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It’s a cool summer: What to Do in Ottawa During Summer

It’s a cool summer What to Do in Ottawa During Summer

Wintry cold is technically the de-facto climate in Ottawa, but summer still comes to Canada’s capital city, and it’s as lovely as you can expect.

There are so many exciting things you can do in Ottawa during the summer. You can go on a picnic with your loved ones, swim in public pools, go rafting in the river—the list is endless!

If you don’t know what activities to do during your summer trip to Ottawa, we’ve prepared a wide range of summer activities that you might want to try!

Stop by Parliament Hill

From: pinsdy

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

Operating Hours

  • Monday to Friday—8:30 am to 6 pm
  • Closed on Saturday and Sunday

Contact Number: +16139924793


Parliament Hill is undoubtedly one of the most iconic sites in all of Canada, and fortunately for you, it’s located in Ottawa, and you can check it out for free! The best part is that it has different buildings, so there’s a lot to see and do! 

You can explore the House of Commons, where members of Parliament (MPs) do their usual proceedings, or you can check out the East Block instead, which is full of heritage rooms! You can even climb to the top of the Peace Tower and enjoy the view from there. 

If you want to do something unique, you can join a group of people doing yoga on the grounds of Parliament Hill. Exercising while facing a majestic, historic building is something you can’t do every day! 

Pro Tips:
Another unique experience you can try is doing the Parliament: The Immersive Experience. It’s a 360º multimedia show that tours you around the site virtually. Even though visiting Parliament Hill is free of charge, you still need to get tickets. It’s recommended that you book yours beforehand because tickets tend to run out fast. 

Join Canada Day celebrations

From: tag_hr

When: July 1

Where to Go: Parliament Hill, Wellington St, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A9, Canada

Even if you’re not Canadian, you’re still welcome to join in the celebrations on Canada Day. And you should because Ottawa has a lot in store for this momentous occasion! 

Technically, you can go wherever you want on Canada Day because celebratory events are everywhere, but if you’re overwhelmed with your options, you can’t go wrong with Parliament Hill. Here, you can enjoy concerts and eventually a fireworks show.

LeBreton Flats Park is another great place to be because there are many fun activities here. You can participate in community games or indulge in the local cuisine! 

Pro Tip:If you love museums, you’ll be delighted to know that museums in Ottawa offer free admission on Canada Day. So, hit up as many as you can! 

Swim in any of Ottawa’s public pools

From: gocapitalartisticswim

Feeling the heat of Ottawan summer? Then you might want to cool down by swimming in a pool. 

Fortunately, Ottawa has several public pools for you to choose from. Here are some that you might want to check out: 

Katimavik Outdoor Pool64 Chimo Dr, Kanata, ON K2L 1Y9, CanadaFamily-friendly pool with responsible lifeguards; small children have their own pool
Bearbrook Outdoor Pool2 Beaverbrook Rd, Ottawa, ON K2K 1L1, CanadaTwo outdoor pools, plus a therapeutic warm-water pool; there’s also a covered gazebo as well as picnic tables
Corkstown Outdoor Pool61 Corkstown Rd, Ottawa, ON K3H 5B3, CanadaPerfect for small children; all floors are slip-resistant
Genest Outdoor Pool43 Ste-Cécile St, Ottawa, ON, CanadaTwo pools (a main pool and a wading pool); with picnic tables, a playground, and basketball courts
Glen Cairn Pool70 Castlefrank Rd, Kanata, ON K2L 2N5, Canada​​Two pools (a main pool and a shallow pool); the pools are wheelchair-accessible
Pro Tip:
If your child isn’t a skilled swimmer yet, it’s ideal that you make them wear lifejackets or personal floatation devices just to be safe. 

Ride a canoe or a paddleboard on Dow’s Lake

Address: Dows Lake Pavilion, 1001 Queen Elizabeth Driveway, Ottawa, ON K1S 5K7, Canada

Operating Hours: Monday to Sunday—9 am to 7 pm

Contact Number: +16132321001


If swimming isn’t your thing, then you might be interested in riding a canoe or a paddleboard on Dow’s Lake. This artificial lake has a pavilion that offers a wide range of boat rentals!

The lake is big enough that you can enjoy serenity if you travel far enough from the shore. Plus, this lake is surrounded by parks and gardens, especially Commissioners Park and Dominion Arboretum, so you can get a glimpse of beautiful flowers. 

When you’re done canoeing or paddleboarding on the lake, you can check out the restaurants in the pavilion. Your options include a fancy grill restaurant, a bar, and a Mexican dining spot.  

Pro Tip:
If you want to enjoy a picnic, head to the Dow’s Lake Pavilion Boardwalk Garden. It’s pretty underrated, making it a wonderful respite for introverts. 

