When it comes to planning your summer bucket list, there are many things to consider. For one: to stick around the city or to venture out and explore new territory? Although we all love Toronto, there’s so much more to be explored beyond the GTA’s metropolitan limits.
If you’re looking for the perfect weekend-escape destination, consider Ottawa. Canada’s capital is actually one of the country’s most vibrant cities. It's rich in history with a booming nightlife and tons of activities and events to keep you busy during the day. Why haven't you visited yet, exactly?
Just a four-hour drive from Toronto’s downtown core, Ottawa offers a variety of exciting experiences that you aren’t likely to find around Toronto. From outdoor adventures to activities for the more indoorsy folk in your group, Ottawa has something for every one of your friends to enjoy!
When it comes to mapping out the best activities in the city, Ottawa Tourism is your ultimate guide. Ottawa is so much more than just a place you visited on a field trip; it’s a city electrified with life at its core, with plenty of personality and culture to be discovered - just let the city speak for itself.
Ready to plan your summer trip to Ottawa? Here are our top suggestions for unique activities to check out while you’re in town!
1. Craft Brewery Tour
What’s a vacation without a little happy hour (or day)? Ottawa is home to tons of amazing local craft breweries, chief among them being family-run Beau’s Brewery. Beau’s has been brewing their all-natural specialty beers since 2006, priding themselves on using the best local ingredients from season to season and specializing in everything from radlers to Irish stouts (check out their beer list here). For any beer lovers in your group, this is one brewery that you can’t pass up visiting when you make your way to Ottawa. Of course, there are plenty of other breweries in the area if you wanted to make a day of it and embark on a craft-brewery tour. Cheers!
2. Marked: Ultimate Adventure Park
If your friends love a jam-packed, action-filled day, you have to check out Marked. There are TONS of different adventures for you to choose from, including laser tag, an outdoor-ranch obstacle course, paintball, axe throwing, archery tag, and much more! This park has been around since 2007 and is one of Ottawa’s top activity destinations, perfect for a day out with friends when you're all looking to get active and have a few good laughs. Pricing for activities vary, but you can compare them here.
3. Great Canadian Bungee Jumping
Here’s one for those unafraid of getting out of their comfort zones! The Great Canadian Bungee is Canada’s highest bungee jump, where you can leap from their 200-ft. platform and plummet down towards a limestone quarry lagoon (don’t be surprised if you get a little wet - you might graze the surface of the water!) before safely springing back up into the air with their state-of-the-art safety bungee gear. Located 20 minutes from downtown Ottawa, this is an awesome day excursion for any adventure seeker. Taking the leap with the Great Canadian Bungee will cost $121.77 for your first jump and $60.88 for every additional jump you do.
4. Sip Cocktails on a Beautiful Patio
What better way to enjoy the warm weather in Ottawa than indulging in a good old-fashioned patio crawl? There are loads of trendy places to grab a drink and get some fresh air. While this may not seem like the most unique activity, it's ALWAYS a good time, plus where else can you take in such stunning Ottawa views? Tavern on the Hill and Tavern on the Falls offer particularly killer views. Oh, and insane gourmet hot dogs!
5. Attend a Festival (or Two!)
Like any other major city, Ottawa experiences its festival primetime during the summer. If you’re looking to immerse yourself in fun cultural events, there are a slew of festivals ranging in theme happening all summer long in the downtown centre. From Capital Pride and RBC Bluesfest to the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival and House of PainT, there’s never a dull moment in the capital.
You can check the complete list of festivals happening this summer in Ottawa here!
6. Skydive with Parachute GO
Calling all adrenaline junkies! Parachute GO Skydive is located right at the Ottawa-Gatineau airport. Jump off a plane at 13,500 feet with an experienced skydiving instructor and fall at 200 km/h for nearly a minute straight for what I can only imagine will be one of the longest and most unforgettable 60 seconds of your life. Oh, and you’ll also get a sweet aerial view of the beautiful Ottawa scenery as you parachute your way back down. Could you ask for any better way to see all of Ottawa? Tandem jumps for first time skydivers start at $199/person, and you can check other prices here.
7. Relax at Nordik Spa-Nature
If you’re heading to Ottawa for a little weekend escape with your partner, friends, your mom, or basically anyone who isn’t under the age of 18 (kids aren’t permitted), you should definitely consider checking out Nordik Spa-Nature. Treat yourself to one of their many reputable spa treatments or just spend the day floating from pool to pool, surrounded by nature. Whichever you choose, you get to spend the entire day lounging about in a bathrobe, so it’s a win-win no matter how you look at it, really.
8. Explore the Marshes with Éco-Odyssée
All aboard the… paddleboat? That’s right, Éco-Odyssée provides the unique opportunity to paddle along through a water maze of Ottawa's marshes, where you'll discover the natural habitat of one of Canada’s favourite animals – the beaver. Hop in your boat and explore the world through a beaver’s eyes as you paddle through 60 different intersections spanning 6 km of marshland. Éco-Odyssée is open from June 17 to September 3 this year, and daily departures run from 9:30 AM – 3:30 PM.
9. Whitewater Wilderness Tours
If you’re looking for a group activity to get your adrenaline going, look no further than Ottawa’s Wilderness Tours. Spend the day exploring the Ottawa River as you whitewater raft through the winding streams and rapids. There are a variety of packages to choose from, such as the Classic Resort package: You'll spend one day rafting and one day at the resort while enjoying your nights camping under the stars (five meals included) starting at $199/person. Check out some of their other packages here!