Until this year I never had the chance to experience Ottawa summer. It’s hard to believe that just over a month ago it was snowing in the capital and now I’m here sweating buckets. Ottawa can be quite the tourist hub (all-year round), but after living here the past few years, I’ve discovered some pretty fun activities to do on a student budget and to avoid the crowds (besides the last one of course). Scroll down to check them out:
1. Test your balance with SUP boarding
Explore the Rideau River on a stand-up paddle board! For $15/hr you can rent a board to take for a beautiful paddle down the river. The river current can get pretty strong, so I’ve learned that for beginners it’s usually better to paddle in the evening. I have yet to try it, but on Wednesday evenings you can enjoy a calming SUP yoga class. Check out their website for more info: ottawasup.ca
2. Enjoy happy hour on a patio
Ottawa is certainly not short of great patios in the summer. It’s nice to be able to soak up the sun while enjoying a refreshing drink and hanging out with friends. Places to find great patios include the Byward Market and Lansdowne. To avoid breaking the bank (especially on a student budget), try to go during “happy hour” times, when you can find great deals on food & drinks. If you are an Ottawa resident I’d suggest trying to go out during the week because on the weekend these areas are packed with tourists and wait times can be long.
3. Relax on the beach
With so much water surrounding us, Ottawa is definitely not short of great beaches. Whether you’re looking for a place to relax with a book or soak up some sun, you can find many beaches along the river. If you can avoid driving, do it because parking can be expensive! To get to the beaches, there are some bike trails along the river to get some exercise! | ottawa.ca/beaches
4. Do yoga on Parliament Hill
Almost every Wednesday from 12-1, yogis of Ottawa gather for a free class on Parliament Hill. Hosted by Lululemon at the Rideau Centre, the classes are taught by teachers from various studios around the city. Words of advice: wear sunscreen and light clothing and bring something to drink because you work up a sweat pretty fast! If you’re lucky, at the end of class they will hand out a free pass to try out their studio, so make sure to stick around! | facebook.com/parliamenthillyoga
5. See a movie at the drive-in
Enjoy at double feature each weekend at the Port Elmsley Drive-In. The admission is only $12/person, so cheaper than one movie at the regular theatre! The box office opens at 7:30PM, so make sure to be there early to claim your spot. Snacks are available, but for more variety I suggest bringing your own. It’s about an hour drive from Ottawa, so make sure to bring some caffeine to stay alert for a late drive home!
6. Go on a camping trip
Around Ottawa and in Quebec you can find many provincial parks to enjoy a camping trip! Rent a canoe and check out the lakes, go for a hike, or relax by a campfire on your site. With beautiful water and trees, going camping is the perfect way to escape the hustle and bustle for a few days and as far as accommodations go, fairly inexpensive!
7. Go for a stroll or ride through the park
Especially beautiful during the Tulip Festival, but nonetheless well kept during the rest of the summer, Ottawa has many parks to take a stroll. With trails along the canal and river, parks are easily accessible by bike as well!
8. Enjoy a healthy treat
Don’t get me wrong, I sure love my gelato during the summer, but my new found love are açai bowls! Check out Raw Pulp + Grind on Preston, for a colourful shop that serves fresh yummy eats + juices and head out to the backyard for a cute patio where you can enjoy your lunch!
7. Beat the heat at calypso waterpark
Enjoy a sunny day outside with fun water slides, a lazy river, and a crazy wave pool! I suggest wearing lots of sunscreen and a solid bathing suit to avoid embarrassment. Go in June before the rush and keep an eye out for deals to get 50% off day-passes!
8. Take a thrilling ride down the river
One of my favourite experiences of being in Ottawa so far; whitewater rafting down the Ottawa river! An amazing bonding experience and much cheaper as a big group, head to Wilderness Tours or OWL rafting with a group of friends for a thrilling day trip!
9. Listen to some tunes at Bluesfest
One of Ottawa’s most famous music festivals, Bluesfest brings some of music’s best to the capital every July! If you’re organized a few months in advance, students can buy all-access passes for under $100 (+ unavoidable processing fees). Every evening after work, head to the Lebreton Flats for a variety of concerts and OC Transpo is free with a wristband to the venue!
10. Brave Canada day in the capital
Last but not least, I can’t forget to mention the Canada Day celebrations. Being Canada 150 this year, our downtown core is going to be jam-packed with people from all over joining together to celebrate pride for our country! Some big artists will be playing and there will be amazing fireworks; all to celebrate our home!