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11 Hidden Gems Around Ottawa That Locals Don't Want You To Know About

Secret lookout spots and surprise waterfalls. 👀

Contributive writer
Blue waters at Morrison's Quarry. Right: Love locks over Ottawa's Rideau Canal.

Blue water at Morrison's Quarry, Right: Love locks over Ottawa's Rideau Canal.

The city of Ottawa is not the boring, sleepy town that so many non-locals believe it to be. If you're planning a fun day trip or a visit to the capital you cannot miss these eleven hidden gems in Ottawa that the locals want to keep a secret.

Even Ottawa natives may be surprised that the city has multiple hidden waterfalls, desert sand dunes, turquoise waters and lookout decks falling under the radar. Grab the car keys for an adventure in the city full of bucket list activities.

Rockcliffe Lookout

Price: Free

When: Parking open May to November

Address: Rockcliffe Lookout, Ottawa, ON

Why You Need To Go: Found right next to Rockcliffe Park, one of Ottawa's first urban parks that opened in the 1800s, the Rockcliffe Lookout is a view you can't miss. This pavilion has historic boards and overlooks the Ottawa River to quaint houses and the hills in Gatineau.

Website

Andrew Haydon Park

Price: Free

Address: 3127 Carling Ave., Nepean, ON

Why You Need To Go: Hidden in Ottawa's west end, you'll feel like you're in a quaint coastal town as you stand on the rocky shore overlooking the Ottawa River. It's right next to the Nepean Sailing Club so you'll often see sailboats on the water. It has a spacious lawn, tall trees, little bridges, ponds and a small waterfall.

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Princess Louise Falls

Price: Free

Address: St Joseph Blvd., Ottawa, ON

Why You Need To Go: Just a step off of the main road, these hidden waterfalls can be accessed off of easy walking trails within the Orleans neighbourhood. There are no signs, so many locals are just starting to discover this waterfall gem in the city.

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Morrison's Quarry

Price: $20 per person

Address: 1780 Quebec Rte. 105, Chelsea, QC

Why You Need To Go: This limestone quarry of beautiful turquoise waters is now the ultimate playground for scuba divers and bungee jumpers. You can visit for the day, floating in the clear blue oasis and lounging on the beach shore.

Website

Bate Island

Price: Free

Address: Bate Island, Ottawa, ON

Why You Need To Go: Just off of Champlain Bridge, you'll find an island plopped in the middle of the Ottawa River between Ontario and Quebec. It's a great spot for a picnic or to practice your kayaking, with nearby rapids to admire and views of both downtown Ottawa and Gatineau.

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John Ceprano Rock Sculptures

Price: Free

When: Rock sculptures are reconstructed each spring

Address: Remic Rapids Park, Sir John A. Macdonald Pkwy., Ottawa, ON

Why You Need To Go: Offering stunning views of the Ottawa River, you can notice the moving rapids in the distance, bikers along the multi-use pathway and an NCC Bistro that opens each spring with light food and drink options. The artist John Felice Ceprano reconstructs balanced rock sculptures in Remic Rapids Park each spring, creating an art experience against natural beauty.

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Eagles Nest Lookout

Price: Free

Address: Eagles Nest Trailhead, Greater Madawaska, ON

Why You Need To Go: It doesn't take much time to reach a stunning vista view in the Ottawa Valley. This sacred hiking trail is a popular one for locals and it gets quite busy during warmer months, it is best to visit at off-peak times. You can't beat those cliffside views.

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Pinhey Sand Dunes

Urban sand dunes in Pinhey Forest Ottawa.

Urban sand dunes in Pinhey Forest Ottawa.

Megan Renaud | Narcity

Price: Free

Address: P15, Slack Rd., Ottawa, ON

Why You Need To Go: These secret sand dunes are found in Pinhey Forest, full of tall trees that touch the sky and easy walking trails. The golden hills of sand surround you and it looks like you've been transported to a hidden desert in Ottawa, a unique ecosystem within the city.

Website

Parliament Hill Lookout

Price: Free

Address: Ottawa River Pathway, Ottawa, ON (Behind Parliament Hill's West block)

Why You Need To Go: On Parliament Hill, near the statue of Queen Victoria, you'll find a new lookout deck where you can catch views of the sun sparkling on the Ottawa River. It is right near the hidden staircase behind Parliament where many Ottawans enjoy a cardio workout. It's a great spot to see the sunset.

Website

Corktown Footbridge

Ottawa's love lock bridge overlooking the Rideau Canal and Fairmont Chateau Laurier.

Ottawa's love lock bridge overlooking the Rideau Canal and Fairmont Chateau Laurier.

Megan Renaud | Narcity

Price: Free

Address: Corktown Footbridge, Ottawa, ON

Why You Need To Go: Built across the Rideau Canal, this picturesque pedestrian bridge is also Ottawa's own love lock bridge. A visit will make you think you're traveling to a European city, with the locks along the bridge, waters beneath you and Ottawa's castle in the distance.

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Chaudiere Falls

Price: Free

Address: Chaudiere Island, Ottawa, ON

Why You Need To Go: A popular viewing spot for those cycling downtown along the Ottawa River Pathway, these waterfalls are often forgotten but are a beautiful place to visit along the river. You'll pass the ruins of a historic pulp mill as you you approach a viewing area with benches and Adirondack chairs, with the sun shining off the rushing water.

Website

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.

    Megan Johnson
    Contributive writer
    Megan Johnson was a Staff Writer for Narcity Canada's Ontario Desk focused on new netflix shows in Canada and things to do in Ottawa. She is based in Ottawa, Ontario.
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