Ottawa, the vibrant capital of Canada, is a city that comes alive during the summer with a plethora of activities, events, and attractions. Whether you’re a local resident or a visitor, there’s no shortage of things to do in Ottawa this summer. From outdoor adventures to cultural experiences, here are some of the top activities to enjoy in Ottawa in 2024.

1. Explore the Great Outdoors

Ottawa is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a wide variety of activities that allow you to immerse yourself in nature. The city’s beautiful parks, waterways, and trails provide the perfect backdrop for summer adventures.

Gatineau Park

Just a short drive from downtown Ottawa, Gatineau Park is a haven for outdoor lovers. Spanning over 361 square kilometers, the park features an extensive network of trails for hiking, biking, and even horseback riding. Popular trails include the King Mountain Trail, which offers breathtaking views of the Ottawa River and the city skyline, and the Lusk Cave Trail, where you can explore natural caves formed by an underground river.

Gatineau Park

The Ottawa River

The Ottawa River is a focal point for water activities in the city. Rent a kayak, canoe, or paddleboard and explore the calm waters while taking in the stunning views of Parliament Hill and other historic landmarks. Several rental spots are available along the river, including Dows Lake Pavilion and the Rideau Canoe Club. For those seeking more adventure, white-water rafting and tubing are also popular options just outside the city.

Ottawa River

Major’s Hill Park

Located in the heart of downtown Ottawa, Major’s Hill Park offers a serene escape amidst the urban landscape. The park is perfect for picnics, leisurely walks, and enjoying panoramic views of the Ottawa River and Parliament Buildings. Throughout the summer, the park hosts various events and festivals, making it a lively spot to visit.

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The Rideau Canal

The Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, transforms into a hub of activity during the summer months. You can rent a bike and ride along the scenic canal pathway, or rent a paddleboat to explore the waterway. Boat tours are also available, offering a guided exploration of the canal’s history and its importance to the city.

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Arboretum and Ornamental Gardens

Part of the Central Experimental Farm, the Arboretum and Ornamental Gardens are perfect for a relaxing day surrounded by nature. The Arboretum boasts a diverse collection of trees and plants, with walking paths that allow you to explore the beautiful landscapes. The Ornamental Gardens feature a variety of themed gardens, showcasing a stunning array of flowers and plants.

Arboretum and Ornamental Gardens

Beaches and Swimming

Ottawa is home to several beautiful beaches where you can relax and enjoy the sun. Popular spots include Mooney’s Bay Beach, Britannia Beach, and Petrie Island Beach. These beaches offer swimming areas, picnic spots, and facilities for beach volleyball and other activities.

Petrie Island


Cycling Paths

Ottawa’s extensive network of cycling paths makes it one of the most bike-friendly cities in Canada. The Capital Pathway network spans over 200 kilometers, connecting parks, gardens, and major attractions throughout the city. Bike rentals are available at various locations, allowing you to easily explore Ottawa on two wheels.

Capital Pathway


Outdoor Yoga and Fitness Classes

Many parks and public spaces in Ottawa host outdoor yoga and fitness classes during the summer. These classes are a great way to stay active while enjoying the fresh air and beautiful surroundings. Check local listings and community boards for schedules and locations.

2. Discover Cultural Gems

Ottawa is a cultural hub, rich in history and home to numerous museums, galleries, and historic sites. Exploring these cultural gems provides a deep dive into Canada’s heritage and artistic achievements. Here are some must-visit places that showcase Ottawa’s cultural richness:

National Gallery of Canada

The National Gallery of Canada is one of the country’s premier art institutions. The gallery features an extensive collection of Canadian, Indigenous, and international art. Highlights include works by the Group of Seven, contemporary Canadian artists, and significant pieces from European masters. The iconic building, with its striking glass and granite architecture, also houses the famous giant spider sculpture, “Maman” by Louise Bourgeois.

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National Gallery of Canada

Canadian Museum of History

Located just across the river in Gatineau, the Canadian Museum of History is a must-visit for anyone interested in the story of Canada and its people. The museum offers exhibits that cover thousands of years of history, including the First Peoples Hall, which explores the diverse cultures and histories of Indigenous peoples. The Grand Hall, with its impressive collection of totem poles and Indigenous artifacts, is a highlight.

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ByWard Market

One of Ottawa’s oldest and most vibrant neighborhoods, ByWard Market is a cultural gem teeming with history and charm. Established in 1826, the market area is filled with farmers’ markets, artisan shops, and a diverse array of restaurants and cafes. It’s also a hotspot for street performances and cultural festivals, providing a lively atmosphere that’s perfect for exploring.

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Parliament Hill

Parliament Hill is not just the political heart of Canada but also a cultural landmark. The stunning Gothic Revival architecture of the Parliament Buildings is a sight to behold. Visitors can take guided tours of the buildings, including the iconic Peace Tower, and witness the Changing of the Guard ceremony in the summer. Don’t miss the Sound and Light Show that takes place on Parliament Hill, telling the story of Canada through spectacular projections and music.

