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Things to do in Ottawa: Food, Activities, and Museums

Things to do in Ottawa

If you’re looking for 3 simple things to do in Ottawa, you can pick one a place to eat for fueling your body. Then you can explore the city of Ottawa through hikes or go on some adrenaline induced adventure such as white water rafting. Lastly, you can take a leisurely stroll across museums and other historical sites and call it a night. 

Things to do in Ottawa For Foodies: 

Ottawa offers a rich variety of restaurants and cafes which can make your trip to the capital city special. Everything from farmer’s markers to fine dining is spectacularly beautiful. 

ByWard Market: Visit this vibrant neighborhood market where farmers and craft merchants have taken to the market to share their produce. Pack some food and take a 20 minutes to walk from the Byward Market in Ottawa to the Gatineau Museum of History. 

Le Cordon Bleu: One of the headquarters of this famous French culinary institute is based in Ottawa. 

Atelier: This restaurant is owned by Marc Lepine a two-time Canadian Culinary Champion—a feat no other chef can claim. His restaurant serves up an inventive 12-course tasting menu every night. A solar oven, classic must have liquid nitrogen, and other experimental techniques are used in these dishes: Yolko Uno and the Codfather. Do try. 

Wilf and Ada’s: This tiny diner near Highway 417 is on Bank Street. With a fabulous menu, this diner offers brunch classics that are sweet and savoury to meet everyone’s fancy. Try dishes such as: Classic breakfast or an Eggs Benedict Florentine. You’ll also be pleased with free coffee refills. 

NeXT: This restaurant is owned by award-winning chef Michael Blackie. With Canadian, Asian, and European-influenced dishes, you’ll travel the world.  

C’est Bon Cooking Tour: Discover the evolution of Ottawa’s food scene as you indulge in fine dining and ethnic foods of the capital city. 

Brew Donkey Tour: Relish a variety of Ottawa breweries, brew pubs, and craft beer bars.

Broadhead Brewing Company, Beyond the Pale, Lowertown Brewery, and Dominion City Brewing Co. Are all options for local breweries offering craft beer too. 

RunawayGrape: A guided gourmet wine and food tasting awaits. Sample a selection of world-class Ontario wines.

Le Café: Made for tourists, located within Ottawa’s National Arts Centre, Le Café serves up Canadian contemporary cuisine. They source ingredients from across the country, where the lamb comes from Ontario and the Fogo Island cod is caught in Newfoundland, all paired with wines chosen by the Master Sommelier, John Szabo.

High Tea at the Chateau Laurier: This historic hotel is a landmark in Ottawa and a very popular stay as well. With tea, sweets and mini sandwiches, you can have breakfast in bed all day. 

Restaurant e18hteen: Love steak, seafood, and wine. Look nowhere else as you indulge in a lobster bisque served with a reserve Angus AAA ribeye paired with the perfect wine.

Beckta Dining and Wine: Get in touch with Ottawa’s history with this fine dining restaurant located at 150 Elgin Street. The heritage building, built in 1875, is well maintained from the past and creates a unique ambiance in which to enjoy contrasting modern cuisine.

Domaine Perrault: A  family-owned vineyard offers wine that you can sample from fruit wine made from apples, blueberries or cranberries. 

Jabulani Vineyard & Winery: Offers a selection of more than 15 wines in a picturesque setting, perfect for a date or a weekend away from work. 

Vineyards Wine Bar Bistro: Sample the best local wines of Ottawa which offers a selection of more than 300 bottles of wine.

Things to do in Ottawa – Historical Sites: 

Canada Agriculture and Food Museum

We’ve listed some of the best places to eat above, so it seems only fair to include this museum on the top of our list. This museum is a full working farm which paints a story about the nation’s history of food production. A true family friendly experience, kids will love petting the sheep and goats, while adults have plenty to interest them in the exhibits of farm tech. 

Parliament Buildings

Almost anyone going to Ottawa will come across a suggestion to see these buildings but they are truly beautiful national sites. As the centre of Canadian politics, this whole area is loaded with history and things to check out.

Walk the grounds of Centre Block along a pathway which gives you great views of the Ottawa River or see the paintings of past Prime Ministers and the first female house of Parliament. 

