Despite having a reputation as one of Canada’s more calm and peaceful cities, Ottawa still has one heck of a nightlife scene. Once the evening comes and the lights come alive, a transformation occurs that turns the capital into a wondrous place.
Having lived my entire life in this city, I know quite a lot about its streets once the sun sets. Even then, I often get amazed by the things that I discover as I look around the lovely districts and neighborhoods.
Now, are you curious about Ottawa’s nightlife scene and want to discover it for yourself? Let me show you the ways you can truly enjoy the city when dusk sets in.
Explore the ByWard Market.
Address: 55 Byward Market Square, Ottawa, ON K1N 9C3, Canada
When you step into the ByWard Market at night, you’ll immediately sense the eclectic energy in the air. It’s a hub of excitement, bustling with locals and visitors alike, all seeking a memorable evening filled with fun and entertainment.
Imagine yourself stepping into one of the many pubs scattered throughout the market. The warm ambiance, friendly chatter, and the aroma of delicious food will instantly make you feel at home.
These pubs are the perfect spots to enjoy a pint of locally brewed craft beer and strike up hearty conversations with friends and even some fellow patrons. While you’re at it, make sure to order some delicious comfort food to go along with your drink.
For those seeking a more upscale experience, the cocktail lounges in the ByWard Market are an excellent choice. Picture yourself sipping on meticulously crafted cocktails, surrounded by stylish decor and a sophisticated atmosphere.
These venues boast an extensive menu of creative libations, expertly mixed by talented mixologists who take pride in their craft. It’s a chance to immerse yourself in the world of mixology and enjoy the artistry of cocktail making.
As a local who has spent many nights exploring the ByWard Market, I must mention the street performances that add an extra layer of charm to the area’s nightlife.
Talented musicians, buskers, and performers line the streets, showcasing their skills and entertaining the crowds.
It’s a delightful sight to witness and adds to the vibrant and dynamic ambiance of the market at night.
Whether you’re a local looking to unwind after a long day or a visitor seeking an authentic taste of Ottawa’s nightlife, the ByWard Market is the place to be.
From cozy pubs to trendy cocktail lounges and energetic nightclubs, there’s something for everyone here.
So, put on your dancing shoes, raise a glass with friends or meet new ones, and immerse yourself in the lively and diverse nightlife of Ottawa’s beloved ByWard Market.
Give Elgin Street a visit.
Address: Elgin St, Ottawa, ON K2P 1L9
This vibrant street is brimming with a plethora of options for entertainment and socializing. Whether you’re looking for a cozy pub, trendy cocktail bar, or pulsating nightclub, Elgin Street has got you covered.
Walking through the bustling streets will allow you to soak in the energetic atmosphere and immerse yourself in the diverse array of experiences.
One of the very first things you’ll notice about the place is the energetic music scene. You can find a variety of venues showcasing live performances by talented local bands, skilled solo artists, and talented DJs that feature pretty much every genre of music.
Something I know you’ll love about Elgin Street is its weekend vibe. While its weekday ambiance is quite good already, I and many other locals recommend that you visit it on a Saturday or a Sunday.
Take its already lively ambiance and crank it up to eleven, and you have one of Ottawa’s most exciting nightlife spots. During this time, the street attracts a larger crowd of locals and visitors who are eager to experience the city’s eclectic nightlife.
You can dance, listen to music, socialize with other people, drink, and eat until you drop. There’s really nothing quite like it!
Though if you prefer something a bit more calm and peaceful, Elgin also has plenty of bars, pubs, and restaurants that give you a laid-back ambiance.
These places are ideal for socializing and engaging in conversation with our friends, far from loud crowds and music.
Attend various live performances.
As a local Ottawan, I can attest to the diverse range of live performances offered in our city’s nightlife scene. When exploring Ottawa’s vibrant entertainment options, you’ll discover captivating venues that cater to various preferences.
Music enthusiasts like myself are always delighted by the numerous venues throughout Ottawa showcasing live bands and musicians.
Regardless of your taste, there’s something for everyone, covering genres such as rock, jazz, blues, indie, country, and electronic music.
Specialized venues dedicated to live music or those seamlessly incorporating performances into their overall entertainment lineup ensure a memorable experience.
Ottawa’s nightclubs and bars are a must-visit for those who enjoy electronic beats and a vibrant ambiance. Local DJs skillfully spin an incredible mix of house, techno, trance, and EDM, creating an energetic atmosphere that surrounds you on the dance floor.
It’s the perfect setting for you to let loose, connect with others, and make lasting memories with fellow partygoers.
Let’s not forget the unforgettable laughter and entertainment found at Ottawa’s comedy clubs and venues hosting stand-up shows. These events bring together local talents and renowned comedians from around the world.
Watching these shows give you the chance to unwind, share laughter, and enjoy the lively atmosphere created by both performers and the audience. Whether you’re with friends or exploring solo, Ottawa’s comedy nights offer a very enjoyable experience.
