With one of the most brutal winters we've had in a while almost behind us, almost every Torontonian out there is clinging on to the hope that summer will arrive sooner than normal.
The feeling of the warm sun on our faces, the taste of ice cold cocktails, the sight of actual grass and not snow or ice... With summer creeping up on us, every Torontonian is aware that in order to make the most of the sunny season, we have to do as much as possible before it leaves us again. For half of the year we trudge through blizzards, suffer in darkness and brave frostbite, so when the sun comes out, we need to enjoy it.
And what better way to truly soak up the sun than to leave the concrete jungle behind this summer and discover what awesome activities the rest of Ontario has to offer? This province is beautiful, fun and just waiting to be discovered - and if you're looking for some serious Ontario adventures, look no further!
Glide through the Rideau River on a Stand Up Paddle
See Ottawa from the water with a Stand Up Paddle (SUP) tour. SUP Ottawa offers lessons on flatwater and whitewater with their own equipment, or you can BYOB (bring your own board - not booze, sorry). Feeling flexible? SUP fitness and yoga classes are also available, just try not to fall in.
Or soar above the Ottawa River, and see the city in a whole new way
Is there anything more fun than flying above the Rideau Canal Locks with literal jets of water propelling you into the sky? Absolutely not! And thankfully, you can experience exactly that thanks to Jetski Ottawa. If FlyBoard Jetpacks aren't your thing, don't worry: Jetski Ottawa also offers sea-doo rentals for you to explore the river on jet ski, and jet ski tours for you and friends!
Drop 200 feet at the Great Canadian Bungee
Located just 20 minutes north of downtown Ottawa is the only place in North America where you can experience a 200-foot drop into a spring-fed lagoon. Strap in and enjoy this scenic freefall (which has been named one of the top activities in Canada) at the Great Canadian Bungee's jump site known as "The Rock".
Skydive from 13,500 feet
Interested in falling from the sky at 200-kilometres per hour? You can do that, too. Located just across the Ottawa River in Gatineau, Quebec, GO Skydive has been specializing in skydiving since 2006. The company offers "First Jump" tandem and experienced jumper programs. If you’ve never jumped before, follow a 15-minute training session and then experience a 200-kilometre per hour freefall! Once the parachute opens, you can take in the scenic views of the Ottawa-Gatineau region and the Ottawa River as you float down.
Explore the capital of Canada from above in a Biplane
Extreme sports not your thing? Don't worry! You can fly instead. Ottawa Biplane Adventures offers exciting flights over Ottawa in a vintage WWII-era WACO UPF-7 biplane. Put on some vintage goggles, snap a few insta-worthy pics and feel the wind blow through your hair in an open-cockpit aircraft as you soar above the beautiful views of the Ottawa River, downtown Ottawa and the iconic Parliament Hill. Be sure to bring a friend - the biplane can take two passengers per flight.
Try whitewater rafting
The Ottawa region is home to some of the best whitewater rafting in the entire world! Just west of Ottawa's downtown core you'll find Beachburg, Ontario, which is home to several rafting companies that offer plenty of full-day and multi-day experiences. Don't worry if you're not an adrenaline junkie, rafting experiences are completely customizable and some even offer sunset boat cruises or hot tubs after a long day of rafting down the river. May to September is the best time to whitewater raft - just in time for summer!
Zipline through Gatineau Park's treetops
Make your way through the luscious and expansive Gatineau Park with Camp Fortune's aerial courses and ziplines. Explorer Park's two-to three-hour adventure is only a short 15-minute drive north of Ottawa's downtown core and combines rope bridges, zip lines and other obstacles that will test your strength and endurance. Not at your fittest? Don't worry, the half day experience is relatively easy! Explorer Park also offers a Free Fall Air Bag Jump. Leap into the air and land in a soft, 10-foot thick air bag. You jump from a height of 28, 34 or 40 feet.
Explore Ontario's scenic rock cliffs
Good climbing can be found throughout the year in the Ottawa region with world-class climbing sites. Drive 20 minutes outside of downtown Ottawa and you'll find the scenic Eardley Escarpment in Gatineau Park, which offers a whopping 64 different climbing routes over five different rock faces. Ottawa's three indoor climbing gyms - Coyote Rock Gym, Vertical Reality and Altitude Gym (in nearby Gatineau) - ensure you can get all the practice you need before heading outside.
Hike through 150 kilometres of natural beauty in the Greenbelt
The most ecologically diverse area in Eastern Ontario, the Greenbelt is home to more than 150 kilometres of hiking trails located throughout 20,000 hectares of green space. The band of green encircles Ottawa from east to west and is a perfect place to picnic, bike and hike. Come prepared with some bird seed and you'll be sure to have a chickadee or two land on you.
Cruise down the Ottawa River in style
Cruise the historic Ottawa River on a 300 passenger, triple deck ship. Equipped with two bars and an open air upper deck for great sightseeing (and tanning), there's no better way to see what Ottawa has to offer - especially at sunset. Capital Cruises has two departure locations (Jacques Cartier Park and the base of the Rideau Canal Locks below the Parliament Buildings) and will take you all the way down the Ottawa River and back to downtown Ottawa.
Explore some of Ontario's most gorgeous urban pathways
If you'd rather explore a city on bike than hike up a mountain, head to Ottawa's core and take a ride along one of the city's urban paved pathways. You can cycle more than 600 kilometres of recreational pathways through Ottawa, biking along the water and through scenic and historic views. Bring your own bike, rent one at RentABike, or take a guided tour with an Escape Bicycle tour!
Honestly, there's no better province to explore than Ontario if you want to have one seriously fun adventure this summer!
And the best spot in Ontario for adventures? Definitely the National Capital Region, which includes Ottawa and Gatineau and features super fun things like bungee jumping, cruising, hiking, rock climbing and more, all in one breathtaking area!