There’s a lot to see and do in Ottawa during the warmer weather months! Stroll along the banks of the scenic Rideau Canal – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – or paddleboard across Dows Lake. You can visit a national museum and see some of Canada’s priceless artifacts or wander the grounds of the beautiful Parliament Hill, where the country’s most important political decisions are made. You’re sure to get a good dose of culture while visiting Canada’s Capital.
But as the sun rises in the sky, all that exploring in the warm sun is bound to make you thirsty and want to stop for a break. And where can you grab a drink? Ottawa’s charming downtown core is home to many great patios that allow you to sit back, relax and people-watch at any time of the day. From tranquil, romantic settings to high rooftops, Ottawa has a patio that is sure to suit your mood. Here are a few suggestions on where to get your patio ‘Happy Hour’ started…
If you’re looking for a trendy romantic locale, Ottawa has no shortage of those. See these suggestions for a more romantic outdoor setting.
Upscale & Trendy:
Le Café: Located at the National Arts Centre on Elgin Street, Le Café’s patio backs onto the scenic Rideau Canal; Ontario’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sit in the shade on this covered patio for either lunch or dinner and watch boats as they float by. Le Café offers good food and some unique Ottawa scenery during the day and at night. This restaurant is known to be one of the city’s popular marriage proposal spots!
Métropolitain Brasserie: Located at the prestigious address of 700 Sussex Drive (just a couple of blocks east of Parliament Hill, beside the Fairmont Château Laurier), Métropolitain boasts one of Ottawa’s best summer patios. Offering table and lounge-style outdoor sofa seating and slightly shaded, Métropolitain’s patio is a busy spot on any sunny day or warm summer evening. But it is especially popular during Hill Hour, which takes place from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday to Friday. During Hill Hour, you can take advantage of great deals on seafood, beef tips as well as the Hill Hour burger and the Hill Hour poutine. Or just order a delicious drink and enjoy the sofa-style seating that allows you to sit side-by-side. Also, once the sun goes down, the trees on Métropolitain’s patio are lit with twinkling white lights. This restaurant brings a little bit of Parisian romance to Canada’s Capital.
La Terrasse: Located at the historic Fairmont Château Laurier hotel, La Terrasse is one of Ottawa’s most scenic summer patios. Enjoy a drink and a meal on a tranquil stone patio that overlooks Parliament Hill, the majestic Ottawa River and the beautiful Canadian Museum of History. In Ottawa on Canada Day (July 1)? Have a drink and a late meal, and take in the annual fireworks over the Ottawa River. The view doesn’t get any better than this!
Mill Street Brew Pub: Just outside of the downtown core at 555 Wellington Street (near the Canadian War Museum), Mill Street Brewery’s patio offers a charming setting on any warm spring or summer night. Sit down with a delicious craft beer and watch the majestic Ottawa River float by. As the brew pub is separated from Wellington Street by a long driveway, its patio is quiet and creates a great place for casual conversation.
Restaurant e18hteen: This gourmet restaurant is located in an 18th century building at 18 York Street in the ByWard Market neighbourhood. In front of “e18hteen,” as it’s known locally, you’ll find a small, dimly lit patio that’s perfect for intimate conversation and great people-watching. Enjoy mood lighting, a view of Parliament Hill’s iconic Peace Tower and Canadian freestyle cuisine by Executive Chef Jonathan Korecki.
Arôme: Located at the nearby Casino du Lac-Leamy, Arôme was on Open Table’s list of 100 Best Outdoor Dining Restaurants in Canada for 2016. Enjoy a seafood and grill menu on a beautiful patio overlooking lac Carrière! Brunch is also available.
The Black Thorn Café: Located at 15 Clarence Street in the ByWard Market neighbourhood, “The Black Thorn” as it’s known locally, offers one of Ottawa’s most romantic patios. Walk through the restaurant to the back, where you’ll find a spacious patio that overlooks a fountain and the charming cobblestoned Tin House Courtyard. Sheltered by the old stone buildings that face Sussex Drive, this patio is quiet, being a great place to enjoy good food and intimate conversation.*The Black Thorn Café and the Tin House Courtyard are closed until further notice due to construction in the area.
Still romantic, but a bit more social, are the restaurants that share the Clarendon Courtyard in the ByWard Market neighbourhood, located behind the shops on Sussex Drive between George Street and York Street. Here, you will find fine outdoor dining at Social, the musically diverse Black Tomato – a great spot for local craft beer – the inventive Courtyard Restaurant and the old-school Italian restaurant Mamma Grazzi’s Kitchen.
If you just want to relax with a good drink, a few friends and do some people-watching, here are some sunny, popular spots to go.
