The holidays are no joke when it comes to money. Even when you said you wouldn't spend any money on yourself, let's be real: you can't pass up the deals at Bath & Body Works. It's just a fact. So whether you decide to treat your friends, family, and yourself a little too much this holiday season, you'll probably find yourself thinking "Shit, I'm broke".
No worries. The good thing about Ottawa is that there is so much to do during the winter for either free, or extremely cheap. All through December we feel the need to spend, but if you don't want to do that this year but still want to enjoy the holidays, I got you. Most of these can be done throughout winter, but some are specifically to get you through Christmastime without spending a dime on yourself.
Skate around Sens Rink of Dreams
Where: 110 Laurier Ave W // Downtown
This amazing and huge skating rink opens on December 2nd, and it's perfect for those who don't have a ton of money to spend because it's free! It's funded by the Sens Foundation, Hockey Canada and City of Ottawa and operates from December to March seven days a week, weather permitting. If you're not sure if it's open, just check for the green flag at the rink. Other than that, skate around while being surrounded by LED lights and pick up a BeaverTail that you totally deserve.
Eat a sugary breakfast at Fulton's Pancake House and Sugar Bush
Where: 399 Sugar Bush Rd // Pakenham
If you love breakfast, and more specifically maple syrup, then you must take a trip down to Pakenham this winter. About 45 minutes from Ottawa is Fulton's Pancake House and Sugar Bush, where you can eat the most delicious (and cheap) breakfast which is obviously served with their organic maple syrup! You can also try maple syrup on a stick while walking around the property, and it's delicious. If you're looking for a sugar rush, this is it.
Walk around the stunning and lit up Confederation Park
Where: Laurier Ave W & Elgin St // Downtown
If you're a sucker for Christmas lights, as well as snow, you're in for a treat at Confederation Park. This is one of the most underrated spots in Ottawa for stunning holiday lights, as the whole park is covered in them. Last year the theme was white and red for Canada 150, so we should all be excited to see what it will be this year!
Watch an Ottawa 67s game
Where: TD Place // Lansdowne Park
Not only is it super fun to go to an Ottawa 67s game, but it's super cheap too! The tickets range from 14 to 19 dollars, and it's such a fun environment. If you're looking for something to do inside that still feels wintery, I would definitely suggest this!
Go Christmas tree picking
Where: 6421 McCordick Rd // North Grower
What gets you into the Christmas mood like picking out a real tree?! Now, Christmas trees are sort of expensive. But if you go with your family, you don't have to pay and you get an adorable Insta pic out of it! I mean, that's just a suggestion *wink wink*.
Take part in all the activities Winterlude has to offer
Where: Rideau Canal Skateway // Downtown
This event is so much fun, and even better, it's free! From slides made of snow to huge ice sculptures, if you've never been then you've 100% never seen anything like it. Winterlude is going on it's 40th year and it just keeps getting better and better! It's on from February 2nd to 19th.
Check out the new Canada Science and Technology Museum
Where: 1867 St Laurent Blvd // St Laurent
If you missed the Crazy Kitchen and the trains as much as I did, then you need to check out the new museum. This $80 million revamp was well worth it as it's super modern but still feels like that museum you loved as a kid. With 11 new exhibits, there's no way you'll be bored here. Also, the museum is free everyday of the week from 4 pm to 5 pm. Score!
Get a free tour of Parliament at Christmastime
Where: Wellington St // Ottawa
The Parliament Buildings are stunning year round, but at Christmastime they're a whole other level. The tours of Parliament are free, and it's definitely worth checking out. If you've never even seen the inside of the buildings before, now is your chance!
Go on a cheap getaway to one of these mini cottages
Where: Les Éboulements // Quebec City
If you need a getaway, I can't think of a better, more unique place. Located in Quebec City, you can rent these adorable cottages at Repère Boréal. They hold up to 4 people and it's $109 a night which is only $27 per person a night! You'll probably never be able to do this again, and in the winter is the perfect time.
Cuddle up with a warm drink at one of these coffee shops
Where: Multiple Locations
What's better than a latte or hot chocolate on a cold AF day? There are so many cafes in Ottawa that will warm you up, and you can find them all over the city! Check out a list here that you need to try out if you're a coffee lover and have yet to explore the coffee shops in Ottawa.
Watch the fireworks at Parliament Hill on New Years Eve
Where: Wellington St // Ottawa
The fireworks on Parliament Hill no matter what time of year are stunning. But there is something about the snow on the ground that makes it even more beautiful. This is a free event every year, and they usually have a concert as well. Nothing has been confirmed yet as to if there is a concert yet, but we can bet on the fireworks!
Go tobogganing on Carlington Park Ski Hill
Where: 1640 Laperriere Ave // Carlington
If you love tobogganing, you'll love this hill. It's definitely the fastest hill in Ottawa and the slope is so long. Plus, it's a workout getting up the hill which is a bonus! If you want to act like a kid again then grab a toboggan and have the time of your life!
Visit the most amazing and festive Christmas store Tinseltown Christmas Emporium
Where: 1096 Somerset St W // Westboro
Ever wanted to feel like you're in an actual Christmas movie? This is how you do it! Tinseltown Christmas Emporium is open all year round for those who cannot get enough of the holiday. And there is no way you can be sad stepping foot into this store. You don't even have to buy anything, but the prices aren't expensive and treating yourself is an exception here.