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 2021!
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.
More Ottawa content:
- The Ultimate Guide To Hiking, Cycling, And Walking Trails In Ottawa
- 12 Ottawa Rooftop And Waterfront Patios To Visit In Summer
- 14 Awesome Day Trips From Ottawa (Under 2 Hours Away)
- 57 Things To Do In Ottawa In Summer: A Local’s Guide
Date Ideas Ottawa Summer 2021
While some activities will become progressively available as Ontario re-opens, others are possible right now! I have labelled each activity to according to whether it is currently open, booking in advance, or coming later this summer.
1. 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? When the Quebec-Ontario border is open head out to Wakefield and rent a kayak for 3 hours with Expéditions Wakefield.
2. Yuk Yuks Rooftop Comedy at Trattoria Café
Get ready for a good time at Yuk Yuks’ new outdoor venue. This summer Yuk Yuks will be offering outdoor shows on the rooftop of Trattoria Café in Little Italy. The purchase is per-table for up to 4 members of the same household. Booking is already open and tables are limited! Find ticket information here.
COMING SOON: BOOKING NOW FOR MID-JUNE
3. Have a Romantic Picnic
Runaway Picnic is Ottawa’s first-ever luxury pop-up picnic. Choose your picnic for a date night or intimate outdoor gathering. The picnic set up will be waiting for you at your chosen location. There are several themes to choose from, ranging from ultra-romantic to boho-chic. Runaway Picnic can also help organize your food and drink for the perfect evening!
4. Go on a Surprise Adventure
Discover new places and local favourites on a surprise day trip from Ottawa! There are a couple of operators offering surprise day trips from Ottawa. Nick and I have one that we plan to go on when patios reopen. Find a day trip description that suits your style at Guess Where Trips or Unexpected Journeys. You won’t know exactly where you’re going until the day of, but you can choose the type of stops you want; whether it’s view, breweries, waterfalls, or anything else!
I wrote the itinerary for this Views & Secret Stops trip – if you like beautiful waterfronts, light hike options, and adorable towns, it’s for you!
COMING SOON: ORDER NOW, TRAVEL WHEN SAFE (EXPECTED MID-JUNE)
5. 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.
COMING SOON (EXPECTED MID-JUNE)
6. 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.
7. Grab an Ice Cream Cone
Going for ice cream is a classic Ottawa date idea that is still available in summer 2021. 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.
8. 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!
9. 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.
COMING SOON: PENDING BORDER RE-OPENING
10. 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!
AVAILABLE NOW: LOCATION DEPENDENT
11. 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
- 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!
COMING SOON (EXPECTED MID-JUNE)
12. 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.
13. 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.
COMING SOON: BOOKING NOW
14. Catch a Sunset
There is no booking, equipment, or planning needed to take in a beautiful Ottawa sunset! Our new favourite spot is the lookout deck behind Parliament. There is a lovely, newly opened area that is perfect to watch the sun go down.
My other favourite locations include Remic Rapids and Dows Lake.
15. 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.
16. 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.
COMING SOON: BOOKING NOW
17. Get Immersed in Van Gogh’s Masterpieces
The immersive art experience that has already visited several other Canadian cities is finally coming to Ottawa. Step in to multi-story high recreations of Van Gogh’s art, from lesser known pieces to classics like Starry Night. I saw this exhibit in Montreal last year and it was exceptional. Dates are still be confirmed but you can register here to be notified when tickets become available!
COMING SOON: DATES TO BE ANNOUNCED
18. Play Mini Golf
How about a round of golf? Or mini golf? Golfing and mini golf are open now in Ottawa. Take you household out for a friendly (or super competitive, you do you) round of mini golf. I really enjoyed Mini Golf Gardens, where you can play two courses for the price of one. For 2 adults, we spent just over an hour playing.