Three Favourite (Green/Nature) Spots Downtown Ottawa

Ottawa is such a fabulous city.  (OK, maybe I'm biased since I grew up here!)

But it has so much to offer including tons of green space in every corner from west to east and even centrally.  Our capital gets its green from the canal and river corridors (which offer great linear green connections) and the greenbelt and it is also due to some fantastic planning which includes the arboretum and some great large parks. Plus it gets its green from some large unplanned parcels that are just being redeveloped now (with park space being key components).

If I had visitors who wanted to spend some time downtown but also wanted to enjoy the city's verdant side, I'd recommend the following places so that they could enjoy a couple of different experiences in the outdoors.


The National Capital Commission showcases important federal buildings and key historic sites along the famous "Confederation Boulevard" that links both Gatineau and downtown Ottawa.  The boulevard provides a great opportunity to enjoy a distinctive tour of this important region.  But I'd suggest taking the blue and green option and getting down onto the bike paths along both sides of the riverbank and seeing these two cities from a different angle.  Called the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Trail on the Ottawa side, this section of the riverside tour is even part of the Trans Canada Trail which comes from the north (down through Gatineau Park) and leading southwest through Stittsville, Carleton Place and then through Rideau Lakes.

But back to the short city trek.  This could take as little as half an hour if you just want to feel the breeze on your face (if you are on a bike) and enjoy the sweeping water vistas. Otherwise, if you want to explore a bit around you, this enjoyable loop can be extended for an hour or more as it takes you over to Victoria Island (where you could stop and explore the Aboriginal Experiences Centre) to the tip of Jacques Cartier Park (which offers various programming during festivals) and along the riverbank behind the Canadian Museum of History with its gardens and pretty waterfall.  If biking, you can cross the locks on the Ottawa side (near the Bytown Museum) by carrying your bike or if you want to avoid that option go through Major's Hill Park (or down McKenzie Street) and over the Rideau Street bridge and come down (slowly!) on Canal Lane.  This loop gets you close to the river and nature, providing great views and opportunities to spot some urban wildlife including waterfowl and possibly even some bold rabbits.  (Early morning or early evening are the best time to spot them).  You'll feel refreshed by the cool air off the water and be surprised with some areas of ruggedness and industrialization.  It's a great tour!


Mill Street Brewery (595 Wellington) - sit in the back room overlooking the falls!
Museum of History's Cafeteria Patio - beautiful under the spring blooms
Maison Des Auteurs (end of Rue de Verdun) - open May to October (small snacks)

Photo: Viliam Glazduri (Instagram, Flickr, 500 pxContributing Creative to Wild. Here.


I'd definitely want my visitors to check out Nepean Point especially around sunset!  It's a bit of a hike from the Byward Market and Major's Hill Park but well worth it for the view.  It's an underutilized park that can be accessed from both sides of the National Gallery of Canada.  Visitors not only get to say "Hi!" to Samuel de Champlain and his famous astrolabe but they also can check out some unique modern sculptures including "One Hundred Foot Line" by Roxy Paine and "Majestic" by Michel de Broin (which has an incredible concept).  Details on all outdoor installations and gardens can be found at the National Gallery of Canada's website.   It also includes an amphitheater which hasn't been used for years but there's good news as the NCC is planning to revamp this area!  It's about a five to ten minute walk from the front of the National Gallery and (warning) mostly up hill but did I mention it's well worth the view!


Sandwich from La Bottega (64 George Street) - sandwich counter is at back of the store
Gelato from Piccolo Grande (55 Murray Street) - Zabaglione & Bourbon Vanilla are faves!

DUNDONALD PARK (Somerset between Bay and Lyon)

I'd also insist that my visitors enjoy a visit (or lunch) in Dundonald park as it's a great way to plug into the local vibe of Ottawa's neighborhoods.  Not only is it the home to the Centretown Outdoor Movies but it is also a few blocks away from the beautiful Chinatown Royal Arch installed in 2010. It has some unique Canadian history and has also enjoyed a bit of a revitalization due to the hardworking neighborhood volunteers and the Centretown Community Health Centre.  The CCHC received a 8-80 Cities grant in 2012 to help encourage programming to the park and the neighborhood stepped up.  Activities included yarn bombing, yoga, gardening, colourfully painted park benches and tai chi and this working group is still going strong in 2016.  Check out activities on their Facebook page.


Dosa Street Truck (parked right at the park)
Bubble Tea from My Sweet Tea (Somerset and Booth)

So those are my three recommendation for connecting to the green and natural side of Ottawa!


There are so many popular central locations including

Major's Hill Park, 
Confederation Park and 
Parc Jacques Cartier 

that I wanted to feature some possibly lesser known spots.  

What do you think?  

And definitely tell me where you'd send your friends for some green if they were going downtown!


  1. wonderful idea, Nepean's point has been one of my favorite places in Ottawa since watching la groupe de la place royale there when I first came to Ottawa. Thanks for highlighting our city Katherine, this is great. I am delighted to hear they are revitalizing that stage.

    1. Thanks so much Moneca! It's an amazing spot - isn't it? Would have been amazing to see a performance there! Wow! I can't wait until the stage can be used again.

      And thanks for your comment - great to learn more about the city!

  2. Now that the Art House Cafe is open on Somerset and Bay - we'd recommend a visit there for snacks, coffee, great art, fun classes, etc. Maybe they will even do some outdoor art classes in the park!