Skip to main content

The Student’s Guide to Nightlife in Ottawa’s Original Downtown: Part 2 

October 4, 2023

So you’ve finished writing that essay or studying for that exam and you’re desperate for a break from the books. Lucky for you, Ottawa’s nightlife scene has no shortage of options for you to choose from! Cocktail bars, dance halls, night clubs, comedy clubs – there’s something for everyone looking to indulge their wild side. And the best part is that it’s all a short walking distance from Rideau Station! 

Willing to do a little extra walking? These places are all just outside of the Downtown Rideau area, but are still easily accessible by foot. Regardless of what you’re looking for, there’s something to suit anyone’s tastes in the ByWard Market, on Clarence Street and in the other surrounding areas. 

Sky Lounge 

Discover why Sky Lounge has assumed the title of Ottawa’s only “convertible” bar – it’s a secret that’s reserved for regular patrons only! This club is a popular choice for new and returning students; their Frosh Week events are the perfect place to hang out with friends and meet new people! 

📍 73 York Street (top floor) 

Friday – Saturday: 10 p.m. – 2 a.m. 

📞 (613) 243-3560 

🖱️ Sky Lounge’s Instagram 

Students flock to Sky Lounge throughout the school year when they’re looking for a place to blow off steam in between their studies.
(Image: Sky Lounge) 


If you’re looking for the ideal spot for a first date, but would prefer something a little more reserved and laid-back, check out Charlotte on Elgin! This spot combines vintage and contemporary décor to create a one of a kind ambiance, complete with high-end craft cocktails and a small plates menu that changes regularly. Stop in at one of their Industry Nights on the last Sunday of every month! 

📍 340B Elgin Street 

Tuesday – Thursday: 7 p.m. – midnight 

Friday – Saturday: 7 p.m. – 2 a.m. 

📞 (613) 421-0669 

Charlotte’s laid-back, chic atmosphere makes it the perfect spot to impress a first date.
(Image: Charlotte) 

Château Lafayette  

Step back in time and visit the Château Lafayette to experience the true essence of what it means to be in Ottawa’s Original Downtown! “The Laff” was founded over 150 years ago, predating the creation of the Parliament buildings, the Rideau Canal and even the country itself! Today, you can catch live DJs, open mic nights and all kinds of live entertainment while dining on pub grub and their local craft beers, including the “1849,” a beer made especially for The Laff by Big Rig Brewery! 

📍 42 York Street 

Sunday – Saturday: 11 a.m. – 2 a.m. 

📞 (613) 241-4747 


The Château Lafayette is one of the most and historical established in all of Ottawa, even predating the Confederation of Canada!
(Image: Château Lafayette) 

The Lookout Bar 

The Lookout is the most celebrated LGBTQ+ bar in Ottawa and has been a staple of the city’s nightlife scene for over 25 years – all are welcome! Free drag shows take place on the outdoor patio every evening from Tuesday to Saturday. Stop by and feel free to let loose while enjoying The Lookout’s fun and inviting atmosphere along with their selection of cocktails and shooter specials. 

📍 41 York Street (2nd floor) 

Sunday – Saturday: 11 a.m. – 2 a.m. 

📞 (613) 789-1624 


Everyone is welcome to dance the night away or experience a drag performance at The Lookout Bar.
(Image: The Lookout Bar) 

El Furniture Warehouse Ottawa 

This venue is one of over 20 across Canada that exist as part of the Warehouse Group, a series of eateries that are committed to providing customers with a menu that’s as delicious as it is affordable and fantastic live music, courtesy of their DJs. Experience their rooftop patio in the heart of the ByWard Market as well as their happy hour, which runs from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. 

📍 77 Clarence Street 

Sunday – Saturday: 11 a.m. – 2 a.m. 

📞 (613) 695-1771 


All of the Warehouse Group’s restaurants are committed to providing menu options that are tasty without breaking the bank.
(Image: El Furniture Warehouse Ottawa) 

Copper Spirits and Sights 

If you’re visiting from out of town, there are plenty of reasons why Andaz Ottawa should be one of your first choices when looking for a place to stay. Not only do they offer a contemporary, high-end living experience with luxury suites, but the hotel is also home to Copper Spirits and Sights, a cocktail bar located on the top floor of the hotel! Enjoy craft spirits and small plates while taking in unparalleled views of Ottawa’s Original Downtown. Check out our blog on hotels to learn more about places to stay! 

📍 325 Dalhousie Street 

Tuesday – Thursday: 5 p.m. – 10 p.m. 

