Fun and Affordable Things to Do in Ottawa in the Winter
There’s no doubt about it, Canadian winters can be long and harsh. If you can’t beat it, get out and enjoy it! Make the most of the wintry weather by checking out some of the fun and affordable things Ottawa has to offer.
Go Ice Skating
Ice skating is a Canadian pastime that is especially fun and popular during the wintertime. It’s so popular that there are numerous rinks around Ottawa, including the Rideau Canal Skateway, Skating Court and Sens Rink of Dreams. Rideau Canal Skateway is located at the UNESCO World Heritage Site that is typically frozen from December to late February. During this time, the site becomes the ‘world’s largest skating rink,’ but it offers much more than just skating. At the Rideau Canal, you could also take in the scenic views of downtown Ottawa or do some sledding with your friends. Most notably, entry is free, the canal is open 24/7 and the sleigh and skate rentals are cheap!
Skating Court is a refrigerated rink at Lansdowne Park. You can skate here from December to the middle of March with free open skating. Sens Rink of Dreams in Marion Dewar Plaza also offers a skating season from December to the middle of March. Entry is free with bonuses like picnic areas, a heated change hut, and cheap on-site skate rentals.
Party at Winterlude
Winterlude is known by many as one of the best winter festivals in North America. The festival happens over three weekends in February, so don’t miss your chance to party for cheap. It’s a family-friendly event that features playgrounds made of snow and spell-bounding ice art. Not to mention, it offers scenic views of Ottawa. For university students, it’s a cheap way to have fun on the weekend, so gather up your friends and go have fun in the snow!
Visit a Museum
Ottawa is home to many museums with fun and interesting things to see and do. The Bank of Canada Museum, Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, and Canadian Museum of History, for instance, all offer unique atmospheres, interesting historical facts and fun tours. These are some of the City’s top museum picks:
- The Canadian Museum of History
- The Canada Agriculture and Food Museum
- The National Gallery of Canada
- The Canada Aviation and Space Museum
- The Canadian War Museum
- The Canada Science and Technology Museum
- The Canadian Museum of Nature
Go Cross-Country Skiing, Hiking or Tobogganing
Sir John A. Macdonald Winter Trail (SJAM Trail) is a popular and iconic ski trail that runs throughout Ottawa’s countryside. The trail also features tracks for walking, snowshoeing and fat biking. But the Greenbelt is 150 kilometres (km) of trails designed for cross-country skiing, whether you’re an expert or novice. One of the best hiking trails in Ottawa during the winter is in Gatineau Park. During the winter, the park dedicates 10 km of its 165 km trails to winter hiking. Additionally, Gatineau is also a top location for cross-country skiing, but this requires a special winter pass. If you aren’t into hiking or skiing, you could try tobogganing. The National Capital Commission (NCC) has designated three special areas for tobogganing. These areas feature hills that make the experience safe, yet as fun and exciting as possible. Trails designated by the NCC, include:
- Conroy Pit
- Bruce Pit
- Green’s Creek
If you’d like some variety and easier trails, you can toboggan in Vincent Massey Park, Hog’s Back Park or on Seneca Avenue.
Visit an Art Gallery
Art is alive and well in Ottawa! During the winter, you can find art displayed all over the city, especially in the numerous art galleries and museums. You can check out contemporary art at the jagemô art space. Not only does the gallery offer live performances, exhibits, and events, entry and all events are free. National Arts Centre (NAC) also offers free shows, programs and activities, such as group meditation.
Now’s the time to get out and explore all that Ottawa has to offer in the winter months. If you’re looking for apartments in Ottawa that will put you in the centre of all the action, year round, 1Eleven is the place! With a prime downtown location that’s close to campus, the Rideau Canal, Byward Market and more, you will have no shortage of things to see and do, no matter the weather.