Ottawa

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Ottawa is the capital of Canada. The city is situated on the Ontario side of the Ottawa River, opposite Gatineau, Quebec. The metropolitan population of Ottawa is 1.1 million and it is currently the fourth largest city in Canada, and the second largest in Ontario after Toronto. Unique as a North American capital, the city is bilingual. English is the first language of a majority of the population, but French is the first language of a significant number. Staff in most stores and restaurants speak both well and, in general, bilingualism is common. Ottawa is home to many of the world's cultures as thousands of immigrants from around the world now call Ottawa home. The city is probably best known as the nation's capital but has become one of the fastest growing cities in North America owing to the booming high-tech business sector. (less...) (more...)

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Points of Interest in Ottawa

There are many national museums and galleries in Ottawa and neighbouring Gatineau. All museums in Ottawa have free admission on Canada Day, July 1, although they are generally very crowded then.

The primary attraction for most visitors is    Parliament Hill. Parliament Hill is in the middle of downtown Ottawa, overlooking the Ottawa River. Not only is the building a fine example of the Gothic revival style, it makes an excellent starting point to visit all other points of interest in the area.

  • The Changing of the Guard takes place daily on the lawns of Parliament at 9:00am. The Governor General's guards can also be seen at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider and at Rideau Hall.

Tours of the building are available daily with multiple tours (in both official languages) available at staggered times throughout the day. If you have a group of greater than 10 people, you must make a reservation in advance by calling the reservations office at +1 613 996-0896.

  • The Centre Block tour is the most popular as it includes inside views of the House of Commons, the Senate, and the newly renovated Library of Parliament. Same-day tickets are free and available on a first-come-first-served basis from 9:00 AM. Pick up your ticket as early as possible to have the best chance of securing a start time that works for you. Tours last from 20 to 60 minutes depending on building activity.
  • From July 2 to Labour Day (early September), tours of the East Block are also available; tour guides take you through the restored offices of some of the Fathers of Confederation (Sir John A. Macdonald, Sir George-Etienne Cartier, Governor General Lord Dufferin and the original Privy Council Office) explaining the beginnings of the Dominion of Canada while historical characters let you in on the daily lives of Canada's past politicians. Tours last about an hour and free same-day tickets can be picked up at the Info-tent on the Hill by West Block.
  • If there are no more tickets available, or you have to wait for your time, a fine self-guided walking tour around the grounds of Parliament Hill will keep you busy. Free booklets are available at the visitors' centre.
  • One of the nicer, unexpected views, looking from the bottom up, can be accessed at the back of the Parliament Buildings—that vantage point also provides a river view of the Canadian Museum of Civilization, across the river in downtown Gatineau (a sector that was formerly the city of Hull).
  • The walk down from the southwest corner of the Centre Block allows visitors to visit the Hill cats, a group of feral animals housed there by volunteers. Behind the Parliament Buildings at sunset is a sight to remember. You can walk by the Rideau Canal locks (at the east corner) and visit the Bytown Museum at the level of the canal. (No longer available as of January 2013)

The locks divide Parliament Hill from the Fairmont Chateau Laurier, a former railway hotel. This hotel once housed the offices of CBC Radio in Ottawa as well as the studio of well-known portrait photographer Yousuf Karsh. Several framed Karsh photographs are hung in the hotel lounge. His (and his wife's) home suite is now available for guests and displays a small sampling of framed prints on the walls.

