Experience winter thrills in one of the world’s most exhilarating national capitals. In Ottawa, we embrace our four distinct seasons, and celebrate winter by heading outdoors and taking it all in. Preparation is everything, and that means dressing for outdoor winter activities. Mittens, hats, warm coats and winter boots are all must-haves before you head off to enjoy many activities described in our Winter Chill itinerary.
Day 1 – Catch This!
The Ottawa River offers some of the best ice fishing anywhere in Canada. Walleye, northern pike, perch and whitefish can all be caught within 20 minutes of downtown. Spend the day with Ottawa River Guided Fishing on the ice and enjoy a fresh fish lunch with your own catch!
Day 2 – Logging and Sledding!
This day is all about quintessentially Canadian adventures with Pure Life Adventures.
For your first adventure, Horse Logging, lets you step back in time to life in the early Ottawa Valley. Learn about the draft horse, a magnificent and powerful animal that thrives on work yet is gentle enough to be petted by a child. You’ll gain hands on experience with old time logging implements like the cant hook and the cross cut saw. With guidance, you’ll begin to understand what life was like for early pioneers in this area and all across Canada.
You’ve seen it on T.V., read about it in books, and now here’s your chance to go dogsledding. It’s a unique experience and mode of transportation that’s been around in Canada for over 4000 years—and you can do it right here in Ottawa. You’ll learn how to navigate your team through the corners and over the hills. Imagine yourself as Denis Rozon, member of the 1995 Canadian dog sled team or Libby Riddles, the first woman to win the Iditarod dog sled race. A safe and exciting experience that will have you howling with excitement!
Day 3 – Skates, Syrup and Shots
Start the day in downtown Ottawa on the largest outdoor skating rink in the world, the frozen Rideau Canal Skateway. The Canal is the only UNESCO World Heritage Site on which you can skate, which winds 7.8 kilometres (4.8 miles) through the heart of Ottawa. Don’t have your own skates? Rent some here. Access to the Canal—open January through February, weather permitting—is free.
TIP: Ottawa’s famous annual Winterlude festival is the first three weekends of February, with skating, ice sculptures, a giant snow playground and activities for everyone.
Head out for lunch and spend the afternoon at Fulton’s Pancake House and Sugar Bush, a four-season destination just west of Ottawa specializing in group visits and tours and the spring maple syrup season. Tantalize your senses at the Maple Shop with maple gourmet food products and a Maple Luscious Bath & Body Care line, handmade onsite. Enjoy a maple meal, guided tour, horse drawn hayride, music, hiking and more.
The National Hockey League Ottawa Senators’ season is underway in winter and they might just be in town when you are. Check out the Sens schedule.
Day 4 – Cross-Country & Downhill
For a day of cross-country skiing, head just north to Gatineau Park. Gatineau Park provides a network of nearly 200 kilometres (124 miles) of cross-country ski trails that are regularly groomed and marked for their level of difficulty. Some offer both skate-skiing and classic cross-country. There are heated shelters in the park and the trails are patrolled for safety. Daily passes are available at the Gatineau Park Visitor Centre and at the 16 parking lots with direct access to the trails.
TIP: Prefer downhill skiing or snowboarding? Camp Fortune is located within the boundaries of Gatineau Park and offers 23 trails, 7 lifts, 3 separate ski areas and 1 Terrain Park, as well as equipment rentals, instruction, and more.