As summer approaches, it’s time to start planning your sunny season adventures! Whether you’re counting every coin or ready to splurge, we have gathered countless ways to make the most of the warm weather and long days in the National Capital Region! From low-cost outings to luxurious indulgences, here’s a guide to summer activities tailored to every budget.

Thrifty Thrills

Northern Lights Sound and Light Show (Cost – Free)
During the summer months, make your way to Parliament Hill to learn more about Canada’s history! This free bilingual multimedia show takes place nightly, its start time varies depending on when it gets dark and runs for 30 minutes. It is estimated to start at 10:00 pm in July, 9:30 pm in August and 9:00 pm in September. The show transforms Parliament Hill with many sound and light displays centred around themes such as Foundations of the Nation, Strength in Partnership, Discovery and Adventure, Valour, as well as Pride and Vision.

Hike Gatineau Park (Cost – Free)
If you are looking to spend some quality time outdoors this summer, Gatineau Park is a must-visit destination! It is located 15 minutes North of downtown Ottawa and offers 183 kilometres of trails. Whether you are a seasoned hiker or simply seeking a leisurely stroll, there is something for everyone and some trails even welcome dogs. Before you head out, be sure to browse online to select your desired trail and remember to pack some snacks for the journey!

The NCC River House (Cost – Free)
In the summer, the NCC River House is open from June 1st to August 31st from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm, 7 days a week! With a capacity of 125 swimmers at a time, this enclosed supervised swimming area has two 25-meter swimming lanes. Excitingly, this summer they have added a chair lift promoting inclusivity and ensuring everyone can access the water safely! As a reminder, there are no reservations; it is on a first-come, first-served basis.

Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival (Cost – Free)
The Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival takes place June 21st to 23rd at MĀDAHÒKÌ FARM, a spectacular tourism experience and gathering place in Ottawa’s Greenbelt. MĀDAHÒKÌ, which means “to share land” in Anishinaabe, builds on the growing interest in agritourism, farm-to-table culinary experiences and authentic cultural experiences from an Indigenous perspective. Click here to view the full event calendar.

Ottawa International Buskerfest (Cost – Free)
This year marks the 30th year of the Ottawa International Buskerfest, as it once again takes over 5 blocks on Sparks Street! Running from August 2nd to August 5th, the event includes a lineup of over 20 different world-class performers, showcasing talents ranging from magic tricks to acrobatics. While strolling the streets, keep an eye out for spontaneous performers and don’t forget to check out the various vendors and restaurants along the way!

Affordable Adventures

The World’s First Interprovincial Zipline (Cost – $19-$25)
Ever thought of experiencing your own city from a different perspective? Experience the thrill of ziplining above our National Capital Region on The World’s First Interprovincial Zipline! Spanning 1200 feet in length and reaching heights of 120 feet, you’ll zip through the air at speeds of up to 50 km/h. It is open from June to September with a variety of timeslots to choose from. Click here for discounts on your Interzip Tickets!

HOPE Volleyball SummerFest (Cost – $30)
HOPE’s Volleyball SummerFest combines recreational volleyball with live rock entertainment to be the World’s Largest one-day volleyball tournament. Each year, more than 25,000 players and spectators flock to Mooney’s Bay Beach in Ottawa for the greatest summer party in the region. These participants have helped HOPE donate over $3.5 million in support of more than 110 local charities!

The World’s Biggest Bouncy Castle (Cost – $30-$52)
Bouncy castles are not just for children! Gather your family and friends and head to Saunders Farm this summer to experience The World’s Biggest Bouncy Castle opening on July 12th! Be sure to purchase your tickets ahead of time and secure your dedicated 3-hour time slot to experience unlimited access to the bouncy castle which is 900 ft long, the Octoblast foam party, Air Space ball pits, and the SportSLAM arena filled with nets, hoops and balls!

Yoga at the Park Summer Series (Cost – $16)
Ladies, did you know every Tuesday from July 2nd to August 22nd at 7:00 pm, you can head down to Major’s Hill Park to “Embrace the Blissful Balance of Masculine and Feminine Energies”? When it comes to yoga, there is truly something for everyone, secure your ticket to learn to reconnect, surrender, find balance and make an impact! This empowering event is organized by the Warrior Goddess, dedicated to guiding women on their journey to awaken the inner Warrior Goddess and reclaim their feminine power.

Reasonable Rendezvous

The Bunker (Cost – $60+)
As much as we would love all summer days to be warm and sunny, sometimes we are stuck inside dreading the weather! Don’t let the heat or rain dampen your spirits and book a tee time at the Bunker, Ottawa’s top indoor golf simulator located in the heart of The Glebe. Whether you are new to golf or an avid golfer, the Bunker offers something for everyone to enjoy!

Guess Where Trips (Cost – $65)
Want to go on a day road trip and don’t have the energy to plan it out, let Guess Where Trips do the work for you! Simply visit their website, and choose your day trip based on your interests and travel preferences. Then choose between receiving a beautifully crafted package in the mail or a convenient PDF (digital version) sent directly to your email. After exploring your first stop, open your second stop envelope and so on. From start to finish, let the excitement of the unknown guide your day!

Bluesfest (Cost – $85+)
Did you know Ottawa Bluesfest has been around since 1994? This year marks the 30th year of one of the largest music events in the world! Billboard Magazine has ranked it among the world’s top 10 outdoor music festivals. Between July 4th and July 14th hear some fantastic live music from artists such as Nickelback, 50 Cent, Maroon 5, Neil Young, Tyler Childers, Mötley Crüe, Nas, and more.

Luxurious Escapes

The Chef’s Table (Cost – $123)
Searching for a memorable date night or a special event to enjoy with friends visiting town? Look no further than The Chef’s Table, running for three weekends (July 11th to 13th, July 18th to 20th, and July 25th to 27th) at the picturesque patio of NAC’s 1 Elgin Restaurant, overlooking the Rideau Canal. Prepare to be wowed by world-class chefs and live music while savouring a farm-to-table three-course meal. This event requires bookings ahead of time for small groups of 2, 4, 6, and 8 people.

Uppliva Sauna and Spa (Cost – $70-$215)
Do you love some of the benefits that spas like Le Nordik bring but don’t feel like driving out to Chelsea, Quebec? This summer explore Uppliva Sauna and Spa, located conveniently in Hintonburg. Experience the cedar sauna, eucalyptus steam, cold plunge pool, refreshing rain showers, a modern relaxation space and a spa treatment bar. Whether you are looking for a spa day for yourself, with your loved one or best friends, Uppliva is worth checking out!

The Wakefield Mill Hotel & Spa (Cost $349+)
Seeking a weekend escape without the hassle of long-distance travel? Look no further than The Wakefield Mill Hotel & Spa! Just a 25-minute drive from Ottawa, this charming retreat offers an enchanting blend of tranquillity and luxury. Immerse yourself in a world of relaxation with a variety of spa treatments and exquisite fine dining experiences. Also located only 700m from the hotel and spa is Gatineau Park, an added touch of adventure and exploration in the beautiful outdoors!

No matter your budget, there are many ways to make the most of summer 2024. Whether you’re seeking thrifty thrills or luxurious escapes, there’s an adventure for you. With July right around the corner, it is time to book your adventures, pack your bags, gather your loved ones, and embark on a summer adventure filled with unforgettable memories!

Tricia Cameron

Author Tricia Cameron

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