Let’s be honest, no matter which season or how many times you visit, there’s always a reason to come back to Ottawa. Hop on a flight, take a drive, or my personal favourite, go VIA Rail and take in the views with the added stress.
Our Nation’s Capital is always changing and forever offering amazing culinary, historical, architectural, unique and exciting places to visit. I’ll give you several reasons to come back this fall and winter!
Where to Stay:
Just over two years old, Andaz Ottawa ByWard Market is in the hip and trendy ByWard neighbourhood offering tons of restaurants, bars and local shops nearby. Walking distance to Parliament and Sparks Street, the Andaz features modern luxury rooms and products, with a comfy, cosy, homey feel. When the kids are fast asleep, I suggest sneaking up to Copper Spirits and Sights, located on the 16th floor of the Andaz featuring an eclectic list of cocktails and spectacular views from up above.
Breakfast is also a treat for the whole family boasting a farm to table menu where you can indulge in the assorted buffet breakfast or get in that morning smoothie and eggs benny.
Food & Drink:
Hintonburg Public House features traditional pub food made in-house using local ingredients, giving your culinary experience an elevated touch.
The other great thing about Hintonburg is the location. It’s a two-minute walk to Maker House, a local store that features all kinds of cool and interesting crafts to take home with you. It’s also the check in place for your Brew Donkey Tour.
Brew Donkey allows you to explore Ottawa’s craft beer scene one stop at a time. Samples of beer are included with the tour, with the ability to purchase more along the way. In between stops, you’ll receive useful facts and information from your guide, and I promise it’ll be quite the entertaining afternoon!
The breweries I visited on my tour were:
- Kichesippi Beer Co., the second oldest brewery in Ottawa.
- Nita Beer Company, may I suggest sampling their Pineapple Sour.
- Beyond the Pale, whose best seller is the Aromatherapy, an American IPA featuring fruity notes.
Riviera – A former bank building with an open kitchen and high ceilings, Riviera offers divine food options and an extensive list of cocktails. By the shaker, by the glass, draught beer, American and Irish whiskey single malts, not to mention gin, tequila and mezcal, rum and a full wine list and digestives. You’ll need an hour just to decide on drinks, or so my server tells me. Stephen Flood makes the Great Flood cocktails. I had the Grapefruits of Wrath made with tequila, Campari, IPA, lemon simple syrup, butter and chopped grapefruits bitters. As for the culinary experience, the menu is condensed but offers delectable options including oysters to start, ricotta gnudi with black trumpet mushrooms as a main and for dessert, grey owl goat cheese with locally sourced honey and apricot spread.
Zoe’s: A splendid place for lunch or afternoon tea at the iconic Fairmont Laurier, featuring bubblegum tea for kids.
Tavern on The Hill runs from spring until fall featuring gourmet hot dogs and a 360-degree view of Parliament Hill, the National Gallery of Canada, and the Rideau Canal where it empties into the Ottawa River. Sister location Tavern on The Falls opened in Spring 2018 overlooking the Ottawa River and Rideau Falls, part of the new Canada Centre for Geography and Exploration bringing to light our cultural heritage at 50 Sussex Drive!
El Camino ByWard Market location offers affordable tacos for everyone and for mom and dad, tequila! And of course, you must finish your meal with the ever so delicious churros!
What To Do:
Escape Bicycle Tours takes you on a magical journey through Ottawa crossing hidden gems and historical landmarks throughout the city. You’ll journey past the Rideau Canal and even cross the Alexander bridge and go through Gatineau Park in Quebec! You’ll learn interesting facts along the way like every day the Peace Tower flag gets taken down and as a Canadian, you can have it mailed to you for free. The current wait list is 71 years.
While you still can, take a tour of Parliament’s Centre Block which includes The House of Commons and Senate chambers and The Library of Parliament; the only original structure to survive the fire of 1916. It survived due to the quick thinking of the librarian who closed the iron doors before evacuating and today is referred to as The Most Beautiful Room in Canada. At the end of the tour, be sure to head up the Peace Tower for a spectacular view of the city.
*Beginning January 2019, significant renovations to Parliament’s Centre Block will begin. The House of Commons will move to a newly renovated space within West Block on Parliament Hill, and the Senate will move to the Government Conference Centre down the street, across from the Fairmont Château Laurier. Free tours of both venues will continue to be offered.
An epic experience for any age! With 1.2 million visitors per year, it’s no wonder it’s Canada’s most visited museum. The architectural shape of the building resembles a canoe and inside you’ll find four levels of Canadian historical wonders including the world’s largest indoor collection of totem poles, the First People’s Hall, Canadian History Hall featuring more than 1500 authentic artifacts, Modern Canada and for the little ones a 500-seat theatre and Canadian Children’s Museum. From interactive stations to playing dress up and putting on plays to travelling the world, discovery awaits them. You’ll want to carve out several hours to explore this incredible museum.
If you’re planning a visit this winter, check out the fabulous events running in Canada’s capital:
- Beginning December 5th, Ottawa will be illuminated by the Christmas Lights Across Canada show.
- If Christmas and Farmers Markets are more your style, check out the ByWard Market Neighborhood featuring Christmas choirs and free horse-drawn wagon rides or the Christmas Craft Market running November 17th – December 2nd.
- Free ice-skating options include the ever popular (and one of my favourites) The SENS Rink of Dreams, located in front of Ottawa’s City Hall or
- Skating on the historic Rideau Hall skating rink (December through to March 2019)
For a full list of all events and festivals, be sure to check out OttawaTourism.ca.