Dog Days of Summer Survival

It’s the beginning of August, which means there’s still a month left before school starts. Which means another 30 days of trying to keep the kids occupied, or to get them off their electronic devices. (It can’t be just me who has to deal with the glazed look of teens overdosing on screens.)

So, in the interests of saving the sanity of all parents in the Capital region, here are a few ideas worth looking into in these dog days of summer.

Dows Lake Pavilion

Dows Lake is a fantastic spot to rent canoes, kayaks, paddleboards, and peddle boats. You can rent by the hour, and lifejackets are included in the cost. As long as Ottawa is not getting monsoon-like rain, it’s a fantastic way to spend an afternoon outside.

Haunted Walk

If you like to be scared, there are several haunted walks in downtown Ottawa. The Original Haunted Walk runs until November, and you will be led through downtown Ottawa’s haunted spots by lantern light. There is a Haunted Walk Experience at the Mackenzie King Estate that runs through September, while the Crime and Punishment Jail Tour and the Ghost and Gallows tours run year-round. You can book tickets online.

Mosaïculture Gatineau 2018

Last year’s success of the botanical displays has brought the exhibit back for another year. Over 5 million plants have gone into the creation of 45 giant creations. This spectacular exhibit runs until October 15, 2018.


Ottawa has five beautiful beaches that are open until August 26, 2018. Pack a picnic lunch, grab your sunscreen, and hit the sand and water for a truly summertime experience.

Northern Lights

The light show on Parliament Hill is an amazing thing to see. The show lasts about thirty minutes, and covers major milestones in Canadian history. During the month of August, the action begins at 9:30pm. There is no seating, so bring a blanket or your own chair if you don’t like sitting on the ground. Spots are on a first-come, first-served basis, so show up a bit early if you like to sit right up front.

Free Outdoor Movies

These were a godsend when my kids were small. We would bring a big blanket, our own snacks and drinks, load the kids into the car, and head for whichever spot was showing the movie that weekend. People show up early for these too, as there are no assigned seats (hard to do in a park or on the beach), so keep that in mind when planning your evening. Ottawa Kids has a detailed list of where and which movies are being offered this summer (weather permitting, of course). You can go to their site, or simply Google “Free Movies in Ottawa” to check things out.

Water Balloon Fights

This has to be included on any list of how to occupy kids during the summer. Old-school, good fun, and especially during this incredibly hot summer, an awesome way to cool down. Head to any dollar store and buy as many balloons as you can. Invite the neighbourhood kids. Fill the balloons with water, go outside, and let the games begin. (Just remember to pick up all the pieces when you’re done!)

Summer is short here, but Ottawa has tons to offer and is a pretty amazing city. Head out and enjoy!