Enjoy great live music at the Ottawa Jazz Festival

When: Usually in June

Where: Usually in Confederation Park


Are you a big music lover, especially when it comes to jazz music? Then, you shouldn’t miss out on the Ottawa Jazz Festival, which happens every summer! 

This festival, usually held at either Confederation Park or Major’s Hill Park, is a celebration of the jazz genre, so different subgenres like swing and boogie are honored as well. As for the lineup, you can expect a mix of local talent and international icons. 

This festival is quite popular. It has drawn about 300,000 visitors in past years, and over 850 artists have performed here. 

Pro Tip:
The festival has made the effort to go cashless, so if you ever want to attend, make sure you bring your debit or credit card or set up Apple Pay, Android Pay, Samsung Pay, or Google Wallet. 

Celebrate talented musicians at the Ottawa Bluesfest

When: Usually in July

Where: Lebreton Flats, Kichi Zībī Mīkan, Ottawa, ON K1A 0M8, Canada


Another music festival you can’t miss out on is the Ottawa Bluesfest, which is usually held in July. As the name suggests, this music festival focuses on the blues genre, but it also features mainstream genres like pop, hip-hop, reggae, rock, and EDM. 

This festival lasts for more than a week, usually 10 days, and it has featured internationally recognized artists, such as The Chicks, Blake Shelton, and Lady Gaga. Emerging artists are also featured, so you can find new musicians to support.

Even though the main stage is located at the LeBreton Flats, there are other venues for this festival. Because of this, it’s recommended that you check out the website before going so that you know where your favorite artists will be performing.

Pro Tip:
Just like the Ottawa Jazz Festival, the Bluesfest is cashless, so make sure you have your cards and other mobile payment services ready.

Watch talented street performers at the Ottawa International Busker Festival

When: Usually in August

Where: Usually on Sparks Street


Jugglers juggling an impossible number of items, acrobats performing death-defying acts, and clowns doing all sorts of slapstick jokes—if any of these scenarios sound appealing, then you should attend the Ottawa International Busker Festival.

This festival actually has several dates throughout the year, but if you can only attend during the summer, the usual dates for the season are sometime in August. No matter when you choose to attend, though, you’ll definitely see the same amazing acts.

Some of the performances you can expect at this festival are acrobatics with a bit of comedy, a beatboxer that can recreate any sound, and inventors showing inventions you never imagined were possible! 

Pro Tip:
If you’re hungry, Sparks Street has plenty of dining options. A few examples include Bridgehead (if you just want coffee or tea and a bit of pastry), Freshii (if you want healthy options), and D’Arcy McGee’s (if you’re craving Irish cuisine).

Shop at ByWard Market

Address: 55 Byward Market Square, Ottawa, ON K1N 9C3, Canada

Operating Hours: Monday to Sunday—10 am to 6 pm

Contact Number: +16132444410


ByWard Market is one of the locals’ most beloved places, which is understandable because this is where farmers congregate to sell their products. Plus, there are countless specialty food shops selling delicacies you can’t find elsewhere.

This market becomes even livelier during the summer. Browse the stores and try not to spend too much money on local delights like Canadian cheese and maple-infused chocolate; crafts and clothes are also available if you’re interested. 

When you’re hungry, you have many restaurants and rustic taverns to choose from. A few examples worth checking out are Fairouz Cafe (if you’re craving Middle Eastern cuisines) and Benny Bistro (if you want something more laid-back). 

Pro Tip:
Don’t miss out on the fresh products that are only available during the summer! These include fruits like apricots, blueberries, peaches, plums, and watermelons. 

Bike around the city

From: bike_ottawa

One of the unique ways to experience Ottawa is by biking around the city. After all, the city is huge, with many smaller communities inside, so the bike trails will take you from an urban landscape to nature wonderlands overrun with green trees!

There are many different routes you can take. The most popular one is the Capital Pathway Network since it’s the most accessible, but you can also take the Sightseeing Cycling Route, which takes you to iconic sites like Parliament Hill and Rideau Canal.

If you prefer a serene experience, you can go biking in rural Ottawa. You can enjoy the fresh air and pass by remote wineries, breweries, and other quaint businesses. 

Pro Tip:
Technically, you can embark on your own biking tour, but if you want to have company, you can join a group. Escape Bicycle Tours and Rentals is one organization that lets you join other people in cycling around the city. 

Check out the local art scene at the National Gallery of Canada

Address: 380 Sussex Dr, Ottawa, ON K1N 9N4, Canada

Operating Hours: Monday to Sunday—10 am to 5 pm

Contact Number: +16139901985


If you’re a big art enthusiast, you shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit the National Gallery of Canada. With an exhibition space of 12,400 square meters, it’s one of the largest art museums in North America. 