See the Centennial Flame and many statues or visit the stunning Library of Parliament – the historic circular structure! No wonder visitors go here first to cover an extensive 2000 years of history and the past, present and future of Canadian civilization. Did you know this place has an IMAX theatre to watch films offering a unique perspective on history? The tours are free. No video is allowed and you can bring a bottle of water.

Canadian Museum of Nature

Visit the natural history museum displaying art ranging from native animal and bird species to the human cultivation of natural resources. This museum is architecturally stunning as it is inside the Victoria Memorial Museum Building. As the museum has undergone extensive renovations over the last few years, you’ll see a perfect combo of traditional and modern architectural aesthetics. 

National Gallery

This national landmark is a striking structure housing an extensive collection of Canadian art.

The giant spider out front which attracts a lot of people’s attention is designed by Louise Bourgeois. His display can also be seen at the Tate Modern Art Museum in London England in Missouri, USA, St. Petersburg, Bilboa, Tokyo, Seoul, Doha and Des Moines.

Canada Aviation and Space Museum

The Aviation and Space Museum is the national centre of aeronautical history in Ottawa. If you fancy a trip back to the past, you’re in for a treat with early aviation, vintage planes and military aircraft, many dating back as far as the 1920s. This is why it is located in the 

Ottawa/Rockcliffe airport itself. 

Fairmont Chateau Laurier Historic Display

Enter the grand hall of the famous Chateau Laurier frequented by Winston Churchill. This Chateau even has a Titanic related past. Charles Melville Hays was in charge of the railway expansion in Canada and had a hand in hiring the designers for the hotel.Awaiting the opening of the Chateau Laurier back to Ottawa, he boarded the Titanic where he met his fate on that dreaded night and never saw his dream come to fruition. Visit the memorial of his downstairs beside the entrance to the swimming pool.

Canadian War Museum

This museum is a sobering and often moving chronology of the realities of war in a sympathetically and practically. 

Rideau Hall

This is home to one of the most important figures in the Canadian Government: the Governor-General who performs the duties that the Queen of England does.

Visit the Governor General, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette who currently resides there. Visitors can tour a portion of not only her residence but also the official halls used for ceremonies and meetings.

Things to do in Ottawa For Adrenaline: 

Biplane Flight

Fly in the World War II Biplane but at the Canada Air and Space Museum, regular flights take place during summer hours. Don’t forget to bring your spouse or children! 

Whitewater Rafting

The Ottawa River is considered to have some of the best whitewater rafting on earth. It attracts professional rafters and kayakers to run its class 5 rapids but of course if you are a family group, there are even smaller rapid trips to suit everyone

Paddleboard

Is it a wonder that paddleboarding is THE sport to do in Ottawa when you can paddle board across the Gatineau River looking up at the stunning parliament buildings of Ottawa.

This will go down as one of the most fun things to do in Ottawa. No experience is required, once you get your balance, you’ll be guided along the river to explore the city. 

Pink Lake Trail 

Gatineau is in Quebec which is located just across the river from Ottawa, Ontario so it’s safe to say these two are connected. One of the best things to do in Ottawa is to visit Gatineau Park. If you’re stuck for time visit the Pink Lake Trail. Located in the beautiful Gatineau Park, this trail takes hikers around this turquoise-green lake (the lake was named after the Pink family which settled the land in the 1800’s). 

This  2.5 km trail is surrounded by dense forest which takes hikers around an hour to complete. The Pink Lake Trail offers free access to the lookout, and free parking on site.

Carbide Wilson Ruins

Another hike that is a picturesque walk through the forest and along lakes is the Carbide Wilson Ruins. It’s easy, short and ends at the laboratory and summer residence of inventor Thomas Wilson who invented the industrial chemical calcium carbide, hence the name. 

Living in a panic that people would steal his other ideas, he built an estate and damn in the middle of the forest where he could work in private. The house and damn  stand even today and are Instagram worthy spots in the Ottawa Region, making us wonder if the inventor would ever open it to the public if he was alive today. 

Bicycle Trails

With over 600 km of bike paths criss-crossing the Capital Pathway, biking is one of the best ways to discover the area for free. On Sundays, you can cycle on scenic area roads as part of the Alcatel-Lucent Sunday Bikedays.

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