Twelve great green and sunny places for a winter cuppa in Ottawa

Big windows and greenery makes it easier to survive winter
- Large Windows and Green Plants along Walkway at the R.A. Centre - 

For those who live in Ottawa and love nature but are finding it hard to embrace the winter months, getting out of the house and being able to enjoy a touch of nature whether it's greenery, sun or a great view, may be just what you need!  And it's a bonus if you can sit there and sip a warm drink while the winter winds blow and the snow comes down or it's one of those frustratingly bright sunny days that are bitterly cold.

In winter life gets smaller and reduced to smaller rooms and lower ceilings for much of our days and while on one hand, it's nice to be cozy and warm during these dark cold months, it does us good to get some sun, some space and some blue skies.  And if we're not the type to go outdoors, we can at least seek out sunny spots, greenery, high ceilings and great vistas.

So here are some ideas on where to get (or take) your next chai latte or flat white:

Greenery in the Winter Provides some Calm Wild. Here.
- U of O's Social Sciences Green Wall - 

Sit in an airy courtyard or rotunda in front of a green wall:

Visit the Bridgehead in the Minto Complex located on Slater near Kent Street. Remember to check out the cool artistic coffee lid wall but afterwards, take your coffee to the central seating area of this complex to enjoy both a green wall and a big skylight.

Drop by the Boulangerie Première Moisson at the University of Ottawa's Social Sciences building, which also houses a six-story green wall (with 120 square metres of plants).  You can sit in the lounge area on the main floor or choose any of the above floors for seating around the open atria.

While the Bank of Canada atrium is now closed to the public and the Sunlife Financial building (99 Bank Street) has taken out their waterfall and many of their plants, there is still a tree-filled courtyard and another with a waterfall at 240 Sparks Street in downtown Ottawa (see photo at end of post) that can be enjoyed.

Great Vista with Winter Trees from the Ottawa National Art Gallery for Coffee Break
- Large Windows overlooking Park behind the Art Gallery - 

Give your eyes a view of distant horizons and lovely vistas:

Ève Café tucked up on the top floor of Simons offers a great view out to the Byward Market and even a glass roof.  It's a very small cafe so go mid-week when it's not as busy or first thing in the morning to get a comfy spot.  It's the perfect spot to enjoy the beauty of the newly falling snow without having to be outside in the cold.

How about a coffee break at the National Gallery of Art?  It's restaurant tucked in the back with views out to the sculpture gardens is a great spot for a sunny winter's day.  Did you know that you don't even have to pay admission to visit the restaurant?  Just tell the admissions booth that you want to eat in the Cafétéria des Beaux-Arts and they will give you a free restaurant pass.  With big windows and a westerly aspect, this is a great spot to enjoy a warm drink and stare out at the white stuff.

While Mill St. Brewery is not a coffee shop, during quieter hours, in between lunch and dinner hours, it's a great option for somewhere cozy and with a view to go grab a drink.  If you go to the back of the restaurant there are windows looking out to the falls and it also has westerly aspects - great for soaking up sun on the rare occasions that it appears.  And added coziness: there's a fireplace which is such a winter bonus!

Enjoying a Space with Green Plants in the Winter Wild. Here.
- Aquatopia Demonstration Pond and Greenhouse - 

Take your favourite drink "to go" and visit one of the two public greenhouses:

Carleton University's Department of Biology building at the corner of University Drive and Raven Road offers two small greenhouses that are open to the public (weekdays).  There is indoor seating right beside the entrances, so you can even schedule your next coffee date here.

The Central Experimental Farm also has a tropical greenhouse on Maple Drive that is open to the public (Mon - Fri and Sundays).  It's a beautiful heritage glass building so bring a snack and sit inside on a sunny day and enjoy the fresh scent.  (It's a small space so schedule your visit mid-week.)

Aquatopia (outside of Ottawa near Carp) is a lovely place to visit and get your greenery fix in the winter.  Although their cafe is now closed for good, you can still walk around the two greenhouse spaces and check out all their tropical plants and koi fish pond.  Their small boutique offers a lovely selection of succulents, cacti, air plants and other tropical plants along with decor such as geometric pots, unique containers and more.  And can I also mention how great the humidity felt upon dry winter skin?  Aquatopia Winter Hours are Tuesday to Saturdays - but check before you go as they are renting the spaces out and there are times they are closed to the public.

Big Windows above Cafe to sit by in the Winter Wild. Here.
- Whole Foods dining area with booths and counters and western-facing windows - 

Infuse your senses with delightful colours and floral scents: 

Blumen Studio may be small but is well worth a short visit (or longer one if there is a seat available) to Westboro.  Enjoy their delicious espresso and immerse yourself in some greenery - the heady aroma alone is worth the trip.  Not only do they have flowers but they also have a multitude of potted plants for sale.  There are also lovely sundries and unique household decor expertly curated by the owner.

Visit one of the two popular east-end coffee shops on Beechwood: Bridgehead or Red Door and then pop across the street to the locally owned Mood Moss Flowers for a quick hit of all things colourful.  A neighbourhood fixture since the early 2000's, it's wonderful to have a beautiful flower shop with such creative florists.   They also include great household pieces including some seasonal ones for your outdoor garden - so browse a little and dream of spring days to come!

Whole Foods (Lansdowne) is not my regular grocery spot, but I do like visiting every so often to grab a meal on the go, enjoy their bright open eating area on the second floor and to take in the colourful baskets and floral booth near the check-out lines.  The booth usually includes some local Ontario flowers for purchase - bonus!  Even if you are visiting their café on the main floor, I'd recommend bringing your drink upstairs to take advantage of the large windows while you sip!

Don't forget when visiting these three spots to bring home some blooms to extend that tropical, colourful experience!

Enjoy Greenery and Waterfall Downtown Ottawa in Winter with Coffee
- 240 Sparks Street Waterfall Courtyard - 

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  1. This puts me in mind of the places I can go in Eugene! That public greenhouse is fantastic! I want one here :)

  2. Thanks so much for your comments Kathleen - I'm so glad this blog post inspired! Yes big windows, great vistas, green walls - just take your travel mug to go and find a great place to sit. : )

    Isn't it great? Wish it was still a cafe - I hear it was very popular! Although I do hear that you can go now for a Yoga Under the Stars session. Dreamy idea.