The gallery’s collection is over 93,625 works, and they represent different artistic movements throughout history. These works include art pieces made by Indigenous people and contemporary artists; there are also works that are hundreds of years old.

Of course, you can find unique exhibits here. They usually explore complex themes like identity and injustice, and the lineup changes every few months, so you never know what to expect when you visit. 

Pro Tip:The gallery has a shop that sells art books, home decor, accessories, art prints, and more. It’s a great place to buy souvenirs and gifts for your loved ones. 

Learn more about nature at the Canadian Museum of Nature

Address: 240 McLeod St, Ottawa, ON K2P 2R1, Canada

Operating Hours: Monday to Sunday—9:30 am to 5 pm

Contact Number: +18002634433


If nature is a niche you love to nerd about, the Canadian Museum of Nature must be on your summer in Ottawa itinerary. 

Right off the bat, the museum is going to catch your eye because it’s housed in a building that looks like a historic castle. When you step inside, you’ll find a wide array of educational displays and even realistic sculptures of animals. 

There are other special events held here as well. These events are usually exhibitions and movies about various nature-themed topics, and they’re only available for a few months. 

Pro Tip:
If you want to buy souvenirs, you should check out the Nature Boutique Shop. You can find products like animal plushies, toys, and apparel there.

Tour around Rideau Hall

Address: 1 Sussex Dr, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A1, Canada

Operating Hours: Monday to Sunday—8 am to 4:30 pm

Contact Number: +16139914422


Another government building that you’re welcome to visit and explore is Rideau Hall. This is the official residence of both the Canadian monarch and the governor-general of Canada, and it’s mostly used for state affairs. 

Aside from being a government building, Rideau Hall is historic, so visiting it feels like you’ve been transported back in time. Stroll through the spacious State Rooms and pretend like you’re a character from Bridgerton!

Outside, you can find various gardens with gorgeous flowers; the rose garden, in particular, is noteworthy. Aside from the gardens, there are well-manicured lawns that are perfect for running around or a relaxing picnic.

Pro Tip:
You can tour Rideau Hall on your own, but if you want a more in-depth experience, you can join a guided tour. 

A guided tour of the hall is free, and it lasts for about 45 minutes. For more information, especially regarding booking, check this page

See all the plants and flowers at the Experimental Farm Gardens

From: apt613

Address: 960 Ottawa Regional Rd 38, Ottawa, ON K1Y 4X2, Canada


Enthusiasts of horticulture and botany will take delight in the Experimental Farm Gardens. As the name suggests, this landmark has different gardens, so there’s a lot to see here. 

The Central Experimental Farm is at the heart of the gardens, and it serves as a research station for the federal Department of Agriculture. Aside from being a botanical research center, there’s also a barn of animals, so say hi to them during your visit. 

Another one you should check out is the Ornamental Gardens, which displays historic and new varieties of flowers and shrubs; the whole garden looks so pretty. There’s also the Dominion Arboretum, which features sturdy trees that are more than 100 years old! 

Pro Tip:
The Experimental Farm Gardens also has the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum. You should check it out if you’re interested in learning more about agriculture and food production in Canada. 

Hike in the Stony Swamp Conservation Area

From: __alyelle

Location: By Moodie Drive, Nepean, Ontario

If you want to escape the bustling city center, hiking in the Stony Swamp Conservation Area might sound like a great idea. This conservation area is noted for its network of beaver ponds, wetlands, and forests; it also has a lot of trails—a total of over 40 km. 

Jack Pine Trail is probably the most popular trail here, simply because it’s relatively easy, so anyone, even beginners, can take it on. This trail takes you to the swamp’s wooded area, so trees and the occasional squirrels will be your companions. 

The Stony Creek South Loop is another popular trail in the swamp. If you’re lucky, you just might come across beavers that are hard at work, creating new wetlands! 

Pro Tip:
If you’re a bird enthusiast, you should bring binoculars. 

Stony Swamp is home to a wide variety of birds. In fact, 251 regionally rare bird species have been documented here! 

Ride a cruise along the Ottawa River and Rideau Canal

From: ottawaboatcruise


Do you want to experience Ottawa from a different view? Then you should ride a cruise along the Ottawa River and Rideau Canal, two bodies of water that snake their way through different parts of the city!  

Ottawa Boat Cruise is one of the most prominent companies that offer cruises along the river and the canal. You can choose between one-day and two-day tours, so you’ll have a lot of time to explore the city through the river. 

