Ready to feel like you’ve been away for days without ever leaving the comfort of Ottawa? Summer 2020 is all about appreciating staycations… so I went ahead and planned one for you. Take your vacation days, turn on your out-of-office email responder, and escape without driving more than an hour away.
*Most of these activities are socially-distanced, however some may require masks for part of or the full experience. Always bring your mask, just in case.
Things to do in Ottawa on a Staycation
Day 1: Downtown Sightseeing
Major Hill Park
Get back to your Ottawa roots with a day downtown! Start with a walk around Major’s Hill Park and the surrounding pedestrian paths. You could loop over to Gatineau, making your up to Nepean Point, or head down to the locks. Swing by Tavern on the Hill for a a refreshing mint lemonade.
Pick up lunch at La Bottega, an Italian grocer and deli in the Byward Market. For under $10 you can get a delicious sandwich and a drink to go at the deli in the back.
Relax on a Rideau Canal or Ottawa River boat cruise in the afternoon. I recently went on, and really enjoyed, the Rideau Canal boat cruise! It was a fun way to get a new perspective on the canal and I learned a lot from our guide.
Alternatively, rent a bike to explore the Rideau Canal or go on a guided tour of Ottawa with Escape Bicycle Tours.
Dinner and Drinks
Get dinner and drinks at a local restaurant or patio in the downtown after your boat cruise. Make your way to one of the many options on Elgin Street or Clarence Street in the Byward Market.
Check out my patio guide for ideas!
Day 2: Choose Your Outdoor Adventure
Kayaking + Umbrella Bar
Rent a kayak at Dow’s Lake pavilion and enjoy an hour on the water. This is a fantastic activity for summer 2020, because once you’re in your kayak you do not have to give much thought to safety measures.
Relax at Umbrella Bar after your kayak, on their upper deck patio overlooking the lake. This is a great spot for cocktails and a good lunch.
Cycling + Remic Rapids Bistro
Explore and of the many cycling trails in Ottawa or Gatineau. Do a loop of Gatineau Park, ride out to Rockcliffe, or follow the Ottawa River Pathway out towards Kanata. Check out my Ottawa-Gatineau trail guide to plan your ride.
On your way back into the city lock your bike and stop at Remic Rapids Bistro for lunch and a refreshing drink.
White Water Rafting
Get your social unit together for the ultimate full day adventure with Owl Rafting. Make your way North along the Ottawa River to their location for an epic adventure on the water! You’ll raft through high rapids, swimming, cliff jump, and have a blast.
Lunch is provided (and delicious) on the leisurely boat cruise back to camp.
Gatineau Park + La Cigale Ice Cream
Get out for a day of hiking in the Gatineau Park. Use my trail guide to find the perfect trail for you!
Stop in Chelsea afterwards and cool down with ice cream at La Cigale. They have delicious flavours ranging from brownies and cream to more fruity options!
Morris Island Conservation Area + Picnic
Pack a lunch and make your way to Morris Island Conservation Area. This outdoor oasis is just 45 minutes from downtown Ottawa. It’s quiet, beautiful, and has several trails to explore. Check out my Morris Island Day Trip Guide to plan your day.
Day 3: Cozy Outdoor Activities
Walk with Llamas
Embark on a day out around Ottawa that starts with the cutest activity in the world: walking with llamas. Make your way out to Serendipity Farms for this adorable experience!
Rates are charged per llama (yes, you read that right).
Afternoon in Perth
Spend the afternoon in the beautiful town of Perth, along the Tay River in Lanark County. It’s a beautiful place to walk around and explore by the river. Enjoy lunch in Perth with many great spots to choose from; CC’s on the Rideau, the Stone Cellar, Rocky River Café, and many more!
Campfire at Saunders Farm
Complete the day with a campfire night at Saunders Farm, including local wine, cheese, and charcuterie, and s’mores in the date night package. Bringing more than 2 people? You can either opt for the hot dogs and snacks package (5 people) or upgrade your date night with extra s’mores and another bottle of a wine or choose the double-date option (4 people).
Day 4: Explore Manotick
Take to Manotick for the day using my Manotick Neighbourhood Guide! Start by exploring the area. Wander over to the Manotick Mill and go for a walk through this quaint village of Ottawa.
Take Another Bite & Miller’s Farm
Pop in to Take Another Bite, my favourite Manotick bakery for some cupcakes and freshly baked scones. Make your way over to Miller’s Farm, just outside of Manotick, to get some homemade jam for your scones! I highly recommend the blueberry rhubarb.
The Mill Tavern
Finish off the day with dinner at the Mill Tavern. You need to try their fish ‘n’ chips! They’re some of the best around.
Day 5: Brunch & Mini-Golf
Brunch in Ottawa
Start the morning off right with brunch at one of the many, many fantastic brunch spots in Ottawa! Get the brunch platter at Scone Witch (off-Elgin), a delicious breakfast spread at the Sunset Grill (Lansdowne), béné on the patio at Alpina (Gatineau), or the brunch spread at HQ (Byward Market).
Play a relaxing (or hyper-competitive, depends who is in your bubble) round of mini-golF. Check out Dunn D’s in Gatineau our Mini Golf Gardens in Ottawa. The grounds at both locations are beautiful and the golf includes fun water-features!
Day 6: Take a Day Trip
Get outside the city with a day trip to one of the beautiful communities outside of Ottawa. Make your way to the sweet town of Almonte. Stop by Hummingbird Chocolat or Baker Bob’s to satisfy your sweet touch. Explore Almonte on the Almonte River Walk, where you’ll have beautiful views of the Mississippi River. Grab an ice cream at the Almonte Ice Cream Shop. Finally, have dinner in Almonte. I recommend Heirloom (if you can get a table; popular spot).
Make your way to Wakefield for the day! Walk around and explore this beautiful small town or rent a kayak at Wakefield Expeditions for a more adventurous day. Grab lunch at Le Hibou (I love their black bean burger) or get a pizza from MJMD Pizza de Luigi. In my personal opinion, it’s the best pizza around.
Follow my Westport day trip guide for the perfect day in Westport. Take in a beautiful view of this quaint little town, stop for lunch, and spend the afternoon at the beach or exploring the town, and then stop by a family-owned winery and vineyard for drinks and wood oven pizza.
Day 7: Picnic & Movie Night
Wrap up your big week of adventuring around Ottawa with a relaxing day at the the park. Pack up a picnic and head out to any of the beautiful spots around the city; make your way to the Dominion Arboretum, Hogs Back Park or Vincent Massey, or back to Major’s Hill Park, or choose a spot anywhere along the Rideau Canal or Ottawa River.
Tired from all that adventuring? Enjoy a relaxing movie night at the Ottawa Drive-In (Kanata) or Port Elmsey (Perth). If you pick this staycation plan for a Friday, you could enjoy a comedy night at the Ottawa Drive-In!