Top 3 things to do in Ottawa, Canada

 

 View of downtown Ottawa, Canada 

My wife and I had the privilege of visiting Ottawa when we resided in New York City.  Ottawa is the capital of Canada, and it certainly shows, from its majestic Parliament Hill, the Ottawa River, and world class museums.  Bordering the city of Montreal to the east, and US border to the south, Ottawa is derived from a native Algonquin word for ‘odawa’, which means to trade.  

Ottawa is home to nearly 1.4 million residents.  Its main economic driver is the federal government, which accounts for majority of jobs.  Close second is the high technology industry, which earned Ottawa the nickname ‘Silicon Valley North’.  

Located about 460 miles northwest of New York City, it took us about 9 hours to arrive there.  The highway we chose, the I-87, is one we’ve taken many times to travel upstate to the Catskills Mountains, Lake George, and Canada.

We left early around 6 am on a Saturday morning so we can arrive there before sunset.  Luckily, the traffic was non existent once we left New York City.  It was a smooth sailing once we got on I-87.  The drive was not memorable as we had driven the same highway many times.  Once we crossed into Canada, we enjoyed it much more as these were roads we had not traveled!

We arrived late afternoon at our hotel in Ottawa downtown.  We checked in without any fuss at the downtown Marriott Hotel.  We got a beautiful room overlooking the downtown area and the Ottawa River.

Once we checked in, we took few minutes to catch our breath, before heading out to the city.

We got a map of downtown from the hotel, then started walking towards the Parliament Hill.  

Parliament Hill, or also known as ‘ The Hill’, is located on the southern banks of the Ottawa River.  It comprises of the Parliament of Canada, the Supreme Court, the Peace Tower, the Queen’s Gate, and the Wellington Wall.

The Parliament of Canada is what immediately drew us due to its immense size and grandeur.  The building looks like the Palace of Westminster in London.  We couldn’t believe we were in Canada!

The Hill is absolutely a treat to walk around.  There are colorful guards dressed in red uniforms (London again?).  There are beautifully manicured gardens and lawns.  You can’t help but be awed by the massive buildings lining the Hill.  There are plenty of photo opportunities at the Hill!

We walked around the Rideau Canal the following day.  Rideau Canal is a beautiful canal lined by federal buildings, hotels, parks, shops, and restaurants.  We saw boats taking locals and visitors along a cruise on the canal.  We saw people just enjoying the sunlight out on the canal.  It was a beautiful scene!

Below please find our top 3 things to do in Ottawa!

  1. Parliament Hill (the Hill)
Parliament Hill is a must see while visiting Ottawa.  It’s hard to miss ‘the Hill’ due to its dominating size as you drive into the city.  Be sure to check out the changing of the guard during summer months each morning.  The parade starts at the Cartier Square Drill Hall at around 9:45.  

Walk around the entire Parliament Hill area by foot to truly take in everything the sight has to offer.  Stop by the many benches lining the Hill and grab some food as well.  Enjoy the views of the Ottawa River.

Parliament of Canada, Parliament Hill, Ottawa 

     2.   Rideau Canal

Rideau Canal, also known as the Rideau Waterway, connects Ottawa to Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River at Kingston.  It is 202 kilometers long, and it was opened in 1832.  It is the longest continuously operated canal system in the North America.

Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and National Historic Site of Canada, Rideau Canal is both an engineering marvel and what truly makes Ottawa special.  

In the warmer months, Rideau Canal is used by boats for cruises and for water activities.  In the winter time, the Canal is used as an ice skating rink.  It is the world’s largest and the second longest ice skating rink.  During winter, Winterlude festival takes place at the canal.  

The views along the canal is simply breathtaking.  You’ll see the famous Chateau Laurier as well as other imposing government buildings from the canal.  

Be sure to do a cruise along the canal in the warmer months, or grab some coffee to people watch.  In the winter, try your hands at skating at the canal!

Rideau Canal, Ottawa 

     3.   Byward Market

Byward Market first opened in 1826 and it features both an indoor and outdoor marketplace.  There are shops that sell just about everything you can think of.  From the shop that sells ‘Obama Cookies’ to locally sourced cheeses, you’ll find something to buy.

Byward Market is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ottawa.  It is also a popular local destination for dining, entertainment, shopping, arts, and professional services.

We strolled in and out of the market to enjoy tasty treats and bought a pair of earrings for Mrs. Wandering Money Pig.   Market is huge!  The sights and sounds will leave you overwhelmed at times.  Take coffee breaks or treat breaks to re-energize!

Byward Market, Ottawa, Canada 

Ottawa is one of our favorite places to visit in Canada.  It is a beautiful capital city and it certainly looks the part.  From world class architecture, to museums, and to the Rideau Canal, it’s exactly the type of mini vacation wearied worker bee needs to recharge!

We can’t wait to go back to Ottawa when the pandemic ends!

Thank you all for reading!


Jake

Wandering Money Pig 


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Please check out our YouTube channel ‘Wandering Money Pig’ showcasing our travels and our Pomeranian dog! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3kl9f4W9sfNG5h1l-x6nHw


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