They also offer special tours if you’re interested. For example, there’s a cruise just for single people, one that’s themed around a murder mystery, and another one that’s a date night with jazz music. 

Pro Tip:If you have an iPhone or an iPad, download the Ottawa Tours app. The app will let you listen to the river cruise in nine different languages. 

Raft down the Ottawa River at the Ottawa City Rafting

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

Operating Hours

  • Monday to Saturday—9 am to 6 pm
  • Closed on Sunday

Contact Number: +18446887238


Enjoy the feel of adrenaline coursing through your veins and try rafting down the Ottawa River! The Ottawa City Rafting is the company to go to if you’re interested in this particular experience. 

The best part about the Ottawa City Rafting is that children are welcome to join in—so long as there’s parental supervision, of course. Because of this, you can invite your whole family to go rafting with you!

Whether you decide to go solo or with your loved ones, you can enjoy an adventure along the river for more than two hours. Most areas of the river are pretty calm, but there are others with strong currents, so you need to paddle with all your might! 

Pro Tips:
You need to book your spot in advance because tickets sell out fast. Rafting will occur no matter the weather, so be sure to dress up comfortably. 

The ideal outfit is low-cut running shoes, shorts, or a bathing suit. You should also bring a windbreaker or sweater that’s made from wool or nylon. 

Ride a biplane at Ottawa Aviation Adventures

Address: 11 Aviation Pkwy, Ottawa, ON K1K 4Y5, Canada

Operating Hours: Monday to Sunday—9 am to 5 pm

Contact Number: +16133167229


You’ve tried riding an airplane, but have you tried riding a biplane? Well, since you’re in Ottawa, now is your chance to rectify that because Ottawa Aviation Adventures is here! 

The only airplane-sightseeing company in Ottawa, Ottawa Aviation Adventures lets you ride a biplane, a fixed-wing aircraft that was popular during the early 1900s. While aboard, you can take an aerial tour of the city, which is truly a sight to behold!  

They have an aircraft that can comfortably seat up to four passengers (including the pilot), so you can bring your child and your spouse if you want!

Pro Tip:
Flights require at least two people (the maximum is three), so be sure to invite a friend or a family member with you. 

Have a picnic at Major’s Hill Park

From: elizabethpotterphoto and ottawaphoto

Address: Mackenzie Ave, Ottawa, ON K1N 1G8, Canada

Operating Hours: Open 24 hours

Contact Number: +18004651867


Major Hill’s Park sits on top of the Rideau Canal, so it boasts magnificent views of the Ottawa Locks, the river, and the Parliament Buildings. Additionally, the park has rolling lawns dotted with majestic trees—a beautiful escape within the city, indeed!

Because of the sprawling land, having a picnic is one of the best things to do here. Bring your own blanket and a basket full of snacks, and you can have a fun time relaxing in nature. 

Strolling is another fun thing to do while you’re in this park. The pathways are winding, inviting you to follow them and see where they take you!

Pro Tip:
Major’s Hill Park is near ByWard Market, so if you don’t have any picnic snacks, you can stop by there first to get the essentials. 

Have a fun family day at Saunders Farm

Address: 7893 Bleeks Rd A, Ottawa, ON K0A 3P0, Canada

Contact Number: +16138385440


Located outside the bustling Ottawa downtown, Saunders Farm is an ideal destination if you want some respite. 

This farm follows a different theme for every season, and for summer, it’s Summer Maze Days. During this season, you can get lost in the maze or play pretend in attractions like the Pirate Ship and Farmer Bill’s Treehouse. 

You can even ride a wagon in the woods!

If you want some thrill, you can ride the zipline and whizz above the green landscape. And if the weather is too hot for you, you can head to the Splash Pad to cool down. 

Pro Tip:
If you’re hungry, there are a few dining options on the farm. If you enjoy pizza and hard cider, you can check out CiderHouse. 

If you’re craving burgers and fries, Farmer’s Table is the best option. 

Pick berries at the Richmond Nursery Strawberry Farm

Address: 5740 Old Richmond Rd, Richmond, ON K0A 2Z0, Canada

Contact Number: +16138382282


Strawberries are only available during the summer season, so while you’re in Ottawa for the summer, why not try picking berries at a farm? Richmond Nursery Strawberry Farm is a great place for this experience. 

At this farm, you’ll be assigned a row of strawberries, and you can pick up berries until your 2L basket is full. For more fun, you can bring your children here; berry picking can be a bonding time for your family!  

Pro Tips:
If you want to ensure the quality of the berries, taste one berry first. Sometimes, the berries are hidden from view because the leaves cover the fruit. So, be sure to lift the leaves to see all the hidden berries. 

Crouch down if you must.