Canada's identity.

The Canada Aviation and Space Museum brings flight enthusiasts on a captivating journey through the history of aviation and space exploration. Art enthusiasts find solace at the National Gallery of Canada, home to a vast collection of Canadian and international masterpieces. The Canadian War Museum honours the sacrifices made by the country's military forces, providing a poignant reflection on Canada's role in global conflicts.

Channel your inner kid and play games with your friends

Axe throwing and escape rooms offer a unique experience, perfect for a night out with friends or family. The satisfying thud of an axe hitting the target, coupled with the friendly competition among your group, creates a perfect atmosphere for a fun time. Be sure to check out VR82, a modern-day arcade complete with virtual reality games and some real life axe throwing!

Or work together with your group to solve puzzles, unlock mysteries and ultimately "escape" within a set time limit at one of Ottawa’s many escape rooms. The immersive scenarios, whether it's solving a crime or navigating a fantastical realm, encourage teamwork and creative problem-solving. Escape Manor, Funhaven Escapes and the world’s largest escape room, Escape the Diefenbunker, are all great options!

Both axe throwing and escape rooms provide a break from the ordinary, offering a unique blend of challenge and enjoyment that will leave you with lasting memories and a sense of accomplishment. Whether it's the thrill of the throw or the satisfaction of solving a puzzle, axe throwing and escape rooms promise an unforgettable and entertaining experience.

Watch a hockey game

The Canadian Tire Centre, home of the Ottawa Senators, always echoes with the thunderous cheers of passionate fans clad in red and black, creating an electric atmosphere as the puck drops on the ice. The Senators' NHL games showcase skill, fierce competition and excitement of professional hockey.

Catching a game featuring the Ottawa 67's at the TD Place Arena provides a glimpse into the future stars of the sport. The youthful exuberance of the players, combined with the raw enthusiasm of the crowd, makes for an exhilarating experience. Experience the grandeur of the NHL or the spirited ambiance of junior hockey by attending a hockey game in Ottawa!

Go on a shopping spree

Shop ‘til you drop at one of Ottawa’s premier shopping malls. CF Rideau Centre and Bayshore Shopping Centre both offer a great retail experience. CF Rideau Centre, located in the heart of downtown Ottawa next to the ByWard Market, boasts a sophisticated mix of high-end brands, popular retailers and an extensive food court, making it a fashion-forward spot for shoppers and a one-stop-shop for all your needs.

Bayshore Shopping Centre, situated in Ottawa’s west end, has a wide range of retailers, including major department stores, specialty shops and a bustling food court. Bayshore's spacious layout and family-friendly atmosphere make it a go-to destination for a shopping experience, catering to everyone’s different tastes and preferences.

Visit a brewery

Ottawa’s brewery scene is dynamic, with plenty of options for beer enthusiasts to choose from. The capital city’s breweries take pride in their craftsmanship, experimenting with innovative flavours and techniques. Whether you're sipping on a hoppy IPA, a rich stout or a refreshing saison, each brewery has its own signature beers that reflect the creativity and passion of the region’s local brewing community.

For beer that pairs perfectly with a pizza pie, head to Spark Beer in Ottawa’s vibrant Chinatown. If you’re looking for a wide variety of unique beers to choose from, Bicycle Craft Brewery has you covered. For cozy indoor vibes with delicious beer, check out Whiprsnapr. Or you can get a taste for multiple breweries by signing up for a half-day or full-day beer tour! Brew Donkey Tours brings you to craft breweries in the Ottawa area with a heavy emphasis on supporting local.

Comedy show

Attending a comedy show in Ottawa, whether at Absolute Comedy or Yuk Yuk's, is a surefire way to unleash waves of laughter. Absolute Comedy, located in Little Italy, provides an intimate setting where comedians, both seasoned and up-and-coming, deliver hilarious punchlines.

Yuk Yuk's, located in the Metcalfe Hotel downtown Ottawa, offers an intimate stage for comedians to showcase their wit and humour. Whichever venue you choose, the comedy scene in Ottawa promises an evening of uproarious entertainment.

Try a new restaurant

It can be tempting to order in and eat in front of the television during the colder months. Switch things up and head over to one of Ottawa’s many unique restaurants for an unforgettable dine-in experience! Exploring the capital’s culinary scene is a mouthwatering adventure that offers the opportunity to make lasting memories with the people you love.

Whether you’re looking for kid-friendly restaurants perfect for the whole family, a romantic restaurant for date night, one of Canada’s best restaurants or something in between, Ottawa has it all.

Bring your kids to Zak’s Diner for a retro dining experience featuring classic comfort food and an array of milkshake flavours. Check out Blue Cactus Bar & Grill for menus tailored directly to your little ones with crayons to keep them busy.

Treat your special someone to a romantic dinner at Riviera, a high-end restaurant that serves creative Canadian cuisine against an impressive backdrop that is the heritage bank building. Or try Parlour, located on the trendy Wellington Street, you’ll find a gorgeous dining space paired with unbeatable food creations.

Eight Ottawa restaurants made the list of Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants of 2023! Try Arlo for a cozy, candlelit atmosphere and food that pairs perfectly with their vast selection of natural wines. North & Navy is an elegant restaurant that brings authentic Italian flavours with a modern twist to the table.

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