  • Mosaika Parliament Hill Sound & Light Show. Newly developed for 2010 by the National Capital Commission, the Sound & Light Show is a 30 minute film about Canada projected on the Centre Block of the Parliament Buildings. Bleacher seating is available and no reservations or tickets are required. There is one show nightly until September at 21:30.
  •    Canadian War Museum. Moved to a new building west of downtown in 2005 but still within walking distance of the downtown attractions, the museum presents Canada's involvement in armed conflict beginning with battles between the French and British, through to the World Wars, Korea, and the country's current involvement in NATO and UN operations. Admission is $12 for adults. A joint War Museum and Museum of Civilization ticket can be purchased for $18. Admission is free on Th after 6PM.
  •    Museum of Civilization. This museum presents the story of Canada's population beginning with Aboriginal migration across the Bering Strait through European settlement by the Vikings around 1000 CE, and the British and French in the 1500s. The museum is full of a variety of items ranging from full size Salish totem poles to the recreation of a small prairie town complete with grain elevator. The museum also includes an exhibit on Canada Post and a separate museum for children. Admission is $10 for adult. A joint War Museum and Museum of Civilization ticket can be purchased for $15. Admission is free on Th after 4PM.
  •    Science and Technology Museum. The museum has several displays that are popular with children, including massive locomotives inside the building and electricity demonstrations.
  •    Canadian Museum of Nature. Galleries of fossils, mammals, birds and geology among others.
  •    National Gallery, 380 Sussex Dr,  +1 613 990-1985. Free admission Th after 5PM.
  •    Supreme Court of Canada. Canada's highest court and the best example in Ottawa of Art Deco architecture. Its marble Grand Entrance Hall is particularly impressive. Visitor reservations are required during low season (September 1 to April 30). Free.
  •    Royal Canadian Mint.
  •    Canada Aviation Museum.
  •    Bank of Canada Currency Museum. Free.
  •    Canada Agriculture Museum, 861 Prince of Wales Dr,  +1 613 991-3044, toll-free: +1 866 442-4416. Exhibitions: 9AM-5PM daily late Feb-late Nov. Animal barns: 9AM-5PM daily all year. A working animal farm in the city. You can visit animal barns, see various demonstrations and exhibitions, and ride on a horse-drawn wagon. The museum also has a playground and picnic area. It is very popular with young children and a welcome change of pace for kids who have seen enough history after visiting some of the other sights. $7 adults, $6 students/seniors, $4 children 3-14, $16 families (2 adults and 3 children), free for children under 3. Seniors free on Tu. Admission to animal barns is by donation during time of year when the exhibitions are closed.
  •    Bytown Museum, 1 Canal Ln (at the Rideau Canal locks between Parliament Hill and Chateau Laurier),  +1 613 234-4570. Victoria Day weekend-Thanksgiving Day: F-W 10AM-5PM, Th 10AM-9PM. Rest of year: Tu-Su 11AM-4PM. A small museum at the foot of Parliament Hill with a focus on Ottawa's early history. $6 adults, $4 seniors/students/youth, $3 children 5-12, $15 families (2 adults plus three children under 18), free for children 4 and under. Free admission Th 5PM-9PM from Victoria Day-Thanksgiving Day.
  •    Rideau Hall, 1 Sussex Dr,  +1 613 991-4422, toll-free: +1 866 842-4422. Residence tour (without reservations): Apr 30-Jun 26: Sa-Su 10AM-4PM, Jun 27-Sep 5: 10AM-4PM daily (unguided open-house tours available Jul-Aug), Sep 6-Oct 30: Sa-Su noon-4PM. Advance reservations required for tours at any time from Nov-Apr, and weekdays May-Jun and Sep-6-Oct 30. Grounds tour: 8AM-1 hour before sunset daily. The official residence of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and her representative the Governor General of Canada. The grounds and the residence are open to the public for tours. Reservations are recommended during low season (September 1 - April 30). Free.
  •    Diefenbunker - Canada's Cold War Museum, 3911 Carp Rd, Carp (from Ottawa, take Hwy 417 west to exit 144, then go north on Carp Rd),  +1 800 409-1965. Self-guided tours 11AM-4PM daily. Built to protect the government from nuclear attack, this once-secret bunker is now a museum and National Historic Site of Canada. "Diefenbunker" is a play on "Diefenbaker", a Canadian Prime Minister in the 1950s. In addition to preserving and promoting Canada's Cold War history, the museum offers a variety of visitor programs and services. You can learn, play or shop as you discover the bunker's secrets and relive the experience of the Cold War. Guided tours by reservation only. If you do not have access to a vehicle and are willing to do a 50 minute bus ride plus pay a 30$ taxi, you can # take the OcTranpo #95 or #97; # Transfer to the #93 at Lincoln Fields; # Get off at the Legget / Ad. 515 stop; # Walk 3 minutes to Brookstreet Hotel; # Take a taxi to the Diefenbunker. $14 adults, $13 seniors, $10 students , $8 youth 6-18, $40 families (2 adults plus 3 youth), free for children 5 and under.

