Date nights are looking a little different in 2021, Ottawa! Fortunately, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy a romantic day or evening in Ottawa while keeping up necessary public safety precautions. With some creative thinking and a willingness to wear bug spray, there are lots of great Ottawa date ideas for summer 2020!

Side note – you will have to the complete lack of couple’s photos in this blog post. Nick and I have a massive collection of travel-selfies but we usually forfeit the camera when we go out around Ottawa.

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Date Ideas Ottawa Summer 2021

1. Enjoy a Drive-In Movie

Relax with a movie under the stars at one of the drive-in theaters near Ottawa. Port-Elmsley and Skylight Drive-In are the closest drive-ins to Ottawa and they’re both open. Make sure you buy your tickets in advance. There are fewer tickets available due to the physical distancing rules and tickets go quick! Pack up some snacks and non-alcoholic drinks for the driver and enjoy classic movies. 

Safety measures: movies must be watched in your car (no blankets or lawn chairs). Only leave your car if you need to use the washroom. Check the website for whichever theater you go to. 

2. Go on a Canoe or Kayak Adventure

Have an adventure on the water by renting a canoe or kayak for the afternoon. Most canoe, kayak, and paddleboard companies in and around Ottawa are operating this season. Stay in the city and rent kayaks or canoes at Dow’s Lake or enjoy stand up paddleboarding on the Rideau River with Ottawa SUP. Want a bigger adventure? Head out to Wakefield and rent a kayak for 3 hours with Expéditions Wakefield.

Safety measures: safety measures for rental pick-ups vary. Check the websites. Once you’re on the water, you’re pretty safe!

3. Have a Campfire Night at Saunder’s Farm

Saunder’s Farm is offering a creative date idea this summer: a campfire night and full meal. Nick and I did this a couple of weekends ago on Saturday night and we loved it. The date night package includes wine, cheese, meats, and bread (all locally sourced) and a s’ mores kit. There are also family options for the campfire and a country lunch available too book on weekends. Book any of these outings on Saunder’s Farm’s website.

Safety measures: On arrival, your food will be placed in the trunk of your car. Drive over and park at your campsite. Campsites are spaced 30 ft apart and each has their own port-a-potty. Bring your own deck chairs or lawns blankets.

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5. Grab an Ice Cream Cone

Going for ice cream is a classic Ottawa date idea that is still available in summer 2020. Your favorite ice cream spots are operating take-out only and many are in places that are nice to walk around and explore. I love venturing out to the Stella Luna in Merrickville and wandering the town, or Beachercorner’s Microbrewery which is close to Andrew Hayden Park and the Ottawa River Pathway.

Safety measures: ice cream and gelatos places are all operating take-out only.

4. Spend the Day in Manotick

Explore a beautiful part of Ottawa. The lovely village of Manotick has many businesses operating and it’s a nice spot to walk around. Get a tasty treat (take out) at Take Another Bite and for a walk through the village and down to the mill. Drive over to Miller’s Farm and take home some fresh farm vegetables and blueberry rhubarb jam (they have other jams too but that’s my favourite). Check out my Manotick neighborhood guide for more ideas!

Safety measures: physical distancing rules are in place at all shops in Manotick. Keep a 2-meter distance from others while exploring the town.

Quebec Wolf Cabin
Jean-Marc Mathieu

6. Feed the Animals at Omega Park

Omega Park is reopening on June 20th! You’ll need a car for this one, of course. If you and your partner have a vehicle make your way to Montebello and feed the elk some well-deserved carrots. It’s been 3 months since unsuspecting tourists like you and I were hassled for carrots! Can you image the depravity? No, neither can they, they’re super well-fed – but go feed them more.

If you want a full-fledged getaway, book one of the wolf cabins and stay the night at Omega Park.

Safety measures: wear a mask and keep a 2-meter distance from others. Feed the animals carrots only with as little contact as possible. Read the detailed safety procedures on their website before you go.

7. Take a Scenic Day Trip

Hit the road for a scenic day trip out of the city. Places like Merrickville, Westport, or Brockville make great small-town day trips because there are nice areas to walk around. You’ll be able to get lunch or treats to-go at many local businesses. Check out my Ottawa Day Trips guide for my more ideas!

Safety measures: maintaining physical distancing and follow the rules of any shops or food places that you visit.

8. Relax on a Patio

Another classic Ottawa date idea that stands the test of 2021 is a tranquil evening on a patio. Many patios around the city have reopened including but not limited to:

  • Umbrella Bar
  • Tavern on the Hill
  • El Camino (the best tacos!)
  • Lone Star 
  • Evoo Greek
  • Mexi Clai
  • Canal Ritz
  • Clocktower
  • Fox and Feather 

Other opens are opening soon! Feel like some added scenery? Check out my guide of Rooftop and Waterfront Patios in Ottawa. They’re not all open yet, but will be soon!

Safety measuresmaintain 2-meters distance from others. Seating at all patios is spaced out. Place your order all at once so your server does not have to revisit your table.

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9. Hike, Bike, or Walk an Ottawa Trail

For a more active date idea in Ottawa, explore one of the many beautiful outdoor trails in the Ottawa-Gatineau region. There are tons to choose from but a few of my favourites for a date idea are Mer Bleue (for the unique feel and boardwalk), Jack Pine trail (because feeding birds is the best), and the Dominion Arboretum (beautiful for a sunset walk). Check out my Ottawa trail guide for maps and descriptions of Ottawa’s best trails.

Alternatively, head out on a cycling trail or make your way up the hills for a hike. I love hiking, biking, and walking this summer because it seems to be one of the easiest ways to enjoy summer and maintain physical distancing.

Safety Measures: maintain a 2-meter distance from others.

10. Get Spooked on a Haunted Walk

The Ottawa Haunted Walk is back! And they’re introduced Haunted Walk Bubble-Tours. This is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and be super scared on the Original Haunted Walk. This 75-minute tour includes your favourite Ottawa-spots like the Bytown Museum and the Fairmont Château Laurier. 

You’ll get your best value with at least 4 people so this a good double-date option (if you’re expanded your bubble following public health guidelines) or a ‘bring-your-family’ option rather than a date-night.

Rideau Canal Boat cruise

11. Tour Ottawa by Boat

Embark on a Rideau Canal or Ottawa Cruise for a new perspective on our beautiful city! You’ll find all of these options at Ottawa Boat Cruise.

I went on the Rideau Canal cruise for the first time this summer and loved it! It was a really relaxing way to spend an evening and fun to see the canal in a new way. I learned a lot about the Rideau Canal from our tour guide.

Safety measures: You will wear a mask on board and be seated 2 meters away from other groups of passengers.

12. Walk with a llama

Have you ever wanted to walk with an adorable llama or alpaca? 

Of course you have! There are 3 places in Ottawa where you can walk with llamas and alpacas. I did it last summer and it was easily the best activity I did all year. I booked another visit for June this year. Fingers crossed that zoning rules allow us to go.