Ottawa is best known for being Canada’s capital city, yes, but it’s actually a secret playground for adrenaline junkies and outdoor enthusiasts.
While there’s plenty to do year-round, it’s during the summer months that the city really shines. Visitors and locals alike flock to the region to immerse themselves in everything Ottawa has to offer — with so much adventuring to do, it’s every secret badass’ dream come true.
It’s the perfect location to go on a road trip, with all the best activities accessible from downtown Ottawa! And if you’re not so big on (admittedly) boring car rides that take hours to reach your destination, all of these thrilling spots are less than an hour away from the core of Ottawa. Who says road trips have to be boring?
Go whitewater rafting on the Ottawa River
Ottawa’s reputation for whitewater rafting and kayaking has the same reputation as Whistler does for snowboarding and skiing. Seriously.
It is one of the top whitewater rafting destinations in the world, and it is the perfect activity for your inner badass. Whether you’re new to rafting and want a small thrill, or you’re a huge adrenaline junkie looking for your next fix, Ottawa River has the perfect adventure waiting for you.
People from all around the world flock to the scenic upper Ottawa and Madawaska Rivers, located just over an hour’s drive west from downtown Ottawa. There are many whitewater adventure companies that offer all kinds of river trips, ranging from different levels of intensity. Or if you want to stay within the city, you can even set out on an urban adventure that starts in the city and takes you past Parliament Hill!
Tackle the highest bungee in North America
For daredevils and thrillseekers, less than half an hour from downtown Ottawa is the Great Canadian Bungee, the highest bungee in North America, and one of the world’s most spectacular and unique sites to bungee jump.
This is the only place in North America where you can experience a 200 ft. head (or body) dip, with a 160 ft. rebound that is higher than the entire jump height at any other site in the U.S. or Canada. With state-of-the-art equipment and professional staff, you can rest assured you’ll have a safe trip over the edge (and, more importantly, back).
Go canoeing, kayaking, or stand-up paddleboarding on the Rideau Canal
From May to October, Canada’s capital city is a dream come true for anyone who loves the water. Whether you’re a beginner to canoeing, kayaking, or stand-up paddleboarding, or you’re a seasoned expert, there are multiple waterways to pick from.
The historic Rideau Canal (which is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site), is a scenic waterway that winds its way through downtown Ottawa. It’s a great place to paddle down, due to its calm waters!
And if you feel like you want to escape the city area, it’ll only take you 15 minutes north of downtown Ottawa to get to Gatineau Park, offering easy access to flat water. The lakes within the park are perfect for paddling in the summer, with warm and crystal clear waters.
Take flight in an open-cockpit biplane
If you’re seeking a unique way to see Ottawa’s sites, head out in an open-cockpit biplane circa 1939, and see a bird’s-eye view of the most beautiful spots in Canada’s capital.
Go on a hike
Eagles Nest Lookout, Calabogie Trail
I mean, sometimes badasses need some downtime too. If you’re looking to go on a good, long hike, Ottawa has an abundance of scenic trails and paths ranging from rugged, untamed terrain, to beginner’s trails.
For the most beautiful nature trails, look no further than Gatineau Park. It’s just a short 15-minute drive north of downtown Ottawa and offers picturesque hiking trails that vary in distance from one kilometre to 4.5 kilometres. Be sure to check out the popular Pink Lake trail, which makes it way around a beautiful, crystal clear turquoise lake surrounded by dense forest and majestic rock cliffs, or the Eagles Nest Lookout from the Calabogie Trail, for a stunning panoramic view.
For more information on how to make the most of your trip to Canada’s capital, visit Ottawa Tourism.