A Casual Atmosphere:
Cornerstone Bar and Grill: In the ByWard Market neighbourhood, at 92 Clarence Street, Cornerstone offers a slightly elevated patio that is great for people-watching. Sit by the railing and watch people come and go in the busy market area. Cornerstone’s patio is also very sunny, so it’s a good place to be on a beautiful day. And if the sun gets to be a bit too much, this restaurant has awnings that can be pulled down for instant shade.
D’Arcy McGee’s: This Irish pub is located at the corner of Sparks Street and Elgin Street, with its popular summer patio facing the National War Memorial. This is a great spot to people-watch and during the warmer weather months, take in the activity of the busy, pedestrian Sparks Street. Offering traditional pub fare, a wide selection of beer and a great patio, it’s common to see groups of people relaxing at D’Arcy’s after a long work day. This pub also has a historical connection to Canada’s Capital, as it is named after Thomas D’Arcy McGee, one of Canada’s Fathers of Confederation who was assassinated on Sparks Street in 1868. The pub’s patio offers both sunny and shaded seating areas.
Heart & Crown Irish Pubs: The Heart & Crown is the first pub in a network of four pubs known locally as “the Irish Village.” Located just steps from Cornerstone, these pubs are busy and are a great place to go at any time of the day. Sit on the front patio in the sun to people-watch and overlook Clarence Street or retire to the quaint, quiet and shaded cobblestone courtyard attached to the cozy Snug Pub. The Irish Village has a scene that is sure to suit your mood! Just to the right of the Snug Pub, you’ll find Mother McGintey’s, where larger bands play on weekends. This pub, which has a deck at the back, is also home to the Irish Village’s busy dancefloor. It gets packed on Friday and Saturday nights! And if the McGintey’s scene gets a little too wild, just go downstairs to the Black Rose, where you can sit comfortably, grab a drink and get some air.
At the other end of the ByWard Market neighbourhood, at the corner of George Street and William Street, you’ll find a few other great people-watching spots. At the pub-style Aulde Dubliner and Pour House, you can watch the pedestrian traffic and chalk artists at work on William Street. During the summer months, it’s common to see chalk artists re-creating famous masterpieces such as the Mona Lisa on the street! From The Grand Pizzeria and Bar’s patio, you can watch the ByWard Market and survey the line at the BeaverTails pastry stand, which is located just across the way.
Local Public Eatery: Located just south of the downtown core at Lansdowne (Unit 107, 825 Exhibition Way), “Local” as it’s known among Ottawa residents, offers a lively, casual atmosphere, delicious craft beer, cocktails and comfort food. The guacamole is a must! Relax with a drink and then catch up over a patio game. Local offers bocce ball and more!
If you’re looking for a bird’s eye view, Ottawa’s downtown core has that too. Head to a rooftop patio to see what’s going on below.
Copper Spirits and Sights: If you’re looking for some of the best views of Ottawa’s spectacular sunsets, head up to the city’s tallest rooftop bar and lounge on the 16th floor of the Andaz Ottawa ByWard Market hotel. Whether you sit by one of the fire pits on the outdoor terrace, or gaze out of the wall-to-wall windows in the interior lounge, you’ll be mesmerized by the westward views overlooking the historic ByWard Market area, Parliament Hill, the Ottawa River and the Gatineau Hills. To complement your panoramic experience, nosh on refined bar snacks and sip on specialty cocktails, wines and local craft beer. You’ll want to stay a while!
Sens House Sports Bar & Grill: Located at 73 York Street above Lowertown Brewery, “Sens House” as it’s known locally, is dedicated to hometown NHL hockey heroes the Ottawa Senators. This restaurant and sports bar offers a great view of York Street from its rooftop deck, which features a retractable roof that is the first of its kind in Canada!
Back over on Clarence Street, you’ll also find the rooftop patio of El Camino – the popular Ottawa restaurant’s second location. A bit higher than Sens House’s deck, this patio is a great spot to watch the city, enjoy a meal and take in some sunshine. Also, at 77 Clarence St., you’ll find El Furniture Warehouse‘s high rooftop patio. “Warehouse” as it’s known locally, is one of Ottawa’s most popular nightlife spots! Enjoy a casual, warehouse-style décor and various menu items for $4.95 CDN.
Bazille: This airy patio was featured on Open Table’s list of 100 Best Outdoor Dining Restaurants in Canada for 2016. Bazille is located at Nordstrom on the rooftop terrace of the renovated CF Rideau Centre. Enjoy locally sourced, fresh salads, specialty entrées, signature cocktails and more!
This is only a snapshot of some of the wonderful summer patios Ottawa has to offer, as each neighbourhood has its own unique places to go. Just outside of the ByWard Market area, you’ll find more interesting establishments along Elgin Street and Bank Street.
And if you venture into Ottawa’s Little Italy neighbourhood, you’ll find the famous Pub Italia on Preston Street. This unique, church-themed Italian pub comes complete with church pews and offers a great patio. Relax outside and taste one of the beers listed in the pub’s Beer Bible, which offers a selection of more than 200 beers!