If you’re planning a romantic rendezvous or simply want to enjoy a fun evening out with your partner, there are so many date ideas in Ottawa to choose from.
After all, this is one city that never fails to seduce with its unmatched landscapes, cozy cafes, culturally laden venues, and abundance of outdoor activities. Whether your idea of fun is a low-key evening in an intimate lounge or a moonlit adventure in the snow, we can assure you that there’s a plethora of date ideas in Ottawa with your name on it.
Romance abounds in the city, so let’s check out 23 of the best date ideas in Ottawa to create memories that’ll last a lifetime!
1. Spend the Evening at the Options Jazz Lounge
It’s no secret that jazz music can be achingly romantic – so if you’re looking for something truly special, we can vouch for the Options Jazz Lounge, which is located in the elegant Brookstreet Hotel.
Voted the best live jazz venue in Ottawa, Options offers live music seven days a week. With an undeniably romantic setting, this place is open until 10.30 p.m. daily, but it’s always a good idea to reserve your table in advance since it’s a very popular place! The lounge has an A-list menu offering sushi, burgers, and local classics like Cornish Hen.
Tip: We recommend their Cherry Bourbon Gelato dessert!
2. Cruise Down the Canal
Here’s one that takes the cake as far as iconic date ideas in Ottawa are concerned!
Kick back and relax with your partner as you enjoy a leisurely cruise down the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is found next to the parliament buildings. Along the way, you’ll glide past some of the most popular sights in Ottawa, including Dow’s Lake, the National Arts Centre, and Château Laurier (more on that later!).
Oh, and did we mention that you’ll get to cruise on the largest 100% electric passenger vessel in North America?
3. Attend an Ice Hockey Game
Home to the Ottawa Senators NHL team, this venue is perfect for couples who’d like to immerse themselves in the local culture. We’re talking electrifying entrances, bright team colours, the ceremonial puck drop, and (of course), the quintessential pre-game punditry at the nearby sports bar!
4. Pamper Yourselves at the Spa
Is there anything more romantic than spending quality time together at a luxury spa? We think not!
One of our favourite spas for couples is no doubt the popular Nordik Spa, located just 10 minutes north of the downtown area in Chelsea, Quebec. A real wonderland spa, this venue offers saunas, swimming pools, and an extensive list of soothing treatments. We’re especially partial to the Kӓlla Saltwater Floatation Pool, which contains 10 tons of Epsom salt in 1,200 cubic feet of water!
Couples can also check out the ‘Massage in Nature’ experience, which takes place in a wooden pavilion in the forest. If you’d like to prolong your date, you can even reserve an overnight wooden cottage surrounded by nature or stay super close by at Lofts Du Village. This is easily one of the best spas in Ontario and the perfect adult playground for relaxation.
5. Relax with a Good Old Fashioned Drive-In Movie
If you’re a couple looking for classic date ideas in Ottawa during the summer, grab your favourite snacks and head to the closest drive-in!
With venues in RCGT Park and RBC Festival Field-Wesley Clover Parks, the Drive-In Experience Ottawa is the only outdoor movie place in the city. If you don’t mind venturing outside Ottawa though, we can also recommend Port-Elmsley, located an hour’s drive from the city.
Be sure to book those tickets in advance since spots do get filled pretty quickly!
6. Enjoy an Italian Feast
It’s no secret that Canada conceals some pretty scrumptious eats, with food tours available in most major cities.
One of our favourite spots to eat in Ottawa is Trattoria Café Italia, a charming family-owned restaurant located in the Little Italy neighbourhood. Believe us when we say this place has got everything you need for a romantic date: there’s an award-winning wine list, an extensive menu filled with authentic Italian eats, and a cozy, unpretentious setting.
Be sure to try the Lasagna al Forno, a sinfully decadent dish that’s well worth the calories!
7. Take a Day Trip to the Vineyards
Looking for date ideas in Ottawa with an entire day to spare? How about a quintessential wine tour? Featuring over 10 stops, this guided wine tour takes you to the bounty of Petite-Nation where you can explore the best wineries and cideries in the area. And yes, tasting sessions are included!
Not only will you be treated to a locally sourced lunch at a non-profit café, but you’ll also enjoy a romantic stroll in the vineyard. Best of all, this tour includes a driver, which means you can both enjoy your wines and ciders without worrying about drinking and driving!
8. Bond Over a Dinner Musical
As Canada’s longest-running dinner musical, Oh Canada Eh!? sure packs a punch! And if you ask us, it’s a great venue for a date. After all, this two-hour show singlehandedly fuses amazing food, a buzzing atmosphere, and a high-energy production for a memorable evening out. You’ll be treated to an impressive line-up covering songs from popular Canadian artists like Shania Twain, Celine Dion, and Avril Lavigne.
