I am so happy to finally be bringing you guys some more Ottawa posts! For those of you who don’t know I spent that last year living in Ottawa for school and have just recently moved back home. As much as I loved the city of Ottawa, it just wasn’t the right fit for me at this time. Leaving still came with a lot of bittersweet feelings though, which is partly why these posts have taken me so long.
But the wait is finally over! Today I’m excited to be sharing with you my top ten sites to see in the city of Ottawa. Ottawa is often overlooked as it’s sandwiched between Toronto and Montreal, but our nation’s capital has more to offer than you know! This list contains common tourist hot spots as well as a few hidden gems for you to check out on your next trip to the city.
1. Visit Parliament
If you’re in Ottawa you absolutely need to take a tour of Canada’s parliament building. This is where our country runs from on a daily basis! Tours run every day and they are completely free. If you’re lucky you may even get to see the inside of the Senate and the House of Commons. If you’re even luckier you might catch a glimpse of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau living the building. 😉
2. Take a tour of the Supreme Court of Canada
If you’ve ever wanted to see the inside of a court room you can do so in Ottawa. The Supreme Court of Canada offers guided tours of the court during the summer months. Some of the biggest trials in the country occur here; it’s definitely something cool to experience regardless of if you’re interested in law or not.
3. Try to get out of an escape room
Escape rooms have been the hype all over the place lately and Ottawa is no exception! There are a couple new escape rooms in Ottawa that you should check out and try to break your way out of!
4. Stroll through Byward Market
The Byward Market is one of Canada’s oldest and most iconic pubic markets. The market stretches across four blocks and is filled with museums, cafes, boutiques, restaurants, salons, and the best boutique shopping in the city! In the early hours of the morning this market is filled with local farmers and fresh produce and at night it transforms into the nightlife hub of the city, with students pouring out of bars and into 24 hour diners into the wee hours of the morning. There are also always special events happening in Byward including Winterlude and Poutine Fests!
5. Visit the city’s museums
Ottawa is home to several different fun and interesting museums including the war museum, the history museum, the aviation and space museum, and the museum of nature. The nature museum is personally my favourite; the three level building is split into water, earth, and fossils, allowing guests to experience nature from a variety of different perspectives. If you plan on hitting 4+ of the museums I’d recommend purchasing the museum passport. It grants you access to all the museums in Ottawa as well as the National Gallery of Canada.
6. Eat your heart out at Poutine Fest
Speaking of Poutine Fest…Ottawa is home to some of the best poutine in the country! If you haven’t had poutine, you are missing out! Poutine is a Canadian delicacy of French fries smothered in gravy and cheese curds (you can find vegan options around too!). There are a number of poutine fests run by various organizations throughout the year that come up with some crazy creations such as popcorn chicken poutine and nacho poutine!
7. Play at a board game café
Board game cafes are also popping around all over town and Ottawa is home to one of my favourite ones; the Loft! These board game cafes are a great option for people like me, who still want to enjoy a night out, but without the loud, sweaty, and crowded clubs. The Loft in Ottawa has two levels; upstairs houses a board game wall of over 300 games and downstairs has a dozen game systems for those who want to enjoy video games instead. They also have a unique food and drink menu.
8. Skate on the Rideau Canal
Visiting Ottawa in winter definitely warrants a skate on Canada’s longest ice rink! Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned skater, you’ll love experiencing the thrill of skating on the canal. The canal stretches 7.8 km and provided conditions are good you can skate the entire thing! Along the way there are numerous rest stops and beaver tail stands to refuel. You can also rent skates and equipment, so no need to fret if you’re not prepared!
9. Visit the Royal Canadian Mint
Ever wondered how Canadian money is made? Well you can find out with a tour of Canada’s Royal Canadian Mint. While this tour is not the most exciting, it’s something interesting to explore. I’d recommend doing at least once, just to say you did it!
10. Cheer on Ottawa’s teams!
Sandwiched between popular NHL teams Toronto and Montreal, the Ottawa Senators often get overlooked, but a Sens game is something you should definitely try to experience on your trip to Ottawa. The rink is currently located in Kanata, which is about a 20 minute drive from downtown, but the city has just revealed new plans to relocate the rink closer to downtown within the next five years. If hockey isn’t your thing, you can check out the CFL’s newest edition; the Ottawa Redblacks!
I hope this list gives you some ideas for your nest trip to our nation’s capital!