Ottawa is home to some of Canada’s most iconic attractions and in the summertime, visitors can experience them in a whole new light. From yoga on the grass of Parliament Hill to peddling alongside the Rideau Canal, here are just a few reasons to love summer in Ottawa.

3. Parliament Hill is really cool

The Parliament Buildings have long been an iconic Canadian attraction, but now, with our young, new prime minister, they’ve got  even more of a cool factor. All summer long, Parliament is hosting some great events. Every Wednesday at noon, join in a free hour-long yoga session with hundreds of others on the front lawn. On Canada Day, don your red and white at the country’s largest birthday bash. And don’t miss Northern Lights, a free nightly show that takes you on a journey through history, casting sound and high-tech lights against the Centre Block and Peace Tower.

2. Wellington West 

With sunny weather comes the chance to wander the city’s coolest neighbourhoods. Newly revitalized Wellington West (a.k.a. Hintonburg) is packed with places to shop and savour. Check out Art-Is-In Bakery, where the homemade breads are among the best in the city. Grab a housemade green juice at Morning Owl Coffeehouse, then browse local boutiques like Allegro Clothing and Flock Boutique.

3. The Rideau Canal

Any local will tell you summer is a great time to explore the Rideau Canal (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). Rent a bike and pedal along the sunny banks, or paddle to the eight historic Ottawa Locks—where the canal meets the Ottawa River—flanked by Parliament Hill, the Fairmont Château Laurier and the Bytown Museum. New this season, you can also take a boat tour with Rideau Canal Cruises from downtown to beautiful Dow’s Lake.

4. The ByWard Market is so summer 

Chic cafés, sunny patios, fresh produce—the ByWard Market oozes summertime. Established in 1826, it’s one of Canada’s oldest and largest public markets. Wander along the varied stalls at the farmers’ market, then stroll the pretty streets, lined with local boutiques and galleries. Later, grab a cool drink on the patio at the popular Earl of Sussex Pub.

5. The Busker Festival is awesome

This Ottawa International Buskerfest (Aug. 2 to 6) is a summertime must. Some 200,000 people flood the historic cobblestone of Sparks Street to watch more than 150 shows with street performers from around the world. Here’s what you can see:


[This story appears in the June 2016 issue of WestJet Magazine and has since been updated]