Although images of the Canadian Parliament and other historical landmarks typically come to mind when you think of Ottawa, the nation’s capital has a lot more to offer, including a range of magnificent beaches. Relax and soak up the sunshine or enjoy a family picnic at one of many bright stretches of sand dotted in and around the city.
Britannia Beach is conveniently located within the city itself. Found on Ottawa’s west side, it’s a long sandy strip featuring barbecue pits, picnic tables, public washrooms and free water fountains, perfect for a day at the riverside. Hire a volleyball net for a game before stopping by the Beachconers – a hidden ice-cream shop serving up cones and ice cream sandwiches in a range of innovative flavors. Britannia Beach is open all year between 10am and 5pm.
Worth visiting for the Wonders of Sand festival that takes place every July alone, this spacious beach features kayak and paddleboard rentals, a volleyball court, play area and fire pits for barbecues. There’s also a biking and jogging trail around the park. The beach is located in Gatineau, 20 minutes from Ottawa, and is open year-round and monitored during summer between 11am and 7pm. It also has changing rooms, toilets and free outdoor parking. There isn’t a restaurant, so bring some food and drinks if you’re staying for the day.
If you’re on a bike, Westboro Beach is a great place to visit, conveniently connected to the Sir John A MacDonald Parkway. Facing west, the beach has impressive sunset views and is home to the Westboro Beach Cafe, a fun hangout with a wide selection of snacks and drinks. If you’re lucky, you might also catch some live music during your visit. Westboro Beach is open year-round but is only supervised by lifeguards from early June to late August between 12pm and 7pm.
Petrie Island, situated at the east end of Orleans, has two large sandy beaches and is a favorite among Ottawans for its range of outdoor activities, including volleyball, kayaking and fishing. With 4mi (7km) of trails, many people choose to go hiking here. Grab a bite to eat at the popular Bananas Beach Grill & Rum Shack, or dine at one of 40 picnic tables. Petrie Island beaches are open daily but are only supervised during summer from 12pm to 7pm.
Those looking for a more secluded spot can visit the Pond – a man-made swimming hole providing blissful solitude and one of Ottawa’s best-kept secrets. It was previously a quarry but now contains beautifully clean water for swimming. The Pond sits in Rockcliffe Park and is open from June to September. With residents living nearby, there are noise rules in place, so swimming is not permitted between the hours of 2pm and 7am.
Despite being slightly farther out (almost a two-hour drive from Ottawa), the secluded beach at Poisson Blanc Regional Park is ideal for escaping the city. The area has around 100 islands surrounding a 33sqmi (85sqkm) lake, where adventurers can enjoy outdoor activities such as swimming, kayaking and fishing. You can also choose to stay over at the intimate campsites found across the islands, accessible only by boat and available to book online. The beach is located in Notre-Dame-du-Laus in the province of Quebec.
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