We’ve rounded up some top spots for summer fun close to home. Whether you seek adventure, a swing in the park, a dip in the lake or a cool treat, we have you covered.
TAVERN ON THE FALLS
The masterminds behind Ottawa’s wildly successful Tavern on the Hill are meeting the demands of locals and tourists by opening a sister location, Tavern on the Falls. Located along the bike path and next to the historic Rideau Falls, patrons will enjoy stunning views of Gatineau across the river from a patio festooned with tables, lounge seating, strings of lights and cozy fire pits.
The new venue will offer Tavern on the Hill’s delicious menu of gourmet hotdogs, with vegan and gluten-free options, dressed in house-made sauces and complemented by a full bar menu featuring cocktails, great wine and a large selection of draft beer. Open seven days a week, from 7 a.m. until 1 a.m.—and welcoming to kids and dogs—Tavern on the Falls will also be taking care of the early crowd by serving Bridgehead coffee, breakfast and lunch options, along with ice cream and other treats.
Since Sweet Jesus opened its Ottawa location on Clarence Street in the summer of 2016, this little ice cream shop has successfully helped to freshen up the ByWard Market with vibrant staff, a unique funky atmosphere and desire to serve ‘Instagram worthy’ confections. Using the highest-quality ingredients, Sweet Jesus proudly makes all toppings, sauces and two of four ice creams in-house, from scratch and with love.
For a visual masterpiece, consider treating yourself to a Krusty the Cone, composed of cotton candy, vanilla soft-serve, sauce, rainbow sprinkles; it is eerily reminiscent of a certain sitcom clown.
Brewer Park just might be one of Ottawa’s best kept recreational secrets. Tucked off Bronson Avenue and across from Carlton University’s campus, this sprawling greenspace is home to three sports fields, numerous play structures, three ball diamonds, tennis courts, half-court basketball, picnic shelter and gardens, with access to Brewer Pond and the Rideau River waterfront.
A two-level splash-pad, connected by a bright blue waterslide, is rumoured to be the city’s finest, with lots of action-packed water features on both levels for little ones to explore. The Park is ideal for birthday parties and family gatherings, with washrooms open until late August from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.
CAMP FORTUNE AERIAL PARK AND ZIPLINES
Camp Fortune’s Aerial Park and Ziplines provide a thrilling and challenging outing for families looking for some rugged fun. This two to three-hour expedition is also a unique way to experience the beauty of Gatineau Park from high above the forest canopy.
Kids and adults can enjoy the Explorer Course made up of over 50 treetop games and obstacles, such as a climbing wall, rope bridges, tightropes and ziplines. The Children’s Park is a smaller course suited to kids ages 6 to 10. Requirements are based on reach, not height, so make sure to size up your crew using the online specifications before heading out.
MONT CASCADES MOUNTAIN WATERPARK
Located only 20 minutes from Ottawa, Mont Cascades Mountain Waterpark offers world-class water rides internationally recognized as outstanding in terms of safety, entertainment, value and capacity. The same slides can be found at both Canada’s Wonderland and Disney World’s Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach.
Always seeking to improve and up the fun factor, the park added a Kidz Zone for little ones in 2017, showcasing the Mini Twister, Mini Vortex and Mini Proracer. Despite a reputation for extreme fun, Mont Cascades lists safety as its number one priority. Nationally-certified lifeguards and other staff are trained and on-deck to keep guests safe at all times.
A day trip to Gatineau Park’s Meech Lake—the closest National Capital Commission lake to Ottawa and just 20 minutes from Parliament Hill—feels like a relaxing escape to cottage country without having to drive for hours. Two beaches, O’Brien and Blanchet, both boast clear, cool, swimmable water surrounded by trees; a day there is made even more pleasurable by the presence of parking and accessible washrooms. Lifeguards keep regular hours from June until early September and water testing takes place every two weeks.
The lake is also an ideal starting point for hiking or a trek to the historical Carbide Willson Ruins. Bring a picnic or take a drive to discover the nearby shops, cafes and restaurants of Chelsea.