Whether you’re single, a couple or a larger family, why not plan a staycation in Ottawa during COVID-19? Playing tourist in your own city is a great distraction during this challenging time, and it helps local businesses. Here are some of the ways you can stay healthy while having fun in Canada’s capital, while respecting the current pandemic restrictions.
Note: The information below is valid as of May 11, 2020. Visit our blog regularly for updates as the pandemic situation evolves and contact individual businesses to confirm availability. Please follow the most up-to-date COVID-19 regulations as stated by Ottawa Public Health.
You don’t have to leave the city to get away. Just stay in an Ottawa hotel, B&B or other accommodation! Several are open and welcoming locals with open arms while tourists are absent.
Eat and drink
Many food and drink-related businesses are offering takeout and delivery, including local restaurants, pubs, caterers, breweries, distilleries, bakeries, coffee shops and even farms. Contact your favourites directly to find out what they offer, and visit helpful websites like Love Local Delivery.
You can also get locally grown products at Ottawa’s farmers’ markets. Order produce, prepared food and other goodies ahead of time, and pick them up at the ByWard and Parkdale markets (verify current operating hours) or on Sunday at the Ottawa Farmers’ Market at Lansdowne.
Bike, hike or walk
Get active and enjoy the warm weather within the city and in the countryside. If you need wheels, bike rental companies like Escape Bicycle Tours and Rentals and RentABike are offering rental bikes as well as cycling tours for household groups. These businesses can also help you plan your own route. If you’d like more space, take advantage of the temporary closure of certain parkways to motor vehicle traffic (days and hours vary) until September 7, or hit the trails in the expansive Gatineau Park.
Another option is to explore one of the most ecologically diverse areas in Eastern Ontario: the National Capital Greenbelt. This large protected area encircling Ottawa offers more than 150 kilometres (93 miles) of trails through unexpected landscapes and ecological sites, including forests, bogs and sand dunes. Some sites are accessible and dog-friendly.
Urban paddling opportunities are plentiful in Canada’s capital thanks to the waters of the Rideau Canal (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), the Rideau River and the Ottawa River. If you don’t have your own equipment, rent a canoe, paddleboat, kayak, row boat or standup paddle board (SUP) at businesses like the Marina at Dows Lake Pavilion.
If you prefer a relaxed but motorized option, enjoy a staycation on one of Le Boat’s luxury, self-drive houseboats. You can depart from Smiths Falls or Seeley’s Bay and slowly travel the picturesque length of the 202 kilometres (126 miles) of the Rideau Canal between Kingston and Ottawa.
Fire up and picnic
Saunders Farm, located just 30 minutes west of downtown Ottawa, is hosting new physically-distanced programming. Enjoy a nighttime campfire (for families or couples) including firewood and food, or a daytime countryside picnic with a generous Ploughman’s lunch.
Some tour companies, including Ottawa Walking Tours, can take small groups and households on walking tours. This is an entertaining way to learn about the city’s historical, haunted or artistic aspects!
Golfers rejoice! Most golf courses in Canada’s capital region are open, including Manderley on the Green and the Marshes Golf Club at Brookstreet hotel. These are just two of the hundreds of golf courses within easy driving distance of downtown Ottawa.
Looking for a thrilling and unique experience? Fly above the city in an authentic, WWII-era WACO UPF-7 biplane with Ottawa Biplane Adventures! The open cockpit flights (which fits two passengers) are currently available on weekends and depart from the Rockcliffe Airport (their usual home, the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, is closed until further notice due to COVID-19).
Nordik Spa-Nature, the largest spa in North America, is an urban oasis located just 10 minutes north of downtown Ottawa in Chelsea, Quebec. Although its famous Scandinavian-style thermal experiences are currently unavailable, you can still enjoy a relaxing massage.
Keep visiting the Ottawa Insider blog for updates as the COVID-19 regulations change!