Ottawa is known for its effortless combination of relaxing green spaces and dynamic urban cityscapes. While visiting many of the region’s main attractions, you can easily encounter beautiful parks and gardens along the way. But if you prefer to make visiting gardens a priority, the Garden Promenade is for you!
The Garden Promenade is a 15 km circuit that celebrates Ottawa’s garden culture by showcasing 40 gardens and over 70 garden experiences in Canada’s Capital Region. The route is focused where many main tourist attractions are located: in and around the city centre of Ottawa, Ontario and just across the Ottawa River in Gatineau, Quebec.
The circuit is grouped into routes that focus on certain geographical areas to help you maximize your time. If you like to explore on your own, you can use the interactive maps and routes to plan your visit on foot, by bike, by public transportation, or by car.
There are also several guided options. On Saturday mornings until Sept. 1, 2018, you can join a garden expert on the Lee Valley Garden Promenade Tour Bus which takes you on a two-hour journey to see some of the circuit’s highlights. You can also join some of Ottawa’s tour services that feature gardens within their tour routes, such as Ottawa Walking Tours, Escape Bicycle Tours and Rentals, Lady Dive/Gray Line Hop-on, Hop-off or Amphibus tours and more.
Here are some highlights of the different routes:
- Downtown Garden Route: On this most urban of routes, you’ll find sites such as the Rideau Centre Rooftop Garden, Confederation Park, the Minto Vertical Garden, Parliament Hill and Sparks Street.
- Sussex Garden Route: Sussex Drive is a street lined with historic buildings, high end shopping and even the Prime Minister’s residence. Gardens along this route include Rideau Hall (the Governor General’s residence), the Global Centre for Pluralism, the National Gallery of Canada, Major’s Hill Park and the ByWard Market.
- Experimental Farm Garden Route: This route is named after the vast protected area of the Central Experimental Farm which is a National Historic Site bordering the UNESCO Rideau Canal. This route features perhaps the largest variety of gardens, such as Commissioners Park, the Ornamental Gardens, the Fletcher Wildlife Garden, the Dominion Arboretum, the Tropical Greenhouse, the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum Garden, the Dows Lake boardwalk, and Canadensis – Beyond the Edge: Artists’ Gardens
- Gatineau Garden Route: This route highlights sites in Gatineau, Quebec including the Ruisseau de la Brasserie, the Théâtre de l’île, the Canadian Museum of History, as well as the special horticultural event, Mosaïculture Gatineau 2018 which takes places in Jacques-Cartier Park until October 15, 2018.
You can also visit historic sites, attractions, restaurants and shops along the way since all of the routes are located near lively neighbourhoods such as the ByWard Market, Sparks Street, the Glebe, Little Italy, and Gatineau in the Outaouais region of Quebec.
Visit the Garden Promenade website for details about the different routes, and also to see their upcoming planned events. And for even more horticultural highlights, visit our Explore Ottawa’s Gardens page.
Whether you visit in the spring to see the hundreds of thousands of colourful tulips, in the summer for the annuals and perennials in full bloom, or in the fall for the lively autumn colours, you’ll enjoy a relaxing time browsing through some of Ottawa’s most beautiful and accessible gardens!
We’d like to see your favourite Ottawa garden moments! Share them with us on social media by using the hashtag #MyOttawa.