Canada is not just Niagara Falls and the Rocky Mountains. There is much more. Ottawa, the capital city of Canada has a unique combination of attractions to tourists with diverse interests. Besides its beautiful natural setting of acres of forests, spectacular waterfalls, pristine beaches, green mountains, beautiful parks and pathways, there is dance, sports, music, museums and galleries, heritage sites, cultural activities and world-class shopping centers.
Read further and check out the many exciting possibilities that await you on your vacation to Ottawa. Gather information about Ottawa, its attractions and choose Ottawa vacation package. There are varied deals that address different interests of Ottawa vacationers. Ottawa vacation package for nature lovers, Ottawa vacation package for the active people who love outdoor activities, for singles, couples and family- there are customized vacation packages and also those that are tailor-made.
About the city - Ottawa
Ottawa is the capital city of Canada. Since 1969, Ottawa and Gatineau share the honor as Canada's capital regions. Here are interesting facts about Ottawa, which every Ottawa vacationer will be eager to know.
- Ottawa got its name from the Algonquin tribe Odawa, meaning 'trader'.
- Ottawa is a bilingual city; the residents of Ottawa speak mainly English and French.
- Small percentage of population speaks other languages like Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic and Portuguese.
- Ottawa is just an hour's drive from the American border.
- The temperature in Ottawa measures about 33°C in summer and -40°C in winter.
- Snow cover in Ottawa in recent years lasts from December till April.
- The Ottawans celebrate 35 major festivals, including Tulip festival and Bluefest, which are evenly distributed in the four season.
- The Forbes Magazine has rated Ottawa as the 4th cleanest city out of 300 major cities
- Ottawa is considered to be the most visitor-friendly capital in the world.
- According to 2006 Worldwide Cost of Living Survey, Ottawa is the least expensive to live in.
- Almost every place worth seeing is within a brisk walk or an inexpensive cab ride.
- There is no single time earmarked as best time to visit Ottawa. It's a 365 days holiday destination.
- Ottawa vacation is an ideal choice for a weekend getaway because you can see so much in a short time.
There is so much to see and do at Ottawa. You can choose between guided or self-guided tours. You can choose to explore Ottawa by boat, by car or by bus. Or you may prefer to hop on a bike and cover the hundreds of kilometers of bike paths and nature trails. You can even consider
taking a hot air balloon ride or a carriage ride. But, the best way to explore is on foot. Ottawa has pedestrian friendly streets. Also, the walking trails will take you through hamlets, towns and scenic shorelines. All that you need is a cap, map, brochures of places to visit, boots and gloves.
Kick start Ottawa vacation by visiting the Capital Infocentre. A visit to the center helps plan your stay in the city. Most Ottawa vacationers start the tour by visiting the Capital Infocentre, which is located at the middle of the city directly opposite to Parliament Hill on Wellington Street.Capital Infocentre is also close to the Ottawa River.
- Exhibits provide information about Ottawa's history, the development of the city as Canada's capital.
- Multimedia theatre provides fascinating summary of the key places of interest in Ottawa.
- Great place to click shots from the second floor, a wonderful view of the Parliament Buildings.
Museums in Ottawa
Take a walk down history by visiting museums in Ottawa. There are 29 museums of which 12 are national museums. Throughout the year the museums provide food for thought and feast to the eyes of visitors. Here is a list of museums in Ottawa. Know what to expect during your visit to Ottawa museums.
It can be a combined museum tour most of which are close-by. Combine visit to the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Canadian Children's Museum, and the Canadian Postal Museum. The Canadian Museum of civilization is located in Gatineau, Quebec, on the banks of the Ottawa River, directly opposite Parliament Hill. It features Ottawa's archeological, ethnological, folk culture and historical collections. You can travel back in time and get to know Canada's history and prehistory. A legacy for future generations is secured here in the form of vintage handicrafts, collections, historic buildings and properties. List of museums in Ottawa include:
Canadian Science and Technology Museum: Look at antique cars, steam locomotives, printing presses, space travel simulator and agricultural machinery. In the evening, stargaze through Canada's largest refractor telescope.
Canadian Museum of Nature: Most noted for its magnificent architecture, the exhibits here include a mammal gallery, talisman energy fossil gallery, and a bird gallery. There is also an animalium gallery that features spider, snails and hissing cockroaches. Watch nature films in the high-definition cinema screen. Haunted walks from seven in the evening are a recent addition.
Currency Museum of the Bank of Canada: The purpose of visiting the museum would be to learn about the evolution of currency in Canada from its pre-colonial beginnings.
By Town Museum: Take a look at articrafts and items displayed that describe Ottawa's history. The Museum enjoys a unique reputation of being the most haunted buildings in Ottawa.
Canadian Agriculture Museum: Canada's unique agriculture heritage is featured here. A live beehive, exhibition of farm tractors, a small animal barn, agricultural equipment, antique home settings, house wares, exhibitions to mark special days are interesting
features of the museum.
National Gallery of Canada: On display are some of the most well known works of Canadian art including paintings by the Group of 7.
Diefenbunker: Located below a farmer's field in Ottawa valley, diefenbuker is a four-storey underground bunker. It's supposed to be a nuclear bunker that would have housed Canada's federal government in the case of nuclear war. The facility was officially known as Canadian Forces Base Carp but it quickly got the nickname of the Diefenbunker after the Prime Minister of the day, John Diefenbaker.
