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Water, Earth, Air: Incredible outdoor summer activities in Ottawa

Summer is the perfect time to get outside and enjoy all the beauty the Ottawa region has to offer. Embark on a solo adventure, spend quality time with your family or make forever memories with your closest friends. Here’s a list of incredible outdoor activities to take advantage of this summer.

Water

With the Rideau Canal, the Ottawa River and plenty of lakes, there’s no shortage of water-based outdoor activities to participate in! Whether you’re looking for a thrill-seeking adventure or want to partake in a relaxing activity on the water, you’ll find your next water-centric adventure here.

Stand up paddle board (SUP)

Embark on an unforgettable experience for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. Stand up paddle boarding in the Ottawa area offers an incredible way to experience the beauty of Canada’s capital region while enjoying a fun physical activity. With the Ottawa River flowing through the heart of the city and numerous scenic lakes and smaller rivers nearby, there are plenty of options for paddle boarders of all skill levels. Whether you're a beginner looking to try out this popular water sport or an experienced paddler seeking new challenges, Ottawa has something to offer everyone.

Where to rent: Locations Escape in Gatineau, Urban Ocean SUP near the Westboro Village, Ottawa SUP on the Rideau River waterfront, Dow’s Lake Marina at the Dow’s Lake pavilion.

Canoeing

With an extensive network of rivers, including the majestic Ottawa River, canoeing is a great way to explore Ottawa’s natural wonders. Glide along the calm waters, surrounded by breathtaking scenery, as you paddle through tranquil sections and gentle currents. Perfect for beginners and seasoned paddlers, Ottawa provides a range of routes and options to suit all skill levels. Discover hidden coves, venture into secluded backwaters and witness stunning wildlife along the way. Canoeing in Ottawa not only offers a peaceful escape from bustling city life but also provides an opportunity to connect with nature and create lasting memories.

Where to rent: Dow’s Lake Marina at the Dow’s Lake pavilion, Ottawa Valley Canoe & Kayak located in the Ottawa Valley.

White water rafting

If you’re thrill seeker looking for an adrenaline-pumping adventure, then you need to try white water rafting! The Ottawa River, known for its world-class rapids, provides the perfect playground for white water rafting enthusiasts of every level. With experienced guides leading the way, you'll tackle challenging and exciting sections in the white water region, which will test your skills and leave you with incredible memories. The combination of heart-pounding excitement, stunning natural surroundings and the camaraderie of your rafting crew makes white water rafting in Ottawa a go-to experience for adventurers from near and far.

Rafting tours: Ottawa City Rafting near Britannia Beach, OWL Rafting 90 minutes northwest of Ottawa, Rafting Momentum in Foresters Falls an hour outside of Ottawa, Wilderness Tours in Foresters Falls an hour outside of Ottawa.

Earth

Ground yourself with some of Ottawa’s earth-focused activities! With plenty of trails and places to explore, you can make these adventures as intense or leisurely as you like. Get outside, get active and have a great time while you’re doing it.

Hiking trails

Hiking is a fantastic opportunity to immerse yourself in nature and explore Ottawa’s picturesque landscapes. With many trails and parks to choose from, outdoor enthusiasts can indulge in a variety of hiking experiences. The capital region boasts an extensive network of trails that wind through lush forests, along sparkling lakes and up to breathtaking viewpoints. If you’re seeking solitude, adventure or simply a chance to reconnect with nature, hiking in the Ottawa area provides an invigorating escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, allowing you to unwind and explore the capital region’s natural beauty at your own pace.

Where to hike: Gatineau Park — just outside of Ottawa — has over 180 kilometres of hiking trails, National Capital Greenbelt, for something closer to the heart of Ottawa check out the Dominion Arboretum and Ornamental Gardens.

