Travel
Creative Corners – Things to do in Ottawa
November 9, 2017
0
,
Creative Corners - Things to do in Ottawa

Explore the history, art, nature, and food of Canada’s capital with these things to do in Ottawa. While the city is often passed over by tourists, it offers a window into Canada’s history and culture, as well as showcasing some of its best art and architecture. If you find yourself in Ottawa, here are some highlights to cover during your stay.

Byward Market

I strongly recommend staying in the Byward Market area, not only for its great food but its central location. From this area you can walk almost anywhere of interest in Ottawa. The buzzing marketplace houses permanent shops and restaurants, alongside temporary stalls filled with fresh produce and handicrafts. Byward is one of Canada’s oldest and largest public markets, and the area has traditionally been home to Ottawa’s Irish and French communities. Don’t forget to pack your earplugs as Byward Market is a popular nightlife spot and there’s always that one loud reveler who takes the party into the street.

Creative Corners - Things to do in Ottawa
Byward Market

Take a Walking Tour

A walking tour is an excellent way to get oriented with a new city, so I recommend putting it first on your to-do list.  For Ottawa, I recommend André’s team at Ottawa Free Tours, who present a fun and informative, two-hour, pay-as-you-wish tour of the capital city. You’ll learn a little Ottawan history along with some local folklore, as your explore the streets and buildings that have been witness to important historical events.

Creative Corners - Things to do in Ottawa
View of Ottawa from Nepean Point

Explore the Canadian Museum of History

If like me, you have little knowledge of Canadian history then this is the perfect place to start your itinerary. The Museums’ two buildings are located a short walk across the Alexandra Bridge from Ottawa in Parc Laurier, Gatineau. You will see the two Museum buildings long before you’ve arrived. The organic shapes of the Douglas Cardinal designed structures are mesmerizing. The architect intended that the Museum complex “speak of the emergence of this continent, its forms sculptured by the winds, the rivers, the glaciers.” Personally, I prefer the curatorial wing which represents the bedrock of the Canadian Shield with overhanging and receding levels of sinuous curves. While the public wing symbolizes a receding glacier, with a large glass facia like melting ice. Take some time to wander around the outside and admire the architecture.

If time is of the essence, skip straight to Level 3 and 4 of the Museum to work your way through the Canadian History Hall, where you can walk through a comprehensive timeline of Canadian history that includes over 1500 artifacts – this will take you about 90minutes. Also, make sure you stop in at the Great Hall which contains the world’s largest indoor collection of totem poles.

Creative Corners - Things to do in Ottawa
Canadian Museum of History with the public wing on the left and curatorial wing on the right
Creative Corners - Things to do in Ottawa
Canadian Museum of History curatorial wing

Admire the National Gallery

The National Gallery of Art holds the worlds largest collection of Canadian art housed in a post-modern, Moshe Safdie designed structure. If you’re pressed for time, skip the European and American Art and go straight for the Canadian collection on Level 1, it is impressive! The Rideau Chapel is an absolute must-see. The salvaged interior of the chapel, formerly situated at the Convent of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, is the perfect setting to experience Janet Cardiff’s sound sculpture Forty Part Motet. I lay on the benches staring up at the beautiful Tudor-style, fan-vaulted ceiling, enveloped in the sound of Spem in Alum recorded in forty parts and played back through forty speakers positioned around the space. Tieing with the Rideau Chapel for my favourite, was the incredible gallery wall of modern art in the Galerie Ash K. Prakash.

Creative Corners - Things to do in Ottawa
The glass tower of National Gallery of Canada
Creative Corners - Things to do in Ottawa
Joseph Légaré's portraite of a chief's daughter - Josephte Ourné - circa 1840

Saunter the Rideau Canal

The Rideau Canal is skirted by a walking trail of approximately 6.5km (one way) from the Ottawa River to Dows Lake Pavilion. It makes a beautiful morning walk with lots of parks and green spaces to explore along the way. There is an additional 5km (one way) of walking path along the Ottawa River to explore.

Creative Corners - Things to do in Ottawa
The locks of the Rideau Canal

Hike Gatineau Park

If you haven’t done enough walking yet and you have access to transport, pack a picnic and go hiking in Gatineau Park. Autumn is a particularly good time for all my fellow leaf peepers to get their fill of fall colour. I highly recommend the King Mountain Trail for spectacular views of Ottawa and surrounds. It is a relatively easy hike that strings together ten scenic lookouts. Have a thing for abandoned places? A trek to the Willson-Carbide Ruins will not disappoint.

Creative Corners - Things to do in Ottawa
King Mountain Trail view, Gatineau Park
Willson-Carbide Ruins
Willson-Carbide Ruins
Willson-Carbide Ruins

Investigate Parliament Hill

Due to the new Governor General of Canada being sworn in during my stay, I didn’t get to take a tour inside Parliament. If you get a chance to take a look inside you will need to obtain a free ticket with a designated time from the tourist information centre opposite Parliament Hill. Either way, you can walk around the grounds and admire the exterior architecture.

Creative Corners - Things to do in Ottawa
Parliment Hill celebrating Canada's 150th anniversary of confederation

Eat, eat, eat

Coffee – Planet Coffee (cash only), Bluebird Coffee and Second Cup all make a consistently good java, have friendly service and free wifi. Though my favourite was Origin for the coffee and ambiance.

Breakfast – Benny’s Bistro (look for the dachshund on the sign) is a local’s secret you won’t want to skip. The Scone Witch is a good budget option.

Lunch – LaPointe for Ottawa’s best sushi and La Bottega for the most delectable sandwiches are both affordable options in the Byward Market area. For something a little more upmarket, try Play Food & Wine for modern, small-plates. They offer a tempting lunch menu of two-plates per person for $22.

Dinners – For some amazing modern Middle-Eastern cuisine, try Fairouz in the Somerset Village area. Their haloumi cheesecake is amazing! Milestones and Beckta are fabulous downtown options, along with Vittoria Trattoria for Italian fare and The Keg for steak, both in Byward Market. For the ultimate indulgence book well ahead for a 12-course degustation at Atelier.

Dessert – A Beaver Tail is the done thing of course, and if you’re a cake lover Oh So Good Desserts will have you returning for more.

Creative Corners - Things to do in Ottawa
One of twelve degustation courses at Atelier
Creative Corners - Things to do in Ottawa
Benny's Bistro is known for its salmon gravalax!

Drop me a comment below if you have any questions about exploring Canada’s capital, with these things to do in Ottawa.

Peace, love & inspiring travel,

Madam ZoZo

Creative Corners - Things to do in Ottawa

About author

Madam ZoZo

Hi! I’m Madam ZoZo, aka Zoë, an Australian designer, creative consultant, blogger and digital nomad. I’m passionate about travel, design, dance and new experiences that fuel my creativity. I strive to travel in a style that is gentle on the earth and that contributes to the communities I visits, even if it is merely to take away a greater understanding of a different culture. Duende by Madam ZoZo, is where I share the stories of my travels and the duende (soul/inspiration) I find along the way.

Travel Essentials to Pack Every Time You Leave Home | Duende by Madam ZoZo

13 Travel Essentials to Pack Every Time Leave Home

Explore the history, art, nature, and food of Cana...

Read more
Forsyth Park, Savannah

Creative Corners – Things to do in Savannah

Explore the history, art, nature, and food of Cana...

Read more
Cradle Mountain Summit | 7-day Tasmania Road Trip Itinerary | Duende by Madam ZoZo

7-Day Tasmania Road Trip Itinerary

Explore the history, art, nature, and food of Cana...

Read more

There are 0 comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin
Share
+1
Tweet