I know, I know. Winter is coming and we’re all pretty rattled about it. It’s no lie, date nights get a lot harder when the cold hits in Ottawa. That’s why we’ve come up with 21 free (or pretty cheap) date ideas you can steal for a romantic November in Ottawa!
1. Hit up the museums at no cost
Did you know admission to the permanent exhibits of the National Gallery of Canada, the Canadian Museum of History, the Canadian War Museum and the Canadian Museum of Nature is free from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. every Thursday? Same with the Bytown Museum!
Want to hit up the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, the Canada Aviation and Space Museum and the Canada Science and Technology Museum? They’re all free daily between 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.
2. Try a Karma yoga class together
Did you know most Ottawa yoga studios offer a Friday night class by donation only? Most of the classes ask for a minimum donation of $5 that goes to a specific charity listed. You can find one at Pure Yoga, Yogatown, and SoulSpeak Yoga to start!
3. Visit some local craft fairs
Tis the season for craft fairs! There are so many options in Ottawa and the surrounding area. It’s a great afternoon date to stroll around, maybe find some Christmas presents, and see what the local makers have to offer!
Some upcoming shows include Something New Edinburgh Craft Show (Nov 2), Ottawa Vintage Clothing Show (Nov 3), Christmas in the Valley Artisan Show (Nov 2-3), 613flea (Nov 16), or even Ottawa Comiccon: Holiday Edition (Nov 9-10).
4. Bundle up for a hike
Who says you can’t hike into November?! Pack some hot chocolate or your favourite tea, grab a blanket and explore the Gatineau trails! It’s a great excuse to squeeze each other a little tighter.
5. Take a field trip to see how a cannabis facility works
Can you think of a better adventure for a Sunday in November? Get your tickets here for $40.
6. Level up your foodie game knowledge
There are lots of great food-related festivals that continue even after summer ends in Ottawa! Learn about tea & chocolate at the Nepean Sportsplex Nov 2-3, get up close and personal with another culture at Taste of Russia Nov 3, or stop by the Museum of History for their Christmas market at the end of the month.
7. Attend a LocalTalks YOW
Curious about starting your own business or just looking to meet some cool people in Ottawa? Come hang out at the LocalTalks YOW event. It’s a monthly series with different Ottawa business gurus sharing their knowledge. This month is all about how to attract clients online and Mallory will be moderating the panel!
Grab tickets here before they sell out for just $20 or buy early and get them for $15!
8. Check out the free NAC events
Did you know the NAC has a whole string of free events? You can party with Toddlers on a Tuesday, try some meditation on a Wednesday, or try a house dance class!
To see a full list of their free events, check out the NAC site.
9. Tour Bridgehead’s coffee roastery
Nothing says cozy season like a fresh, warm coffee! On the first Saturday of every month, you can tour the Bridgehead roastery for free from 10-11am! Whether you’re a coffee drinker or not, it’s a cool experience and a unique date idea!
Check them out here.
10. Start on your Christmas joy early
Have you heard of the Magic of Lights? It’s the very Instagrammable tunnel of Christmas lights you see popping up on your feed every year! It’s a pretty cool experience and great for a night that’s too cold to do anything else.
11. Get serenaded by city and colour
This one isn’t free, but good news is it’s a big venue which means cheap seat options! You can grab yourself some 200-level tickets for around $50 each. It’s a perfect November concert vibe.
Find city and colour tickets here.
12. Stroll the Ottawa Farmers’ Market
You know that cute Farmers’ Market you’ve seen at Lansdowne? Well, it keeps going strong through winter! When it gets cold, the market moves inside. It’s the perfect low-key Sunday morning activity after a wild Saturday night.
13. Try a meditation class together
Stop by Ottawa’s meditation hub, Younion and try a meditation class together. At $21 each, you can give it a shot or you can make it a month-long date night with an unlimited membership for just $55 your first month.
Get connected with yourselves and each other! Check out the Younion schedule here.
14. Check out some wicked sculptures
Each spring, John Ceprano creates rock sculptures at Remic Rapids along the Ottawa River. The sculptures are made exclusively with rocks found onsite.
Explore the sculptures before the winter elements dismantle them!
15. Spend the morning at a coffee shop
There’s nothing that says a date has to be fancy! There are so many great local spots to get cozy with a latte and just chat.
Some of our favourites: Drip House (Hintonburg), The Ministry of Coffee (Hintonburg & Elgin), Happy Goat (Elgin, Hintonburg, Sandy Hill, Old Ottawa South, Byward Market), HeadQuarters (ByWard Market), Equator (Westboro, Elgin), Cafe Cristal (Barrhaven), Anabia (Barrhaven), Morning Owl (Manotick, Kanata, Little Italy, Centretown, Parkdale, Laurier, Clyde) Quitters Coffee, (Stittsville), The Grounds (Stittsville), Little Victories (Glebe).
16. Attend the tree lighting ceremony
Head to the Canadian Museum of History November 28th to count down the lighting of the giant Christmas tree, enjoy some holiday music, and maybe even grab some gingerbread cookies and hot chocolate.
17. Set your 2020 intentions
Who doesn't love some intimate planning?! Set up shop at home or at your favourite spot and figure out your goals for 2020! What's the year going to bring for you? Do you have any major goals? Bucket list items for the year?
Write them out together and make a pact to keep each other accountable!
18. Creep around Nature Nocturne
Explore the Museum of Nature after hours and dance under the giant jellyfish. If you’ve never experienced a Nature Nocturne event, it’s worth the $27 per person for a date night.
Grab your tickets from the museum here.
19. Take a walk around the Arboretum
Throw on an extra pair of socks, your favourite tuque, and enjoy the outdoors! The Arboretum is truly beautiful at any time of the year. While you’re there, you can also check out the Tropical Greenhouse and Ornamental Gardens.
Plan your Arboretum visit here.
20. Make it two dates with paint-it-yourself ceramics
Who doesn’t love a reason for a follow up date? At Mud Oven, you can pick from a variety of items to paint together! The items are generally around $20, and give you a great excuse to meet up again. Once your item is painted, you leave it for 7 days and return to pick it up once the process is done!
Learn more about Mud Oven here.
21. Decorate for Christmas early
It wouldn’t be November without early Christmas excitement! Pick a cold night, stay in with the fireplace and put up your decorations together! You can also brainstorm a Christmas gift list for all the loved ones in your life. Who doesn’t love a productive date night?!
Disclaimer: These recommendations are purely personal opinion. Any businesses mentioned have not endorsed this post.