With many residents choosing to spend their holidays close to home this summer, several Ottawa attractions, hotels and restaurants are adjusting their offerings to cater to individuals and families looking to explore hidden gems and find new experiences in their own backyard.
Whether it’s a day trip to Ottawa’s rural countryside, a pampered stay in a downtown hotel or a tour to gain a better understanding of a local landmark, Ottawa is perfectly positioned for staycations, says Jantine Van Kregten, director of communications at Ottawa Tourism.
“We want residents to look at the city through new eyes, as if you were looking at it from the viewpoint of a visitor,” she says. “It’s easy to forget what’s around us, but when you see your city from the perspective of an outsider, you see things in a new way.”
Opportunities to explore
With physical distancing measures still in place, Ottawa’s ample green space and outdoor activities provide ideal opportunities for recreation while still keeping safety in mind.
This also includes numerous outdoor tours, such as the Rideau Canal Cruise that highlights the waterway’s rich history and cultural heritage aboard an electric-powered vessel.
For a completely different experience, the Thursty Pedaler offers party bike tours of popular patios in the Glebe, while Haunted Walk of Ottawa leads participants by lantern light to some of their favourite haunted spots, telling ghost stories from the area. All three operators have put special measures in place to protect their guests’ health.
And, if your goal is to get your adrenaline pumping, there are also opportunities for whitewater rafting, bungee jumping and boat rentals.
“One thing we often hear from other Ottawans is that they’ve been meaning to get out to our countryside but just haven’t done it yet,” says Catherine Callary, vice-president of destination development at Ottawa Tourism. “Now we all find ourselves in a scenario where there is pent up desire to get out of the house, but people still want to stay close to home. We are lucky to have a beautiful countryside that is so accessible, and has lots of interesting experiences for people to enjoy while physical distancing.”
Planning a staycation can also be a fun way to reconnect with friends and family, adds Van Kregten, who suggests writing down all of the places you would like to visit and putting them in a jar to pull out throughout the summer.
“It would also be fun for friends to make recommendations to each other,” she says. “If you have a friend who lives in Vanier or Westboro, ask them where they go for a drink after work, or where they shop, and get out of your normal comfort zone.”
Ottawa on a budget
To help encourage the city to think local this summer, Ottawa Tourism is offering the #MyOttawa Pass, a free digital coupon booklet offering discounts and exclusive offers for dozens of local attractions.
From the Diefenbunker Museum to hotels and restaurants, the local passport has attractions to suit a variety of interests and preferences, says Callary.
The program launched at the end of June and has already had 6,000 registrations – reflecting the importance Ottawa residents place on supporting locally owned businesses, she says.
“The recovery of Ottawa’s visitor economy is going to be an all-hands-on-deck effort for this city,” adds Callary. “Businesses are very much relying on their loyal customers, patrons and residents to help buoy their stores and businesses while we start to slowly rebuild Ottawa as a tourism destination. For them, every dollar counts.”
To reach an even broader audience, Ottawa Tourism announced that it will expand the #MyOttawa pass to include even more businesses – now up to 75 – while also extending the use period until Labour Day Monday, September 7.
If you’re interested in planning a staycation or downloading the #MyOttawa pass visit https://ottawatourism.ca/en for the latest updates on how to enjoy the city this summer.