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Top 13 Winter Activities in Ottawa

Top 13 Winter Activities in Ottawa

See, when the first flurries of winter fall, Ottawa doesn’t just roll up the sidewalks and hibernate. Our charming city breaks out the parkas, laces up the skates, and shows winter who’s boss.

Skating, skiing—you name it—and a lot more are some of the reasons why we Canadians love it, especially when the old man winter comes to visit. And we’re about to take you on a tour of the top winter activities in Ottawa, so keep on reading!

Skate on the world’s largest rink—Rideau Canal Skateway


Address: 1 Elgin St, Ottawa, ON K1P 5W1, Canada

Contact details: +1 613-239-5000

Operating hours: 

  • Open 24 hours

Cost: Free

Rideau Canal Skateway stretches nearly 8 kilometres (that’s almost 5 miles!) of glassy ice from downtown Ottawa to the lush Dows Lake. The cool factor is that it’s the world’s largest natural ice rink, recognised by our pals at Guinness World Records.

On a classic winter day, you’ll find yourself surrounded by cheerful families, speed skaters, and even some brave souls trying skating for the first time (bless ’em). The canal is even lined with snug little huts offering everything from beavertails to hot cocoa.

Pro tip: Try to strap on those skates early in the morning for the smoothest ice and smaller crowds. Plus, rentals are available, but on weekends, they go faster than a hot beavertail on a cold day.

Be dazzled at Winterlude, Ottawa’s winter festival

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Dates: February 2 to February 19, 2024

Every February, the city transforms into a winter wonderland, and folks flock to celebrate the cool Winterlude festival. Here, you can witness mammoth ice sculptures that gleam like diamonds under the February sun.

There’s also a glittering sub-zero kingdom of ice for the kiddos, because why should adults have all the fun? What’s more, local gastronomy takes centre stage—you haven’t lived until you’ve tried a sip of that oh-so-sweet maple syrup at a sugar shack.

Pro tip:
Remember to check out the festival schedule online and plan ahead—the coolest events can have quite the turnout.

Plus, remember to dress in layers, too, because you’ll be going from frosty outdoors to cozy indoors as you graze through the festivities.

Sip a hot cocoa at ByWard’s Planet Coffee


Address: 24a York St, Ottawa, ON K1N 1K2, Canada

Contact details: +1 613-789-6261

Operating hours: 

  • Monday to Sunday – 7:30 AM to 7 PM

Cost: $

Planet Coffee is an oasis of warm delight that Ottawa locals swear by. It’s your go-to no-frills joint that delivers a soul-soothing Java experience, with a side of eclectic charm thrown in for good measure.

While their hot chocolate is the stuff of local legend, their coffee and fresh-baked goodies can coax a smile out of the grumpiest snowman. It’s more like a warm hug for your spirit, complete with a caffeine kick.

Pro tip: If you’re looking for a sweet deal, try to swing by during their happy hour for special offers on drinks and pastries. And remember, cash might be king in some Ottawa spots, so keep a few bills on hand just in case.

Try some snowboarding at Camp Fortune


Address: 300 Chem. Dunlop, Chelsea, QC J9B 2N3, Canada

Contact details: +1 819-827-1717

Operating hours: 

  • Monday to Saturday – 9 AM to 9 PM
  • Sunday – 9 AM to 7 PM

Cost: $$-$$$

Just a stone’s throw—or, should I say, a snowball’s throw—away from Ottawa, lies Camp Fortune. The park features kickers, rails, and boxes that provide a canvas for both beginners trying out their first jib and seasoned shredders.

With a mix of runs, ranging from “I-can-do-this” to “I-probably-shouldn’t-do-this,” it offers a snowy playground for everyone. Post-ride, the lodge is the place to kick back, complete with a roaring fire and a menu that’ll refuel even the hungriest border.

Pro tip:
Don’t forget to check if the night boarding is available, as it’s weather-dependent and, dude, the weather’s about as predictable as a lottery. You can also save some cash by snagging a lift ticket online in advance.

And if you don’t have your gear, no worries—rentals are aplenty but aim to get there early for the best pick of the board bounty.

