32 Things to do in Ottawa – A Complete Guide to Canada’s Capital City

Ottawa Adventure

1. SUP with Urban Ocean

things to do in ottawa go SUP

Things to do in Ottawa: Adventure

It’s one of the hottest sports on the water right now. Everyone wants to stand up paddleboard. Imagine paddleboarding the Gatineau River looking up at the stunning parliament buildings of Ottawa.

Harmony of Urban Ocean Ottawa opened the first SUP Centre in Eastern Ontario and now offers certification, instruction, tours and SUP yoga! It is one of the most unique and fun things to do in Ottawa and that’s why we put it right at the top. You’ll come away with a tour that takes you from the yacht club to the Rideau Canal Locks, Parliament Buildings, Supreme Court of Canada and out to the centre of the river for a panoramic view of Ottawa and Gatineau.

No experience is required, once you get your balance, you’ll be guided along the river to explore the sites.

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2. BiPlane Flight

things to do in ottawa bi-plane flight

I didn’t realize that you could fly in a genuine World War II Biplane but at the Canada Air and Space Museum, regular flights take place during summer hours. It was one of the highlights of several trips to Ottawa.

Dave and I have done other biplane flights, but what we loved about this one is how we had the chance to do it together.

things to do in Ottawa biplane

We boarded a Waco UPF-7 open-cockpit biplane circa 1939 and sat side by side during the 25-minute flight showcasing the Gatineau Hills and Downtown Ottawa, including a pass over the Parliament Buildings.

Our pilot even did a few maneuvers over Gatineau before turning back towards the airstrip. It was a hoot! Tours start at $65. Our tour of both Gatineau and Ottawa was $145.

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3. Hiking Gatineau

hiking gatineau things to do in ottawa

I know this article is supposed to be about Things to do in Ottawa, but Ottawa and Gatineau go hand in hand. Gatineau is a city in Quebec, located just across the river from Ottawa, Ontario.

There are bridges, aqua taxis and ferries connecting the two cities and they complement each other beautifully. Gatineau houses amazing hiking trails, nightlife, and museums. But it’s the outdoors we love best. When you are in Ottawa, you must go out to Gatineau Park.

things to do in ottawa gatineau park

Gatineau Park is a 365 square km (139 sq mi) conservation park filled with walking trails. One entrance is just a mere 4 km from Downtown Ottawa.

Gatineau has 165 km of hiking trails and 90 km for mountain biking. We saw a lot of road cyclists when visiting the park as well.

You can see the William Lyon Mackenzie Estate a 231 hectare (acre) estate of Canada’s 10 Prime Minister. There are beaches, canoeing and camping.

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4. We hiked to the beautiful Carbide Wilson Ruins.

carbide wilson ruins things to do in ottawa

This 30-minute hike is an easy trail to find and is a picturesque walk through the forest and along lakes. It ends at the laboratory and summer residence of inventor Thomas Wilson who invented the industrial chemical calcium carbide.

Afraid that people would steal his other ideas, he built an estate and damn in the middle of the forest where he could work in private. The house and damn still stand and are in a beautiful setting and is one of the best Instagram spots in the Ottawa Region.

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5. Whitewater Rafting

what to do in ottawa whitewater rafting

The Ottawa River is considered to have some of the best whitewater rafting on earth. It attracts professional rafters and kayakers to run its class 5 rapids.

Located just one hour outside downtown Ottawa, there are three rafting companies that will take people on the rafting excursions of your choice. If you are a family, there are even smaller rapid trips to suit everyone.

We went with OWL Rafting and stayed over at their all-inclusive resort where we enjoyed two days of rafting.

Day one was on the large group raft where we all worked together as our guide used two giant paddles to navigate the giant rapids known as The Staircase. For first time rafters, the large raft is the way to go as you feel secure being on the bigger boat and being able to hold on while your guide does a lot of the work.

Day two we boarded the sport raft where only 4 people helped the guide navigate the big water on a small raft. It was exhilarating and fun and if you have the time, we highly suggest two days on the river because by day two you are ready for more!

The resorts are rustic and relaxing with breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets included.

  • Check out OWLRafting for details
  • Wilderness Adventures and RiverRun Rafting also run tours

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