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Urban Adventures: Top Outdoor Activities in Ottawa

Urban Adventures Top Outdoor Activities in Ottawa

Explore the beauty of Ottawa, Canada’s capital city. Here, you’ll find lush green spaces, winding rivers, and historic buildings that beckon adventure seekers and curious explorers.

Let’s delve into the exhilarating world of outdoor activities that this city has to offer, from the iconic Rideau Canal to the vast green space of Parliament Hill!

Take a swim in Mooney’s Bay Park and Beach

– Photo credit: richardkbethell

Address: 2960 Riverside Dr., Ottawa, ON K1V 8N4, Canada

Contact details: +1 613-580-2595

Operating hours: 5:00 AM – 11:00 PM (MON-SUN)

Begin your great adventure by visiting the famous Mooney’s Bay Park and Beach, located on Riverside Drive. An artificial bay created during the construction of the Rideau Canal, it was named in recognition of the Mooney family.

Today, visitors can enjoy its sandy beach, where they can soak up the sun, swim, and enjoy the refreshing waters of the Rideau River during the summer months. The park also boasts an open field where you can spread out a blanket and have a picnic.

For the kids, Mooney’s Bay Park and Beach has a playground complete with swings, slides, and climbing structures. If you’re looking to get active yourself, the park has exercise stations and outdoor fitness equipment that are open to anyone.

Pro tip:
Check the river’s water quality first when visiting Mooney’s Bay Park and Beach after a heavy rain. That’s because as the rain washes most pollutants in the city, the runoff water makes the rivers carry more bacteria than usual.

For real-time data on the water quality of Ottawa’s rivers, check out this website.

Bike along the banks of the Rideau Canal

– Photo credit: ottawatourism

Address: Queen Elizabeth Driveway, Ottawa, ON, Canada

Our next destination, the Rideau Canal, is one of the most iconic places you’ll find in Ottawa. Built between 1826 and 1832, its purpose is to provide a secure and fast route for military and commercial transportation.

Its beauty and architectural significance have led to it being recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today, its rich past and picturesque setting make it an ideal spot for both history buffs and nature lovers alike.

During your visit, the canal’s scenic banks offer plenty of space for biking, jogging, and leisurely walks. And if you want to enjoy a scenic view of the sunset, make sure to stop by the Ottawa Locks before the day ends.

Pro tip: While the Rideau Canal is a pleasure to visit all year, we find visiting it during the winter to be the best. That’s because that’s when the canal’s water is frozen solid, and it transforms into the largest naturally frozen ice rink in the world!

Enjoy a relaxing picnic in Hog’s Back Park

– Photo credit: pnick007

Address: 600 Hog’s Back Rd, Ottawa, ON K1V 1H8, Canada

Contact details: +1 613-239-5000

Operating hours: 7:00 AM – 10:00 PM (MON-SUN)

For a serene urban nature retreat, come visit Hog’s Back Park, located in the quiet suburb of Hog’s Back. Developed in the 1950s, it played a pivotal role in the construction of a challenging dam-building project for the Rideau Canal.

Today, it boasts impressive waterfalls, lush greenery, and a heritage pavilion that make your visit here a visual treat. And of course, it also has a vast green space where you can plop down a blanket and have a picnic with your friends and family.

Furthermore, this park has plenty of hiking trails where you can enjoy a relaxing walk or do your daily morning jogs. The park has plenty of washrooms available if you ever need to take a minute or two to rest.

Pro tip: During your visit to Hog’s Back Park, we suggest you make a quick stop at its cafe, Hog’s Back Restaurant. This cafe serves some delicious meals you shouldn’t pass up on, like pizzas, beef donair platters, and chicken souvlakis.

Go on a majestic river cruise across the Ottawa River


Address: 1 Canal Ln, Ottawa, ON K1P 5P6, Canada

Contact details: +1 819-246-3855

Operating hours: 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM (MON-SUN)


Adults – $40.50

Children (2-11) – $28.50

The Ottawa River is a huge and expansive river that runs through many cities, including Ottawa, Gatineau, and Montreal. You can explore the river and see its majestic banks by joining one of The Ottawa Boat Cruise’s river cruises!

These cruises will approximately take 90 minutes to complete. They’ll introduce you to the lush greenery surrounding the river while also passing by iconic landmarks like the Château Laurier and Parliament Hill. 

As you relax on board, their bilingual guides will tell you the captivating story of Ottawa’s past, from its fur trading origins to its current status as Canada’s capital. All boats they use are electric-powered, so you don’t need to worry about smoke fumes!

Pro tip:
Whether you’re looking for a new date activity, a place to party, or just to try something new, The Ottawa Boat Cruise has plenty of special cruises available!

Some of their most popular ones are their Jazz Date Night with Shawn Marino Cruise, the Disco Cruise, and the Firework Cruise.

