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Now that summer is officially here, it’s pretty much a given that spending time outdoors soaking up the rays and enjoying some of Ottawa’s incredibly picturesque parks is a top priority. What better way to enjoy the Capital region than to head out for a memorable picnic with your loved ones? There are so many notable picnic areas that range from beaches to forests to those with stunning panoramic views or maybe all three! Here are some of my favourite places to take my family on a picnic in the Ottawa area.

Rideau Falls Park – Located in the heart of the city and within walking distance to Parliament Hill and ByWard Market, Rideau Falls Park is home to the twin waterfalls where the Ottawa River meets the Rideau River. Although it’s easily accessible from the bustle of the city, it is not particularly busy since it’s slightly out of the way from other major attractions and a bit of a walk. Visitors love to take in the beauty of the falls, enjoy the spectacular views of Gatineau and, of course, picnic on the plentiful green space.

Rockcliffe Park – Located just east of Rideau Hall, this park meanders for about 3 km high on the cliffs overlooking the Ottawa River and extends over 137 hectares. Known as one of the oldest parks in the city, it boasts stone pathways and the Rockcliffe Rockeries, where flower and rock gardens abound. Picnic spots are easy to come by in this expansive park and the green space and mature trees make the experience that much better.

The Arboretum – Located in the Central Experimental Farm, the Aboretum has been a popular picnic destination for years. Featuring over 2,000 species of trees and shrubs, this park covers about 64 acres of rolling terrain between Prince of Wales Drive and the Rideau Canal. Although it is a very popular picnic spot, there is plenty of room for everyone, so you can claim a spot under a tree or along the creek. The Aboretum is open every day from sunrise to sunset and is free of charge.

Vincent Massey Park – This urban park is situated along the Rideau River and is considered to be one of Ottawa’s most popular destinations for a summer picnic. Boasting wooded walking paths, great views, rolling meadows and lots of green space to spread out your picnic blanket, this park is truly a superb summer destination. An added bonus is that there are picnic tables and BBQ pits for your use!

Étienne-Brûlé Lookout – Located in Gatineau Park and on the Champlain Parkway, this park is surprisingly overlooked due to its close proximity to the popular Champlain Lookout, but it is definitely worth a visit. The views of the Ottawa Valley and the Ottawa River are spectacular and there are plenty of picnic tables and BBQ pits for your use. After your picnic you might want to take a hike or mountain bike on the trails running through the park.

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