For aspiring musicians, poets, comedians, and performers, Ottawa’s open mic nights serve as an invaluable platform to showcase your talents. I’ve personally witnessed the incredible energy and support of the locals and tourists at these events.
Finally, you have the intimate atmosphere of the bars and cafes hosting open mic nights. It helps to create a welcoming space where emerging artists can connect with the audience on a personal level.
It’s a remarkable opportunity to share your passion, receive feedback, and make connections within the local creative community.
Experience the city’s casinos.
- Casino du Lac-Leamy: 1 Boulevard du Casino, Gatineau, QC J8Y 6W3, Canada
- Rideau Carleton Casino: 4837 Albion Rd, Ottawa, ON K1X 1A3, Canada
- Shorelines Casino Thousand Islands: 380 Highway 2, Gananoque, ON K7G 2V4, Canada
- Shorelines Casino Peterborough: 1400 Crawford Dr, Peterborough, ON K9J 6X6, Canada
- Shorelines Casino Belleville: 380 Bell Blvd, Belleville, ON K8P 5H9, Canada
When it comes to entertainment and excitement, Ottawa offers an impressive array of options, and the casinos are no exception.
If you’re looking for a thrilling night out, visiting one of the city’s casinos is a must if you have the money to spare. Imagine stepping into a world filled with dazzling lights, the sound of slot machines ringing, and the thrill of anticipation in the air.
It’s an experience that truly captivates both locals and visitors alike.
When you enter the casino, you’ll be greeted by a lively atmosphere that is second to none. The energy is contagious, and you can’t help but feel the buzz of excitement as you explore the various gaming areas.
You can find classic table games like blackjack, roulette, and poker that cater to a wide selection of slot machines, there’s something for every gambling enthusiast.
As you make your way through the casino, you’ll encounter friendly dealers and staff who are always ready to assist you with any questions or concerns. Whether you’re a seasoned player or a novice, they’ll make sure you have an enjoyable experience.
One of the things I love about Ottawa’s casino nightlife is the range of dining options available. After a thrilling gaming session, you can indulge in delicious meals at the on-site restaurants.
From casual fare to upscale dining experiences, there’s a culinary delight to suit every palate. So, whether you’re craving a juicy steak, fresh seafood, or international cuisine, the casinos have you covered.
But the fun doesn’t stop at the gaming tables and dining establishments. Ottawa’s casinos also host a variety of live entertainment events.
Live music performances and comedy shows are just a few prominent examples that help to keep the excitement going. These events provide the perfect opportunity to take a break from the gaming floor and enjoy a different form of entertainment.
Enjoy craft beer from local breweries.
There are a lot of great craft breweries to check out in Ottawa, which has a thriving craft beer scene. As a craft beer lover, let me tell you about some of the city’s best breweries.
Beyond the Pale Brewing Company is one of my favorite places to drink. This brewery is in the lively Hintonburg neighborhood and has a warm and friendly atmosphere.
It is proud of its creative and tasty beers, and the brewmasters offer a wide range of beverages that suit different tastes. Beyond the Pale has something for everyone, whether you like hop-forward IPAs, rich stouts, or refreshing sours.
If you’d like to visit a brewery with a lot of interesting history and development, I recommend Dominion City Brewing Co. The store is in a building that used to be a streetcar garage in Ottawa.
Its brews combine traditional brewing methods with new flavors. The brewmasters that work for the company are known for making great IPAs and ales in the Belgian style.
Dominion City Brewing Co often uses local ingredients to make new and interesting beers. The friendly staff and large taproom make it a pleasure to try the beer.
Tooth and Nail Brewing Company is a great choice for people who want a brewery that cares more about the community. This brewery is in the middle of Ottawa’s industrial area and makes high-quality, small-batch beers.
Tooth and Nail has a wide range of styles, from classic European lagers to bold and experimental ales. It puts a lot of emphasis on craftsmanship and creativity.
If you want to sample its beverages, head to the brewery’s taproom. This is a warm and friendly place to drink the company’s carefully made beers and socialize with others.
Lastly, we’ve got Small Pony Barrel Works. This one is also worth mentioning because it makes sour and barrel-aged beers.
It is a one-of-a-kind brewery that is all about the art of blending and aging beer in oak barrels, which creates flavors that are complex and interesting.
Its limited-edition beers are often funky and sour, which is sure to get any beer lover excited. Small Pony Barrel Works is a hidden gem you should check out if you want to try new things and learn more about barrel-aged beers.
