7 Fun Things To Do In & Near Ottawa If You Need An Excuse To Take A Staycation This Winter
From skating and skiing to shopping and relaxing, winter's on a whole new level this year.
With winter bringing colder temperatures, it takes little convincing for Canadians to stay inside. If you're feeling stuck and bored while at home and like you're in need of a fresh change, why not take a staycation within Canada?
Besides a well-earned mental break from work and life in general, a staycation means you get to sleep more, try new activities, indulge in delicious food and drinks and get some sightseeing in without the hassle of travelling far.
Ottawa is the perfect destination for your mini escape. Picture it: You wake up, grab your skates and journey down the frozen Rideau Canal, stopping for hot chocolate before spending the afternoon unwinding at a Nordic spa.
In the evening, you return to your cozy hotel room and enjoy fine-dining room service as you gaze out to views of Parliament Hill, a glass of wine in hand.
Inspired? Don't forget to put these activities on your to-do list once you're ready to book your staycation in Ottawa.
Savour Delectable Food & Wine In Blissful Comfort
Price: The Gastronomy Package starts at $399
Address: 30 Daly Ave., Ottawa, ON
Why You Need To Go: A staycation is a special occasion, so why not treat yourself? Put your feet up at Le Germain Hotel Ottawa, relax and get comfy with the spectacular backdrop of Canada's capital city.
Be sure to bring your appetite to enjoy the fine cuisine and creative gastronomy of Norca Restaurant — served right in your room.
Le Germain Hotel's Gastronomy Package includes a night's stay in an ultra-comfortable room, in-room dining (including a bottle of selected wine), breakfast, indoor parking, WiFi and a flexible check-out time (because what's a staycation without a generous sleep in?).
Bonus: the hotel is pet friendly, so no need to worry about a separate stay for your furry friend.
Skate Away Across The City
Address: Various access points that you can check out here
Why You Need To Go: There’s nothing quite like crisp fresh air and some joyful movement to shake off those cobwebs from being home for far too long.
A solid skate down the beloved Rideau Canal is an excellent way to achieve this. At 7.8-kilometres long, this UNESCO World Heritage Site spans the city, from downtown to the Hartwells Locks.
Rideau Canal has everything you need for an epic day on the ice, including skate and sleigh rentals (at the Rideau entrance), skate sharpening, food and beverage vendors and rest areas.
Hike Through Snowy Forests To Frozen Waterfalls
Address: 1730 Sixth Line Rd., Dunrobin, ON
Why You Need To Go: Tucked away in Ottawa's quiet Dunrobin neighbourhood, Sheila Mckee Park's two-kilometre trailed loop will take you right down to Ottawa River.
If you prefer to keep it chill on your luxe staycation, you're in luck. This is an easy and short urban hike with an amazing payoff — a series of cascading waterfalls, frozen in time.
From the ice formations to the tranquil river, this spot is worth the effort of putting on your coat. You may even catch a glimpse of a cute chickadee between the trees.
Grab Some "Me Time" In A Tranquil Nature Spa
Price: Thermal Experience is $86 per person, other services vary
Address: 16 chem. Nordik, Chelsea, QC
Why You Need To Go: Technically in Quebec, but only 20 minutes from downtown Ottawa, Nordik Spa-Nature offers the full Scandinavian thermal experience.
Whether you go in for the supposed health benefits of Nordic spas or not, spending time relaxing, surrounded by beauty, is a splendid way to make the most of your staycation.
At Nordik Spa-Nature, you'll find hot and cold pools, different sauna types and relaxation areas. You can also treat yourself to a massage, facial or float weightlessly in a serene underground Epsom salt pool.
While you have many ways to choose your own adventure here, one thing's for certain: you'll sleep like a baby back at your super-comfy hotel room.
Spark Your Creativity With Some Artistic Inspo
Address: Various locations around the city
Why You Need To Go: Finding fresh, fun and interesting activities can be a challenge, but not with House of PainT's guide to Ottawa's amazing public art.
Whether you're hoping to channel some creativity or simply tap into some hopeful vibes, art is the answer. Bonus: you can get some fresh air and stretch your legs while taking it all in too.
Put on some warm shoes, grab a coffee or tea and head out to appreciate the stunning murals, graffiti and street art installations around the city.
Get Your Winter Sport On In Gatineau Park
Price: $10-$20 depending on activity
Address: 33 chem. Scott, Chelsea, QC
Why You Need To Go: Gatineau Park is a must-visit for any winter sports fan staycationing in the nation's capital.
Just 15 minutes north of Ottawa, the park covers 361 square kilometres, with free parking to boot. Whether you're into cross country skiing, snowshoeing, biking or hiking, there are hundreds of kilometres of trails to explore.
If you're keen to stay closer to the city but still have an itch for adventure, you can access several trails from downtown including the Kichi Sibi Winter Trail and Rideau Winter Trail.
Shop & Take In Some Historic Scenery
Address: 55 ByWard Market Square, Ottawa, ON
Why You Need To Go: There's nothing like a spot of shopping and sightseeing to round out the ideal staycation.
For an eye-opening day exploring Ottawa, first stop in at ByWard Market, one of Canada's largest and oldest public markets.
Browse the local boutiques offering handcrafted gifts and art, take a look around fresh winter produce and flowers at the farmers market, and treat yourself to some of the delicious local fare.
Once you've had your retail fill, grab a hot drink and wander 10 minutes over to the city's most iconic site, Parliament Hill, overlooking the scenic Ottawa River.
Soak up some Canadian history as you check out three neo-Gothic federal government buildings built between 1859 and 1927, and warm up at the Centennial Flame (fun fact: coins tossed into the fountain beneath the flame are collected and used to fund disability research).
Stroll another 10 minutes over to Confederation Park and check out the National Aboriginal Veterans Monument, created by Noel Lloyd Pinay of Peepeekisis First Nation in Saskatchewan to honour the contribution of Indigenous peoples to Canada's military history.
It's hard to think of a better staycation than one loaded with art, adventure, shopping, frozen waterfalls and time spent unwinding at the spa. At the end of each wonderful day, you'll be stoked to get back to your cushy hotel room and put your feet up.
Before you get going, check out our Responsible Travel Guide so you can be informed, be safe, be smart, and most of all, be respectful on your adventure.