When Ottawa comes to mind, more often than not, the image of a beach doesn't come up in your head first. Fun fact, though: We're much more than cold winters and Parliament. During our (extremely) humid summers, even we're escaping to the beach.
Even though the Ottawa River may not be exactly, erm, swimmable, we still have plenty of beaches to relax and tan when winter finally leaves. Or if it ever leaves. We don't really know *sigh*. Nonetheless, when that day comes, here are 10 beaches you absolutely have to hit up when the weather gets tolerable again:
Located on the shores of Gatineau Park's Lac Meech, this popular sandy beach is perfectly geared towards those who want to escape the city and head into the heart of nature.
On the east end in Orleans there's two large sandy beaches open to the public on beautiful Petrie Island. On Canada Day each year, there's also some fireworks and celebrations here. Also, if you don't want to trek downtown for the incredibly busy celebrations, you can actually see the fireworks over there all the way from Petrie's beaches. Parking's $2 from Victoria Day onwards to Labour Day for five hours.
A hidden little body of water in Rockcliffe Park that's open to the public during the summer months from 7am to 2pm. I don't want to be Buzz Killington, but you absolutely have to swim only during those hours. There's a patrol there all the time. It's nevertheless, a cute quiet spot that's your more unconventional beach on the Ottawa side of the river.
A long sandy beach on the west side of Ottawa that's located right beside the park of the same name. It's one of the most beautiful beaches on the Ottawa River that's also a perfect place for a shaded picnic on the grassy areas behind.
Within walking distance of Carleton U, this is the perfect beach for summer students who want to take a break from MacOdrum. There's BBQ pits, picnic tables and plenty of sand for a scenic and quiet day along the Rideau River.
La Pêche Lake
The westernmost public beach in Gatineau Park is always worth the hour-long road trip from Ottawa. This quiet beach on the middle of La Pêche Lake is perfect for an afternoon's swim and is accommodating as well, with public toilets, change rooms and picnic tables.
Westboro Beach is conveniently located on the Sir John A. MacDonald bike path, which makes it a good stopover if you're cycling around and outside the downtown core. There's also the adorable Westboro Beach Cafe to relax in and drink a beer on a hot Ottawa summer's day.
Perched on a small scenic lake in Gatineau that looks onwards at the Hilton nearby the Casino Du Lac Leamy, Leamy Lake's beach makes for a beautiful public space to relax near Hull. You could bike there on the Gatineau side bike paths and even play volleyball once you're there.
Fitzroy Provincial Park
An hour's drive from Ottawa, Fitzroy's beaches are an ideal day trip to a more secluded beachside on the Ontario side of the Ottawa River. Fitzroy is also the perfect location -- one of their campgrounds is right on one of the beaches.
Not only good for swimming, but also for kayaking and canoeing. Breton Beach -- the largest of three beaches on beautiful Lac Phillipe -- has canoe and kayak rentals, as long as picnic tables, public toilets and change rooms for an eventful day at the beach.