5 family-friendly beaches in Ottawa

Pack your bags and beach umbrellas and head to one of these sandy spots.

Photo: Gatineau Park via Facebook Photo: Gatineau Park via Facebook

1. Britannia Beach Located on the Ottawa River at Britannia Bay, this beach will have the whole family relaxing and having fun. It’s a city beach at its best—large grassy and shady areas, sailboats passing and you picnicking near the water. Idyllic, right? Of course, there's lots of water-filled fun to be had, too. Your little fish will love splashing around and you’ll be happy to know there are two sets of eyes on your kids: Yours and the lifeguard’s. After spending some time in the water, your kids can run around at the on-site playground. Feel free to bring some meats, veggies and coal, and then fire up the grill at the on-site barbecue pits. Amenities include washrooms, a canteen, outdoor showers, picnic tables and free parking.

Go play: 2805 Carling Ave. 613-820-1211>

2. Mooney’s Bay Beach This beach is perfect for little ones who are eager to spend a day out in the sun building sandcastles. Mooney’s Bay is also great for kids who want to run and play in wide, open areas and just splash along the shoreline. When your little fish goes in the water, they’ll be under the watchful eye of a lifeguard during the summer months. Little kids will have tons of fun on the playground, while older kids can join in on a game of volleyball at one of the many nets. Bring your tennis racket too, as there are tennis courts. You can chill and grill at Mooney’s Bay, as there are plenty of picnic tables and barbecue pits, but there’s also a snack bar. You’ll also find washrooms and change rooms on-site so your little fish can get out of her wet and sandy clothes. This beach is very popular since it’s just south of Carleton University, so arrive early to get a good spot on weekends. Parking is paid from 7 a.m to 6 p.m.

Go play: 2926 Riverside Drive 613-248-0863>

3. Petrie Island Beaches Two large public beaches take up the northeast corner of Petrie Island—the North Beach and the East Bay Beach. Both beaches are operated and supervised by the City of Ottawa during the summer months and are also under the watchful eye of lifeguards from noon until 7 p.m. After splishing and splashing in the water, your little ones will definitely want a bite to eat! Head to the snack bar or sit down in the shaded picnic area if you’ve packed a lunch. If you feel like getting food elsewhere, there's a Caribbean takeout restaurant close by. It should also be noted that if you’re planning on grilling, gas barbecues are only permitted in the picnic area, not on the main beach. Refill your water bottles at the water fountain just in case your kids get extra thirsty after long hours of play. Other amenities include washrooms, change rooms and paid parking.

Go play: 727 Trim Rd. 613-824-5704>


4. Westboro Beach If you’re looking for something a little quainter, head to Westboro Beach, located at the Kitchissippi Lookout on the Ottawa River. Lather sunscreen on your kiddos before they run off to enjoy the cool water. This beach has lifeguards on duty from noon to 7 p.m daily, so you know your wee ones will be safe when swimming. Parents who prefer quieter settings will love relaxing by the trees and still water. Mom can pull out a book as the young ones nap and the big kids build sandcastles nearby. Westboro Beach has basic amenities like a canteen, change rooms, washrooms, a swimming lane and free parking. There are also some walking trails if the family feels up for a fun hike!

Go play: 745 Sir John A. Macdonald pky (formerly Ottawa River pky) 613-792-3875>

5. Breton Beach (Philippe Lake) at Gatineau Park Take a 20 minute drive out of the city into Gatineau, Quebec for a sun-filled day at Breton Beach, one of six beaches at Gatineau Park. Parents will love the fact that swimming is only allowed when lifeguards are on duty, which is from 10 a.m to 6 p.m. The beaches are all tested for bacteriological water quality every two weeks, so you know your family will be swimming in safe water. At Gatineau Park, you don’t have to worry if you forget things at home because there are beach items—towels, beach toys, sunscreen, hats and disposable cameras—available for purchase on-site. Once your kids are done splashing around, treat them to a hotdog or sandwich for lunch at the snack bar. For dessert, there’s fresh fruit or ice cream (you already know you'll lose that battle and they'll pick ice cream). Pets are not allowed on any of the beaches, but there are many trails in the park where you’ll be able to take Spot for a walk. Other amenities include washrooms and change rooms, picnic tables, a wheelchair-accessible ramp into the water and a lift chair. Parking is $11 per car.

Go play: Chemin du Lac-Philippe, Sainte-Cécile-de-Masham, QC 819-456-3016>

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