Spelunking (cave exploring)

Spelunking — also known as cave exploring — in the Ottawa area allows you to delve into the mysterious underground world. The region is home to several captivating caves, each with its own unique geological formations and hidden wonders. Exploring these subterranean realms allows you to witness breathtaking stalactites, stalagmites and stunning rock formations that have formed over thousands of years. Whether you embark on a spelunking adventure with friends or take a guided tour, the caves surrounding the Ottawa area provide an opportunity to venture beyond the surface.

Where to spelunk: Arbraska Lafleché is 30-minutes from Ottawa, the Lusk Caves are located in Gatineau Park, Bonnechere Caves is located in Eganville an hour and a half from downtown Ottawa.

Cycling

With over 800 kilometres of cycling paths in the Ottawa area, there’s a diverse range of cycling routes perfect for an active adventure. Urban cyclists can pedal through the city streets, enjoying designated bike lanes and pathways that connect major attractions, parks and cultural sites. For a more leisurely experience, the Rideau Canal pathway provides a tranquil route, allowing cyclists to follow the UNESCO World Heritage site and admire its beauty. Nature enthusiasts can pedal beyond the city limits and discover the expansive network of trails in Gatineau Park, offering stunning views, challenging climbs and thrilling descents.

Where to rent bikes: Escape Bicycle Tours located conveniently on Sparks Street, Le Harfang Fat Bike et Raquettes in Gatineau for fat bikes during winter, RentABike located in downtown Ottawa.

Air

Step outside of your comfort zone and fuel your inner adrenaline junkie with these sky-high adventures! Perfect for those looking for a truly unforgettable experience, you can soar through the sky and see Ottawa like you’ve never seen it before.

Zipline

Take on a thrilling zipline adventure in Canada’s capital region! Get a stunning view as you zip over lush forests, scenic valleys and picturesque waterways. As you harness up and step off the platform, an adrenaline rush takes over as you glide through the air, feeling the wind in your hair while taking in breathtaking views below. Ziplining in Ottawa allows you to see the beauty of the surrounding landscapes while experiencing the sheer joy of flight. Whether you're a first-time zip-liner or a seasoned zip-liner, the region’s ziplining experiences are sure to leave you with special memories and a sense of pure exhilaration.

Where to zipline: Find the Ottawa region’s longest ziplines at Camp Fortune and zip from one province to another at Interzip Rogers

Airplanes

See the Ottawa area like you’ve never seen it before! Take flight on a plane for a truly adrenaline-inducing activity. As you take to the skies, you'll witness a bird's-eye view of the city's architectural wonders, such as the Parliament Buildings and the historic Rideau Canal. The Ottawa River stretches out beneath you, snaking its way through the landscape, while green parks and vibrant neighbourhoods come alive from above. Beyond the city limits, the expansive Gatineau Park unveils its natural splendor, with dense forests, shimmering lakes and rolling hills spreading out as far as the eye can see. Whether you opt for a scenic biplane tour or an adrenaline-fueled skydiving adventure, the experience of seeing the Ottawa region from the sky is nothing short of breathtaking.

Where to skydive: Check out Parachute Go Skydive or Parachute Ottawa.

Where to have a biplane experience: Ottawa Aviation Adventures offers four incredible biplane tours two amazing family tours.

Hot air balloon

You can experience the magic of a hot air balloon ride in the Ottawa area! As you ascend into the sky, the world below transforms into a stunning tapestry of colours and landscapes. The Ottawa River glimmers in the sunlight, while the region's iconic landmarks and picturesque countryside unfurl beneath you. Drifting effortlessly through the air, you'll feel a sense of tranquility and wonder as you take in breathtaking views. The gentle breeze carries you along, and the silence of the skies creates a serene atmosphere, allowing you to fully appreciate the view. A hot air balloon ride in the Ottawa area promises an experience that will leave you with lifelong memories and a deep appreciation for the natural wonders of the region.

When and where to hot air balloon: Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival taking place August 29-September 2, 2024, Ottawa Hot Air located in the ByWard Market neighbourhood, Sundance Balloons located at Carleton University.

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