Winter in Ottawa can be a magical time, with snow-covered streets, outdoor skating rinks, and a host of winter activities to enjoy. But for many people, the cold temperatures and long, dark days can be a bit daunting. If you’re one of those people, fear not! This ultimate guide to winter in Ottawa will help you embrace the cold and make the most of your time in the capital.
Dress for the Weather
The key to enjoying winter in Ottawa is to dress appropriately for the weather. That means investing in a good quality winter coat, hat, scarf, and gloves. Dressing in layers is also important, so you can add or remove clothing as needed to stay comfortable. Make sure to wear warm, waterproof boots with good traction to avoid slips and falls on icy sidewalks.
One of the highlights of winter in Ottawa is Winterlude, a three-week festival celebrating all things winter. The festival takes place in February and features ice sculptures, ice skating on the Rideau Canal, and a variety of outdoor activities for all ages. Be sure to check out the Snowflake Kingdom, an outdoor playground filled with snow sculptures, ice slides, and other winter fun.
Hit the Slopes
Ottawa may not have mountains, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some downhill skiing or snowboarding. Camp Fortune and Mount Pakenham are both located just a short drive from downtown Ottawa and offer a variety of runs for all skill levels. If you’re looking for something a little closer to the city, check out the trails at Gatineau Park, which are perfect for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing.
Visit the Museums
If you need a break from the cold, Ottawa has a wealth of museums to explore. The Canadian Museum of History, the Canadian Museum of Nature, and the National Gallery of Canada are all located within walking distance of each other in the heart of downtown Ottawa. The Canadian War Museum is also worth a visit, with interactive exhibits and artifacts from Canada’s military history.
Skate on the Rideau Canal
The Rideau Canal is one of Ottawa’s most iconic landmarks, and in the winter it becomes the world’s largest skating rink. Skating on the canal is a must-do activity during winter in Ottawa, and it’s completely free! Be sure to stop for a BeaverTail, a Canadian pastry topped with cinnamon and sugar, while you’re skating.
Warm up with Hot Chocolate
After a day of winter activities, there’s nothing better than warming up with a hot drink. Ottawa has a number of cozy cafés where you can indulge in a rich hot chocolate or a steaming latte. Bridgehead and Happy Goat Coffee are both local favourites, with multiple locations throughout the city.
Visit the Christmas Market
If you’re in Ottawa during the holiday season, be sure to check out the Christmas Market at Lansdowne Park. The market features local artisans selling handmade gifts, festive food and drink, and live music. It’s the perfect place to get into the holiday spirit and pick up some unique souvenirs.
Take a Winter Hike
Ottawa may be cold in the winter, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the great outdoors. Gatineau Park has a number of winter hiking trails, including the Luskville Falls Trail, which offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape. Just be sure to dress warmly and bring along some hot drinks to keep you warm on the trail.
Winter in Ottawa may be cold, but it’s also full of opportunities for fun and adventure. Whether you’re skating on the Rideau Canal, exploring the city’s museums, or hitting the slopes at a nearby ski resort, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. By dressing appropriately for the weather, exploring the city’s many winter festivals and activities, and indulging in cozy hot drinks, you can make the most of your winter in Ottawa. So embrace the cold, bundle up, and get ready for an unforgettable winter experience in the nation’s capital.