Create Your Ottawa Summer Bucket List

You're going to want to add these local date ideas to your summer bucket list!
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Summer is right around the corner and that means tons of exciting activities and events to look forward to in the Capital Region! From exploring historic sites like the Rideau Canal and the ByWard Market, to highly-anticipated summer festivals like Ottawa Bluesfest and the Ottawa Jazz Festival, there’s no shortage of fun activities to check out.

Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, history buff, or simply looking for unique date experiences, we’re here to make sure your summer in Ottawa is filled with adventure and unforgettable memories. Check out our top summer date ideas below and start planning your bucket list!

1. Take a fun group tour with Aventure Outaouais

Aventure Outaouais is the only tour guide company that operates exclusively in the Outaouais region of Quebec. Their tours allow you to experience some of the best things the Outaouais has to offer, all while supporting local businesses and meeting local producers.

Explore a variety of all-inclusive tours that suit your interest including their Gatineau Craft Beer Tour, Pontiac Wine & Cider Tour, Kayak & Summit Tour, and Old-Alymer Food Tour.

2. Take a relaxing cruise down Ottawa’s historic waterways with Ottawa Boat Cruises

Explore the historic Rideau Canal onboard Ottawa Boat Cruises’ electric vessel! Embrace the wonders of this historic waterway while treading lightly on the environment, making every moment a sustainable and scenic delight.

Ottawa Boat Cruises also offers picturesque tours on the Ottawa River on a Double-Decker cruise boat. Take in over 50 focal points from Parliament Hill to the Canadian Museum of History, 24 Sussex Drive to the stunning Rideau Falls! 

3. Plan a picnic date at Major’s Hill Park

Major Hill’s Park is the perfect calm oasis in Downtown Ottawa, and the perfect spot to take a break between visits to the ByWard Market and nearby museums and galleries. 

This park features some of the best lookouts in Ottawa, offering stunning views of the Ottawa Locks on the Rideau Canal, the Ottawa River, and the Parliament Buildings. Spend an afternoon taking a stroll through the park, plan a cute summer picnic on the lawn, and learn about its history through a series of interpretation panels.

4. Visit the picturesque Pink Lake in Gatineau Park

The stunning views from Pink Lake Trail make it one of the most popular hiking spots in Gatineau Park. The trail has several sets of stairs that lead you to a picturesque lookout point as well as several interpretation panels along the way.

Despite having the name “Pink”, the lake is actually green and was named after the Pink family who settled the land in 1826.

5. Attend a local event in the ByWard Market

The ByWard Market offers many incredible events throughout the year, and there are tons scheduled during the summer that you’ll want to add to your bucket list:

  • York Street Market by Minerva Ottawa (Every other Sunday from May 12 – October 27, 2024 from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.)
    • Pop by the ByWard Market to peruse over 40 vendors with hand-made products such as home decor, jewelry, fibre art, hard cider, spice blends and more.
  • Cinq à sept: ByWard Concert Series (Thursdays from June 6 – October 10, 2024)
    • In collaboration with the Ottawa Music Industry Coalition (OMIC), ByWard Market is thrilled to present an array of local musical acts at this free concert series.
  • ByWard Night Market: Summer Solstice (June 21, 2024 from 3-10 p.m.)
    • This special edition of the ByWard Night Market will celebrate the summer solstice!
  • Ooh Fest x The Real Fly Market (June 29 – July 1, 2024 & August 10, 2024)
    • Visit the ByWard Market for an amazing vintage shopping experience alongside open air dance parties and good food this Canada Day weekend.
  • Solé (June 28 – July 1, 2024)
    • Don’t miss this edition of the music lovers’ day party for a Canada Day weekend celebration!
  • Carivibe (July 20, 2024)
    • This summer event will feature Caribbean Food Vendors, Arts & Crafts, Entertainers, Steel Bands, DJ’s, Caribbean Dancers and more.

6. Enjoy a peaceful lunch in the park at an NCC Bistro

The National Capital Commission has partnered with local cafe, bistro and restaurant entrepreneurs to enhance the experience of our Ottawa urban parks and shorelines. Each of the four NCC Bistros features a modern patio design in a unique location, and offers an exciting assortment of food and beverages. Come for the food, stay for the view!

