Things to do in Ottawa for free this summer
The Ottawa sign on York Street in Ottawa's ByWard Market. (Photo by Jacob Meissner on Unsplash)
With tourism season in full swing, there's plenty of activities happening in Ottawa that you can do without breaking your budget.
You can spend a Thursday evening at several Ottawa museums, tour the Parliament buildings or enjoy a Friday cup of coffee for free.
CTVNewsOttawa.ca looks at eight things you can do for free in Ottawa this summer.
'THIRD NIGHT ON US'
Ottawa Tourism is picking up the tab for visitors to spend a third night in an Ottawa hotel room this summer and fall.
The "Stay a 3rd night on us in Ottawa!" campaign sees Ottawa Tourism cover the third night of a hotel stay if visitors book three or more nights at a participating Ottawa hotel.
For more information, visit the Ottawa Tourism website.
Ottawa Tourism says the campaign, so far, has exceeded its expectations.
"Ottawa Tourism is very happy with the Third Night On Us promotion that continues through October 10, 2022. While we can’t share exact numbers, we can say that campaign results are exceeding our initial expectations," Ottawa Tourism said in a statement to CTV News Ottawa.
"We’ve also seen the average length of stay in our destination increase since the campaign began, and it now sits at more than 3 nights.
"We are confident that this promotion has led to more visitors and more customers for not just hotels but for attractions, museums, festivals, restaurants, tours, transportation providers, shops, and other local businesses. Extending the length of stay means more meals in restaurants, more chances to take a tour or visit a museum, more time to visit a new neighbourhood, etc., etc."
Ontario residents visiting Ottawa are also eligible for the Ontario Staycation Tax Credit, allowing people to claim 20 per cent of their eligible accommodation expenses when they file their 2022 income tax return.
THURSDAY NIGHTS AT THE MUSEUM
You can visit several museums in Ottawa and Gatineau for free on Thursday evenings.
Here is a look at the free admission times for museums on Thursdays.
- Canadian Museum of Nature - Admission is free from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. (Timed tickets required)
- Canadian War Museum – Admission is free from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. (Timed tickets required)
- Canadian Museum of History - Admission is free from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. (Timed tickets required)
- Children's Museum – Admission is free from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
- National Gallery of Canada - Admission is free from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
FREE ADMISSION TO MUSEUMS
You can visit three museums in Ottawa for free between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m., when the museums are open.
Admission is free from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum (seven days a week), Canada Science and Technology Museum (seven days a week) and Canada Aviation and Space Museum (Thursday to Monday), but you must reserve your tickets in advance.
TOUR THE PARLIAMENTARY BUILDINGS
Take a tour of Parliament Hill's West Block and the Senate of Canada building.
The Government of Canada offers free guided tours of Canada's Houses of Parliament through the summer.
Visit the Senate at the Senate of Canada Building – Ottawa's historic train station – to learn about the role and history of Canada's Upper Chamber.
You can also learn about the history, roles, art and architecture of the House of Commons in the newly restored West Block.
For tour times and tickets, visit https://rts.parl.ca/
NORTHERN LIGHTS – SOUND AND LIGHT SHOW
Enjoy a thrilling thematic journey through Canada's history for free on Parliament Hill.
The sound and light show "Northern Lights" is a unique multimedia experience that showcases Canada's great achievements and our history's key milestones.
Northern Lights runs Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, beginning at 9:30 p.m. in August.
For more information, visit the Northern Lights website.
BYWARD MARKET BOPS
Enjoy music every Thursday night in the ByWard Market with "ByWard Bops"
Don't miss a free concert every Thursday in the George Street Plaza.
For more information, visit https://www.byward-market.com/events
FREE DRIP COFFEE ON FRIDAYS
The Ministry of Coffee is serving up "Filter Fridays" this summer.
Free drip coffee will be available on Fridays at the Ministry of Coffee locations on 274 Elgin Street, 1013 Wellington Street, 18 Beechwood Avenue and at the Via Rail Station.
"We’re giving back to our community and friends. From now until the end of summer we’re offering free drip coffee to all our customers on Fridays," the Ministry of Coffee said.
"Come in on Fridays and enjoy a fresh cup of our Ministry of Coffee drip - roasted in the heart of Ottawa on a zero-emissions omitting roaster."
KIDS EAT FREE AT RESTAURANTS
Children can eat for free at several restaurants in Ottawa.
Zak's Diner – Kids 10 and under eat free Sunday to Thursday (holidays excluded) from 4 p.m. to close, with the purchase of one adult meal and beverage. Offer available at the Zak's Diner locations in the ByWard Market, on Elgin Street and in Kanata. Visit the restaurant's website for details.
Jonny Canuck's – Kids eat free on Sundays between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. For more information, visit the restaurant's website.
The Barley Mow – Kids eat free on Sundays.
Mandarin Restaurant – Kids aged 4 and under eat free from the buffet (up to two kids per paid adult) h