Summer is here and it is time to get outdoors in Ottawa! Enjoy the outdoor music festivals, al fresco concerts, outdoor patios in the ByWard Market, Canada day celebrations, Mosaika sound and light show…..and more!
Ottawa is a great destination for outdoor adventure and fun for the whole family – even right in the heart of the city. Enjoy the outdoors on Ottawa’s extensive bike trails, on the Rideau Canal (whether you kayak or take a cruise) and at Calypso – Canada’s largest theme waterpark.
Visit www.OttawaTourism.ca or phone 1-888-OTTAWA-8 for some great short break ideas. The “Urban Adventure”, for example, includes a choice of outdoor adventure - plus two nights’ hotel accommodation. All this from only $117 per person. Get great deals and a wide range of hotel choices as you create your own escape to Ottawa. And all summer long book 2 nights and get the 3rd night FREE at participating hotels.
Your active Ottawa getaway starts here! There are many adventurous activities to get your adrenaline pumping – together with great entertainment and culture all summer long.
Outdoors and Adventure
Ottawa is a great choice for an outdoors adventure - both in the city itself, and within a short drive, you will find activities for all levels, ages and abilities.
C’est Bon Gourmet Walking Tours
Celebrity Chef and alumnus of Le Cordon Blue Ottawa - Andrée Riffou – runs C'est Bon Gourmet Walking Tours that are an ideal introduction to the national capital region’s vibrant food scene. Meet the bright lights and find the hidden treasures with the help of expert and insightful guides. Get out and walk around Ottawa’s neighbourhoods!
There are over 300 kilometres of bike paths in Canada’s Capital Region. And “Sunday Bikedays” in summer mean that 50kms of trails are reserved for cyclists, in line skaters, runners and walkers. Don’t forget the VIA Rail bike train runs from Toronto and Montreal to Ottawa, allowing you to bring your own bike – or you can rent a bike very easily. Plus Ottawa has a shared BIXI bike program similar to Toronto and Montreal.
Get out on the Water
There are lots of ways to take to the water this summer in Ottawa – from exciting high adrenaline challenges to gentle family oriented trips. Explore the Ottawa River, Rideau Canal and the 1000 Islands.
Capital Cruises have daily sightseeing cruise May until October offering visitors great views of the city with an educational and enthralling commentary. Summer evenings provide a magnificent setting for dinner cruises with an elegant meal and live music.
Gananoque Boat Line
Gananoque Boat Line started, in the early 50’s, as a local mail run that began carrying a few passengers for scenic cruises of the beautiful 1000 Islands. Now it has become one of the world’s most famous tour boat companies. Cruises include the “Boldt Castle Stopover” or “Lost Ships of the 1000 Islands”.
Lady Dive Amphibus
Take a one hour city tour in the unique Lady Dive Amphibus that travels on both land and water. It’s a spectacular way to visit Ottawa and view more than 75 different attractions sites.
Run River Rafting
Run River Rafting offer full and half-day high adventure whitewater rafting trips – or, if you prefer, gentle family trips for all ages. Try the 4.5-hour Historical River Tour on the “Rocher Fendu”, a gentle paddle on a 12km stretch on the Ottawa River boasting seven rapids, spectacular falls and over 30 islands. Each raft trip includes certified guides, lunch, and all equipment. No experience necessary.
You can rent a kayak for a gentle paddle on the Rideau Canal. Right in the heart of downtown you can learn to white water paddle with MKC in the City. Madawaska Kanu Centre offer workshops at the foot of Rideau falls in view of the parliament buildings. After your lesson, dry off at the Mill Street Brew Pub, a 140 beautifully converted mill with great microbrews and tasty dishes.
Amongst a host of options, here are some family oriented ideas for places to visit in Ottawa this summer.
Calypso Water Park
In summer Ottawa is especially kid friendly thanks to Calypso Water Park, just a short drive outside of the city. Calypso is Canada's biggest theme waterpark on an extensive 100-acre facility. There are more than 35 waterslides and 100 water games, Canada's largest wave pool and the highest free-standing waterslide tower in North America. Plus Jungle Run, a 750 m wild and twisted river adventure.
Canadian Agriculture and Food Museum
The Canadian Agriculture Museum has great summer programs for children. This summer take part in “A Piece of Cake” - baking an apple cake seems simple, but what if you had to produce all of the ingredients yourself? The production of flour, eggs, maple syrup, apples, milk, and butter takes a lot of hard work as well as the right tools. See artifacts in action, and you may even see newly-hatched chicks in the incubator.
