9 Exciting Outdoor Activities in Ottawa

9 Exciting Outdoor Activities in Ottawa

When it comes to the most exciting cities in Canada, Ottawa isn’t exactly the first place that comes to the minds of locals and tourists. Being the heart of the country’s government, the capital’s got a pretty serious atmosphere going for it. 

But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have any interesting activities. As a matter of fact, there are a lot of great things that we can do in the city to keep us entertained. 

So, let me show you some awesome stuff that you can do in Ottawa to see the best of what it has to offer. Let’s dive right in! 

Ride a bike along the Rideau Canal and other notable landmarks. 

Ride a bike along the Rideau Canal and other notable landmarks

Of my many favorite activities to do in the city, taking a relaxing bike ride along Ottawa’s many beautiful landmarks is at the top of my list. Nothing beats feeling the cold breeze of the capital as I admire the sights. 

Among these many sights is the Rideau Canal. It’s more than a UNESCO World Heritage Site; it is at the center of our city’s outdoor life. 

I’ve biked these picturesque roads numerous times, and each trip is a unique journey through history and nature. 

It’s almost like feels like Ottawa’s history comes alive while you go pedaling through the canal’s magnificent scenery. This is especially apparent during early in the morning or the golden hours of twilight.

The level, well-maintained multi-use routes around the canal make it suitable for cyclists of all ages and abilities. The bike-friendly pathways have something for everyone that will guarantee a fun time. 

And, believe me, there’s no better way to appreciate the city’s splendor than cruising by sites like Parliament Hill, Château Laurier, and Dow’s Lake with the wind in your hair.

The seamless fusion of urban and natural settings makes this experience unique. You can begin your ride in the bustling downtown core and find yourself surrounded by rich foliage and the peaceful waters of the canal within minutes. 

The walks are lined with brilliant flowers in the spring and summer, and in the fall, the foliage transforms into a stunning tapestry of colors that simply takes your breath away.

Go hiking in Gatineau Park.  

Go hiking in Gatineau Park

Going to Gatineau Park (what to do in gatineau park) and hiking its many trails is nothing short of a natural wonder. 

The conservation area is a breathtaking showcase of Canadian wilderness. It spans over 361 square kilometers of unspoiled beauty, offering an extensive network of trails that cater to hikers of all skill levels. 

The green space welcomes both seasoned trekkers and those who are looking for a casual stroll in nature. I’m pretty sure that you’re bound to find a trail that suits your preferences. 

Personally, I love the variety of experiences it offers – from challenging uphill climbs to serene walks by pristine lakes.

Many Ottawans would agree that the changing scenery throughout the seasons is one of the most remarkable aspects of hiking in Gatineau Park. 

In the spring, vibrant wildflowers carpet the forest floor, and in the fall, the foliage ignites into a spectacular tapestry of reds, yellows, and oranges. During the winter, the trails transform into a winter wonderland, perfect for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

What truly makes this experience special is the tranquility you’ll find in the heart of nature, just minutes away from the city’s hustle and bustle. 

It’s a place where you can escape the urban noise and immerse yourself in the soothing sounds of birdsong. What’s more, you can also hear the rustling leaves and the gentle lapping of water against the shoreline.

The diversity of wildlife in Gatineau Park is another compelling reason to explore its trails. I’ve had the privilege of encountering deer, foxes, and countless bird species while hiking. 

It’s a testament to the park’s conservation efforts and the chance to witness these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat is an unforgettable experience.

Gatineau Park holds historical significance too, with remnants of old cabins and logging camps hidden away along some of the trails. It’s like stepping back in time and connecting with the pioneers who once called this area home.

Explore the Ottawa River with a canoe or a kayak. 

Explore the Ottawa River with a canoe or a kayak

While taking a boat cruise down the Ottawa River is a pretty great way of exploring it, I find that using a canoe or a kayak to see more of it is a way more interesting experience.  

Flowing gracefully through the heart of the city, it offers a unique blend of urban and wilderness paddling experiences. Every time I’m out on the river, I often find myself in awe of how quickly the cityscape gives way to pristine natural landscapes. 

It tends to remind me of the incredible balance between the urban and the wild that defines Ottawa.

The river itself is a treasure trove of adventure, catering to both novice and seasoned paddlers. Both serene kayaks and agile canoes give you an equal opportunity to navigate calm stretches, exciting rapids, and tranquil backwaters. 