For the sports fan, Ottawa has professional sports teams:

  • Ottawa Senators. National Hockey League (NHL)
  • Ottawa 67's. Ontario Hockey League (OHL)
  • Ottawa Fury. USL Premier Development League
  • Ottawa Harlequins. Rugby Canada Super League

Bytown Museum

Major\'s Hill Park

National War Memorial

Embassy of the United States

Parliament Hill

Peace Tower

National Arts Centre

National Gallery of Canada

Byward Market

Shaw Centre

Confederation Square

Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica

Embassy of Denmark

Confederation Park

Currency Museum

Rideau Centre

Supreme Court of Canada

Ottawa City Hall

Garden of the Provinces and Territories

Royal Canadian Mint

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Popular events in Ottawa in the near future

Date: Category: The event list provided by Eventful
The event list provided by Eventful

About Ottawa

History

Ottawa started as a humble lumber town called Bytown; it was named after Colonel John By of the Royal Engineers who oversaw the construction of the Rideau Canal, now a UNESCO World Heritage site, much of which was done by hand, between 1826 and 1832. Lumber mills were built along the Ottawa River in the mid-nineteenth century and those brought employment and wealth to the growing population. The centre of action then, as now, was the ByWard Market. While it's still the centre of the city's nightlife, it has changed appreciably from the rough and tumble early days of brothels and taverns.

In 1857, Queen Victoria chose Ottawa as the capital of Canada. The choice was controversial, partly because it sidestepped the rivalry between Toronto and Montreal (then, as now, Canada's largest cities), and partly because the new capital was still a tiny outpost in the middle of nothing much — an American newspaper famously commented that it was impregnable, as any invaders would get lost in the woods looking for it.

During the latter half of the nineteenth century, the telephone was demonstrated to the Canadian public for the first time and the city was electrified. The first electric streetcar service was started in 1891. A menu from 1892 states that, "the first instance in the entire world of an entire meal being cooked by Electricity" was in Ottawa.

Today, the major economic sectors are the public service, travel and tourism and the high-tech industry. Ottawa has proudly remained a green city and is situated at the confluence of three rivers (Ottawa, Rideau and Gatineau) as well as the Rideau canal. Many residents make regular use of Ottawa's parks and green spaces, bikeways and cross country ski trails. Many national attractions are located in Ottawa: Parliament Hill; the National Library and Archives; the National Gallery; as well as the Museums of Civilization, Contemporary Photography, Nature, War and Science & Technology.

Activities

There are a number of walking tours to introduce you to the capital area.

  • Ottawa Walking Tours offers historical guided walks of Ottawa's downtown core with special stops at areas of historical significance. Tours acquaint guests with the history and charm of the city and allow visitors to learn more about Ottawa’s history, architecture and colourful political characters. Tours are offered year-round and reservations are required. For more information, call 613-799-1774.
  • The Haunted Walk of Ottawa offers tours focusing on Ottawa's infamous haunts and darker history. Hear tales of hauntings at some of Ottawa's most well known locations, including the Fairmont Chateau Laurier, Bytown Museum and the Ottawa Jail Hostel. Cloaked guides lead guests through the city streets by lantern light-the perfect atmosphere for a good ghost story. Tours run year-round, rain or shine. Reservations are strongly recommended. For more information, call 613-232-0344.

