The dedicated multi-use pathways that run along both sides of the Rideau Canal are popular for cycling, running and walking in the summer, and even for snow activities in the winter. The land is mostly flat with gardens, parks and neighbourhoods lining the way. In May, tulips bloom along the canal during the Canadian Tulip Festival, followed by a variety of flowers in the summer and fall colours in the autumn.
Bicycle rentals of all types are available at RentABike, located across the street from the Fairmont Château Laurier under the Plaza Bridge, and at Escape Bicycle Tours & Rentals on nearby Sparks Street. Both also offer guided tours – group and personalized – for all cycling levels. For more about exploring this area by bike, see our Rideau Canal Family-Friendly Bike Trail webpage.
As you explore the pathways, keep an eye out for signage and outdoor exhibits highlighting the waterway’s historical and cultural significance. Rideau Canal Promenade installations are located at the following seven sites: Ottawa Locks, Shaw Centre, Pretoria Bridge, Lansdowne Park, Dows Lake, Central Experimental Farm, and Hartwells Lockstation.
On the Water
For a relaxing urban experience, rent a canoe, paddleboat, kayak or standup paddle board from the Marina at Dows Lake Pavilion. Paddle around the canal’s romantic nooks, urban vistas and small islands – you might encounter ducks, see fish underwater and spot beautiful birds! If you have your own boat, you can put-in at several locations along the canal.
For more on paddling the canal and other Ottawa waterways, see our Paddling paradise – flatwater fun in Ottawa webpage.
One of Ottawa’s iconic experiences – and a bucket list item for many people around the world – is skating on the Rideau Canal Skateway, which is the world’s largest skating rink as designated by the Guinness Book Of World Records. When the canal surface is sufficiently frozen (early January to early March each year, depending on the weather), you can skate on the maintained ice for 7.8 kilometres (4.8 miles) from downtown Ottawa to Carleton University via Dows Lake. The Skateway surface is equivalent to more than 90 Olympic-sized hockey rinks and you can skate for free, 24 hours a day! Along the way, you’ll see distance markers, heated huts, washrooms and food kiosks. There’s nothing like gliding along the frozen canal, sipping a hot chocolate and eating a delicious, doughy, BeaverTail pastry – the sweet treat was born in Ottawa in 1978.
Information from the Tourism Ottawa Website
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