Who says you have to break the bank to have fun? Not us, that’s for sure! Here are just a few activities you can do in Ottawa on the cheap.
By Misa Kobayashi
1) Outdoor markets: $0-$10
This city has an awesome selection of farmers’ markets from which to score baked goods, fresh produce, flowers, jewellery — you name it. Located in the heart of downtown, the historic ByWard Market is a must for its bustling shops and vendors. Another top pick is the Ottawa Farmers’ Market on Sundays in the Glebe neighbourhood. We love the many restaurants that set up shop in the outdoor food court. See www.byward-market.com or www.ottawafarmersmarket.ca.
2) Downtown art galleries: Free
Check out a contemporary art exhibit at the City Hall Gallery, Karsh-Masson Gallery, or Ottawa Art Gallery, all of which are located within walking distance of each other in the downtown core. Even better? All offer either free admission or pay-what-you-can. See the gallery listings for more info.
3) Splash pads: Free
Beat the heat on a hot day with your kiddies at one of the city’s splash pads. Our favourite is Brewer Park (100 Brewer Way), for its excellent picnic spots, sprinklers, mini water slide, and three different play structures. A list of splash pads can be found at www.ottawa.ca.
4) International Busker Festival: Pay-what-you-can
This annual fest lights up Sparks Street Mall from July 28 to Aug. 1, when performers from around the world strut their stuff. Enjoy daily shows that captivate and delight with performances that are all about unusual — and often daring — talents. See www.sparksstreetmall.com.
5) Lunch at Di Rienzo: $5-$10
This authentic grocery and deli, located in Little Italy, is part corner store, part sandwich shop. Locals arrive in droves at lunchtime, so there’s often a line-up out the door. Choose your bread, your toppings, and your meat, and grab a seat at the park across the street, or take a stroll through the charming neighbourhood. 111 Beech St., 613-729-4037.
6) Outdoor theatre: Pass-the-hat
A Company of Fools offers up a raucous comedic performance of Antony and Cleopatra in their annual “Torchlight Shakespeare” production. The shows incorporate puppetry, vaudeville, and commedia dell’arte, and will be performed at public parks throughout the city from July 4 to Aug. 20. See www.fools.ca.
7) Ride the O-Train: $2.75
Hop aboard! There are only four stops on this line, but you get comfy seats and a pretty view of the Rideau River when you cross the bridge at Carleton University. Plus, when you get off at Bayview Station, you’re walking distance to LeBreton Flats, where lots of festivals take place, and the Canadian War Museum. See www.octranspo.com.
8) Centretown Movies Outdoor Film Festival: Pay-what-you-can
From July 22 to Aug. 20, this film fest offers outdoor viewings on Friday and Saturday nights at 9pm. Grab a blanket and head out to Dundonald Park (on Somerset Street West) with snacks in hand to catch flicks that range from family films to classics to blockbusters. See www.csit.carleton.ca/~arya/cm.
9) Visit the museums: Free
Little known fact: many museums and galleries offer free admission on Thursday evenings. These include the Canadian Museum of Nature and the National Gallery of Canada from 5 to 8pm, and the Canadian Museum of Civilization and the Canadian War Museum from 4 to 8pm. See their websites for info.
10) The Candy Store: $10
This pretty shop looks like an old-fashioned confectionary. With childhood favourites like gummies, gumballs, and retro candy lining the walls, as well as more grown-up items (think buttery caramels and fine chocolate), it will literally have you feeling like a kid in a candy store. Enjoy the charming atmosphere and take your time deciding what to get for 10 big ones. 350 Richmond Rd., www.thecandystoreottawa.ca.