If you enjoy the outdoors, especially if you are a cyclist, you should definitely visit Gatineau Park just across the river from Ottawa. Bicycles can be rented during the summer months at Rentabike, 2 Rideau St, (under Rideau st on the East side of the canal). Ottawa and the surrounding area boasts over 170 km of public paved trails on which you can run, bike, walk or rollerblade. If you are looking for a place to start, head to the nearest waterway: paved trails line both sides of the Ottawa River, the Rideau Canal, and the Rideau River. The Trans Canada Trail enters Ottawa through the outskirt communities of Carleton Place and Stittsville, then joins up with the Ottawa River at Brittania Bay (near Carling Avenue at Bayshore Drive). It follows the river 13 kilometers east to Parliament Hill, then crosses over to the Quebec side, extending into and beyond Gatineau Park.


  •    Rideau Skateway. In winter, go skating on the largest outdoor skating rink in the world, the Rideau canal. Skates can be rented, and refreshments purchased, from vendors right on the ice. This is also a great place to enjoy a "beaver tail" free, skates can be rented..
  • Skiing. The city's trail system serves as an excellent cross-country ski trail system, as do the nearly 200 km of groomed ski trails in Gatineau Park. Downhill skiing is available across the river in three near-by sites: Camp Fortune (180 m vertical), Edelweiss (200 m vertical) and Mont Cascades (165 m vertical).
  • Maple Syrup. In early spring (typically March), when the daytime temperatures are above freezing and night temperatures are below freezing, consider visiting a sugarbush for fresh maple syrup. There are many to choose from in the region if you have a car to drive out of the city.


Day trips to Québec

Since Ottawa is located right on the provincial border, daytrips to neighbouring Québec can be made easily.

  • Gatineau - Right across the Ottawa river. World-class Canadian Museum of Civilization is worth a visit. The nightlife in the Old Hull neighbourhood is often considered superior to Ottawa's, with a handful of loud clubs but also a decent offering of artistic cafés with good local live music.
  • Wakefield - Picturesque artist town on the side of the Gatineau river. Rich with cultural offerings and beautiful natural surroundings (especially in autumn).
  • Aventure Laflèche +1 819 457-4033. A superb destination for those interested in outdoor activities in the Gatineau Hills year round. A community-owned non-profit company that offers beautiful nature trails, tours of the historical Laflèche caves, and the province's largest aerial park for the adventurous (includes several ziplines). Calling ahead for reservations is highly recommended.
  • Eco-Odyssée +1 819 459-2551. Another great option for nature lovers close to Wakefield. A water maze that's great for learning about the local marsh environments.
  • Great Canadian Bungee. Is for the adventurous-inclined.

Shows

Ottawa has many movie theatres to choose from, but there are also a few that specialize in "foreign" films, early releases, old returning films and specialty films. The Bytowne Cinema is on Rideau Street near King Edward. The Mayfair Theatre is at 1074 Bank St. near Sunnyside. In addition, the Canadian Film Institute screens films at the National Library on Wellington and is a favourite of the specialist film crowd.

Ottawa has lots of live theatre entertainment. That includes the National Arts Centre in English and French, the Great Canadian Theatre Company, the Ottawa Little Theatre, and Tara Players (Irish theatre).

  • The National Arts Centre. Also provides a major venue for Dance and Orchestral performance.

Jazz and Blues lovers can find what they are looking for in these Ottawa music calendars: jazz shows and blues-jazz calendar. Venues include Vineyards in the ByWard Market, GigSpace near Little Italy, and the Options Jazz Lounge in the Brookstreet Hotel (in Kanata). Many other venues offer jazz weekly or occasionally; see this club list. Find Blues at the Rainbow in the ByWard Market and Irene's Pub in the Glebe.

For Folk music, see the Ottawa Folk Music Events listings.