Catch an Ottawa Senators game—an icy thrill at the CTC

Media credit: senators


Address: 1000 Palladium Dr, Ottawa, ON K2V 1A5, Canada 

Contact details: +1 613-599-0100

Operating hours: 

  • Monday to Friday – 9 AM to 5 PM
  • Saturday – 10 AM to 4 PM

Cost: $$

If you’re a die-hard hockey fan or just someone looking to soak up the quintessential Canadian experience, a Sens game at the Canadian Tire Centre (CTC for short) is where it’s at. The arena itself is a massive coliseum of excitement.

Here’s what you’re in for; a swarm of jerseys, faces painted in black, red, and gold, and a fervor. And when it comes to eats and drinks, the CTC offers everything from beer and hotdogs to gourmet poutine loaded with all the good stuff.

Pro tip:
Remember to buy your tickets in advance, especially for rivalry games, as they sell out quicker than you can say “hat-trick.” If you’re driving, book your parking online to save time.

Or, better yet, there are shuttle buses from various points in the city on game nights.

Have a winter fun sledding at Carlington Park

Media credit: roadtripdino


Address: 1640 Laperriere Ave, Ottawa, ON K1Z 5A6, Canada

Contact details: +1 613-580-2595

Operating hours: 

  • Monday to Sunday – 5 AM to 11 PM

Cost: Free

Carlington Park is not just a hill; it’s the hill—the one that delivers sledding thrills and spills without fail. It’s basically a winter wonderland tucked in the Carlington neighbourhood, boasting one of the city’s most popular toboggan hills.

Now, Carlington Park has seen some serious sleds in its time, and it caters to the young, the old, the daredevils, and the play-it-safe. The kids can get a kick out of racing to the bottom, while adults get to feel like kids again, and isn’t that just the best?

Pro tip: Remember to show up early or late if you fancy some solo sledding time; midday tends to be a free-for-all. Also, there are no rentals on-site, so bring your own trusty sled or try to get creative!

Discover history at the snowy Canadian War Museum


Address: 1 Vimy Pl, Ottawa, ON K1A 0M8, Canada

Contact details: +1 800-555-5621

Operating hours: 

  • Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday to Sunday – 9 AM to 4 PM
  • Thursday – 9 AM to 7 PM


  • Adult – $20
  • Senior – $18
  • Student – $15
  • Ages 2 to 12 – $13
  • Family (6 pax – 2 adults) – $50

The Canadian War Museum is a place that offers a deep dive into the heart of Canada’s military past. The architecture of the building itself, with its stark lines and imposing presence, sets the tone for the journey inside.

The exhibits are both comprehensive and captivating, engaging you with artefacts, personal stories, and interactive displays. Plus, visiting during the winter adds an extra layer of introspection, as the quiet snowscape outside mirrors the solemn stories within.

Pro tip:
Don’t miss the museum’s annual Remembrance Day activities if you’re in Ottawa in the early winter. Also, Thursdays after 5 PM offer free admission, which is a perfect time for those looking to explore the museum on a budget.

And yes, they have a great coat check system, so don’t fret about lugging your winter gear around.

Indulge in BeaverTails at their original ByWard Market stand


Address: 69 George St, Ottawa, ON K1N 1K1, Canada

Contact details: +1 613-241-1230

Operating hours: 

  • Sunday to Thursday – 11 AM to 10 PM
  • Friday and Saturday – 11 AM to 11 PM

Cost: $-$$

BeaverTail is flat and shaped somewhat like the tail of Canada’s iconic beaver, and it is a must-try winter treat. The original stand in the bustling ByWard Market is where this sweet delight was born, and to this day, it retains an old-world charm and authenticity.

The menu has evolved to offer a variety of toppings, from the classic cinnamon and sugar to more decadent options like chocolate hazelnut spread topped with bananas. Standing in line (yes, there’s almost always a line), you’ll feel the buzz of the market.

Pro tip:
They’re cash-friendly, and the line moves surprisingly fast, so don’t be discouraged if it seems long. 

Plus, winter evenings in the market are especially magical, with the lights and snow creating a picturesque setting perfect for enjoying your treat.

Enjoy snowy views from Kiweki Point’s stunning overlook

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Address: National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, ON K1N 9N4, Canada

Contact details: N/A

Operating hours: 

  • (Temporarily closed but will reopen after some redevelopments.)

Cost: Free

If you’re up for a bit of a winter adventure, then Kiwaki Point is your spot. The journey there is part of the experience, with snow-covered paths that make you feel like you’re trekking through an untouched winter wonderland.