Friday – Saturday: 5 p.m. – midnight 

📞 (613) 321-1234 

🖱️ Reserve a table on OpenTable 

Breathtaking views are abundant at Copper Spirits and Sights, located on the top floor of the Andaz Ottawa.
(Image: Copper Spirits and Sights) 

The 27 Club 

Longtime citizens of Ottawa will almost certainly be familiar with this venue! Once known as Zaphod Beeblebrox, or simply Zaphod’s for short, the venue has since rebranded and renovated while remaining true to the mission statement and core values of the original owner! Check out its futuristic, industrial-style décor as well as its abundance of live music acts and its massive dance floor, all located right in the heart of the ByWard Market! 

📍 27 York Street 

Monday – Tuesday: 10 p.m. – 2 a.m. 

Wednesday – Thursday: 9 p.m. – 2 a.m. 

Friday – Saturday: 8 p.m. – 2 a.m. 

📞 (613) 562-8330 

🖱️ The 27 Club’s Instagram 

Formerly known as Zaphod’s, The 27 Club has been an essential staple of Ottawa’s nightlife scene for decades.
(Image: The 27 Club) 

Room 104 

For the gamers who have made a regular habit of visiting Level One Game Pub on Waller Street, be sure to level up your evening by walking six minutes to Room 104 on Clarence! This place is a bastion of 80’s pop culture featuring arcade cabinets, plush leather banquettes and a menu of over 100 shots for you and your friends to try out. You can even challenge your friends to a game of air hockey or foosball and spend the evening determining who amongst you is the champion! 

📍 104 Clarence Street 

Wednesday – Sunday: 9 p.m. – 2 a.m. 

📞 (613) 220-5684 


Gamers will find a safe haven at Room 104, with arcade cabinets and table games galore.
(Image: Room 104) 

The Show Ottawa 

Calling all students in the Nation’s Capital! The Show has quickly become a favourite destination for attendees of uOttawa and Carleton, especially amongst fraternities and sororities. Be sure to drop in for one of their dance parties or ladies’ nights and discover how The Show has fostered a reputation for itself as one of the most high-energy clubs in Ottawa! 

📍 104 Clarence Street 

Wednesday – Sunday: 9 p.m. – 2 a.m. 

📞 (613) 220-5684 


The Show is another highly popular venue with university students and has been a top partying destination in the Nation’s Captial since 2018.
(Image: The Show Ottawa) 

Pub 101 

For those seeking a more laid-back night on the town, Pub 101 is the place to be! A wide variety of events are hosted here, including their paint nights which have become a regular favourite among patrons! Get in touch with your creative side while sipping on a cocktail, or book yourself a ticket to one of their comedy and/or karaoke nights! 

📍 101 York Street 

Sunday – Saturday: 11:30 a.m. – 2 a.m. 

📞 (613) 562-4665 

🖱️ Pub 101’s Instagram 

Paint nights have become a highly anticipated event amongst patrons at Pub 101, as well as comedy and karaoke nights.
(Image: Pub 101) 

NUVO Lounge 295 

Aside from hosting regular dance parties that feature all genres of African and Caribbean music, including hip-hop, afrobeat and dancehall to name a few, NUVO Lounge is proud to be the base of operations for the Cultures Comedy Club! Founded this year, the Club is devoted to providing a platform for people from diverse cultures to share their lived experiences via improv, alternative, sketch and stand-up comedy routines. Whether you want to bust a gut or bust a move, NUVO has you covered! 

📍 295 Dalhousie Street, #1 

Friday – Saturday: 11:00 p.m. – 3 a.m. 

📞 (343) 596-5400 


Dance parties and comedy nights are NUVO Lounge 295’s specialties; why not try and make it out to both events?
(Image: NUVO Lounge 295) 

Poa Tiki 

It’s tiki time! Poa Tiki Bar on Dalhousie offers an experience that is truly unique to Ottawa by being the only bar in the city to offer a tropical Hawaiian atmosphere! The bar sports no shortage of pirate-themed décor as well as a collection of curated tiki mugs that you can drink from. And with live performances, DJs and regular events like burlesque shows, this is the place for a fun, eclectic and truly tropical evening! 

📍 281A Dalhousie Street 

Sunday, Tuesday – Thursday: 5 p.m. – midnight 

Friday – Saturday: 5 p.m. – 2 a.m. 

📞 (519) 870-7779 

🖱️ Poa Tiki Bar’s Instagram 

Poa Tiki Bar’s most popular drink is the Smokin’ Pirate, largely due to what it’s served in. Visit them to find out what makes it so special!
(Image: Poa Tiki Bar) 

Midnight revelers are certain to make memories that will last a lifetime, and it all starts right in the heart of Ottawa’s Original Downtown! Stay tuned for the third and final part of our guide to Rideau nightlife, where we’ll cover venues that require a little extra walking to get to but are every bit as fun! 

Thinking of driving down? Check out this handy resource that lists all the available parking spots in the area – please have a designated driver! And check out our Events page to see everything else that’s happening on Rideau Street!