Are you dreaming of jet setting to Europe this summer? Or would you prefer to take a road trip across the country? Or maybe your idea of a perfect vacation is visiting one of the wonders of the world. Whatever your dream holiday might be, vacation is always top of mind as summertime approaches.
But, with any vacation there comes a price tag—and a hefty one at that. Hotel rooms, transportation, restaurants and other travel costs can add up quickly and, for some us, a dream vacation might not be a reality this year.
Luckily, we are fortunate enough to live in a city where the sun shines brightly in the summer, where there are activities for young and old, where the streets are safe and the residents are friendly. Really, Ottawa is an ideal city to plan a staycation.
A staycation is more than spending a week at home to clean out the tool shed. It is a deliberate plan to relax, explore and enjoy the city that you call home. Live like a tourist; gain a fresh perspective and a new appreciation for the things that can so easily be taken for granted.
Commit to your staycation.
That little red bubble hovering above the Gmail icon on your smartphone can be hard to ignore when vacationing in your own home. Before your staycation begins, commit to unplugging from your day-to-day responsibilities. It will be difficult, but remember that this is your time to relax and reenergize.
Plan as you would if you were overseas.
Once you’ve dedicated yourself to a true staycation, it’s time to start planning. Get out the GPS, ask at the information desk, read reviews on Trip Advisor. Involve your family in the planning, just as would do if you were visiting another country. Once you begin to explore your options, you’ll be surprised by all that the city has to offer.
- Visit the Gatineau National Park: One of Ottawa’s greatest treasures, the Gatineau National Park is located only 20 minutes from the Byward Market. Take a drive out and discover the many hiking and walking trails. The park is also home to a vast amount of lakes, so be sure the pack your bathing suit for a “beach” day.
- Take a tour through a local Brewery or Distillery: Ottawa is home to dozens of breweries—and even a few distilleries—so there will be no shortage of “good times” on your staycation. Plan a tour of one of the local craft breweries like Bicycle Craft Brewery, Kichesippi or the Mill Street Brew Pub. If beer isn’t for you, check out North of 7 Distillery, a micro distillery with handcrafted spirits such as gin, vodka, rum and four grain whisky.
- Plan a night out to the (local) theatre: The Ottawa Little Theatre is located in the heart of downtown Ottawa and is always showing plays, musicals and concerts. Plan a night out to the theatre, as if you were preparing to take in a Broadway show—but instead, you’ll be dazzled by a night of homegrown talent.
- Catch a Major or Minor League Sporting Event: While the crowd at a Blue Jays game is usually entertaining, why not explore the live sporting action you can catch on home base. There are some popular teams that play throughout the summer, here, in Ottawa. Try to catch an Ottawa Fury FC game or a CFL Redblacks game at TD Place Stadium. If soccer or football isn’t your cup of tea, plan a night of baseball and take in an Ottawa Champions game at Coventry Road.
- Watch a Movie in the Park: For the duration of the summer you can catch a movie on the Great Lawn of Lansdowne Park. A sprawling manicured lawn will be home to some family friendly films such as Back to the Future and E.T. To add to the fun, grab a hot chocolate from the nearby Lindt Chocolate store (if the night is chilly) or cool down with an iced coffee from the Aroma Espresso Bar, among the many other shops at Lansdowne.
- Visit the largest outdoor spa in North America: Not far from Gatineau Park, you’ll also find one of the most coveted spas in North America: Nordik Spa-Nature. The spa is fully equipped with steam rooms, saunas, hot and cool baths, an infinity pool and a saltwater pool. While you’re there treat yourself to some massage therapy or other body treatments. There is also a full service restaurant that adds to the appeal of Nordik Spa, converting a regular spa experience to something more like a holiday resort.
On your Ottawa staycation, be sure to take in every moment. Vacation always goes by too fast, whether you are far away or close to home.