20 Reasons You'll Love the Rideau Canal

After being cooped up indoors and kept away from our family and friends, a boating holiday is the perfect way to reconnect with loved ones, relish in the great outdoors, while keeping your distance from others if and when we need to! 

A staycation on the Rideau Canal offers spectacular nature, picturesque towns, and lively cities of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the greatest engineering feats of the 19th century, the Rideau Canal is the oldest continuously-operated canal system in North America. Read about just some of the Can't Miss experiences along this world-class waterway. 


20 Reasons You'll Love the Rideau Canal in Ontario, Canada

1. The Diverse Landscape: The rideau offers a diverse landscape sometimes changing from one bend to the next! You'll find yourself in the serenity of nature, where you'll hear the fish jump and then pass quaint 100 year old cottages on the shore or on an island. Property gawkers will delight to see the million dollar waterfront estates that pepper the route and become abundant as you enter the larger cities.   

Houseboating on the Rideau Canal in Ontario offers a diverse landscape

2. Wine Tasting at a working vineyard: A Must See. Visit Scheuermann's Vineyard and Winery in Westport to enjoy a selection of elegant wines while taking in the views of several acres of beautiful vineyard, Westport Sculpture Garden, and Sand Lake sunsets. We also recommend trying one of the delicious wood-fire oven pizzas!


Winetasting at Scheuermann's Vineyard and Winery

3. The Great Museums and Cultural Attractions: You'll find bigger attractions in Ottawa like the National War Museum and the National Gallery,  but also find delightful surprises like the Railway Museum of Eastern Ontario in Smiths Falls. For a specialty museum experience, visit Canada's Penetentiary Museum in Kingston which is dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the history of Canada's federal penitentiaries.

Spend the night on a caboose at the Railway Museum of Eastern Ontario in Smiths Falls


4. The Hiking Trails: - The natural topography on the Rideau naturally lends itself to exploration, and boaters will find a number of conservation areas dotting the shores of the river and lakes that make up the waterway including the Cataraquai Trail,  the Tip to Tail Trail at Burrits Rapids, Colonel By Island and Foley Mountain. 


5. It's Perfect for a Paddle: You'll find wetlands, streams and bays to explore on your kayak. Try taking a paddle up the Tay Canal towards the town of Perth!  



6. The Local Foods: Your tastebuds will love the local flavours along the Rideau waterway. Sample the fine dining in the bigger cities of Ottawa and Kingston or discover the smaller local cafes, bakeries, and restaurants in the towns and villages along the way.  This region is also known for its Maple Syrup and scruptious butter tarts! 

Local Restaurants along the Rideau Canal



7. The Parks Canada Lockstaff: You'll pass effortlessly through locks operated by the friendliest lockstaff in the world. Parks Canada work most of the locks manually, with the same technology as when the canal was first built in 1832.  These wonderful ambassadors are always ready to answer your questions and offer advice for the perfect day. 

Parks Canada

8. The Many Artist Studios: Meet the artists and tour working art studios in Ottawa's Byward Market, in downtown Kingston, or in quaint artisan towns like Manotick, Merrickville, and Westport.

Artists in Merrickville

9. The Handmade Ice Cream & Gelato: A cold treat is refreshing on a hot summer's day. The Rideau Canal corridor is home to more than 150 dairy producers, local fruit growers & maple producers. Many of the ice cream and gelato shops along the Rideau Canal use these locally source ingredients in their icy treats that are scooped up all season long.

Enjoy handmade gelato in Ottawa Ontario


10. Parliament Hill in Ottawa: Few people get the opportunity to cruise up to Canada's parliament buildings in a private cruiser. No longer reserved for the rich and famous, anyone can have the experience of living on a boat in downtown Ottawa. From you private condo on the water, you can set out to explore the city including the nearby Byward Market for great dining, shopping, fresh produce, and nightlife. 

Cruise up to Parliament Hill in downtown Ottawa


11. The Microbreweries for sampling Craft Beers: A cold brew can be the perfect complement to the boating life, and when you cruise with Le Boat on the Rideau Canal, you won’t have any trouble finding the perfect micro-beer to add to your boating adventure. 

