2020 has been a ride, that’s for sure. Back in January I booked some vacation in July and planned a dream two week trip to Italy. Then, COVID 19 happened and those plans had to be postponed. At first I was super bummed about it, but then I thought, I need to count my blessings, take these two weeks and make the best of them, just closer to home is all.
How lucky am I to live in the capital city of Canada? Full of tons of adventures in my own backyard. So I made it my mission to spend my vacation exploring new places and enjoying these activities with people I hadn’t seen in a while thanks to quarantine.
See the sights by bike.
My bike is usually just functional for me, it’s the way I commute to work…but I have honestly never use it to just go riding for fun. So I hoped on my two wheels and did three great rides around the city.
1. Main Street to Rideau Canal and across the Alexandria Bridge. This is a super flat ride with well defined bike lanes and paved paths with an awesome view of the skyline at the end from the Canadian Museum of History.
2. Rideau River Pathway to Hog’s Back Falls and Mooney’s Bay. A gorgeous ride next to the river, with waterfalls at Hog’s Back (bridge currently under construction) and beach at Mooney’s to take a dip in the Rideau River.
3. Rideau River Pathway to Ottawa SUP. If you’re feeling like a good workout, Ottawa SUP (stand up paddle board) is right on the Rideau River and easily accessible by bike.
Go patio hopping.
Ottawa is definitely not lacking great patios, I just wish the summer months would last a bit longer here. Thanks to COVID a lot of streets in Ottawa are closed on the weekends and restaurants have extended their patio space, so it’s a perfect time to get out. A few of these places I checked out during staycation, but some are favourites for us…just to give you too many choices, you’re welcome…
- Tavern on the Hill. A beautiful patio located in Major’s Hill Park, serves cocktails and gourmet hot dogs with views of parliament.
- Pure Kitchen Preston. A lush urban jungle in Little Italy (with covering if it rains). Must eats include the Korean BBQ Cauliflower Wings + Mushroom Poutine. Their many smoothie choices are always a good plan on a hot summer day.
- Lansdowne. In the glebe, Lansdowne has awesome patio set ups at almost all of it’s restaurants. Our favourites include: a local pint at Craft Beer Market, a cold glass of wine at Joey, or fishbowls at Jack Astor’s (pictured).
- Mill Street Brew Pub. Located at the Lebreton Flats in a historical old mill, you will find delicious Mill Street brews and yummy food choices. The patio is huge and has gorgeous views of the Ottawa River.
- Copper Spirits & Sights. The views from the 16th floor of the Andaz Hotel in the Byward Market are some of the best. Definitely a classier patio and a bit more on the pricey side, but for an anniversary date or birthday this would be perfect.
- Umbrella Bar. Located at Dow’s Lake, right on the water, this is definitely an instagram-worthy patio. The Southern Fried Chicken Sandwich is to die for.
- Prohibition House. On Somerset, built in an old Victorian house, this Gastropub has some of the best charcuterie boards in the city with some great summer cocktails.
Take a hike.
I’ve been branching out from Gatineau Park this summer, mostly to avoid the crowds that I’m sure are still flocking there even during a pandemic. This staycation I checked out three areas I had been meaning to check out. If you have the chance I totally recommend being a week-day hiker because way less people are on the trails.
- Eagle’s Nest / Manitou Mountain in Greater Madawaska. 1hour and 20 mins west of Ottawa, this is nice short hike with killer forest views. I’ve heard this hike can get quite busy in the fall (understandably), but the summer views are still pretty amazing with way fewer folks. My friend Allison and I just sat at the top and meditated for over an hour because of how peaceful and quiet it was up there.
2. Parc des Montagnes Noires de Ripon in Outaouais Region. An hour drive north east from Ottawa, my blogger friend Vicky (aka http://www.girlgonegood.com) took me to check out les Montagnes Noires and the views did not disappoint. Shameless plug: you need to check out her 2020 Ottawa Hiking Guide, now available for download…there are so many amazing hikes to discover near Ottawa. On the way home we also stopped at Parc Nationale de la Plaisance and les Chutes de Plaisance, both beautiful nature destinations.
3. The Greenbelt Trails. Ottawa has some pretty great trails right here in the city. You can escape the hustle and bustle right down the road from it, which is one of my favourite things about Ottawa. Mom and I took a walk at Jack Pine Trail and Beaver Trail off Moodie Drive, but Mer Bleue in Orleans is always a favourite of mine as well.
Stay home, stay safe.
If you want to save a little money and avoid going out for dinner during this time, you can create dates that are just as fun at home. Brad and I love doing homemade pizza nights, charcuterie board + wine spreads, and Sunday brunch. We added a bistro table and pretty lights to make our patio feel like we are a restaurant. Of note: A lot of local Ottawa breweries (+ other Ontario breweries) are doing home delivery so it gives a chance to do beer tastings at home.
Paddle the river or canal.
There are tons of places to paddle right here in the city! I have checked out Ottawa SUP (on the Rideau River) and Dow’s Lake Rentals for stand up paddle boarding but you can also rent kayaks and canoes there as well. If you need a lesson Paddle Fit does the basics and SUP yoga at a few locations around the city as well as in Gatineau Park.
This staycation was just what I needed to rest and recuperate from some tough times at work. Although definitely not Italy, Ottawa has a lot going for it and this two weeks of exploring has made me fall in love with my city all over again. There is so much opportunity to get outdoors and be active and so many restaurants and breweries to check out in between. Note to self: Don’t write off the opportunity to explore closer to home and make the best of these challenging times.