Now if you want to visit these breweries, check out the table below. I’ve listed their exact addresses so you know where to find them.
|Beyond the Pale Brewing Company
|250 City Centre Ave Bay 106, Ottawa, ON K1R 6K7, Canada
|Dominion City Brewing Co Ottawa
|5510 Canotek Rd Unit 15, Ottawa, ON K1J 9J4, Canada
|Tooth and Nail Brewing Company
|3 Irving Ave, Ottawa, ON K1Y 1Z2, Canada
|Small Pony Barrel Works
|101 Schneider Rd, Kanata, ON K2K 1Y3, Canada
Discover speakeasies and cocktail bars.
Not only does Ottawa have great craft breweries, but it also has a thriving cocktail culture with many sophisticated bars and hidden speakeasies.
The Moonroom is one such popular cocktail bar in Ottawa. You can find it in the lively streets near the ByWard Market neighborhood.
When you walk into this cozy, small room, you’ll find a carefully chosen list of expertly made cocktails. The Moonroom focuses on making drinks that are both creative and tasty by using fresh ingredients, unique spirits, and house-made syrups.
The dimly lit atmosphere and knowledgeable bartenders add to the allure, making it a perfect spot for a sophisticated night out.
If you want something a bit more low-profile, Union Local 613 is a hidden gem that you don’t want to miss. This speakeasy-style bar is hidden behind an unassuming door in Centretown.
Entering the place feels like you just went back in time as you take in its early 1900s feel. The bartenders here are really into mixology, and they are very proud of how carefully and precisely they make cocktails by hand.
The atmosphere is warm and cozy, taking you back to the time of Prohibition as you sip a carefully made drink.
For a taste of Old Havana, let me introduce you to El Camino. This trendy taqueria and cocktail bar serves delicious Mexican street food and drinks that are skillfully crafted.
Focusing on tequila and mezcal, the bartenders at El Camino are skilled at making cocktails with traditional Mexican flavors and modern twists. It’s a lively place to spend a night out with friends, thanks to the classy Latin music and creative drinks.
These are just a few of Ottawa’s cocktail bars and speakeasies that I’ve been to and had such great experiences with. Still, I feel like there are more hidden gems for me to find in the city’s thriving cocktail scene.
If you’d like to visit the locations I’ve listed, refer to the table below to see their exact addresses.
|442 Preston St, Ottawa, ON K1S 4N6, Canada
|Union Local 613
|315 Somerset St W, Ottawa, ON K2P 0J8, Canada
|El Camino Elgin
|380 Elgin Street, Ottawa, ON, Canada, Ontario
Tips for Maximizing the Ottawa Nightlife Experience
While you can experience Ottawa’s great nightlife without any planning whatsoever, I think having an agenda is still a great thing. Before you go out there and enjoy the capital’s exciting lights and sounds, let me give you a few recommendations.
Research and plan your night out in advance. Look up popular venues, events, and performances happening during your visit.
Check the opening hours, dress codes, and any cover charges or ticket requirements for places or shows you want to go to. Planning ahead can help you make the most of your time and ensure you don’t miss out on any exciting opportunities.
Explore different neighborhoods.
There are a variety of neighborhoods that offer unique nightlife experiences in the city. I heavily discourage you from limiting yourself to just one area because Ottawa’s got so many beautiful places for you to see.
Explore places like ByWard Market, Elgin Street, Westboro Village, or even Gatineau across the river. Each neighborhood has its own character and a diverse range of establishments to discover.
Embrace local flavors.
The city’s nightlife scene includes a wide range of culinary experiences. Wherever you look, there are amazing restaurants that are sure to fit your palate and give you a great time.
Once you’re done sampling the city’s tasty dishes, take the opportunity to try local craft beers, Canadian wines, or signature cocktails made with regional ingredients.
Many bars and restaurants offer unique and creative drink menus that can enhance your overall experience.
Try out all the live performances.
Ottawa is known for its live music, comedy, and theatrical performances. Look for venues that host local bands, artists, and stand-up comedians.
Again, don’t limit yourself and explore! Attending these different live performances adds a dynamic element to your nightlife experience and allows you to immerse yourself in the local arts and culture scene.
Engage with locals.
We Ottawans have a reputation for being a friendly and welcoming community. Interact with the locals, strike up conversations, and ask for recommendations.
We can provide insider tips on hidden gems, lesser-known venues, and unique experiences that you might not find in tourist guides.
Stay safe and drink responsibly.
Enjoy your night out, but remember to prioritize your safety and the safety of those around you. Drink responsibly, know your limits, and never drink and drive.
Arrange for transportation in advance or use public transportation, taxis, or ride-sharing services to ensure a safe journey back to your accommodation.
Be open to new experiences.
Finally, be open-minded and willing to step outside of your comfort zone. Ottawa’s nightlife scene offers a diverse range of experiences, from lively clubs to cozy pubs, live performances to outdoor activities.
Try new things, explore different genres of music, and embrace the unexpected. You may discover something truly memorable.
By keeping these tips in mind, you’ll be well-equipped to maximize your Ottawa nightlife experience and create lasting memories. Enjoy your time in the city!