It’s easy to take our great city for granted; we’re so used to it that we often don’t see its wealth of treasures. Why not take a moment to step back, look at Ottawa with fresh eyes and then explore!

Here are 5 ways to be a tourist in your own town this summer.

No. 1: The music

Ottawa has become a city of festivals, and no more so than in summer. While the Jazz Festival and others may be done for this year, there are still plenty of live music options to enjoy, including Bluesfest with over 220 acts between July 5 and 15, Music & Beyond for classical lovers (July 4 to 18), and Chamberfest, which is billed as the world’s largest chamber music festival of its kind (July 26 to Aug. 9). 

There’s even a celebration of hip hop and urban culture at House of PainT (Aug. 23 to 26) and a full lineup of musical entertainment at the annual Hope Beach volleyball tournament July 14, now called Hope Volleyball Summerfest.

No. 2: The cycling

There’s no excuse not to check out the more than 600 kilometres – yes, six hundred! – of cycling paths that criss-cross the region. From urban core pathways to peaceful nature trails in Gatineau Park and other rural areas, we are blessed with a fantastic network of mapped cycling routes. There are even suggested trails for those who want to play tourist and hit the hot spots. Plus, if you don’t have your own bike, there are many you can rent.

No. 3: The water sports

Did you know that Ottawa is known for its whitewater rafting, with some saying Ottawa is to rafting what Whistler is to skiing? In fact, Ottawa Tourism notes that the Ottawa region is one of the top whitewater destinations in the world. Just west of the city, adrenalin junkies can get their fix at several spots that offer both action-packed and family-friendly options. Want to stay in the city? There are whitewater choices here, too.

No. 4: The food

Per capita, Ottawa has more restaurants than just about any other city in the country. We sure like our food, and there is plenty of variety. I could spend all day suggesting where to go, depending on your mood, your appetite, your budget and your location. Instead, check out these lists:

Eater.com’s 18 essential Ottawa restaurants

Ottawa Visitor Information

Ottawa Information Guide’s favourites

Ottawa Magazine’s top 10 restaurants with staying power

No. 5: The museums

While there may not be as many museums per capita as restaurants, it’s close! As the national capital, we’re blessed with a plethora of museum offerings, from the big seven – which offer a discount on seeing three of them in three days through the National Museums Passport program – to the quaint and unusual. For instance, if you haven’t made it out to the Diefenbunker cold war museum in Carp yet, a guided tour of this four-storey underground bunker is a treat. It also hosts regular Escape Room events that cover an entire floor of the museum. Discover more of Ottawa’s museums here.

Looking for more ideas? Check out Ottawa Tourism’s site on events and things to see and do. And have a great summer!