Craft Breweries in Ontario along the Rideau Canal


12. The Clean Fresh Water for Swimming: Great for dipping your feet in after dinner or for spending hours splashing and swimming in Big Rideau Lake. Also fun with one of our Stand Up Paddleboards available as a vacation extra

Swimming in Big Rideau Lake


13. The Countless Tranquil Spots for Great Fishing: Every day can mean a good catch when you cast your line into Canada’s iconic Rideau Waterway, where fish of all species abound, just waiting to be hooked. 

Fishing on the Rideau


14. The Tea Houses:  Indulge in afternoon tea in one of many quaint small towns and villages. Several have tea houses where you can find traditional high tea, or just pop into a quaint small town bakery for some great coffee and fresh-baked pastries. For an extra special experience, we recommend Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier across from the locks in downtown Ottawa. 

 Enjoy high tea on your Rideau Canal boating vacation

15. The Tulips in Ottawa: Bike along the abundant, paved bike paths along the canal in Ottawa to explore the tulips in early season. The Canadian Tulip festival happens every May with over 300,000 Tulips will be in bloom for a strolling experience through the parks by the canal. 

Field of Tulips in Ottawa Canada - Photo Credit Ottawa Tourism


16. The Abundant Wildlife: Keep a lookout for swans, turtles, beavers, minks, river otters and more. You'll hear the beautiful loon call in the evenings and if you're lucky the fireflies will come out too. [photo credit: Simon Lunn, Rideau Photographer]

17. The Hands on Historical Experiences: Old Fort Henry in Kingston, The Blacksmith at Jones Falls, the Blockhouse in Merrickville, Perth's Town Crier, Watson's Mill in Manotick, The Museum of Natural History in Ottawa, and the Lockmaster Museum at Chaffey's Lock are just a few of the historical experiences along the route. And let's not forget the canal itself! It has a UNESCO World Heritage Designation and it a Canadian National Historic site itself.  You'll find the Rideau Canal Museum in the Parks Canada offices directly across from the Le Boat Docks in Smiths Falls. 

Town Crier à Kingston


18. The Craft Spirits: Top Shelf Distillers in Perth, Ontario, is reviving the 200-year-old tradition of distilling. Enjoy Top Shelf Vodka, Top Shelf Gin, Canadian whisky, cocktail bitters and even five varieties of flavoured moonshine.

Top Shelf Vodka


19. The Shopping:  Shop till you drop. From big city boutique shopping in Ottawa and Kingston, to the locally owned shops in small towns like Manotick, Merrickville, or Smiths Falls. You'll be delighted to discover Kilborn's on the Rideau, a department store just a short walk through the woods from the Newboro lock station. It's an unlikely spot for such a large selection of merchandise - from specialty foods to home decorating to designer footwear and clothing. 

Shopping Daytrip to Perth Ontario


20. The Local People: Canadians are famous for being some of the friendliest people in the world! The people along the Rideau Canal delight in offering advice on the best experiences and recommendations of their local restaurants. Often you'll even make friends with the other boaters in the locks!

 Houseboats on the Rideau Canal in Ontario - Enjoy the people of the region.


Cruising on a Luxury Boat Rental in Ontario, Canada

Our Canadian boating vacations are the perfect way to discover the beauty of the Rideau Canal. 

Running from Ottawa to Kingston, the Rideau is perfect for the romantic weekend getaway or mid-summer family adventure with the kids or group of friends. You may choose a short break of 3-5 days, a weeklong vacation, or even 10+ days spending lots of time experiencing everything this region has to offer.


Download the Canada Brochure

Travel close to home this year.

View the Canada brochure to learn about a vacation on the UNESCO Rideau Canal - a 202km stretch from Ottawa to Kingston featuring big cities, small artisan villages, spectacular nature, narrow rivers and wide open lakes. View it online in a searchable PDF viewer. 

View Le Boat Canada Brochure


Find out more about cruising on the Rideau Canal