OTTAWA

Things to do

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Things to do in Ottawa

There are a number of walking tours to introduce you to the capital area.

  • Ottawa Walking Tours offers historical guided walks of Ottawa's downtown core with special stops at areas of historical significance. Tours acquaint guests with the history of the city and allow visitors to learn more about Ottawa’s history, architecture and colourful political characters. Tours are offered year-round and reservations are required. For more information, call +1 613 799-1774.
  • The Haunted Walk of Ottawa offers tours focusing on Ottawa's infamous haunts and darker history. Hear tales of hauntings at some of Ottawa's most well known locations, including the Fairmont Chateau Laurier, Bytown Museum and the Ottawa Jail Hostel. Cloaked guides lead guests through the city streets by lantern light-the perfect atmosphere for a good ghost story. Tours run year-round, rain or shine. Reservations are strongly recommended. For more information, call +1 613 232-0344.

If you enjoy the outdoors, especially if you are a cyclist, you should definitely visit Gatineau Park just across the river from Ottawa. Bicycles can be rented during the summer months at Rentabike, 2 Rideau St, (under Rideau st on the East side of the canal). Ottawa and the surrounding area boasts over 170 km of public paved trails on which you can run, bike, walk or rollerblade. If you are looking for a place to start, head to the nearest waterway: paved trails line both sides of the Ottawa River, the Rideau Canal, and the Rideau River. The Trans Canada Trail enters Ottawa through the outskirt communities of Carleton Place and Stittsville, then joins up with the Ottawa River at Brittania Bay (near Carling Avenue at Bayshore Drive). It follows the river 13 kilometers east to Parliament Hill, then crosses over to the Quebec side, extending into and beyond Gatineau Park.

  • Rideau Skateway. In winter, go skating on the largest outdoor skating rink in the world, the Rideau canal. Skates can be rented, and refreshments purchased, from vendors right on the ice. This is also a great place to enjoy a "beaver tail" (a sweet pastry). free, skates can be rented.
  • Skiing. The city's trail system serves as an excellent cross-country ski trail system, as do the nearly 200 km of groomed ski trails in Gatineau Park. Downhill skiing is available across the river in three near-by sites: Camp Fortune (180 m vertical), Edelweiss (200 m vertical) and Mont Cascades (165 m vertical).
  • Maple Syrup. In early spring (typically March), when the daytime temperatures are above freezing and night temperatures are below freezing, consider visiting a sugarbush for fresh maple syrup. There are many to choose from in the region if you have a car to drive out of the city.

Day trips to Québec

Since Ottawa is located right on the provincial border, daytrips to neighbouring Québec can be made easily.

  • Gatineau - Right across the Ottawa river. The Canadian Museum of History is worth a visit. The nightlife in the Old Hull neighbourhood is often considered superior to Ottawa's, with a handful of loud clubs but also a decent offering of artistic cafés with good local live music.
  • Gatineau Park is directly north from Hull; the Camp Fortune and Edelweiss ski areas are also north of the city, near Chelsea and Wakefield respectively. Wakefield is a picturesque artist town on the side of the Gatineau river. Rich with cultural offerings and beautiful natural surroundings (especially in autumn).
  • Buckingham is downriver from Gatineau in the east, as one of the more accessible venues for rural maple sugar shack camps.
  • Aventure Laflèche,  +1 819 457-4033. A superb destination for those interested in outdoor activities in the Gatineau Hills year round. A community-owned non-profit company that offers beautiful nature trails, tours of the historical Laflèche caves, and the province's largest aerial park for the adventurous (includes several ziplines). Calling ahead for reservations is highly recommended.
  • Eco-Odyssée,  +1 819 459-2551. Another great option for nature lovers close to Wakefield. A water maze that's great for learning about the local marsh environments.

Shows

Ottawa has many movie theatres to choose from, but there are also a few that specialize in "foreign" films (i.e., not American), early releases, old returning films and specialty films. The Bytowne Cinema is on Rideau Street near King Edward. The Mayfair Theatre is at 1074 Bank St. near Sunnyside. In addition, the Canadian Film Institute screens films at the National Library on Wellington and is a favourite of the specialist film crowd.

Ottawa has lots of live theatre entertainment. That includes the National Arts Centre in English and French , the Great Canadian Theatre Company, the Ottawa Little Theatre, and Tara Players (Irish theatre).

Jazz and blues lovers can find what they are looking for in these Ottawa music calendars: jazz shows and blues-jazz calendar. Venues include Vineyards in the Byward Market, GigSpace near Little Italy, and the Options Jazz Lounge in the Brookstreet Hotel (in Kanata). Many other venues offer jazz weekly or occasionally; see this club list. Find Blues at the Rainbow in the Byward Market and Irene's Pub in the Glebe.

For Folk music, see the Ottawa Folk Music Events listings.

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