14 great waterfront parks in Ottawa to enjoy the city

One of the best things about Ottawa is the great vast green areas, natural and man-made, in Canada’s capital. Its public parks are beautifully designed and landscaped, inviting residents to enjoy every single minute during the warmer months.

The most beautiful parks in the city are the ones that are somehow connected to water: rivers, lakes, creeks or falls. They are 14 parks that offer a very satisfying experience and that I’ve had the pleasure to explore and enjoy.

Major’s Hill Park

This is an iconic park in Ottawa. It’s the oldest in town. In the 19th century residents of Ottawa spent summer evenings relaxing in this beautiful park, just like Ottawans still do today. Definitely, this park is one of my favourites.

The best thing about Major’s Hill Park is its location. From the park you have views of many landmarks in Ottawa such as Parliament Hill, the locks of the Rideau Canal, the Chateau Laurier, the National Gallery of Canada, the Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Ottawa river.

You can park for free after 5:30 pm in the Byward Market.

Address: Laurier Ave E & ON-48, Ottawa ON K1N

Mooney’s Bay Park

This park is a very popular spot for Ottawa residents. It’s a favorite place for picnics and barbecues and to spend a day at the beach on the shore of the Rideau river. During the summer, in pre-pandemic times, it hosted two big events: the Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival and the Hope Volleyball Tournament.

Mooney’s Bay Park also has a giant playground (said to be the biggest in Canada) with some twenty play structures representing different provinces and regions of Canada. Kids love it!

So Mooney’s Bay Park is very complete: you can have a picnic; you can rest under the sun on the beach; your kids can play for hours in the playground, and if you want, you can have a walk to Hog’s Back Falls. There’s parking available.

Address: 2960 Riverside Dr, Ottawa ON K1V 8N4

Hog’s Back Park

This is a nice, quiet park beside the Hog’s Back Falls, which is the point where the Rideau river and the Rideau Canal part. These falls are man-made but are beautiful to watch, especially in the spring when there’s a fair amount of water, and in the winter, when the falls freeze.

The park has a lookout, picnic tables, a walking path and off-road paths, restrooms, and parking.

Address:  Hog’s Back Rd & Colonel by Dr, Ottawa ON K2C

Britannia Park

This is a lovely park located on the banks of the Ottawa river. It is found in the charming neighborhood of Britannia in the West end. This neighborhood, once full of summer villas for Ottawa residents in the 19th Century, also hosts one the most popular beaches in Ottawa: Britannia Beach.

This place is a must to enjoy one of the best sunsets in town. During the summer the park is full of activity: beach goers, picnickers, water sport lovers, and dog owners who play with their pets in the dog off-leash park.

Don’t miss going to Britannia Coffeehouse for one of the best coffees in town, and The Beachcombers for good ice-cream!

Address:  Avenue Carling, Ottawa ON K1S

Strathcona Park

This beautiful park is in the Sandy Hill neighborhood on the shores of the Rideau River. It has paths, picnic tables, a children playground, a wading pool for kids, and a special play structure that looks something like an old Roman archeological site. There’s also a beautiful fountain at the top of the stairs.

Address: 25 Range Rd, Ottawa ON K1N

View of Strathcona park in fall
Strathcona Park in fall is amazing

Vincent Massey Park

This park is found on the banks of the Rideau river in front of Carleton University. It has the largest number of picnic tables in any park in Ottawa, and that’s why it’s often used for company or community gatherings . It has a forested area where you feel you are in the forest, and as well it has open grassy areas for playing sports.

The bike path network crosses the park so that can be a starting point for exploring the city by bike. One important point: dogs are not allowed in the picnic area, but you can walk your dog on a leash on the paths. There’s parking and restrooms.

Address:  Heron Road & Riverside Drive, K1S 5B7

Andrew Haydon Park

This one is an amazing park in the Nepean neighborhood in the West end. It faces the Ottawa river, and has three ponds: two big ones and a small one connected by cute wooden bridges. Canada geese relax in the ponds with their goslings in the spring and summer.

