Magic spots, make-out nooks, and dream havens. Pass it on.
House of Targ
1077 Bank St.
No, you're not at Dundas & Ossington; you're at the House of Targ. Open less than a year, it was instantly hailed as an institution. Owned and operated by veteran Ottawa musicians Paul ‘yogi’ Granger, Mark McHale and Kevin Birger, it's a spot like no other. Targ boasts impeccable bookings, dozens of pinball & old school arcade games, and a delicious menu of handmade perogies. Welcome to your new home.
The abandoned Prince of Wales Bridge helped run a locomotive from Ottawa to Wakefield. Now, it's the best elevated park in the city. Pack some snacks, bring some "consumable fun", sneak in through the hole in fence by the O-train bikepath, and you're in heaven.
Location via Google Maps.
Sometimes referred to as "Beer Park" (there's a Beer Store across the street, #mindblown), Dundonald is a little oasis on the border of Chinatown. Every summer, the park plays host to chill summer hangs, tai chi, picnic lunches, and the annual, Outdoor Summer Film Festival.
Location of Dundonald Park via Google Maps.
Union Local 613's SPEAK EASY
In the bowels of Somerset's Union Local 613, and hidden behind a bookshelf door, lies a sweet little basement oasis. A cross between a dreamlike Hobbit-hole, and a prohibition-era hide-out, Union's Speak Easy has quickly become one of the city's most cherished watering holes. Get there.
Union Local 613
315 Somerset St W.
Experimental Farm's Arboretum
Why don't we do the festival here? 3 words: ANCIENT RED TAPE. That said, day or night, a bike-ride or stroll through the Arboretum is pretty rad. Although accessible directly via the Rideau Canal bike path, it's almost always deserted. Sit on the hill overlooking the western-edge of downtown Ottawa, have a moon-lit park sit, or in the winter, toboggan down its slopes.
Location of Experimental Farm's Arboretum via Google Maps.
The Manx Pub (late night)
In the night, the late night, shit tends to gets real at the Manx. Unpredictable happenings, deep chats, or plain ol' gatherings of Ottawa's "finest". Oh look, Tom Green is playing jazz piano; oh hey, Benjamin Kamino is naked; looky here, ex's are making out. Yay.
The Manx Pub
370 Elgin St.
Brown's Inlet Park
At the western edge of the Glebe's Holmwood Ave. lies a secluded little park, adorned by willow trees, and frequented by great blue herons. Suggested activities: first dates, "gaming", sunning, make-out pacts.
Location of Brown's Inlet Park via Google Maps.
Alien Rock Sculptures & Westboro Beach
Bike about 15 minutes west from the War Museum along the Ottawa River Parkway, and you'll happen upon this nugget of relaxation.
Sit by weird rock sculptures, watch the sunset and quaff a drank, or have a food. Further down the path, you'll hit Westboro Beach. Its long, broad hill is perfect for falling asleep under the sun.
Location of Alien Rocks via Google Maps.
Location of Westboro Beach via Google Maps.
Swimming Rock by the Covered Bridge, Wakefield QC
Just 25 minutes north of Ottawa is a cherished swimming hole on the banks of the Gatineau River. Drive past the Black Sheep Inn, through Wakefield, and follow the signs to the covered bridge. Once there, climb down the hill, manoeuvre the beach to the lone swimming rock. You'll likely chance on half of Ottawa's restaurant industry, taking an afternoon dip in the Gatineau's gloriously clean water. Stay a while.
Directions to the Swimming Rock via Google Maps.
La Route Verte (Québec-side of the Ottawa River Bike Path)
The Québec side of the Ottawa River (Rivière des Outaouais) is better: it's rougher, less manicured, wilder. You're swaddled in thick patches of oxygen, and feel instantly lost and safe. Below are a few of our favourite landmarks along its western path, that is from the Eddy Bridge entrance (accessible past the War Museum) to the Aylmer Marina.
A funny little park populated by seagulls, beach volleyball enthusiasts, and day-drunk teenagers. Take a pitstop here, and refresh. You can totally swim in the water here, but I'd wait out til you get to the Aylmer Marina.
Parc Moussette via Google Maps.
The Flooded Forest
About 25 minutes down the path, about 15 minutes before you hit the Marina, you'll chance on a bike bridge carrying you over a flooded patch of wood, off the edge of the Ottawa River. The flooding takes place from the spring thaw to about end of May. It's actually breathtaking. We can't really tell you where this is, you'll just have to chance on it.
Parc des Cèdres
A solid 45 minute bike ride west along La Route Verte, around the bend in the Ottawa River, you'll arrive at the Aylmer Marina & Parc des Cèdres. Go ahead and jump in the river at this point; the water is crazy-warm. It's not exactly drinkable, but it's definitely clean enough to for sweet summer swim. There's a totally hilarious beach-side bar offering fast food and cheap beer. Faites-donc des amis.
Location of Parc des Cèdres in Google Maps.