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National Arts Centre

The National Arts Centre (NAC) is a cornerstone of Ottawa’s cultural scene, offering a variety of performances in music, theater, and dance. The NAC features productions by both Canadian and international artists, including orchestral concerts, contemporary dance performances, and theatrical plays. The center’s vibrant programming ensures there’s always something captivating to experience.

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Canadian War Museum

The Canadian War Museum offers a profound exploration of Canada’s military history. The museum’s exhibits cover conflicts from early wars to modern-day peacekeeping missions. Highlights include extensive collections of military vehicles, uniforms, and personal stories from those who served. The museum’s architecture itself is symbolic, designed to evoke the experience of conflict and remembrance.

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Rideau Canal

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Rideau Canal is not only a historic waterway but also a cultural treasure. In the summer, the canal is a bustling site for boating and scenic walks. The locks at the Ottawa end of the canal are a marvel of 19th-century engineering, and the surrounding areas are perfect for exploring Ottawa’s history and enjoying cultural events.

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Ottawa Art Gallery

The Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG) showcases the best of the city’s vibrant art scene. The gallery features works by local artists as well as national and international exhibitions. It’s a dynamic space that hosts a variety of events, including artist talks, workshops, and community activities, making it a hub for contemporary art and cultural exchange.

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Laurier House National Historic Site

Laurier House offers a glimpse into the lives of two of Canada’s Prime Ministers, Sir Wilfrid Laurier and William Lyon Mackenzie King. This historic site, located in the heart of Ottawa, has been preserved to reflect its appearance during their times. Visitors can explore the rooms and artifacts that tell the stories of these influential leaders and their contributions to Canada.

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Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum

Just outside of Ottawa, the Diefenbunker is a fascinating underground bunker built during the Cold War. Now a museum, it offers an immersive experience into Canada’s Cold War history. Visitors can explore the various levels of the bunker, learn about espionage, and see the decommissioned military command center.

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3. Enjoy Free or Nearly Free Activities

For those on a budget, Ottawa offers plenty of free or nearly free activities that are just as enjoyable as paid attractions. From outdoor adventures to cultural experiences, these budget-friendly options provide excellent opportunities to explore the city without breaking the bank. Here are some highlights:

Free Outdoor Yoga Sessions

Throughout the summer, Ottawa hosts free outdoor yoga sessions in various parks and public spaces. These sessions are perfect for relaxing and unwinding while enjoying the beautiful surroundings. Locations like Major’s Hill Park and Lansdowne Park often host these community yoga events. Check local listings and community boards for schedules.

Guided Walking Tours

Ottawa’s historic and scenic neighborhoods can be explored through free guided walking tours. These tours, often organized by local tourism groups or volunteer organizations, provide fascinating insights into the city’s history, architecture, and cultural heritage. Popular tours include explorations of Parliament Hill, the Rideau Canal, and the ByWard Market area.

Parliament Hill

A visit to Parliament Hill is a must-do when in Ottawa, and it’s free! You can join a guided tour of the Parliament Buildings to learn about Canada’s political history and see the beautiful Gothic Revival architecture up close. In the summer, don’t miss the Changing of the Guard ceremony, a colorful and traditional military drill that takes place daily. Additionally, the Sound and Light Show, held in the evenings, is a spectacular display that tells the story of Canada through lights and music projected onto the Parliament Buildings.

Museums with Free Admission Times

Many of Ottawa’s museums offer free admission during specific times. For example, the Canadian Museum of History and the Canadian War Museum provide free entry on Thursday evenings. The National Gallery of Canada also offers free admission on Thursday evenings and on Canada Day (July 1st). These free admission times provide an excellent opportunity to explore the city’s rich cultural heritage without spending a dime.

Major’s Hill Park

Major’s Hill Park, located near Parliament Hill, is a beautiful spot for a picnic or a leisurely stroll. The park offers stunning views of the Ottawa River, the Parliament Buildings, and the surrounding areas. Throughout the summer, the park hosts various free events, including concerts, festivals, and cultural celebrations.

Rideau Canal Pathway

The Rideau Canal Pathway is a scenic route that stretches alongside the historic Rideau Canal. Perfect for walking, running, or cycling, the pathway provides a picturesque setting for outdoor activities. In the summer, the canal is bustling with boats and paddleboarders, adding to the lively atmosphere.

Music and Performances

Ottawa’s summer is filled with free outdoor concerts and performances. The Ottawa Tourism website provides a comprehensive list of free or nearly free events happening around the city. From jazz and blues festivals to local band performances, there’s always something to enjoy.

Parks and Nature Areas

Ottawa is home to numerous parks and nature areas where you can enjoy the great outdoors for free. Beyond Major’s Hill Park, other notable spots include Confederation Park, Vincent Massey Park, and the Dominion Arboretum. These green spaces are perfect for picnics, walking, and simply enjoying nature.

