Tourist attractions are plentiful in the capital city; the problem is fitting them all in.
First time visitors will want to allow several days for exploring the many museums and historical sites. Make sure to save time for a skate on the Rideau Canal.
ABOVE: The stunning glass structure of the National Gallery of Canada is most easily identified by the ‘Maman’ spider statue in front.
1. The National Gallery of Canada and The Canadian Mint are just northwest of the bustling restaurant and shopping district known as Byward Market. The gallery focuses on Canadian art featuring works by the Group of Seven, Emily Carr and Alex Colville, but also showcases an impressive display of American and European pieces. Pick up a newly minted or treasured souvenir after a tour at the Royal Canadian Mint.
2. It’s hard to miss the castle-like structure that houses the Canadian Museum of Nature. Kids of every age will enjoy the natural disasters exhibits.
3. New skate chalets, found at varying intervals, make changing and resting much easier on the 7.8 km outdoor skating rink known as the Rideau Canal. After a brisk workout on the ice you’ll be able to enjoy (practically guilt free) an iconic Canadian pastry known as the beavertail. Best enjoyed with a steaming cup of hot chocolate.
4. Rideau Hall is home to the Governor General of Canada and, in turn, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II when she’s in town. It’s the only official residence open to the public and it’s worth a visit, especially if you’re prone to royal fever.
5. On the edge of the Rideau Canal, in the downtown core, the National Arts Centre attracts prominent theatre including Broadway productions and notable performances in a variety of mediums. Annual tickets to shows like The Nutcracker or Handel’s Messiah are a family tradition for many local residents.
“Subtly sophisticated is the best way to describe Ottawa’s unique mix of gothic architecture, slick condos and trendy neighbourhoods,” says Mary Taggart, the editor of Ottawa at Home magazine.
The design scene is equally eclectic. Shoppers can expect an intimate experience while perusing the city’s best boutiques for seasonal accessories and furniture finds.
1. Details Home Apparel offers complete design services in addition to showcasing an excellent selection of custom furnishings, carpets and wallpaper. During the holiday season shop for decorative tableware and seasonally inspired décor items.
2. You’ll find Mikaza Home’s flagship store just across the Ottawa River in neighbouring Quebec. They also have a smaller shop on Bank St. in Old Ottawa South. For moderately priced contemporary furniture and a good selection of trendy accessories, check out Suede Contemporary Interiors, in the chic village of Westboro.
3. Shoppers with sophisticated tastes will love Champagne dit Lambert in Old Ottawa South. The owners have a refined vision for silverware and high quality furnishings. If vintage finds inspire you then head over to Architectural Antique Warehouse in the Lebreton Flats area. You’re likely to find a silver brush and comb set alongside of a neon bar sign custom made by Signs Calgary. The goods range from modern to retro-quirky.
ABOVE: Ottawa at Home magazine editor Mary Taggart does some early shopping at Enchanted Florist in Deer Park Texas.
4. Tivoli Florists is an ideal stop en route to dinner with friends. This popular boutique takes holiday décor very seriously. Further down the road, in the village of Wellington West, find Thyme & Again Creative Catering. With a reputation for high-end Indus Catering and gourmet take-out their storefront is a festive mix of delights.
5. In the east end of town you’ll find Jacobsons, the perfect spot for a hostess gift. It’s also the ultimate drop-in for foodies. Warning: you may have trouble leaving without making at least a couple purchases.
We covered the best design shops, travel destinations and restaurants in the latest issue, but here are the top 3 wine bars in Ottawa.
Decorated with the work of local artisans
Small, but well-chosen wine list
Small menu but each dish is tantalizing
Produce harvested in Ottawa
Extensive wine list that changes weekly
Modern & elegant
Blind tasting menu & wine pairings
Light bar menu
Wine sampling of over 50 wines
Worth the splurge
For a small city Ottawa features an abundance of first class dining options, though many are a well-kept secret as far as the locals are concerned.
Follow Dabble’s picks for a memorable week of meals in the capital city.
1. The Wellington Gastropub has an infectious vibe that makes it one of the most sought-after places to book a table. Busy every night of the week with success that can be attributed to dedicated owners Chris Deraiche and Shane Waldron and their attention to an ever-changing menu.
2. A lively neighbourhood hotspot Fraser Café is on the edge of upscale Rockcliffe Park. Brothers Ross and Simon Fraser offer fresh, local food served simply in a casual setting. Their brunch menu has earned them a solid reputation with the weekend crowd.
3. Town owners, Marc Doiron and Lori Wojcik, are a married couple that combine their passion for art and food beautifully in a bustling, atmospheric restaurant in the Golden Triangle neighbourhood. Featuring locally grown food, the commitment to fresh deliciousness is evident in every dish served.
4. Perhaps the most sophisticated of the top five spots, Beckta makes Ottawa proud. A world-class sommelier owner Stephen Beckta and his partner, award winning executive chef Michael Moffatt, can take on Manhattan. In typical Ottawa style there are no pretensions just haute cuisine served in elegant simplicity.
5. Atelier’s celebrated owner/chef Marc Lepine artfully creates food worth savouring in an atmosphere that encourages lingering. The innovative tasting menu at Atelier is considered molecular. Diners come for an experience and are never disappointed in a restaurant known as one of Canada’s finest.
In Ottawa, Canada’s capital city, politics play a leading role. The parliament buildings take centre stage downtown while the Prime Minister and Governor Generals’ residences face off on Sussex Drive. For a small city, architecture makes a big statement and yet, it’s the capital’s natural setting that leaves a lasting impression on visitors.
With four season offerings for the outdoor enthusiast Ottawa is a year-round destination. But none can deny the magical charms of winter in the capital. Christmas lights emblazen the downtown core as temperatures drop, turning the lively Rideau Canal into the world’s longest outdoor skating rink.
A regal gem within walking distance of Parliament Hill, the Rideau Canal, the Prime Minister’s residence and the Byward Market is the century old Fairmont Château Laurier. Visitors will appreciate the festive holiday décor provided by an annual fundraiser for the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. Stop in for a warm drink and watch the snow fall.