Explore the natural beauty of Gatineau Park

– Photo credit: ottawatourism


Address: 33 Chem. Scott, Chelsea, QC J9B 1R5, Canada

Contact details: +1 819-827-2020

Operating hours: 

9:00 AM – 4:00 PM (MON-FRI)

9:00 AM – 5:00 PM (SAT and SUN)

Distance from the Ottawa CBD: 19 minutes

Another amazing place you can visit is the vast Gatineau Park, the largest conservation park in the National Capital Region. Located north of the Ottawa CBD, this natural haven offers rich biodiversity and scenic vistas you don’t want to miss!

There are a wide range of outdoor activities you can try during your visit here. In particular, hiking is very popular here, as not only will you be able to trek along 165 kilometres of trails, you’ll also be able to discover many lookout spots along the way.

Furthermore, Gatineau Park boasts a number of pristine lakes, like Meech Lake and Pink Lake, where you can go for a swim and have a picnic. There are also plenty of camping areas in the park if you’re planning on staying there overnight.

Pro tip:
If you want to learn more about the history of Gatineau Park and Canada in general, visit the Mackenzie King Estate, located near Lac Kingsmere.

Once the summer home of Canada’s 10th prime minister, this place features a rich collection of ruins and artifacts gathered from the park and its surrounding areas.

Hang out with the wild animals in Omega Park


Address: 399 QC-323, Montebello, QC J0V 1L0, Canada

Contact details: +1 819-423-5487

Operating hours: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM (MON-SUN)

Distance from the Ottawa CBD: 54 minutes


Adults (16-64) – $44.15

Children (6-15) – $32.87

Toddlers (2-5) – $17.37

Seniors (65 and up) – $39.45

For a captivating wildlife experience, visit Omega Park, a safari park located in Notre-Dame-de-Bonsecours. It was established to connect people with nature through an interactive and exciting experience.

To explore the park, you’ll need to drive along its 12-kilometre nature route, where plenty of wild animals hang out and relax. Some majestic animals you’ll encounter during your drive are deer, elk, bison, wolves, and bears.

Another amazing thing you should look out for during your visit here are the spectacular indigenous totems carved by the Algonquin artist Dennis Charette. These totems convey stories, beliefs, and ancestral wisdom of the First Nations.

Pro tip:
There’s another way to experience the beauty of Omega Park, and that’s by visiting this place during the night! 

When the moon rises, you can enjoy a face-to-face encounter with the wolves here through the Cocktail with Wolves experience.

Held in Omega Park’s Wolf Observatory, this event offers you a rare opportunity to feed some wolves and learn more about their behaviour. You’ll also enjoy a fine cocktail dinner to finish the night.

See the docked boats in Nepean Sailing Club

– Photo credit: vajdamina


Address: 3259 Carling Ave, Nepean, ON K2H 1A6, Canada

Contact details: +1 613-829-6462

Nepean Sailing Club, located along the southern shore of the Ottawa River, is a haven for boat enthusiasts. Established in 1979, it became a popular spot for Ottawans to park their boats and enjoy the magnificent view of the river.

Currently, this marina holds over 500 different boats that are always a treat to see. During your visit, you might also come across some of them being launched into the water via the marina’s hand and vehicle launch ramps.

Of course, one of the highlights you need to look out for when visiting here are the regattas or boat races. As one of the largest club racing fleets in Canada, Nepean Sailing Club often hosts major racing events, like the Midnight Madness Race.

Pro tip: The Nepean Sailing Club offers one of the best sunrise viewing spots you’ll find in Ottawa. For an unobstructed view of the sunrise, make your way towards the lighthouse on the tip of the marina’s peninsula. 

See the seat of government of Canada in Parliament Hill

– Photo credit: elerriel_lee


Address: Wellington St, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A9, Canada

Contact details: +1 613-992-4793

Operating hours: 

8:30 AM – 6:00 PM (MON-THURS)

8:30 AM – 5:00 PM (FRI)

Another way to spend your time outdoors is by hanging out by the iconic landmark, Parliament Hill. Known as the home of the Canadian federal government, this hill is where the House of Commons and the Senate of Canada are located.

Furthermore, this place also boasts a vast green field where, oftentimes, you’ll find people hosting picnics and playing games like frisbee. If you love crowd-watching, then this place will certainly be your favourite.

For me, the best spot to relax and spend some time here is in the Summer Pavilion, located at the back of the Centre Block. This spot is good at providing shade during hotter days, and it also has an amazing view of the Ottawa River.

Pro tip:
There are many popular events you should look out for when visiting Parliament Hill. On most days, the large clock on the Peace Tower here chimes every 15 minutes.