While dining on a five-course meal, couples will also meet characters like Anne of Green Gables and a Mountie. After the show, you can always walk over to Moo Shu Ice Cream & Kitchen for some ice cream. Talk about a truly Canadian experience!
9. Mosey Around the National Gallery of Canada
The National Gallery of Canada is one of the top places in the city to take in plenty of history and art. If you’re looking for date ideas in Ottawa that involve some culture, we suggest a stop by this incredible venue.
Featuring an extensive collection of Canadian and Indigenous art, the museum also houses multimedia installations and sculptures. Plenty of unexpected surprises beckon at every turn: you’ll find the ornate Rideau Street Chapel with recorded choir voices, Kìwekì Point and its unique installations, a stunning interior courtyard, and more!
Here’s a little tip for you: admission is entirely free on Thursday nights!
10. See the Tulips Bloom at the Commissioners Park
If you’re visiting Ottawa in the springtime, believe us when we say you don’t want to miss the Canadian Tulip Festival that takes place in mid-May! Featuring over a million tulips, this festival offers the ideal setting for a romantic afternoon date. The largest display of tulips is usually showcased in Commissioners Park, located on the beautiful shores of Dow’s Lake. Now, we’ll admit that Commissioners Park can get pretty crowded so if you’re looking for a more tranquil setting, you can check out the tulip displays alongside the Rideau Canal’s Western Pathway, the Queen Elizabeth Driveway, Major’s Hill Park, and the National War Memorial.
11. Embark on a Brewery Tour
Okay, Ottawa may be known for its delectable wines, but did you know that the city has quite a happening craft beer scene too?
If this is something that interests you and your partner, we can suggest this guided tour of three (or more) local craft breweries. Not only will you learn more about the brewing ingredients, but you’ll also get an insightful behind-the-scenes peek at what happens during the beer-making process. At the end of each tour, belly up to the bar for a sampling session. Always the best part, right?
Transportation is provided so you won’t need to worry about electing a designated driver either!
12. Savor a Picnic at Andrew Haydon Park
You’ve got to admit- nothing spells romance better than a picnic in a gorgeous setting! So, if you’re looking for date ideas in Ottawa, be sure to check out Andrew Haydon Park, which offers plenty of picnic areas. While this park is undeniably beautiful in the spring, it turns into an absolute wonderland in the fall, complete with golden foliage and a small hidden waterfall tucked away near the footbridge. If you don’t have time to assemble your own picnic basket, you can always order one from Take Another Bite or Pot and Pantry, both located less than half an hour’s drive from the park!
Another idea when it comes to food is to enjoy one of the places that offer the best brunch in Ottawa!
13. Learn Salsa Together
For something different but undeniably fun, you can always head down to City Hall with your partner. No, not to get hitched: while this venue is a popular choice for weddings, a little-known fact is that this romantic hub also features outdoor Salsa dancing classes in the summer! Alcohol isn’t allowed on site, but you can always bring your own soft drinks and snacks to fuel up after an energetic session. Be sure to check the official schedule for the exact dates and timings.
Plus, the classes are completely free of charge!
14. Go Snowshoeing Under the Stars
Gatineau Park is one such destination that couples are bound to love! Okay, I know that Gatineau Park isn’t exactly in Ottawa but since it’s just a 20-minute drive away in Gatineau, Quebec, I think it counts.
This nocturnal snowshoeing expedition is perfect for couples who want to experience the park’s picturesque landscape by moonlight. This is a moderately challenging activity though, so make sure you’re prepared. An experienced guide will accompany you on your adventure and you’ll even be treated
to a warm dinner prepared on the wood stove!
15. Catch a Show at the National Arts Centre
Another great option for culturally inclined couples, the National Arts Centre is famous for its ballet shows. Located on Elgin Street, this theatre offers an eclectic blend of shows for various tastes. It’s also home to the NAC Orchestra, which is known for orchestrating (see what we did there?) its own pieces.
This venue also regularly plays host to productions like Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. As such, you can expect classics like The Nutcracker, Snow White, The Wizard of Oz, Cinderella, and more!
16. Watch the Sunset from’ Kìwekì Point
Is there anything dreamier than a soothing stroll by the sunset? We think not!
Well, if you’re looking for the best sunset spot to enjoy with your partner, Kìwekì Point has our vote!
Okay, first things first though: this spot used to be known as Nepean Point, but it has since been renamed and is currently undergoing renovations until the summer of 2024. Once it reopens though, trust us when we say you’ll be wowed by the sweeping sights that await! While the park is beautiful at any time of day, we would recommend that you head there at dusk so you can watch the sun go down over the city!