Ottawa is host to over 60 festivals and events per year, including:

  • Ottawa Jazz Festival. In late June.
  • Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival. In summer, one of the largest in the world
  • Bluesfest. Also in summer: The largest blues festival in Canada, and featuring as well rock, pop and world music. Many visitors come to Ottawa from Atlantic Canada and New England specifically for Bluesfest.
  • The Fringe Festival. Another summer offering.
  • Winterlude. Winter fun featuring ice carving and snow sculptures
  • The Tulip Festival. A spring bonanza of flowering bulbs, given annually by the Dutch government, as well as a concert series featuring well-known Canadian rock and other popular music groups.
  • Ferrari Festival. In June, on Preston Street.
  • Canada Day. Celebrate Canada's birthday in Ottawa on July 1.
  • Pirate Adventurs, 588 hog's back road,  +1 613 859 5199. June-Oct. Join the swashbuckling crew of Pirate Adventures for an unforgettable interactive theatre and cruise along the Rideau Canal at Mooney's Bay. Pirate costumes, face paint and new pirate names for all as the captain and his crew hunt for sunken treasure whilst fending of mischievous pirates! Fun for the whole family.

Food

Ethnic foods from around the world are available at a wide variety of restaurants and street vendors throughout the city. The ByWard Market area has a wide selection of different cuisines; the Chinatown area is along Somerset West (#2 bus from downtown). between Bronson Ave. and Preston St; Little Italy runs along the length of Preston Street, from Carling Avenue to Albert Street (#2 to Somerset & Preston or #3 along Preston).

Also try the tasty BeaverTail, a doughy, deep-fried pastry associated with Ottawa, although a number of places claim to have created it. It's available in sweet and savory versions, topped with cinnamon, sugar, icing sugar, etc. In the winter, many places will offer it on the canal. During the summer, the only place downtown to offer it is in the Byward Market on George St. There are a variety of toppings and the taste of the beaver tail arguably stands out more with the classic sugar & cinnamon. However, the locals' favourite is the Killaloe Sunrise, a topping of cinnamon sugar and lemon juice.

Coffee Shops are found throughout the city, and include dozens of two specialty chains Second Cup and Starbucks, in addition to the mainstream Tim Horton's (seemingly planted at every intersection). Bridgehead, is a fair trade coffee house and can be found at a half dozen or so locations. Try their small double shot lattes, which are significantly better than their competitors'. There are several coffee houses in Little Italy, on Preston Street. One of the most popular, Pasticceria Gelateria Italiana (200 Preston Street, 613-594-5303), also houses an award-winning pastry shop. Raw Sugar in Chinatown is a great little coffee shop with a kitschy decor and tasty homemade snacks. At night it turns into a hipster music venue.

Budget

Ottawa has a huge number of shawarma (kebab and fixings in pita bread) restaurants and most of them will serve up a great shawarma for around $5. Their busy times are typically weekdays at lunch-hour, and on weekends after the bars close. The Market and Elgin St. both have several restaurants to choose from. Shawarma Palace, on Rideau St and in several suburban locations, are another popular choice.

The usual range of diners, bagel shops and fast food restaurants can be found in shopping areas throughout the city. You will also find "chip wagons" or "chip trucks" parked in various locations around the city at lunch time. They serve hamburgers, hot dogs, sausage-in-a-bun, pogos (deep fried, breaded hot dogs on a stick), chips (French fries) and poutine (French fries covered with cheddar cheese curd and gravy - very popular in Quebec and eastern Ontario).

