7 Winter Activities to Enjoy in Ottawa

man hiking in the snow

Ottawa receives a great deal of snow in the winter, which means you’ll have some great cold-weather activities available to you. There are many things for students to do within the city as well as in the surrounding countryside. Here are a few options to try.

1. Winterlude

The main event in Ottawa for the season is Winterlude, which takes place during the first three weekends of February. It’s packed with free activities, including a massive snow playground and a professional ice carving competition.

2. Skiing (and More)

Ottawa residents love heading to the cross-country skiing trails over the winter. These include several trails within the city, such as the Rideau Winter Trail and Kichi Sibi Winter Trail. For more trails, head to the Greenbelt area, where there are more than 150 kilometres of beginner-friendly groomed trails — all available for free. Alternatively, you could purchase a daily or seasonal ski pass to use the 200 kilometres of groomed trails at Gatineau Park. These trails are also ideal for snowshoeing.

In addition, there are some challenging hills near Ottawa, suitable for downhill skiing and snowboarding. Top choices include Mont Cascades and Camp Fortune. At some places, you can also try downhill tubing.

3. Hiking

Many of the groomed trails around Ottawa are also suitable for hiking. For instance, you can walk next to many of the cross-country skiing tracks in the Greenbelt area and at Gatineau Park.

4. Sledding

Although the trails are great for tobogganing, if you just want sled, you could go to any of the snowy hills in parks throughout Ottawa. You may like to hone your skills on some gentle hills before you hit the proper slopes.

5. Camping

Turn hitting the trails into a weekend adventure by staying overnight. Winter camping is quite the experience. If you don’t feel up to sleeping in a four-season tent, rent a cabin or yurt instead. There are options at Gatineau Park as well as at Parc Omega, including where you’ll have views of the wolf den.

6. Ice Skating

There are many opportunities for ice skating in Ottawa, including the Rideau Canal, which is the largest naturally-frozen ice rink in the world. It typically becomes available from late December and remains open until late February.
There are other natural skate rinks around rural Ottawa, which allow you to skate through forests and orchards. In some places, you can also play hockey — and you may even see dogs out on the ice.

Lastly, you’ll find rinks made from refrigerated surfaces at several places, including Ottawa City Hall (which has the Rink of Dreams) and the Skating Court at Landsdowne. Entry is free for both, and they remain open until March.

7. Fat Biking

There’s no need to give up cycling for the winter — fat bikes make it safe to explore Ottawa in the snow. There are several rental places for fat bikes throughout the city.

It’s not too early to start thinking about where you want to live next fall during the winter. In fact, beginning your search now will put you ahead of everyone else who will be looking for student apartments. Ottawa students can make their time at university even better by moving into 1Eleven. When you don’t feel like venturing outside, you can socialize with other students in places like the games room or exercise in the 24-hour fitness center. Book a tour now.

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