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Water World: Ways to Cool Down in the Capital

A couple kayaks down the Rideau Canal. Photo © Ottawa Tourism

When the summer sun is out in full force and temperatures soar, sometimes you need more than air conditioning to cool you down. Fortunately, Ottawa is replete with fun ways to chill out. From beaches to rafting to waterslides, here are some of the best ways to get wet in the capital.


Mooney’s Bay during HOPE Volleyball Summerfest

We may not be a coastal city, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have beaches. A plethora of lakes and the seemingly unending coastline of our rivers provide Ottawans with many a swimming hole. Mooney’s Bay on the east shore of the Rideau River is one of the most popular. Its sandy shores and rows of beach volleyball courts draw throngs of sun seekers all summer. It’s even the site of the largest one-day recreational volleyball event in the world — the HOPE Volleyball Summerfest. Britannia Beach on the Ottawa River in the city’s west end is another gem. Its close proximity to the Britannia Yacht Club makes it great for both swimming and boat-watching. Lake-filled Gatineau Park also offers plenty of swimming beaches. O’Brien and Blanchet Beaches on Meech Lake, Breton and Parent Beaches at Lac Philippe, and La Pêche Beach at La Pêche Lake are all open to the public and staffed with lifeguards during the summer. For a full list of local beaches and their rules and regulations, visit www.ottawa.ca and www.canadascapital.gc.ca.

OWL Rafting on the Ottawa River. Photo © Owl Rafting

There’s more to do on our rivers than swim — though with some of these activities, you’ll likely end up getting soaked anyway. Feeling adventurous? Try whitewater rafting on the Ottawa River with OWL Rafting. Whether you’re after an activity the whole family will enjoy or an adrenaline-pumping two-day outing, OWL offers something at every skill (and thrill) level. Additionally, sister company Madawaska Kanu Centre offers kayak and canoe instruction and excursions. If you don’t want to venture too far out of town, check out their MKC in the City program, which operates from the Pump House in downtown Ottawa. For something a little tamer (and most certainly drier), head to Dows Lake Pavilion where you can rent a kayak, canoe, or pedal boat and explore the lake and the Rideau Canal from a unique vantage point.

Calypso Theme Waterpark

Did you know that Canada’s biggest theme waterpark can be found half an hour east of downtown Ottawa? Award-winning Calypso Theme Waterpark draws hordes of water lovers to its 100-acre park every summer, and with more than 35 state-of-the-art water slides, over 100 water games, Canada’s largest wave pool, a 750m river run, and lots more, it’s not hard to see why.  One of the park’s most impressive attractions is the Summit Tower, North America’s highest freestanding waterslide tower.  The structure holds ten slides, including two AquaLoops, in which riders begin standing upright in an enclosed cabin with a trap door, which then drops from beneath them and sends them on a wild ride — complete with a 2.5G loop. Calypso also offers beach volleyball courts, restaurants, a landscaped picnic area, lounge chairs, a new family attraction called Jungle Challenge, and more.

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