There’s a stage for local performances, and a separate playground for children. This park is the favourite for many families. Dogs on a leash are allowed.

Address: 3169 Carling Ave, Ottawa ON K2H 8Z3

Rockcliffe Park

This park is in the Rockcliffe neighborhood, one of the oldest in Ottawa. It faces the Ottawa river offering stunning views of the river and Gatineau. It has a lovely pavilion used for outdoor weddings. It also has many lookouts to enjoy the view.

The park has some picnic tables, and it’s close to Rideau Hall, the residence of the Governor General. In the opposite direction to the river there’s an off-leash dog park. If you want to explore, go to the Caldwell-Carver Conservation Area, which is a hidden gem in the Rockcliffe neighborhood, with a lake and a pond.

Address: The entrance to the parking area is in George-Etienne Cartier Parkway.

Rockcliff park pavilion
Pavilion in Rockcliffe Park

Dominion Arboretum

This spot is amazing and the best place to have a picnic in Ottawa, surrounded by beautiful leafy trees. It covers an area of 26 hectares and is part of theCentral Experimental Farm of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

It faces Dow’s Lake and has a pond with cute bridges. In early spring it’s the spot to admire and enjoy the cherry blossoms and magnolias. People have picnics in the grass, ride their bikes, walk their dogs on a leash, fish in the pond, do kayaking or canoeing in the lake. There’s parking and restrooms.

Address: 1100-930 Carling Ave, Ottawa ON K1A 0C7

Commissioners Park

This park is in front of Dow’s Lake on the opposite side of the Arboretum. It’s well known for being the main spot during the renowned Tulip Festival, with thousands of tulips on display.

It’s always busy on weekends. You can have a picnic in one of the picnic tables available, ride your bike, walk your dog on leash, or you can cross the street towards the Dow’s Lake pavilion if you want to rent a kayak or canoe to row in the lake.

Address: Preston Street and, Queen Elizabeth Driveway, Ottawa ON

Patterson Creek Park

This is a hidden gem of the city. It’s located in the Glebe neighborhood and it really looks like a secluded place, mainly known by the neighbors. The creek and the surrounding landscaped park forms a very beautiful and lovely place. The creek is crossed by two bridges and runs all the way to the Rideau Canal.

On warmer days people gather there to have picnics, or just sit or lay in the grass for a relaxing time. The creek is used in the summer for kayakers, and for skaters in the winter when it’s frozen.

Address: Between Bank St and Queen Elizabeth Driveway.

Patterson Creek Park
Patterson Creek is a hidden gem in Ottawa

Stanley Park

This park is in the New Edinburgh neighborhood close to the Rideau Falls. One distinguishing feature of this park is the white Minto bridge, built in 1900, which actually consists of three bridges that cross the Rideau river.

The park is pretty large and is used mainly for walks and bike rides by the Rideau river bank. There’s also an area that has an unfenced dog off-leash park.

Address: 183 Stanley Ave, Ottawa ON K1M 1P2 

Remic Rapids Park

This park is located on the banks of the Ottawa river, just 4 kilometers from Parliament Hill. The main attraction in the park is the Balanced Rock Sculptures Project created by the artist John Felice Ceprano in 1986.

He creates the sculptures by hand using the fossilized natural rocks in the area. In the winter the project is dismantled to be rebuilt again in the spring.

There are picnic tables, and a bistro, which is currently closed. The capital pathway passes by the park and is used massively by bikers in the warmer months, while in the winter it becomes the popular SJAM winter trail. There are restrooms and parking available.

Address: Remic Rapids Park, Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway

Springhurst Park

This one is located in Old Ottawa East on the shores of the Rideau river. What is special about this park is the Rideau River Nature Trail that connects Springhurst with Brantwood Park.

The sights of the Rideau river from there are wonderful. It feels like you’re in Gatineau or in a tropical forest. People throw their canoes or paddle boards in the river for a relaxing paddle. Dogs on leash are allowed. There’s parking in the street.

Address: 24 Brunswick Street, Ottawa.

Don’t miss the opportunity to visit these amazing parks during the coming weekends. You won’t regret it. Take care.

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