Valleyview Little Animal Farm
Children and adults alike will enjoy seeing a wide variety of animals and birds up close, from alpacas to zebus, goats to geese. Ride the Valleyview Express train through fields of corn, soybeans, wheat, pumpkins, sunflowers and hay. Children of all ages are sure to enjoy the creative farm playground. And explore Bill's Old Farm Museum to learn about our agricultural past. The Valleyview Little Animal Farm is open for the summer until October 2013.
“The Adventures of Mr. Potato Head” at the Canadian Childrens Museum, part of the Canadian Museum of Civilization (June 8, 2013 - January 5, 2014)
MR. POTATO HEAD, everyone’s favourite transforming tater character, needs your help on his exciting, educational expeditions. When you visit the exhibition “The Adventures of Mr. Potato Head” you will join him for a series of action-packed activities as he transforms himself to suit different occupations. Spudtacular fun for the whole family!
Festivals and Events
Stay outdoors and enjoy music and more at many of Ottawa’s outdoor festivals and events. Plus there are some not to be missed exhibitions in Ottawa this summer.
Canada Day on July 01, 2013 is a day of celebration in the Capital that is not to be missed. And on July 1 – the Jazz Festival programming is free! Falling on a long weekend this year, the day of national pride in Ottawa is also a day of all out fun! Streets in the downtown core are closed to traffic and hundreds of thousands of people come out for a fantastic afternoon and evening of celebration. The festivities take place on Parliament Hill, in downtown parks and on the streets with ceremonies, musical talent from across the country, fireworks — and more!
RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest (July 4 - 14, 2013)
True to form, Bluesfest 2013 has a little something for everyone from B.B. King to the Wu-Tang Clan. A taster of the bands that will rock this five stage music festival are Bjork, Dixie Chicks, Animal Collective, Fun, Great Big Sea, Hannah Georgas, Jimmy Eat World, Rush, Serena Ryder, Stars, The Tragically Hip, and Weezer. Click here for the full line up.
Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival (July 25 to August 8, 2013)
Chamberfest fills the city with the refined sound of chamber music. This festival also covers a variety of music types from classic Baroque to contemporary, jazz, vocal and choral, and spoken word. The festivals main stage is at the beautiful Dominion-Chalmers United Church but also holds alfresco concerts and a series of “Bring the Kids!” shows for children. Click here for the full concert programme.
Mosaika Sound and Light show (July 10-September 7, 2013)
The Mosaika Sound and Light show is a must see in Ottawa this summer. The Parliament buildings come alive with colour and the history of Canada. It is a spectacular, free show that encompasses Canada’s unique culture and major historical events that shaped our great nation. Mosaika begins nightly on July 10, 2013.
“Sakahàn: Indigenous Art” at the National Gallery of Canada (May 17 – September 2, 2013)
"Sakahàn", meaning “to light a fire” in the language of the Algonquin, is the National Gallery of Canada’s largest survey of recent Indigenous art. It will highlight over 150 works by more than 75 artists from around the world, including impressive installations created specifically for this exhibition. Poetic, unexpected and challenging, the artworks document and interrogate distinct cultural, political and social issues. One of the Gallery’s most ambitious contemporary art exhibitions to date, this is part of a five year project to spotlight Indigenous art.
“Edward Burtynsky: Oil” at the Canadian Museum of Nature (May 31 to September 2, 2013)
At the Canadian Museum of Nature “Edward Burtynsky: Oil” includes over 50 large-scale colour photographs that together present a glimpse into the lifecycle of an energy source that has shaped our modern world. Burtynsky's masterful prints show—in superb detail—scenes of oil fields, refineries, automobiles, aircraft, other vehicles, high-speed motorway networks, and disposed and recycled materials.
STAR WARS™ Identities at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum
This exhibit takes visitors on an interactive quest to explore the science of identity. Using an extensive collection of over 200 objects from the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum, STAR WARS™ Identities follows the dramatic journeys of Luke and Anakin Skywalker, cinema’s most famous father and son duo, exploring what makes these characters who they are.
Ottawa Trip Showcase
- VIA Rail is a great option from Toronto as well as Montreal.
- Stay at the Novotel Ottawa in Downtown Ottawa, just minutes to the Rideau Canal, Parliament Hill and the Byward Market, among many other attractions. It offers comfortable hotel rooms and numerous amenities in a quiet environment, with complimentary WiFi, relaxing onsite restaurant “Trio”, a refreshing indoor saltwater pool, exercise room and more.
- Be sure to take in some of the exciting exhibitions this summer. The National Gallery of Canada has “Sakahàn: Indigenous Art” – a unique display of contemporary Aboriginal art. The Canadian War Museum has “Peace the Exhibition” – an examination of the events and issues that have propelled Canadians to act for peace.
- The ByWard market is a “must see” for shopping, dining, people watching on outdoor patios and historic courtyards. And of course home to “BeaverTail pastry.
Photo Credits: Ottawa Tourism