Now that the summer has arrrived in full force, and seems to be one of the hottest in recent years, people in Ottawa are drawn to the beaches to look for some relief from the heat and to enjoy the wonderful weather. Winters can be really harsh in Ottawa but its summers are just awesome!
What would you do on a hot day that doesn’t include staying home with the air conditioning set at the highest level? I don’t know about you guys, but for me it would make more sense to grab my swimming gear and head to one of the four nice beaches Ottawa has to offer.
These four beaches are on the banks of rivers. I would call them “urban” beaches because they are in the city. But don’t think these are the only ones where you can go.
Besides these four, there are a lot more beaches in the Gatineau Park on the side of Quebec, where Ottawans also love to go. Actually they feel like Ontario beaches because they’re so close to Ottawa, about 30 minutes from downtown.
But in this article I’m going to focus on the four urban beaches Ottawa has, and on what you can expect to find.
1. Westboro Beach
This beach is located in the neighborhood of the same name. It’s a sandy beach that has picnic tables, restrooms, a cafe, and free parking. Lifeguards are on duty from noon to 7 pm during the summer.
It’s a cozy beach where you can enjoy beautiful sunsets and a good swim after a long bike ride, for example. But the problem that I see is that it’s somewhat small so it can get a little crowded, especially on weekends.
Address: 745 Sir John A. McDonald Parkway. https://www.westborobeach.ca/
2. Mooney’s Bay beach
I would say this is the most popular beach in Ottawa. It’s located on the east shore of the Rideau River, and it’s always full of people who go for a picnic with friends, have a barbecue with the family, to sunbath, to take a dip in the water, or to take their kids to the big playground.
The playground, as I said, is enormous, with not only many tobogans and swings, but with a wide variety of other stuff that are the delight for children. My little daughter didn’t want to leave the place because there was so much to play with.
This beach is also the scenario of big summer events like the Dragon Boat Festival and the Hope Volleyball SummerFest, which are quite popular. Both events have been canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic.
The beach is known for having volleyball courts that you can use just by trading a piece of identification for a ball and a set. You can also rent kayaks or canoes and there’s a canteen to grab something to eat.
Lifeguard on duty from noon to 7pm. Parking is paid.
Address: 2909 Riverside Drive K1V 8N4
3. Britannia beach
This beach is very beautiful, and it’s located in Britannia Village, in the west of Ottawa. I would say this beach is my favorite one. It has a wide sandy beach and intense blue water on a sunny day. It has also a large green space with lots of shade for having picnics and barbecues.
There’s a main beach that usually atracts the most people, but if you prefer to avoid the crowds, just walk three more minutes on the sidewalk at the left and you’ll find another little beach. This beach doesn’t have a lifeguard so people must swim at their own risk.
This beach also attracts many windsurfing and paddle board lovers. Sunbathing while watching the sailboats in the distance is very relaxing and sunsets there are lovely!
My family and I spent many relaxing and fun afternoons in Britannia Beach last summer. Unfortunately, this year the beach is closed due to dredging, which involves removing silt and sand collected on the riverbed that has reduced the depth in the swimming area to less than half a meter.
Update: The beach has opened in 2021 with the same joyful ambiance as ever!
Britannia beach has washrooms facilities, a canteen that sells burguers and drinks, volleyball net rentals, and there’s free parking.
Address: 2805 Carling Avenue K2B 6Z9
4. Petrie Island beach
This beach is located in the east end of Ottawa in the Orleans neighborhood. It’s the largest beach of all four urban beaches so there’s a lot of sand to rest without crowding. On a sunny day, it offers outstanding views of the islands and the river, as well as magnificent sunsets.
The sand area is large and there’s no shade or green spaces near so it’s important to bring an umbrella. There are volleyball net rentals and a canteen for food and drinks. My kids love having hotdogs and ice cream there!!
Update: There has been no canteen in 2021 as the former concession license was revoked.
Petrie Islands is also a conservation area with wild scenery, and seven kilometres of nature trails. There’s a picnic area to the west of the main beach, with 40 picnic tables to spend the day with family or friends. There is also the possibility of renting spaces to celebrate birthday parties.
As a conservation area, it offers many programs for children related to nature during the summer. The most popular themes are turtles, amphibians, insects, plants and trees. These programs are still available this summer with special guidelines due to the Covid-19.
Lifeguard on duty from noon to 7pm. Parking is spacious and paid: 2 dollars for 5 hours.
Address: 795 Trim Road, Orleans. https://www.petrieisland.org/
Have you been at any of these four beaches? Which one is your favorite? Each one has its own special vibe that you surely will enjoy. And for those who haven’t been in any of them, I encourage you to go see them and try some of the Ottawa summer beach life! Take care.