Festivals and Community Events

Ottawa hosts numerous free festivals and community events throughout the summer. Some popular ones include the Canada Day celebrations, which feature concerts, fireworks, and family-friendly activities across the city. The Capital Pride Festival is another highlight, offering a week of free events celebrating the LGBTQ+ community.

Rideau Hall

Rideau Hall, the official residence of the Governor General of Canada, offers free guided tours of its historic grounds and gardens. Visitors can explore the beautiful grounds, see the ceremonial guards, and learn about the role of the Governor General. Special events and activities are often held during the summer, adding to the experience.

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4. Summer Festivals and Events

Ottawa’s summer calendar is packed with festivals and events that cater to all tastes. Here are some highlights:

  • Mind Altering Festival 2024
    • Date: May 26, 4:00–10:00 p.m.
    • Location: SAW, 67 Nicholas St, Ottawa, ON
  • Ottawa Bluesfest
    • July 6: Saturday (50 Cent) – 5:00–7:00 p.m.
    • July 7: Sunday (Maroon 5) – 5:00–7:00 p.m.
    • July 10: Wednesday (Zac Brown Band) – 5:00–7:00 p.m.
    • July 11: Thursday (Neil Young) – 5:00–7:00 p.m.
    • July 12: Friday (Tyler Childers) – 12:00–9:00 p.m.
    • Location: LeBreton Flats Park, Kichi Zībī Mīkan, Ottawa, ON
  • Good Kid
    • Date: June 1, 7:00–10:30 p.m.
    • Location: Bronson Centre, 211 Bronson Ave, Ottawa, ON
  • Snoop Dogg
    • Date: June 11, 7:00–10:00 p.m.
    • Location: Canadian Tire Centre, 1000 Palladium Dr, Ottawa, ON
  • Laufey
    • Date: June 28, 7:00–10:30 p.m.
    • Location: Confederation Park, Elgin St, Ottawa, ON
  • girlfriends
    • Date: August 14, 7:00–10:00 p.m.
    • Location: Canadian Tire Centre, 1000 Palladium Dr, Ottawa, ON
  • Graham Nash
    • Date: October 9, 7:30–9:30 p.m.
    • Location: National Arts Centre, 1 Elgin St, Ottawa, ON
  • Ashley Cooke
    • Date: October 6, 7:00–11:00 p.m.
    • Location: Canadian Tire Centre, 1000 Palladium Dr, Ottawa, ON

5. Guided Tours and Experiences

For a more curated experience, consider booking a guided tour or activity through GetYourGuide. Options range from historical walking tours of the city to culinary tours that highlight Ottawa’s diverse food scene. These tours provide an in-depth look at the city’s attractions and hidden gems, making your visit even more memorable.

6. Indulge in Local Cuisine

Ottawa’s culinary scene is a reflection of its multicultural population. From food trucks and casual eateries to fine dining restaurants, there’s something for every palate. Be sure to try local specialties like BeaverTails, a delicious fried dough pastry, and poutine, a classic Canadian dish of fries topped with cheese curds and gravy.

The city also hosts several food festivals throughout the summer, such as the Ottawa PoutineFest and the Ottawa Ribfest, where you can sample a variety of mouth-watering dishes from local and international vendors.

With its diverse range of activities and attractions, Ottawa is the perfect destination for a summer getaway in 2024. Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, or simply a relaxing time in a beautiful setting, Ottawa has something to offer everyone. The city’s blend of natural beauty, historic sites, and vibrant cultural scene ensures that there is always something new and exciting to explore.

For those who enjoy the great outdoors, Ottawa’s parks, trails, and waterways provide endless opportunities for adventure. From hiking and biking in Gatineau Park to kayaking on the Ottawa River, nature enthusiasts will find plenty to keep them busy. Cultural aficionados can immerse themselves in the city’s rich heritage by visiting world-class museums, galleries, and historic sites like the National Gallery of Canada, the Canadian Museum of History, and Parliament Hill.

Budget-conscious travelers will appreciate the abundance of free or nearly free activities available throughout the city. Take advantage of free yoga sessions in the park, guided walking tours, and outdoor concerts. Explore Major’s Hill Park, the Rideau Canal Pathway, and the numerous festivals that light up the city during the summer months.

When planning your visit, be sure to take care of your accommodation and daily needs so you can fully enjoy your time in the city. This includes ensuring your living space is clean and comfortable. Good Cleaner Co. is here to help, offering professional and affordable cleaning services tailored to your needs. Whether you require a one-time deep clean or regular maintenance, Good Cleaner Co. provides top-notch service to keep your space spotless. Our team of experienced professionals uses eco-friendly products to ensure a healthy environment for you and your family.

For more information and to plan your activities, visit the Ottawa Tourism website. And for a sparkling clean home or office, don’t forget to contact Good Cleaner Co.. Let us handle the cleaning so you can focus on enjoying everything Ottawa has to offer this summer.

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