  • Ahora on Dalhousie is a good little Mexican canteen. It serves up mains, zippy margaritas, and drinks imported from Mexico.
  • La Bottega Nicastro, Byward Market. A fantastic little Italian specialty market, La Bottega also features the best $5 sandwiches the city knows, featuring amazing bread (esp. the focaccia) usually baked on the premises. The sit-down lunch kitchen is also well worth a visit.
  • The Buzz on Bank Street is a favourite for those looking for a meal in a little bar with great ambience and attractive people. Great mixed drinks.
  • DiRienzo's Deli, Beech Street (just west of Preston Street). This little deli tucked away in Little Italy, a secret known to many locals, is famous for the best and freshest deli sandwiches in the city for $5 (taxes included). During the week the lineup can stretch outside the packed little store, but they are arguably the fastest sandwich makers anywhere so don't worry about a long wait. There is also another newer location run by the family at Meadowlands Drive and Fisher Avenue.
  • Elgin Street Diner (374 Elgin Street, downtown) is a popular 24-hour diner. One of its specialties is the ESD (Elgin Street Diner) Poutine (though true Quebecers should probably abstain). Generally, poutine is French fries, served with cheese curds and gravy on top; they have several versions including the addition of caramelized onions and bacon, Montreal smoked meat, Philly steak, a four cheese blend or Chili. The substitution of mashed potatoes fried with onions and seasoning (called their home fries), or onion rings instead of regular French fries is also an option. Expect the adventure to set you back $6–8 depending on toppings. The diner's hamburgers/cheeseburgers are significantly better than typical fast food fare, and breakfast is served 24/7 365 days a year with no exception.
  • Shanghai has been a local favourite since 1971, when it was the only Chinese place in the area that is now Chinatown; it is still run by the same family. It boasts drag-queen karaoke on Saturday nights, frequent vernissages for Ottawa's up-and-coming artists, and some of the best Asian cuisine in town.
  • For the best non-Canadian eats, head down Somerset street (West) near Bronson to the heart of Chinatown. Here you have a choice of places for Vietnamese, Thai, Cantonese, etc. Vietamese soup-houses, Pho Bo Ga and Pho Bo Ga La, are well-rated. The Yangtze Restaurant and Chu Shing Restaurant (across the street from it) are large box Chinese restaurants popular with Ottawa's Chinese clientele. The Jadeland Restaurant is a small popular Chinese restaurant set in a converted house and has been well reviewed for its tasty dishes and low prices. Another good source for ethnic foods is the stretch on Rideau between King Edward and the bridge to Vanier. You can find Middle Eastern, African and Asian food here.
  • For a great Thai fusion, check out Hot Peppers on Somerset (just off Kent). Be sure to try the coconut rice.
  • For Indian, there is Rose's Cafe (in the Market and one on Gladstone), but also try Curries (Gloucester and O'Connor, between Bank and Elgin near the business district). Or Moni Mahal on Laurier Street (business district, near Parliament Hill) for a large buffet with tons of vegetarian and vegan options (well labeled). For a somewhat higher-end buffet experience, yet, authentic, try "Host India" on Montreal Rd.
  • The best milk-shakes are found at Zak's, a 24-hour diner in the ByWard Market. They're really good, made with ice-cream, and for the $5.50 they cost you get a large glass full plus the shaker with what didn't fit in the glass. Other dishes are quite good, with a "more calories for your money" attitude (as illustrated by the massive amount of milkshake served), which is nicely honest about fast food; however it may seem a bit expensive as some of the burgers are in excess of $12. Late on week-end nights (2 - 3AM) it's packed as people go for their after-bar poutine.
  • Mello's in the Byward Market is a good greasy spoon with retro (not faux-retro) decor and lots of local colour. Good for breakfast after a night of drinking.
  • Rangoon (114 Gloucester St near O'Connor) is a one-of-a-kind family-run Burmese restaurant with cheap lunch specials where you can get an appetizer, main course and a drink for about $10! Try the fish noodle soup (mohingha), chicken curry or eggplant curry. A real hidden gem.

Mid-range

Major restaurant areas can be found on Elgin Street, on Bank Street in Centretown, on Bank Street in the Glebe, in Westboro and in the Byward Market, with entrees ranging from $12–$25. Similar restaurants can be found in major suburban shopping areas too.