Also, should you visit during the summer, make sure to check out the Changing of the Guard ceremony, a highly popular event that takes place every day for the entire season.

Enjoy a relaxing walk around Dow’s Lake

Photo credit: tudor_robins


Address: Queen Elizabeth Driveway, Ottawa, ON, Canada

Contact details: +1 613-232-1001

A good way to end your tour of the city and its surrounding areas is by going for a quiet walk around Dow’s Lake. This artificial lake was once a mosquito-infested swamp until water flowing from the Rideau Canal transformed it into a beautiful lake.

Today, it’s a recreational haven where you’ll find plenty of people from all walks of life engaging in various outdoor activities. In particular, the winding paths that surround the lake are commonly used for recreational biking and strolling.

However, the place we always want to visit whenever we’re here is the Dow’s Lake Pavilion, a large structure on the lake’s northwestern shore. 

It has a restaurant where you can sit down and eat while admiring the spectacular view of the lake and the city.

Pro tip:
Looking to do more than just walk around Dow’s Lake? Try exploring the lake itself by renting one of the paddle boats in Dow’s Lake Pavilion!

The pavilion also has rental bikes available if you want to cycle along the lake’s famous pathways. To learn more, make sure to check out this website.

Go ziplining between Ottawa and Gatineau


Address: 40 Rue Jos-Montferrand, Gatineau, QC J8X 0C2, Canada

Contact details: +1 613-695-5803

Operating hours: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM (MON-SUN)


Adults (15 and above) – $24.99

Children (14 and under) – $19.99

Looking to travel between Ottawa and Gatineau in style? Then check out Interzip Rogers, an outdoor adventure company that has installed a 425-metre zipline at the Zibi properties on both sides of the Ottawa River.

As the world’s only zipline that spans two provinces, this ride promises to take you on an adventure of a lifetime. During your trip, you’ll soar 37 metres above the Ottawa River and reach speeds of up to 40 kilometres per hour.

Beyond the adrenaline rush, you’ll also enjoy a panoramic view of many of Ottawa’s iconic landmarks, like Parliament Hill, Victoria Island, and Portage Bridge. To keep you safe, there are trained guides ready to help you on both ends of the zipline.

Pro tip: Please make sure to have a photo ID with you before trying out this activity. Interzip Rogers needs it to verify your identity because you need to sign a waiver before you can use their facilities.

Raft across the Ottawa River


Address: 102 Greenview Ave, Ottawa, ON K2B 5Z6, Canada

Contact details: +1 844-688-7238

Operating hours: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM (MON-SAT)


Adults (13 and up) – $94

Children (5-12) – $79

Get ready to get wet on our next activity, as we’ll go on an exciting whitewater rafting session across the Ottawa River! One company, Ottawa City Rafting, specializes in providing intense rafting sessions right in the heart of Canada’s capital.

Available for ages 5 and up, their whitewater rafting experience lasts almost three hours and follows the original path into Ottawa that was used back in the city’s earlier days. The excursion starts from Britannia Beach, west of the Ottawa CBD.

Throughout the ride, you’ll encounter plenty of rapids, including level V rapids, that will surprise you if you aren’t paying close attention. You’ll also come across many of Ottawa’s iconic landmarks while rafting, like Parliament Hill and Victoria Island.

Pro tip:
Since it’s guaranteed that you’ll get wet during this activity, it’s best that you wear only quick-drying clothes so you can still move comfortably throughout the activity.

It’s also recommended that you wear sunscreen beforehand, as this activity takes place between noon and early afternoon.

Parachute above the skies of Ottawa


Address: 1717 Rue Arthur-Fecteau, Gatineau, QC J8R 2Z9, Canada

Contact details: +1 819-669-5867

Operating hours: 

12:00 PM – 8:00 PM (WED-FRI)

9:00 AM – 8:00 PM (SAT and SUN)

Distance from the Ottawa CBD: 23 minutes


9,000 feet – $282

13,500 feet – $315

Still looking for some adrenaline-filled action? Then try skydiving above the wonderful skies of Ottawa! 

In Gatineau, there’s a company called Parachute GO Skydive, which has over 14 years of experience providing skydiving services in Ottawa.

Here, you’ll have the chance to participate in a tandem skydiving session from up to 13,500 feet, where you’ll experience freefall at speeds exceeding 200 km/h. For beginners, there’s also the option to jump at a lower altitude of 9,000 feet.

As you descend, make sure to soak in the breathtaking views of the National Capital Region and its surrounding areas. Some noteworthy attractions you should keep an eye on during your parachute descent are Parliament Hill and Gatineau Park.

Pro tip:
You can keep a special memento of this one-of-a-kind experience by availing of Parachute GO Skydive’s photography and videography services. 

Prices start at $104, but you can get their entire package (which includes both photos and videos) for only $209.