The 8 Best Things To Do In Ottawa This Summer, According To Local Influencers

We love our patios during sunset. 🍹☀️

Ottawa Staff Writer
Eating ice cream in Almonte, Ontario. Right: Drinking cocktails on a patio on Sparks Street.

Eating ice cream in Almonte, Ontario. Right: Drinking cocktails on a patio on Sparks Street.

We're all looking forward to the brighter, longer days of summer, and what better time to take advantage of all the activities Ottawa has to offer. If you're an Ottawa local or a visiting tourist, here are some things you'll want to add to your capital city bucket list.

We asked local Ottawa influencers to share their absolute favourite things to do in Ottawa in the summer, and here's what they told us. From nearby day trips to mini getaways, chasing sunsets and all of the patio drinks, these suggestions will have you calling up your bestie and planning out your summer.

Have dinner at Ottawa's castle 

The Fairmont Chateau Laurier in downtown Ottawa.

The Fairmont Chateau Laurier in downtown Ottawa.

@amyin613 | Instagram

If you're looking for one ultimate summer patio to enjoy dinner with a view, community creator Amy of @amyin613 shares her top spot to go.

"One of my favourite summer activities in Ottawa is going for dinner or drinks at La Terrasse. Fairmont Chateau Laurier’s La Terrasse is a local gem that’s hiding in plain sight; it's tucked away just far enough from the bustle of the street, with sweeping views of Parliament, the Ottawa River, and the Museum of History," she tells us.

"If you go, Lady Zoe’s Burger is a must," Amy suggests, "Two juicy ground chuck patties topped with bacon jam, cheese, and Chateau Sauce, on a toasted brioche bun. Prefer veg? Try the house-made veggie burger. I highly recommend reserving a table during golden hour so you can enjoy the sunset over the Ottawa River."

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Sunset picnics in the park

If you enjoy mixing a few activities into one and spending time outside, then Ottawa creator Katie @yowcitystyle has the perfect summer idea for you. It's time for a specialty picnic that will transport you to Paris, France.

"The warm weather opens up the opportunities for interesting dining locales and I love to hop on my bike to discover new spots to have a picnic," Katie says. "Many of our local restaurants offer picnic-specific takeout options and enjoying the outdoors in the sun is a sure way to make the most of your summer."

"One of my favourite spots is Major's Hill Park for prime viewing of the sunset with a backdrop of Parliament, Chateau Laurier and the Ottawa River. The restaurants of the Byward Market are close by with so many picnicking options too!"

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Go hiking in Gatineau Park

Hiking uphill in Gatineau Park near Ottawa.

Hiking uphill in Gatineau Park near Ottawa.

@jennadouce | Instagram

Ottawa-based blogger Jenna shares her local adventures and day-to-day realness at @jennadouce and suggests getting out into nature this summer.

“My favorite thing to do in Ottawa during the summer months is to take advantage of outdoor activities and all of the nature around us. I love how I can live downtown and, within a quick car ride, be submerged in nature at Gatineau Park and feel like I'm in a completely different spot," Jenna tells us.

"Gatineau Park is home to more than 200 kilometres of trails and a lot of them include beautiful views and lakes, like Pink Lake, Lac Meech, and Lac Philip. It’s the perfect way to disconnect for a bit and relax. I love to pack a towel in case I want to stop for a swim and bring a picnic to enjoy with a view!"

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Hit up a rooftop patio

Maddy from @theottawadiaries is an Ottawa blogger and proud local showcasing her favourite events and fashion finds. She reiterates just how much Ottawans love summer patio season.

"Summers in Ottawa are all about patios. The moment the temperature rises to double digits, restaurants are dusting off their patios for eager Ottawans to enjoy their drinks in the sunshine," Maddy tells us.

"My favourite patios are ones that are in high-traffic areas, so you truly feel like you’re the centre of attention. For that reason, I enjoy patios on Elgin street or at Lansdowne. The energy there is unmatched! You can also elevate your happy hour (literally) with a rooftop patio. I recommend La Terazza or Copper Spirits and Sights at Andaz."

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Road trip to a small town

If you're ready for a day trip, local influencer Vinisha AKA @vivalavinisha seems to always be exploring and suggests a summer visit to a small town nearby.

"My absolute favourite thing to do in the summer around Ottawa is taking day road trips to beautiful small towns that are close by," she says. "When I started discovering small towns, I was so surprised to see just how many gorgeous spots are near. Some of my favourite towns so far are Manotick, Merrickville and Perth. My absolute favorite town to visit in the summer? ALMONTE! The waterfalls, large lake, uphill streets, small trails and local restaurants and ice cream shops are amazing."

Sounds like time to plan a drive out to Ontario's mini Hollywood.

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Patio hop Sparks Street

When asked what her favourite Ottawa summer activity is, Jessica from @ottawanewbie recommends enjoying the patios along Sparks Street downtown to soak up the buzz of walking traffic and enjoy views of the historic street.

“My all-time favorite thing to do in the summer is patio hopping down Sparks Street," she says. "There’s just something about the tourist meets local feel about it all. Plus the sheer quantity and size of the patios compared to anywhere else in the city is great. You can (almost) always get a spot.”

She mentioned the tropical bar at Rabbit Hole, the large outdoor space at 3 Brewers and the Bier Markt patio full of plants and flowers, as restaurant patios not to miss.

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Escaping to a cabin in the woods

Nothing says it's summertime like a mini getaway, and Ottawa blogger Marilou at @20ys loves to escape at a cozy cabin in the woods.

"You can’t do summer without escaping to a cabin in the woods! If you’re looking for a fully equipped luxury chalet in the heart of nature, you will LOVE Suite Chalets in Chic Shack at Mont Tremblant," she says. "Less than two hours away from Ottawa and Montreal, Suite Chalets offers packages that include a gastronomic and wellness experience."

"Whether you prefer to do nothing or do a lot of things, like a private massage in the cabin, yoga with a panoramic view, hot tub in nature, nature hikes and have private access to the beach (Rivière Rouge and at Lac Long) you’re guaranteed a memorable summer [stay here]."

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Have patio drinks at sunset

Summer cocktail on the Tavern on the Hill patio in Ottawa.

Summer cocktail on the Tavern on the Hill patio in Ottawa.

@mytravelcanvas | Instagram

For those clear summer nights when you know the golden hour is going to look extra bright, Cam of @mytravelcanvas suggests a picturesque patio with the best sunset views.

"Drinks and sunset? Name a better duo, I’ll wait," Cam asks us. "One of my favourite parts about summer is chasing sunsets - there’s just something about seeing the sky light up in a range of different colours that makes my soul so happy."

"With that being said, I love to enjoy a beveragino in a location where the drink is just as good as the view. My go-to place for that? Tavern on the Hill! A beautiful outdoor space where you can buy snacks and finger foods, local beers and an array of cocktails, and where the atmosphere is always vibrant. The best part? It’s a killer location to watch the sun go down near parliament hill."

Tavern on the Hill will be closed for the 2022 season to make way for a new pedestrian bridge downtown. The picturesque sister patios Tavern on the Falls and Tavern at the Gallery are both open this year.

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