Well guys, winter is coming. Scratch that, it’s here. This year, though, you can forget about the self-imposed house arrest à la Netflix and hot toddies: there's one Canadian city close to Toronto that promises one seriously exciting winter wonderland playground.
Just picture it: you, plus your favorite people and a legendary playlist on the open road, followed by vibrant cityscapes and epic outdoor activities. That’s right, guys: when it comes to cabin fever, Ottawa is your instant cure-all. The best part? No prescription required.
Below is your one-and-done bucket list to all things Ottawa this winter, so prepare for one seriously epic wintertime adventure in our nation's capital!
Check out Fulton’s Pancake House & Sugar Bush
Less than one hour west of Ottawa in the city of Pakenham, make Fulton’s Pancake House & Sugar Bush your not-so-impromptu, en route pit stop. Open daily from mid-February to mid-April (a.k.a. maple harvest season), the site operates on a family-owned, 400-acre farm.
What could be better than a syrup-induced sugar high whilst riding side-by-side with bae or your besties on a horse-drawn sleigh? Absolutely nothing!
Skate your way across the super famous Rideau Canal Skateway
The largest naturally frozen skating rink in the world (and that’s a Guinness World Record fact), the Rideau Canal Skateway spans a total of 7.8 kilometres. Stretching from Ottawa’s downtown core to Dows Lake, give your legs a good shake post-drive—but don’t worry if your endurance escapes you.
With food and drink stands aplenty - including Beaver Tails right on the canal, which, come on, there's not a treat more deliciously Canadian - heated huts also make a cozy detour. And did we mention that access to the Skateway is free? Hells ya.
Or take a glide through the Sens Rink Of Dreams
This glowy, illuminated skating rink is situated right outside of Ottawa's City Hall, solidifying the fact that Ottawa is dedicated AF to those winter wonderland vibes.
Although most people will tell you that skating across the Rideau Canal is an absolute must when you're in Ottawa - and it is! - gliding through this dreamy skating rink just might take your entire winter trip up several notches!
Visit Snowflake Kingdom and take in those Winterlude vibes
Located just a hop, skip and a jump away from Ottawa in Gatineau, Jacques Cartier Park is the stuff of storybooks. Ideal as a daytime activity, this gram-worthy winter wonderland takes place during Winterlude, Ottawa's signature winter festival from February 1-18 (weekends).
During Winterlude, the park houses Snowflake Kingdom, which offers snow slides, a zip line, lessons in skiing, snowboarding and lacrosse. And if you prefer a more low-key vibe, there are plenty of pretty snow sculptures to check out, too!
Then go cross-country skiing in Gatineau Park
True talk: Gatineau Park is kind of like a paradise for all things outdoors. The park is geared towards the outdoor adventurers among us!
Gatineau Park is the most perfect place to take a wintertime adventure. If you're the sporting type, the park's got 200 KMs of cross-country ski trails, 50 KMs of backcountry trails and 60 KMs of snowshoe trails. But if you're more of the cozying up sort, then the park's got you covered, too, with day-use shelters (with wood-burning stoves!) and four-season yurts, tents and cabins for winter camping. Tie this all in with a breathtaking nature views, and what do you have? One seriously magical winter experience!
Discover Canada's first WinterPride celebration
With Montreal’s most famous drag queen, Mado Lamotte and other renown talents, the festival will take place during the second weekend of Winterlude (February 8 to 10), ending with a commemorative march on February 10.
Check out the ByWard Market and prepare for it to live up to the hype
Near Parliament Hill, the ByWard Market neighbourhood hosts farmers, artisans and craft merchants by day. By night, it becomes the spot for cocktails, craft beers and live music. Spend a day, evening or both exploring the neighbourhood sites - the area is renowned for its local flavour and flare.
With outdoor vendors operating 363 days per year, the ByWard Market neighbourhood is also a new Winterlude site for 2019. In fact, it’s set to host ice carving competitions, a stew cook-off and the brand new Winterlude SubZero Electro DJ Nights during the festival!
Make sure to take in the sights and sounds of Downtown Rideau!
As the Arts, Fashion and Theatre District of Ottawa, Downtown Rideau gives new meaning to retail therapy, perfect for a day of post-sightseeing, an escape from the outdoors or—let's be honest—just 'cause.
Downtown Rideau truly highlights Ottawa's rich history and culture! This part of town offers so much to discover and explore - for example, you can even learn about the construction of the Rideau Canal (and much more!) at the Bytown Museum, nestled next to the Ottawa Locks.
Discover all that Ottawa's Glebe sector has to offer
Snow, beer and food: need we say more? As a historic Ottawa neighbourhood, the Glebe’s village-like charm is sure to win over your heart and your pocketbook, too. Just south of the city’s downtown area, the Glebe is ideal for an evening or a night out.
With over 100 beers on tap at Lansdowne’s Craft Beer Market, there are also plenty of restaurants and eateries in the area to whet your appetite, too!
There's never a dull moment in our nation's capital - and just because it gets cold outside, doesn't mean Ottawa stops being breathtaking in the winter! In fact, just the opposite is true!
From winter festivals to fun neighbourhoods, skating rinks and everything in between, Ottawa's got a whole bunch of fun and interesting things to discover. And hey, who knows, a visit to Ottawa during the colder months just might make winter your new favourite season!