Beaches in Ottawa
Water quality is checked regularly in all the beaches in Ottawa. Before you dive into the deep blue sea, check swimming advisories or check the red flag/green flag system at the beach on arrival. Ottawa beaches are comfortable with various facilities available at each location like washrooms, change rooms, picnic tables and barbecue pits. At some locations, canoes and kayaks are available to rent.
Ottawa has four major public beaches that are open in the summer - Mooney's Bay, Britannia Beach, Westboro Beach, and Petrie Island. Kids throng the Mooney's bay beach which has fun things especially for kids including swings, monkey bars, slides and teeter totters as well as climbing structures.
Shopping in Ottawa
The Rideau Center is perhaps the biggest shopping mall in Ottawa, which is conveniently located near the major attractions and various hotels. Clothes, jewellery, shoes, beauty products, books Gifts and food and drink, Rideau Center is famous for these and much more. Ottawa has many shopping malls. Downtown Ottawa is packed with shops, malls and markets. An array of artisan goods, Canadian clothing and many Canada-themed souvenirs are popular shopping items amongst Ottawa vacationers.
Another popular Ottawa shopping destination is the ByWard market. It is also a major entertainment area in Ottawa. Located east of Parliament Hill, ByWard market has in recent years evolved into a world-class shopping destination. Teen girls would love shopping here. From beads to bracelets to hand woven clothing, unique gift items, wonderful jewellery, there are so many things to pick up. ByWard Market is a favored shopping spot for fresh produce, locally grown fruits and vegetables and for a wide range of fashion, décor and specialty shops. At the north end of the ByWard Market is a unique shop named 'Nest' that sell European and North American wooden toys for babies, toddlers and kids.
It is a common sight to see Ottawa vacationers stroll the cobblestone streets of the area, indulge in window-shopping through the boutiques and galleries at ByWard Market, spend an afternoon looking around, sit and enjoy the historic ambience of the area, appreciate the nineteenth century buildings, listen to street musicians, relish homemade ice creams, dine in the cafes and restaurants or snack in the bakery or grab a glass of wine or beer. For those who want some isolated moments, make use of the several secluded cobblestone squares in the market.
Whitewater rafting in Ottawa
Ottawa vacations are incomplete without enjoying the wilderness tours. It provides the finest Whitewater rafting experience to people of all ages. There are many other activities both water-based and terra firma sports to choose from like mountain biking, bungee jumping, kayaking and much more. There are a variety of Ottawa vacation packages to choose from. The rafting on the Ottawa is world class and is made a safe and enjoyable experience with knowledgeable and experienced guides. The tour is acknowledged as a family experience of a lifetime.
Oldest landmark in Ottawa
One of the oldest landmarks in Ottawa, Rideau Canal is filled with boats in the summer months and becomes the 'World's Longest Skating Rink' in the winter. During winter it freezes. The place is a hub of activity during Ottawa's Winterlude festival. Incidentally, the Guinness Book of World Records has recognized the Rideau Canal Skateway as the world's largest naturally frozen ice rink. It is a phenomenal experience for enthusiastic skaters to rent skating equipment from one of the shops located along the canal and test skating skills on the frozen
surface of the canal.
The canal was built between 1827 and 1832 without the aid of machinery. It is also a World Heritage Site and a Canadian National Historic Site. During Ottawa vacation, take a tour of the Canal and view few of the original buildings, see different view of the city, and observe the lock being opened and closed using the same methods as that of the 19th century. Check out the special way intended for pedestrian use.
Parks and recreation in Ottawa
Ottawa city has generously set-aside 100 acres of land for human recreation and enjoyment. Here is a list of major parks in Ottawa. Brewer Park, Britannia Park, Confederation Park, Dow's lake, Lansdowne Park, Macdonald Gardens, Major's Hill Park, Mooney's Bay Park, Rockcliffe Park, Strathcona Park etc.
Enjoy a stroll, walk your dog in dog-friendly Ottawa parks, read a book under a tree or just enjoy the scenery and landscape. The parks are user-friendly and entertaining. All the parks offer a variety of amenities, including boat launches, docking facilities, childcare centers, swimming pool, tennis courts, bikeway/hiking trails, baseball, basketball courts, picnic facilities, monuments/art, fishing areas, shelters, concession facilities, toboggan run, and riverwalk.
Other Ottawa vacation attractions
- Plan Ottawa vacation and be part of Canada Day. July 1st Canadian Birthday is celebrated with pomp and splendor.
- A specific attraction for men is going to a Lacrosse or Hockey game.
- On the outskirts of the city, there are great snowboarding and ski hills.
- Last weekend in April through the second weekend in May features the annual tulip festival that takes place at various locations throughout Ottawa.
- Energy Days, an annual event in Canada takes places during the month of May.
- National Capital Race Weekend is held during the first Saturday in June. It includes a 10K run.
- During the second weekend of June each year, the annual carnival of cultures is held. It is held to celebrate wide range of cultures that are part of Ottawa.
- A fund raising event, the Bed Race is organized by the Ottawa Kiwanis Club at the Dows Lake.
- There are over 80 restaurants in Ottawa; home to several internationally recognized chefs. Besides Canadian cuisine, try Thai, Mexican, Indian, Aboriginal, and Japanese food. For the chocolate hungry, go to Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory or Sugar Mountain.
- Live entertainment options include a masquerade ball and the live southern bands.