In Canada’s national capital, you will be drawn to the magnificent Parliament Buildings. Tour the elegant chambers where the business of governing Canada takes place. Climb the Peace Tower for a panoramic view of the city. Learn the drill at the stirring Changing of the Guard ceremony running daily through the summer. Come nighttime, return to ‘the Hill’ to experience a free sound and light show; it’s a powerful journey through Canada’s physical, historical and cultural landscapes. If you’re in town on July 1st, join thousands of Canadians on Parliament Hill for a sensational Canada Day concert and fireworks show.
MAD FOR MUSEUMS
Spend a day or two museum- hopping. Discover Canada’s history and culture, back to its earliest inhabitants, at the Canadian Museum of History – an architectural masterpiece. Size up a real blue whale skeleton at the Canadian Museum of Nature. Brush up on masterworks of art at the striking granite-and-glass National Gallery of Canada. Tour the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum and see a Great War-era Sopwith Camel or a vintage 1920s bush plane. Pay tribute to Canada’s military past at the Canadian War Museum, with its richly symbolic architecture. Go underground to a secret nuclear bunker at the Diefenbunker. And you can bank on having a great time at the Royal Canadian Mint.
CURRENT EVENTS AND FESTIVALS
A city of festivals, Ottawa’s calendar is filled year-round with special events. Each spring, sample maple syrup at a variety of events in the region. Enjoy a blooming grand time in May at the Canadian Tulip Festival – inspired by a gift of 100,000 tulip bulbs from the Dutch Royal Family. Hear hot summer music at Bluesfest, Canada’s largest blues festival, and enjoy inspiring jazz sessions during the Ottawa Jazz Festival. Celebrate the most fun season of all during Winterlude each February. Check out the magnificent sculptures of ice carvers from all over the world. Enjoy an Ottawa Senators hockey game in the winter or a Redblacks football (American) game in the fall.
APPETITE FOR SHOPPING
Stroll through the historic ByWard Market, a lively mosaic of farmers’ market stalls, boutiques, galleries, studios, cobblestone courtyards and charming heritage buildings. The 160-store Rideau Centre offers more choices nearby, including Nordstrom department store. All this shopping will work up an appetite and the Market is happy to oblige you with a menu of great bistros, wine bars and cafés. Be sure to bite into a BeaverTail pastry, a local guilty pleasure. Treat yourself to French cuisine at Le Cordon Bleu Bistro @ Signatures, one of only two Le Cordon Bleu restaurants in the world. Dine on locally grown and prepared food served up wherever you see the Savour Ottawa designation. Enjoy Canadian cuisine and performing arts at the National Arts Centre.
Ottawa’s great outdoors beckons. Stroll or bike along the Rideau Canal, an UNESCO World Heritage Site – or paddle a kayak through the canal’s lock system. Come winter, it turns into the world’s largest skating rink. Rent skates and glide down the Skateway to Dow’s Lake for a look-see at an outdoor art gallery on the ice. Explore the National Capital Greenbelt, which surrounds the city with parkland, trails and recreational facilities. Go whitewater rafting on the Ottawa River from family-friendly Class I rapids to the adrenaline rush of Class V – it’s just 90 minutes away, near Beachburg.
Seat of Canada's government and setting for national celebrations year round. See The Changing the Guard and sound & light free daily in July and August.
Celebrates Canadian and world cultures, and houses the world's largest indoor collection of totem poles in its beautiful Grand Hall.
Featuring awe-inspiring exhibits that bring everything from the ocean to dinosaurs into focus. Lots of interactive features.
Presents the country's national art collection and outstanding international exhibitions throughout the year.
Engages visitors with the wonder of aviation and aerospace through its spectacular collection.
Massive underground bunker, meant to house Canadian government officials in the event of a nuclear war.