Once you reach the top, the view is breathtaking—a sweeping vista of the snowy cityscape and frozen waterways, all under the vast winter sky. It’s the perfect place for a moment of winter contemplation or even a winter photoshoot.

Pro tip: Be sure to dress warmly and wear sturdy boots; the path can be a bit slippery in the winter. Also, early morning or late afternoon are the best times for the most stunning views, with the sunlight playing beautifully off the snow.

Join a brewery tour at Mill Street Brew Pub


Address: 555 Wellington St, Ottawa, ON K1R 1C5, Canada

Contact details: +1 613-567-2337

Operating hours: 

  • Sunday to Wednesday – 11 AM to 10 PM
  • Thursday – 11 AM to 11 PM
  • Friday and Saturday – 11 AM to 12 AM

Cost: $$

Nothing quite warms you up on a cold Ottawa winter day like a heartening brewery tour at Mill Street Brew Pub. During the tour, you’ll get the lowdown on the brewing process, from hops to bottles, and yes, a tasting session.

Stout or ale, bitter or sweet, you’ll find the perfect pint to toast the winter away. Plus, the hearty menu offers the perfect pairing options, from gourmet burgers to mouthwatering poutines, embracing the spirit of Canadian comfort food.

Pro tip: Make sure you try to swing by during their happy hour for some great deals, not just on their craft beers but also on appetizers. And for those who turn brewery visits into a lifestyle, ask about their membership options for discounts and perks.

Go on a skiing adventure at Mont Cascades


Address: 448 Chem. du Mont-des-Cascades, Cantley, QC J8V 3B2, Canada

Contact details: +1 819-827-0301

Operating hours: 

  • Monday to Sunday – 9 AM to 9 PM


  • Ages 7 to 17 – $30.50 (Day), $26.50 (Night or 4 hours)
  • Ages 18 to 54 – $41 (Day), $37 (Night or 4 hours)
  • Ages 55 to 79 – $34.75 (Day), $32.75 (Night or 4 hours)
  • Ages 6 and under/ 80 years and above – $10 (Day, Night or 4 hours)

Mont Cascades is just a short drive from Ottawa, and it’s where you should go for quality skiing without having to plan a massive trip to the Rockies. With a wide range of runs catering to both daredevils and cautious cats, it’s an all-rounder for family and friends.

The instructors here are patient and genuinely keen to see you improve, whether it’s your first day or you’re polishing those parallel turns. 

And when you need a break from the cold, the lodge has a comforting warmth, inviting you in for a hot chocolate or a hearty meal.

Pro tip: Wednesdays are your friend here; they often run specials that include lift tickets and rentals at a steal. Plus, parking is ample and free, but getting here early is key on weekends—it’s no secret spot among locals!

Take a frosty morning jog along the Ottawa River Pathway

Media credit: avolossov



Contact details: +1 613-239-5000

Operating hours: 

  • Open 24 hours

Cost: Free

There’s something almost meditative about a frosty morning jog along the Ottawa River Pathway. The pathway stretches far and wide, offering views of Parliament, quaint city spots, and nature’s untouched beauty all in one run.

Winter mornings here have a certain magic, with the snow-dusted trees and the river sometimes gently steaming in the cold. And though it may be cold, there’s a unique sense of warmth in the smiles of the fellow winter runners you’ll meet along the way.

Pro tip: Layering is key to enjoying your winter jog—start with a moisture-wicking base layer and finish with a windproof outer layer. Remember, daylight is shorter in winter, so reflective gear and a headlamp are good ideas if you’re out early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

Cosy up with a book at Black Squirrel Books & Espresso Bar


Address: 1073 Bank St, Ottawa, ON K1S 3W9, Canada

Contact details: +1 613-422-9050

Operating hours: 

  • Monday to Sunday – 9 AM to 5 PM

Cost: $

Black Squirrel Books & Espresso Bar is a haven for book lovers, offering a carefully curated selection of used and new titles that promise to transport you to other worlds. Beyond the books, they also offer top-notch coffee.

The espresso bar even serves up delicious tea, and treats, making it all too easy to while away the hours of reading and sipping.

Pro tip:
Remember to keep an eye on their events calendar for book readings, launches, and community gatherings, which add an extra layer of charm to the Black Squirrel experience.

The Wi-Fi is free, making it a perfect spot for those looking to work or study in a cozy atmosphere.