“As a first step, starting August 9, 2021, Canada plans to begin allowing entry to American citizens and permanent residents, who are currently residing in the United States, and have been fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to entering Canada for non-essential travel. This preliminary step allows for the Government of Canada to fully operationalize the adjusted border measures ahead of September 7, 2021, and recognizes the many close ties between Canadians and Americans.”
If you are a visitor to Canada, make sure you download the ArriveCAN app before your journey so you can submit your relevant travel information.
If you are looking for a fun summer city adventure look no further than Canada’s capital, Ottawa. Located in the province of Ontario, Ottawa is about a 4-hour drive from Toronto, a major airport with multiple flight options. My son and I live in Toronto and took a leisurely VIA Rail train in under five hours. Masks are required on board but you can take them off to eat and drink. Then recline your seat, relax with a good book and enjoy the view.
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Ontario has officially moved to step 3 on the roadmap to reopening. According to the Ontario government this means 70 to 80% of adults are vaccinated with one dose and 25% vaccinated with two doses.
“The announcement that fully vaccinated U.S. visitors can return to Canadian travel as of August 9, 2021 was welcome news in Ottawa. We miss our American friends and look forward to sharing Canada’s stories with them as they return and discover our national museums, gorgeous outdoor areas, and delicious food and drink.” – Jantine Van Kregten, Director of Communications, Ottawa Tourism
This reopening means additional indoor services, indoor social gatherings with restrictions, museums and indoor dining has resumed. But you can ease into the indoor activities slowly depending on your comfort level because there are endless outdoor activities to keep you busy in Ottawa. After all, it’s summer, the perfect time to play outside. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Bike Through Town While Learning History
Biking with Escape Bicycle Tours and Rentals is a top-rated outdoor Ottawa activity. Located on trendy Sparks Street, a popular pedestrian promenade that is starting to come alive again with the ease of restrictions. While on your way to Escape Tours take in the local and international culture in the stores lining both sides of the street. It’s a little oasis from traffic where you can walk along admiring the city. We were fitted for our bikes and helmets and met our charming guide, Hans. He was a wealth of information and our history lesson began as soon as we hit the stunning Ottawa River Pathway. This multi-use pathway at the edge of the Ottawa River below Parliament Hill is picture perfect and Hans was always patient in helping us get our ideal photo. It was a leisurely ride and even locals on staycation are guaranteed to learn something new about the city from Hans. You can symbolically wave to the Prime Minister as you pass by historical 24 Sussex Drive, admire Ottawa’s parks, the Rideau Canal, squawk at the famous Canadian geese that gather on the Gatineau side of the region, and discover hidden gems. Escape Bicycle Tours offers private tours, Ottawa express tours, a highlights tour, multi-day bike tours and rentals.
Cruise Along The Ottawa River
Grab a sunhat and your favourite cruise wear (don’t forget your matching mask, but you can remove it when seated on the boat) and board Paul’s Boat Line. The company was founded in 1936 with guided tours on the Rideau River, followed by tours on the Rideau Canal and then the Ottawa River. We chose the Ottawa River option and boarded at the foot of the historical Ottawa Locks. The guided tour in English and French provides highlights of Ottawa, facts, stats, and funny jokes told by the tour guides. The views of Ottawa are always spectacular but make sure you have your phone in video mode when you pass by Rideau Falls. These two twin city waterfalls are the magical place where the Rideau River flows in the Ottawa River. They are the most popular fixture in Rideau Falls Park and from your seat on Paul’s Boat you have the best view in town.
Zoom Around On An E-scooter
You can’t walk very far in Ottawa without seeing a colourful E-scooter waiting for a rider. These cool modes of transportation are a pilot project from the City of Ottawa for the 2021 season and are an exciting way to explore Canada’s capital region. Three companies – Lime, Neuron, and Bird Canada – are offering a combined 1,200 scooters. Riders must be at least 16 and a helmet is recommended for everyone, some scooters even come equipped with one. Scooters are cleaned daily but bring your own disinfectant wipes and wash your hands before and after using the shared E-scooter. Before you start rolling down Ottawa streets you will need to download your chosen app, add a debit or credit card, find the closest scooter to your location, scan a QR code, unlock your scooter, and do safety checks. If you are a first time rider the websites offer tutorials on how to safely maneuver and park the scooters. Ottawa allows E-scooters on multi-use pathways, cycling facilities such as bike lanes and on the road.
Fly Through The Air To Quebec
Practice your French and buckle up. If you are looking to add excitement (and fear) to your Ottawa adventures look no further than Interzip Rogers. This brand new venture was three years in the making but postponed due to the pandemic. It officially opened last month going full speed ahead. It’s the world’s first interprovincial zip line and flies over the majestic Ottawa River at 40 km/hr (25 miles) and starts at 120 feet above water level. Guests check in on the Gatineau side in Quebec and then walk across a bridge to the Ontario side for this high-flying activity. The Interzip has two separate cables so choose a zip line partner and zoom together. Unlike other zip lines, you are in a sitting position and it’s actually pretty comfortable. While zipping you can even let go of the overhead bar since you are snugly strapped in. By the time we climbed up the high tower in Ottawa and our time to fly was fast approaching I was grateful for the multiple safety checks by staff due to a new found panic. The zip line offers views of Gatineau, the Chaudière Falls, and Ottawa’s Parliament Hill – if you are brave enough to keep your eyes open you can take it all in. When the steel safety gates slid open my teen was smiling and I was already screaming. But midway through I laughed with him although never let go of the bar. All riders participate in precautionary instructions and are told how to break at the end, which I forgot immediately, so was relieved when staff on the other side reminded me what position to get into before jolting to a stop.
Nervous? Scared? Take the advice of 14-year-old Matis, the friendly and knowledgeable young staff member behind the counter on the Gatineau side whose father is co-president of the marketing company for Interzip Rogers.