Adventure Guide: Ottawa, Ontario

My Ottawa Experience

Those that know me well may laugh that this city was chosen for my first featured adventure guide as we haven’t always had the friendliest of relationships; my time living in Ottawa was a true #faillaughlearn experience. And while we may not have been best friends with me as a resident, we sure have bonded now I’ve changed my status to ‘casual visitor.’ Almost four years since relocating back to Hamilton, I still find myself returning to the city at least once a year.

With each of these visits, I have a growing appreciation for the emphasis that Ottawa places on outdoor activity and what it has to offer within that realm. For instance, I could bike to Gatineau National Park from my downtown apartment in no time. And once there, you’ll find a playground of hiking, running, biking (road, mountain, even fat) and cross country ski trails at your fingertips. If you’re itching for some green space, the good news is you don’t have very far to go!

Three Descriptors

  1. Clean
  2. Green
  3. Gateway to Gatineau

Things to Consider

Ottawa is a year-round destination with plenty to see and do, so it’s worth doing a quick check to find out what’s happening before you go.

  1. Summer is festival season in the city. Between City Hall and the many parks in the area, there always seems to be something going on. Doing some quick research will let you know where to find (or alternatively, avoid) the big crowds. Ones worth checking out are Ottawa Bluesfest, Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival, Capital Pride and the Hope Volleyball Summerfest.
  2. Autumn is the perfect time to explore Gatineau Park. The temperatures are cooler, the leaves are changing, and Chelsea is there to greet you with warm drinks and tasty food when you come off the trails.
  3. Winter brings unpredictable weather but also beautiful scenery. Be prepared to get caught in the snow, and embrace the experience when it happens!
  4. Spring is much welcomed in Ottawa after the cold and snowy winters. While it does mean no more canal skating for the year, it does lend itself to warmer weather and… the Great Glebe Garage Sale.

Ottawa is a safe and walkable city. It also has an efficient public transit system that runs east to west. Expect to account for a little more time if travelling off the main line.

If you’re a museum-goer, check their websites and schedules first: most have a timeframe when admission is waived and you can enjoy the exhibits for free.

Parliament and the Byward Market are two of the major attractions, but there are plenty of other places that are a short jaunt away. Consider grabbing your bike for a day trip and heading to Chelsea (27 km, through Gatineau Hills), Wakefield (38km, along the Gatineau River) or Manotick (28 km, along the Rideau canal)*. Each of the places will have their own unique charm to offer (or mid-ride beer to provide).

*Distances are one way. 

Fun Fact

Ottawa was not the original capital of Canada. Kingston was!

Bobbi’s Top Three

  1. A trail run in Gatineau Park* followed by a bite to eat in Chelsea;
  2. A trip to Altitude Climbing Gym (they have ten cracks!); and
  3. A cross-country ski in one of the many parks with groomed trails (but be sure to bundle up; it can get cold out there)

*One of my favourites is the Wolf Trail loop, which also makes for a beautiful day hike.

An Insider’s Secret

Lucky Ron plays at 4:00 pm every Saturday at Chateau Lafayette. I will say it’s free admission. I will say you are almost guaranteed an afternoon for the memory bank. I won’t say anything more. Except get there early: seating goes quick.


Anything to add? We’d love to hear from you!

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