Things To Do In Ottawa

9 Things To Do In Ottawa

Have you ever thought about what to do in Ottawa? I sure have! Ottawa is a city with so much to offer, and it’s not too far from many great places in Canada.

When the weather’s nice, Ottawa comes alive with exciting things to do. But here’s the catch – sometimes finding your way around can be a bit of a puzzle!

Once you’re in Ottawa, you’ll discover fascinating museums, historic sites, amazing food, and a vibrant cultural scene. It can get a little crowded with all the events and attractions, but believe me, it’s all worth it for the incredible experiences.

So, what’s there to do in Ottawa? Well, I’ve got some fantastic ideas for you. And if you have any favorite spots I might have missed, please, share them in the comments!

Discover Parliament Hill

Discover Parliament Hill

No visit to Ottawa is complete without Parliament Hill. It’s the city’s heartbeat and the epicentre of Canadian governance. I recommend starting with a guided tour. It’s an opportunity for you to delve into the rich history and significance of these iconic buildings. Plus, they often sell informative books at the gift shop, which I found great for further exploration.

While you’re there, don’t forget to explore the picturesque grounds; they’re truly a sight to behold. And if you’re fortunate enough to be there during Canada Day, you’re in for a treat – a real highlight of my trip. There’s a contagious spirit of celebration, and you can grab some Canadian flags or souvenirs, which make for excellent keepsakes.

In the summer, witnessing the Changing of the Guard ceremony is a must. It’s a captivating display of precision and tradition that left a lasting impression on me. So, as you plan your visit to Ottawa, remember that Parliament Hill is where history and culture come alive, and it’s a memory you’ll cherish. Don’t forget to pick up a little something at the gift shop to commemorate your journey!

Explore the National Museums

Ottawa is a treasure trove of world-class museums, and you absolutely shouldn’t miss them. The Canadian Museum of History, the National Gallery of Canada, and the Canadian Museum of Nature are absolute must-visits. These institutions offer a fantastic blend of fun and education for all ages.

Step into the Canadian Museum of History, where you can learn about Canada’s rich Indigenous cultures. At the National Gallery of Canada, admire an impressive collection of art that’ll leave you awestruck. And don’t forget the Canadian Museum of Nature, where you can come face to face with life-sized dinosaur skeletons, a favorite of mine.

Each museum is a journey into a different realm of knowledge and wonder. So, make sure to include these in your Ottawa adventure; they’re experiences you’ll treasure. Plus, you can often find unique souvenirs and books in their gift shops, perfect for commemorating your visit.

Walk or Bike Along the Rideau Canal

The Rideau Canal is an absolute gem, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, and it’s a must-visit for outdoor enthusiasts. When summer arrives, the canal transforms into a bustling recreational haven.

You can rent a bike and pedal along its scenic pathways or take a leisurely stroll, immersing yourself in nature’s beauty. And in the winter, something truly magical happens – the canal becomes the world’s largest skating rink. Gliding along its icy surface is an experience you won’t forget, an essential part of any Ottawa winter.

Whether you’re visiting in the warm or cold months, the Rideau Canal offers a unique and unforgettable experience that will connect you with the beauty of Canada’s outdoors. Don’t forget to bring some hot chocolate or a local treat to make it even more memorable!

Attend Festivals and Events

I couldn’t help but fall in love with Ottawa for its year-round celebrations and vibrant festivals. The city boasts a diverse array of events to cater to various interests, making any visit unforgettable. Whether you’re exploring in the chilly winter or enjoying the warm summer, Ottawa has something for everyone. Here are a few standout occasions you won’t want to miss.

If you’re like me and adore the enchantment of winter, Winterlude is a must-see. The festival features exquisite ice sculptures and an opportunity to skate on the city’s frozen waterways.

For music lovers, Ottawa delights with the Ottawa Bluesfest and the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival, where world-class performances set the stage on fire.

And then, of course, there’s Canada Day on July 1st, an event that simply has to be experienced. The city erupts with legendary festivities, including dazzling fireworks, electrifying concerts, and an overwhelming sense of national pride. Ottawa truly knows how to leave a lasting impression.

Visit the ByWard Market

If you want to dive into Ottawa’s exciting vibes, the ByWard Market is a must. It’s not just a market; it’s like a buzzing heart of the city. Imagine wandering through streets filled with cool shops, delicious restaurants, and fun stuff to do.

But here’s the secret sauce: summer! When the sun’s out, this place transforms into a carnival. Picture street magicians, musicians, and tasty food stalls. It’s like the whole city’s throwing a party, and you’re invited! The ByWard Market in summer feels like being part of Ottawa’s best-kept secret – an experience you’ll cherish. And don’t forget to try some of the local treats; they’re a taste of Ottawa’s heart and soul.

Explore the Gatineau Park

Not far from Ottawa, Gatineau Park is a nature lover’s paradise. I vividly recall my first visit there, and it was nothing short of enchanting. The park offers a serene escape where you can lace up your hiking boots for a picturesque trek or hop on a bike to explore the winding trails. But my favorite moments have often been simple picnics by the tranquil lakes, surrounded by the embrace of lush forests.

