Features

The perfect summertime spots

Photo by Ali Schwabe

Ottawa is pretty incredible in the summertime. Patios are open, the banks of the canal turn green, and the ByWard Market’s outdoor stalls become active. While there’s plenty to do during the day, fill your summer nights with these forgotten forms of entertainment. They’re sure to leave you smiling.

Pool

The Cue & Cushion pool hall has been around for nearly 50 years. Situated above Babylon (319 Bank St.), it’s a quick walk from Ottawa’s downtown core and right in the middle of the bar scene. Open until 3 a.m., it is the perfect after-hours hang out, and so much more.

When you walk into the Cue & Cushion, you are immediately greeted by a jukebox, foosball table, and bar. Behind this bar, you’ll generally find Chris, Miles, Jules, or Malcolm. Friendly and knowledgeable, the bartenders are quick to fill your beer and offer you a story. The 8 ball off the break, famous stop-ins… It’s all there if you look for it.

Pool is generally considered a dying sport. The glory days of Paul Newman and the Hustler seem to be fading. But that doesn’t mean pool’s dead yet—here, it’s thriving. The Cue, as it’s often called by regulars, has cheap beer, a bumping atmosphere, and plenty of singles looking to mingle. It’s not uncommon to find someone cute hanging out, in need of a breather after a couple hours in Babylon’s cramped space. The Cue has well over a dozen pool tables, so there’s usually an open one to grab. If you’d rather get some fresh air, the Cue’s balcony overlooks Bank Street—it’s the perfect place to talk to someone new in a more private setting.

If you’re looking to get out of the downtown core, a bus stop away from the Canadian War Museum lies the Orange Monkey. It’s been Ottawa’s snooker home for over 20 years, and when it comes to snooker, a game similar to pool but played on a different table, there’s no better place to play in the Ottawa area. You’ll feel like you are stepping into a movie when you arrive. The atmosphere is a little more competitive than the Cue but no less welcoming. They’ve got great nachos, $3 beer specials on Tuesdays, and all-you-can-play pool on Sunday afternoons.

So whether it’s a pool hall or billiards room that strikes your fancy, get out there, take aim, and have fun. Both types of venues are fun, open late, and cheaper than taking a date to the movies. Don’t worry about blue chalk on your pants—dust it off as you walk home and know that it’s well worth the experience.

—Justin Labelle

 

Bingo

Friends’ Bingo Hall is as inviting as the name suggests. As you get off the #12 bus at 70 Montreal Rd., the bingo palace looms before you with its tacky pink-painted brick and flashing signage. Once you get inside, you line up with all the regulars to pick up your bingo book. Bring cash, which is how you pay and what you can win. Starting at just $10.50 for a three-row book, the game is as affordable as it is fun.

Find a seat at the maroon folding tables—no matter where you sit, you’ll be beside friendly neighbours. If they’re regulars, they’re sure to have littered the space surrounding their bingo cards with dabbers of every colour imaginable and a few good luck charms. Bingo players take the game seriously—after all, big money is on the line and the caller reads out numbers quickly—but they’re also welcoming and will explain the game to you so that you don’t fall behind. Breaks between games give you plenty of opportunity to chat in a chill atmosphere.

There’s something delightful about the tackiness of a bingo hall, whether it be the Tim Hortons cups all over the counters or the interior design consisting of a mint green and pastel pink colour scheme. It’s a comfortable place to be, there’s no dress code enforced, and the food is unbelievably cheap—morning bingo games often feature free breakfasts for any player. From the movie-style popcorn made fresh to the deep fried chicken fingers with barbeque sauce and green-dyed coleslaw, all the food is pretty delicious too.

With games starting at multiple times throughout the day, including at 1 a.m., there’s never a bad time for bingo. To top it off, you’re playing for a different charity with every game. Trust me, when you hear the caller yell the number you’ve been waiting for and you can triumphantly proclaim “Bingo!”,  you’ll understand why this makes for an incredible summertime hang.

—Ali Schwabe