And let me tell you, there’s something truly magical about the gentle rhythm of your paddle meeting the water, setting your course amidst the lush forests that line the riverbanks.

For those seeking a more tranquil experience, paddling on the Ottawa River is a chance to escape the daily grind and immerse yourself in nature. 

It’s an oasis of serenity, where you can drift along, listening to the whispers of the breeze through the trees and the soothing sounds of the river. It’s a place where time seems to slow down, allowing for a deeper connection with the natural world.

But if you’re an adrenaline junkie, there are thrilling white-water sections like the Rocher Fendu rapids, where you can test your paddling skills and get your heart racing. 

A personal highlight of mine is paddling on the Ottawa River is the chance to spot wildlife. The place teems with life as you can see majestic bald eagles soaring overhead and even find playful otters swimming alongside your boat. 

Visit Ottawa’s many lakes and go fishing. 

Visit Ottawa’s many lakes and go fishing

Ottawa is blessed with a wealth of lakes, both within the city limits and in the surrounding areas. Seasoned anglers and novices will find a diverse range of fishing experiences, from tranquil urban ponds to pristine backcountry lakes. 

My personal favorite location is Dow’s Lake, which is easily accessible and known for its healthy population of various fish species.

One of the joys of fishing in Ottawa is the diversity of fish you can catch. A few species that I’ve found include some feisty bass and pike as well as delicious panfish like perch and crappie. 

Needless to say, the options are abundant and you will have a great time catching them. 

In fact, Ottawa’s lakes are teeming with fish, thanks to responsible fishing practices and conservation efforts. 

Then you have the changing seasons which add another layer of allure to fishing in Ottawa. In the spring, you can witness the lake shores coming to life with vibrant foliage and birdlife. 

Summer brings warm, sunny days perfect for relaxing on the water, and autumn paints the landscape in a riot of colors. Even in winter, ice fishing becomes a popular pastime, allowing you to continue your angling adventures year-round.

Perhaps a very beloved aspect of fishing here is the sense of community it fosters. I’ve had countless conversations with fellow anglers while waiting for the next bite. 

It’s a chance to swap stories, share tips, and make new friends who share a common passion for the outdoors.

Play golf on Ottawa’s many golf courses. 

Play golf on Ottawa’s many golf courses

Ottawa boasts an impressive selection of golf courses that cater to golfers of all skill levels. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out, you’ll find a course that suits your game. 

From the manicured fairways of championship courses to the more relaxed and picturesque municipal ones, Ottawa’s golf scene has it all.

One of the standout features of golfing in Ottawa is the stunning backdrop of our courses. Lush, tree-lined fairways with the Gatineau Hills or the Ottawa River will serve as your scenic vista while playing your game. 

I’ve often found myself in awe of the natural beauty that surrounds me as I play. I can’t help but adore the vibrant greens of spring or the fiery foliage of autumn as I move around the course.

Now that I’ve mentioned seasons, golf here isn’t limited to just a few months. Ottawa’s golf courses typically open from spring through fall, and some even offer winter activities like cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. 

So, you can enjoy this pastime year-round, each season offering a unique charm and challenge.

But golfing in Ottawa is more than just a solo sport; it’s a communal experience. The local golfing community is tight-knit and welcoming. 

Whether you’re joining a league, playing in a charity tournament, or just hitting the course with friends, you’ll find a sense of camaraderie that makes each round memorable. 

Personally, some of my fondest memories involve sharing laughs and stories with fellow golfers, both old friends and new acquaintances.

Have a picnic at Major’s Hill Park.

Have a picnic at Major’s Hill Park

Major’s Hill Park, nestled between the iconic Parliament Hill and the Ottawa River, is a green oasis in the heart of downtown Ottawa. What makes it an exceptional spot for a picnic is its perfect blend of natural beauty and historical significance.

As you spread out your blanket and savor your meal, you’re enveloped by breathtaking views of the Ottawa River and Parliament Hill. Trust me; there’s no restaurant in the city that can match this kind of scenery.

One of the joys of picnicking at Major’s Hill Park is the sheer versatility it offers. The park accommodates all, be it a romantic meal with your significant other, a family gathering, or simply some solitude and relaxation. 

I’ve spent countless hours here with friends and family, relishing the simple pleasure of sharing a meal amidst this scenic splendor.

The lush greenery, blooming flowers, and the soothing sound of the Rideau Falls nearby make Major’s Hill Park an idyllic setting. 