NCC Bistros are located at Remic Rapids Park, 90 Wellington St, Patterson Creek Park, and Confederation Park.

Dates: Open daily (weather-dependent) with varying hours at each location

7. Attend the ultimate latin fiesta at LeBreton Flats

Don’t miss this epic night of food, drinks, and dancing on September 7th from 3-11 p.m.! The highly-anticipated Latin Sparks Festival features live bands playing the hottest latin music, dance lessons, food trucks, vendor booths, and DJs for a fun summer night out.

Pre-sale tickets are currently on sale for just $29.99 (a savings of $20 compared to General Admission tickets). Click here to purchase your tickets!

8. Cool off at Canada’s largest theme waterpark

Calypso Waterpark will be opening for the season on June 15th! This is the biggest theme waterpark in Canada featuring 35 slides, 100 water games, and 2 theme rivers.

This is the perfect date idea for families and thrill seekers of all ages!

9. Dance the night away at a summer music festival

There are so many indoor and outdoor music festivals in Ottawa to look forward to this summer! From multi-day musical events to intimate local concerts, here are the events that you won’t want to miss:

  • Escapade Music Festival (June 21-23, 2024)
    • This popular EDM festival will feature incredible acts including Armin Van Buren, The Chainsmokers, Diesel (Shaquille O’Neal), Steve Aoki, and Zedd.
  • Ottawa Jazz Festival (June 21-30, 2024)
    • The Ottawa Jazz Festival exists to advance the appreciation and knowledge of all music, in particular jazz, by programming music that richly underscores the continuing creativity and diversity of the artists and the music itself. This year’s lineup includes Norah Jones, Laufey, Lake Street Drive, and many more.
  • Ottawa Bluesfest (July 4-14, 2024)
    • This annual outdoor summer music festival is always a fan-favourite in Ottawa! This year’s lineup includes Mother Mother, Noah Cyrus, Nickelback, 50 Cent, Maroon 5, Zac Brown Band, Neil Young, Motley Crue, and Nas.
  • Music and Beyond (July 4-17, 2024)
    • Music and Beyond is a classical music and arts festival that offers a variety of programming to highlight exciting connections between classical music and other art forms.
  • H.O.P.E Volleyball Sumerfest (July 13, 2024)
    • This event is more than just a charity volleyball tournament – it’s a full on summer party! The main stage will be jam-packed with powerhouses of Canadian talent, including The Trews, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, and Dear Rouge.
  • Ottawa Chamberfest (July 25 – August 8, 2024)
    • Enjoy thrilling concerts on a warm summer’s evening, take in a late-night Chamberfringe, experience ground-breaking new music and/or meditative moments, cheer on our young Rising Stars, enjoy music in public spaces, grab a seat for a Chamber Chat, and so much more.
  • Festival Country Gatineau (August 1-4, 2024)
    • Calling all country music fans! This music festival will feature an exciting lineup of country artists including Irvin Blais, William Bisson, Jay Kutcher, and more.
  • Rhythm Culture Festival (August 10-11, 2024)
    • Ottawa and surrounding communities will enjoy Caribbean culture with live local and international artist’s, folk dances, stories, ethnic cuisine, traditional games and more.
  • Nostalgia Music Festival (August 21-25, 2024)
    • Do you enjoy the music of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’? The Nostalgia Music Festival features professional tribute bands, and a customized environment to recreate the sights, sounds and all-around good vibes of the past!
  • CityFolk Festival (September 11-15, 2024)
    • Located at Lansdowne Park, CityFolk is a multi-day celebration of music, dance, and community featuring an eclectic mix of musical performances. Be sure to mark your calendars and stay tuned for the lineup release!
  • Riverside Festival (September 6-8, 2024)
    • Riverside Festival is the second largest electronic music festival in Quebec, featuring top tier performers and incredible fireworks. It’s the perfect way to close out the summer music festival season in the Ottawa/Gatineau area!

10. Plan a pedal party with your besties

Thursty Pedaler has to be one of the most unique and entertaining tour experiences in the city! You and your squad can sing, dance, laugh, and pedal your way to three local stops for whatever food and drink your heart desires. They currently offer pub crawls in The Glebe and Hintonburg.

Looking for more fun and unique date ideas in Ottawa? Click here!

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