17. Be Awed by the Northern Lights Sound and Light Show
Each summer, Parliament Hill lights up like crazy as major Canadian achievements, figures, and events are brought to life in a light and sound show. The show is usually displayed against famous landmarks like the Peace Tower and Centre Block. Now, the Sound and Light Show is free, but if you’re looking for a memorable date idea in Ottawa, you can always check out this tour that also features a sunset river cruise, a ride through the city, and even a tour of the bustling Byward Market before the show. Cool, right?
18. Visit the Iconic Fairmont Chateau Laurier
Whether you’re staying there or not, this is one venue that should be high on your list of date ideas in Ottawa! After all, the incredible Fairmont Chateau Laurier is practically an attraction in its own right as it’s not only steeped in history but is one of the most photographed hotels in the country!
For some old-fashioned romance, why not treat yourselves to a classic afternoon tea experience at Zoe’s, the chateau’s fine dining restaurant? If you don’t mind splurging a little bit, Zoe’s is a fantastic great spot for lunch or dinner as well. What stood out for me was the Roasted Bone Marrow which featured an exquisite combo of Canadian whisky, burnt orange, and grilled country sourdough. We also loved the Braised Short Rib, which comes with creamy truffled polenta.
Even if you just go in for a drink, you absolutely must try the maple syrup-infused ‘Statesman’ cocktail, which is quite a sight to behold as it arrives at your table in a glass case with cedar smoke! It’s an attraction in and of itself.
19. Be Thrilled by a Haunted Walk
Whether you’re in the mood for something different or simply want to get scared silly, this is your chance to experience a completely different side of Ottawa alongside your partner! This 1.5-hour tour takes you through the lesser-known and spookiest spots of Downtown Ottawa alongside an experienced guide. During this spine-tingling adventure, you’ll hear unnerving tales of Ottawa’s haunted heritage.
For instance, did you know that the Canal is thought to be haunted? Or that the Fairmont Chateau Laurier is closely connected to the Titanic?
20. Take Pics by the Twin Rideau Falls
You didn’t think we’d leave that one off our list of date ideas in Ottawa, did you? After all, this waterfall is easily one of the most popular spots in the city – not to mention the most gorgeous!
Located north of the Byward Market, Rideau Falls translates to ‘curtains’ in French – and we must say that the name is quite fitting since the waterfalls do look like two gushing curtains of water tumbling majestically into the Ottawa River. Be sure to check out the Rideau Falls Park when you go as it’s home to historical monuments like the National Artillery Monument, the Commonwealth Air Force Memorial, and the Mackenzie-Papineau Monument.
21. Grab Coffee at Art Is in Bakery
If you’re wondering why this deceptively plain-looking bakery made this list of date ideas in Ottawa, wait until you visit it yourself!
A great venue for couples looking for indoor things to do in Ottawa, this place attracted the likes of Guy Fieri. Yep – it’s that good! Brimming with freshly baked goodies, this is the kind of place that lends itself well to casual first dates. Just be sure to avoid Saturday or Sunday mornings since the bakery can get pretty crowded, with lines stretching out the door!
The café’s most popular offerings include the iconic New York Cronut and the enormous buttermilk doughnut, which just so happens to be my favourite as well.
22. Take to the Skies in a Hot Air Balloon
Unless one of you has a fear of heights, this is something that we think all couples should experience at least once, especially if you’re looking for fun date ideas in Ottawa!
With the city skyline laid out at your feet, this is the kind of magical memory that you and your partner will cherish for years to come! You’ll find several companies offering hot air balloons in the city, but we can recommend Ottawa Hot Air, Sundance Balloons, and Breakaway Experiences.
By the way, if you happen to be in the city at the end of August, be sure to check out the Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival. This lively event sees a colourful array of balloons of all sizes and shapes over the Ottawa-Gatineau area, complete with fireworks, concerts, and amusement rides.
23. Attend Campfire Night at Saunder’s Farm
Let’s wrap up our list with an activity that we’ve recently discovered but can’t wait to do again!
There’s nothing quite like a date where you can cozy up in front of a campfire- and this is exactly what you can experience at the family-owned Saunder’s Farm. A glorious respite from the noise and bustle of the city, this date night package usually includes bread, meats, cheese, wine, and of course, a Smores kit!
Campfire nights are seasonal, so be sure to check the Saunder’s Farm website for available dates. In case you can’t snag yourself a campfire ticket, you can always consider booking another Saunder’s Farm experience like the Holiday Light Stroll.
Looking for More Things to Do?
So, there you have it: an eclectic lineup of fun, fresh, and romantic date ideas in Ottawa for creating magical moments together!
We hope you can refer to this list for inspiration the next time date night rolls around!
Whether you’re travelling solo or with your partner, there’s so much more to do in Ottawa and nearby destinations. For more ideas on what to do, check out the travel guides below.