Depending on the season, you’ll find yourself surrounded by colorful tulips in spring, vibrant foliage in fall, or even a blanket of snow in winter. The park truly transforms with the seasons, providing a different backdrop each time you visit.

Moreover, this park is steeped in history. Major’s Hill Park was named after Major Daniel Bolton, an early settler in Ottawa, and it has witnessed pivotal moments in Canada’s past. 

You can’t help but feel a sense of connection to our nation’s heritage as you dine in this hallowed ground.

Look for some geocaches. 

Look for some geocaches

What I love about geocaching is that it not only allows me to discover some hidden gems within the city but also combines the thrill of a treasure hunt.

This activity has you search for caches that contain fun messages and takes you off the beaten path. It will lead you to places you might never have discovered otherwise, which makes this activity so fun. 

It’s a thrilling combination of puzzle-solving, navigation, and exploration, all while being immersed in the great outdoors.

Then you have the community. Ottawa’s got a very enthusiastic group that is passionate about the activity, and the city is full of hidden caches of all sizes and levels of challenge. 

There’s always something new to try with this activity, regardless if you’re new to geocaching or have been doing it for a while. I personally find it very exciting to figure out what the signs mean and use GPS coordinates to find a cache.

The great thing about geocaching in Ottawa is that there are so many different places to do it. You might find yourself looking for a small cache in a city park or a well-hidden prize in a quiet forest. 

You might also find yourself looking at historical sites and urban areas in a whole new way. It’s an exciting trip through the history, culture, and natural beauty of the city.

Also, geocaching is a great way to meet people who might share the same interests and hobbies that you have. The Ottawa geocaching community is friendly and exciting.

You can exchange stories, tips, and even small trinkets or “swag” in caches that can help you make new friends and have an even better experience overall.

Go rock climbing in Ottawa’s conservation parks. 

Go rock climbing in Ottawa’s conservation parks

Rock climbing isn’t just an activity that gets your adrenaline pumping, it’s also one that is thrilling and deeply rewarding.

Ottawa has a lot to offer, and one of those things is a wide range of climbing opportunities for climbers of all skill levels, from newbies to experts. 

Gatineau Park itself is considered a mecca for climbing because it has a wide range of crags with climbs that range from easy to challenging. 

One of the things that I love the most about rock climbing is the beautiful scenery. Our protected parks offer breathtaking views, especially if you sit on the edge of a tall limestone cliff and gaze at the lush woods, clear lakes, and the beautiful Gatineau Hills.

The contrast between the rough rocks and the calm beauty of nature is a sight to behold, and each climb is a unique adventure.

Of course, rock climbing is not just a physical challenge, it’s a mental one too. Each climb is like solving a puzzle, deciphering the best handholds and footholds, and navigating the unique features of the rock face. 

It’s an exercise in problem-solving and perseverance, and I’ve often found myself completely immersed in the moment. It’s easy to forget about the rest of the world as I focus on the climb and reaching the top.

Take a swim in Mooney’s Bay.

Take a swim in Mooney’s Bay

Taking a dip in the waters of Mooney’s Bay is not just a way to beat the heat. We Ottawans consider it a must-try experience to experience a part of the city’s natural beauty.

The beach is a place that locals have flocked to for generations to escape the summer heat. The sandy shoreline along the shimmering waves of the Rideau River provides a refreshing oasis right in the heart of the city. 

The calm waters of Mooney’s Bay are perfect for swimmers of all ages and abilities. Confident swimmers doing laps and those just looking to wade in and cool off can enjoy the gentle current and have a fun and refreshing time. 

It’s a place where families can relax, children can build sandcastles, and friends can gather for a lazy day in the sun.

But Mooney’s Bay is not just about swimming; it’s a hub for water sports and recreation. You’ll often see kayakers and paddleboarders gliding across the river, adding to the vibrant atmosphere. 

The bay also hosts various water events and competitions, which are always a thrill to watch and be a part of.

The park area is shaded by mature trees, providing a cool respite from the summer sun. 

Tables and barbecue pits make it an ideal spot for a family cookout or a leisurely picnic. The scenic walking and biking paths along the river’s edge offer a chance to explore the area and take in the stunning views.

Mooney’s Bay Beach also has a rich history in Ottawa. It’s named after Thomas Ahearn, an early Ottawa entrepreneur who built a streetcar line that connected the city to the bay in the early 20th century. 

Knowing this history adds an extra layer of appreciation for the spot.