One of the remarkable aspects of Gatineau Park is its year-round appeal. In the fall, the foliage bursts into a breathtaking display of vibrant colors. The crimson and gold leaves create a surreal landscape that’s just perfect for a leisurely stroll. I’ve spent many memorable afternoons capturing the beauty with my camera.

And when winter blankets the park in snow, it transforms into a cross-country skier’s paradise. The glistening snow-covered trails are both challenging and rewarding, making for an exhilarating experience. I still remember my first cross-country skiing adventure in the park, feeling the crisp winter air on my face.

No matter when you visit, Gatineau Park offers a slice of tranquility and adventure, all within a stone’s throw of Ottawa. The park has a special place in my heart, as it’s where I’ve connected with nature and enjoyed some of my most memorable moments in the great outdoors. Whether you’re an avid nature enthusiast or just seeking a peaceful escape from the city, Gatineau Park has something to offer everyone.

Visit the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum

If you’re a fan of airplanes and space exploration, you’re in for a treat at the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum. I remember my visit vividly, and it was an absolute thrill. This museum isn’t just a place; it’s a captivating journey through the skies and beyond.

As soon as you step inside, you’re surrounded by an extensive collection of aircraft and spacecraft. It’s awe-inspiring to see the evolution of flight right before your eyes. The displays are not just static artifacts but gateways to understanding the marvels of aviation and space.

What I found particularly exciting were the interactive exhibits. They bring science and history to life, making it a fantastic place for visitors of all ages. It’s one of those places where you can feel like a kid again, touching, exploring, and learning.

So, if you’ve ever dreamt of reaching for the stars or taking to the skies, the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum is your launching pad. It’s an unforgettable experience that connects you with the wonders of flight and space exploration, and it’s a must-see when you’re in Ottawa.

Take a Cruise on the Ottawa River

Finally, I can’t forget to mention the mesmerizing river cruise along the Ottawa River. It’s a captivating experience that has left an indelible mark on my memory.

You’ll be gently gliding on the serene waters, treated to spectacular views of Ottawa’s iconic landmarks, such as Parliament Hill, the Supreme Court of Canada, and the Governor General’s residence. The sight of these majestic structures from the river is truly breathtaking.

What adds depth to this experience is the informative commentary provided by the guides. Their stories and historical insights paint a vivid picture of Ottawa’s rich history, making the cruise not just a visual feast but a captivating journey into the city’s past and present.

Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a local looking to rediscover your city, a river cruise offers a unique perspective that you won’t want to miss. It’s a delightful, educational, and awe-inspiring way to conclude your Ottawa adventure, leaving you with cherished memories and a profound connection to this remarkable city.

What are the top tourist attractions in Ottawa?

The top tourist attractions in Ottawa include Parliament Hill, the National Museums, the ByWard Market, the Rideau Canal, and the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum.

What are some family-friendly activities in Ottawa?

Ottawa offers family-friendly activities like visiting the Canada Science and Technology Museum, exploring the Canadian Museum of Nature, skating on the Rideau Canal in winter, and enjoying the Ottawa Children’s Festival.

Are there any free things to do in Ottawa?

Yes, there are many free activities in Ottawa, such as exploring Parliament Hill, visiting the National Gallery of Canada on Thursdays, and hiking or biking along the numerous trails in Gatineau Park.

What are the best outdoor activities in Ottawa?

Ottawa offers excellent outdoor activities like cycling along the Rideau Canal, hiking in Gatineau Park, picnicking in various city parks, and taking a boat cruise on the Ottawa River.

What festivals and events happen in Ottawa throughout the year?

Ottawa hosts several festivals and events, including Winterlude in the winter, the Canadian Tulip Festival in spring, the Ottawa Bluesfest and Canada Day celebrations in the summer, and various cultural and food festivals year-round.

How can I explore Ottawa on a budget?

You can explore Ottawa on a budget by taking advantage of free attractions, using public transportation, and dining at affordable local eateries. Additionally, consider purchasing a CityPASS or other discounted attraction passes.

What are some activities for art and history enthusiasts in Ottawa?

Art and history enthusiasts can visit the National Gallery of Canada, the Canadian Museum of History, and the National War Museum to explore Canadian art and history.

Where can I enjoy the best views of Ottawa?

The best views of Ottawa can be found from Parliament Hill, Nepean Point, Major’s Hill Park, and from boat cruises on the Ottawa River.

Can I enjoy winter activities in Ottawa?

Yes, Ottawa offers various winter activities, including skating on the Rideau Canal, skiing in Gatineau Park, and enjoying Winterlude’s ice sculptures and festivities.

What is the best time to visit Ottawa?

The best time to visit Ottawa largely depends on your preferences. Summer is ideal for outdoor activities and festivals, while winter is perfect for experiencing the city’s winter wonderland. Spring and fall offer pleasant weather and fewer crowds.

Final Words

Overall, Ottawa’s diverse attractions have created a tapestry of memorable moments, weaving a unique connection to this vibrant city. From Parliament Hill to the ByWard Market, Gatineau Park, local festivals, and the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum, each stop has enriched our understanding of Ottawa.

Whether you’re new to the city or a local, Ottawa’s experiences are designed to leave a lasting impression. As you plan your visit, don’t miss these destinations, each offering a unique connection to Ottawa’s rich history and spirited atmosphere. Ottawa is a city that effortlessly forges connections and memories to treasure.

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