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Photo: emrold/Apt613 Flickr pool.

Weekend Roundup: Quoi faire?

By Amanda Armstrong on February 10, 2022



It’s the weekend — and with the ongoing state of emergency here in Ottawa, we can bet what everyone needs is an opportunity to rest and recalibrate. Here are some suggestions for how you can go about doing so.

Physical Activity

Getting out, being active, and soaking up some of that much needed vitamin D is great for our mental health. While it can be difficult to brave the colder temperatures, a fun activity can make the winter weather much more bearable. We are lucky in Ottawa and have plenty of greenspace to ski, snowshoe, or hike and the world’s largest skating rink smack dab in the middle of our beautiful city.

While this Apt613 article is a little dated, it still includes (what I feel are) the best spots to get out and enjoy a ski/snowshoe/hike around town. One more recent addition worthy of mention is the Kichi Sibi Winter Trail, which runs from Lebreton Flats to Dominion Station, and has some beautiful stretches along the Ottawa River. There is also the Rideau Winter Trail, which runs along sections of the Rideau River, although I’ve not yet had the opportunity to visit.

If you are able to get over to Quebec right now, there are also some great trails in Gatineau Park and Kenauk Nature, which is a short trip from Montebello. Unlike the Ottawa trails, these trails have usage fees, but we assure you they are worth checking out, especially if you’re a more advanced cross-country skier.

For those more interested in lacing up their skates and hitting the ice, we’ve already mentioned the Rideau Canal. You can check out ice conditions on the NCC’s website. While the Canal is an obvious choice, there are also some other great options for skating away from the downtown core. There is River Oak Skating Trail in Metcalfe, le Sentier du Petit Pingouin in Gatineau, and Eco-Odyssée near Wakefield. Let’s not forget the plethora of local rinks in neighbourhoods all over town that provide easy access to a great winter activity.

Want to try out a winter activity, but don’t have any gear of your own? Check out the Ottawa Outdoor Gear Library. A free membership allows you to reserve available outdoor gear, which you can then borrow for five days. That’s plenty of time to see if you like to cross-country ski, skate, or snowshoe before purchasing your own equipment.

If the draw of winter sports isn’t strong enough to get you outside during the winter season, there are always indoor ways to remain active. The City’s pools have reopened at limited capacity and you can reserve a swim time on any of the facilities’ websites. There are also public skating times available at local arenas; yoga classes have resumed at several of the city’s studios, such as Elevate Yoga, Pure Yoga Ottawa, and PranaShanti Yoga Centre (and are available to stream from home, if you feel more comfortable); and gyms have also reopened with capacity limits.


Given the current situation here in Ottawa, escaping to somewhere a little more mellow seems like a wonderful idea. There are plenty of great little getaway spots a short distance away. Places like Almonte, Perth, Cornwall, and Gananoque on the Ontario side and Montebello or Wakefield on the Quebec side are all good options. All of these are close enough that you can head out for a day trip, or check out Airbnb and make a weekend out of it.

Wine and Dine

Restaurants have recently reopened for indoor dining and, with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it seems only fitting to celebrate both occasions with a meal at your favourite place. Brunch is back at the Manx, Gray Jay has both take-home and dine-in Valentine’s Day menus, Town boasts an extensive bottle shop, and Corner Peach is offering a Valentine’s Meal Kit. If you are looking for some tasty takeout options, Apt613 has created this handy list of countless restaurants to order from, organized by neighbourhood.

While many restaurants offer up their own delicious dessert options, it would be a grievous oversight not to mention that the Merry Dairy returned from their winter break last week and while they are not scooping ice cream just yet, you can pick up some pints and stock your freezer full of incredible ice cream flavours.


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A Good Book

Relaxing with a good book is for many a favourite way to unwind. If you happen to feel similarly, there are plenty of great independent bookstores in town where you are certain to find your next great read. Black Squirrel Books has a vast selection of both new and used books, and there are also places like Perfect Books on Elgin and Octopus Books in the Glebe.

You can also find all kinds of great reads for free at Ottawa Public Library locations, or through their online collections on apps Libby and cloudLibrary. The best part about their online collections is that they can be accessed anytime, without having to leave your house (or even your bed, if you don’t want to).

Movie or Music Night

With venues slowly reopening after the last lockdown, local haunts like the ByTowne Cinema and the Mayfair Theatre are back in business and you can enjoy an evening at the cinema once again. Check out what’s playing and take in a film on the big screen.

Although the in-person Ottawa Winter Jazz Festival was cancelled yet again this year, there is still opportunity to take in some great jazz sounds virtually. Check out the lineup from Jazz Fest’s From the Vault series and purchase either a full festival pass or individual performance tickets. An incredible perk of watching from home is that anytime is showtime; you can stream performances whenever you’d like.


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There is another way to enjoy some music this weekend: If you’re interested in hearing what Ottawa area artists have been putting out during these pandemic times, Apt613 music writers compile what’s new in local music each week at #ottmusic, for your listening pleasure.

Phone a Friend

We are living through difficult times. It is important to take care of yourself. It is also important to take care of each other. Reach out to friends and family and check in on how they are doing. This weekend, pick up the phone and reach out to a loved one. We can guarantee that you will both be better for it.

Give a Little Love

Valentine’s Day might not be until Monday, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give a little love this weekend. Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be just about romantic love either. Show a little love to your friends, your pets, your neighbours, and yourself. Showing love isn’t always about giving gifts, but if you’d like some help in that department, we’ve got you. @tl_chocolates has a delicious looking menu of bonbons, chocolate bars, and honeycombs available for the holiday. Alicja Confections also has some incredible-looking sweets to help you celebrate. If you are looking for cards, or that perfect little trinket, check out places like the Gifted Type, JV Studios, Boogie and Birdie, Kindred Shop and Studio, or Maker House Co. If flowers are your style, there are many local flower shops in town that will create the perfect bouquet for the one you love. For something a little longer-lasting, Plant and Curio has some lovely little plants and cute themed planters that are fitting for such an occasion. Let’s not forget we’ve all sorts of great makers of soaps, salts, and bath bombs in Ottawa — including Purple Urchin, Saaboon, and Zoe’s Corner. Why not treat yourself and enjoy a luxurious soak in the tub?


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Freewheeling Craft is also hosting their seventh annual Big Love Market this weekend. You can shop online starting today, or in person starting tomorrow! The market features over 60 local makers, including at least 15 who are new to the scene. With so much to choose from, we’re sure you’ll find plenty of ways to give a little love (or, in this case, big love) and we could all use some right now.