  •    The Empire Grill, 47 Clarence Street,  +1 613 241 1343. Has a great patio in the summer and delicious food year-round. Expect to pay about $25+ for an entree. CAD 30 main courses.
  •    Johnny Farina's, 216 Elgin Street,  +1 613 565-5155. Italian food
  •    Vineyards. In the ByWard Market. An excellent restaurant with the widest selection of world beers and wines in Ottawa.
  •    Pub Italia, 1/2 Preston Street (near Dow's Lake and the Experimental Farm). 434. An Irish/Italian pub with hundreds of bottled beers listed in its "Beer Bible". Noted for its intimate faux Medieval/Gothic décor.
  •    The Highlander Pub, 115 Rideau Street (in the Byward Market). a solid restaurant with good pub fare, and traditional Scottish food, such as haggis. It is a good place also after a long day of sightseeing and you need a drink, with any spirit, wine or beer you can think of. It has a warm, friendly environment, with plenty of patio room. An average tab for a full meal for 2 should be about $40 CND.
  •    Santé Restaurant, 45 Rideau St (at the corner of Rideau and Sussex, across from the Rideau Centre,). Santé is a cosmopolitan yet casual. It’s a delicate line to walk, but Santé Restaurant does it with panache - offering exotic Asian Fusion and Thai cuisine in a comfortably elegant setting.
  • The Works, 362 Richmond Road. In Westboro, 580 Bank Street in the Glebe, 363 St. Laurent Boulevard in Manor Park, and various suburban locations. Hard to argue that these are not the best burgers around. The selection is top notch and toppings are bountiful. Also served are delicious onion rings, milk shakes and cold beer, all in a funky industrial decor. Expect to pay $12 for a burger with sides, and not to regret it.
  • da Sergio, 338 Preston Street. Is an owner operated authentic Italian Bistro with attention to detail in its appetizers, pasta, sauces and secondi. Calamari are fresh and melt-in-your-mouth, and the Carpaccio served simply with capers, olive oil and Parmesan curls. They have a large patio with shade making it a good spot for a sunny summer afternoon or evening.

Splurge

Ottawa has excellent options for fine dining if you feel like spending a bit extra. Budget C$150 for a three course dinner for two, including wine and gratuity.

  •    Domus, 85 Murray Street (in the ByWard Market). An outstanding restaurant with an award winning chef serving regional Canadian cuisine.
  •    Signatures. At Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute (453 Laurier Ave. East), 613-236-2499, Tues-Sat: 5:30 p.m.–10, is a French restaurant with a five-diamond rating from CAA/AAA that is considered among the very best in the city.
  •    E18hteen, 18 York Street (in the Byward Market),  +1 613 244 1188. An upscale, modern restaurant and bar located in a renovated 19th century heritage building. It is THE place to see and be seen.
  •    Merlot, 100 Kent Street (At the Marriott Hotel). Merlot has received glowing reviews for its cuisine and is Ottawa's only revolving restaurant.
  •    Beckta, (226 Nepean Street (downtown Ottawa). Excellent modern restaurant with a variety of tastes centred around locally available foods. Also features an extensive wine list.
  •    Perspectives Restaurant. At the Brookstreet Hotel (525 Legget Drive), offers fine dining featuring a fusion of Oriental flavours with top-quality regional ingredients.

Vegetarian and Vegan

  • CafeMyHouse, 1729 Bank St. At offers vegan friendly cuisine and is located within 10 minutes of both the airport and the train station. The restaurant specializes in brunch and lunch options, and average around $15 a meal.
  • The Green Door, 198 Main St. At offers a vegetarian and vegan buffet and is the oldest vegetarian restaurant in Ottawa. It offers private and communal tables. Meals are priced by weight, and average around $12 for a full plate.
  • The Table, 1230 Wellington St. In the Westboro neighbourhood, also offers a vegetarian buffet with many vegan options. Meals are priced by weight.
  • ZenKitchen, 634 Somerset St. W. Is opened in mid-June 2009. Named Ottawa's Best New Restaurant in 2009, it is completely vegan, with full table service, a wine program and summer patio. They also offer vegetarian cooking lessons and special events like wine tastings. Reservations can be made online at www.zenkitchen.ca.
  • Govinda's Restaurant on Somerset East (just off the University of Ottawa) offers a simple vegan buffet for $5–$7. The best cheap eats in town. Operated by ISCKON (Hare Krishna movement). Only open weekdays from 17:00 to 20:00
  • So Good Restaurant on Somerset (1.5 blocks West of Bronson) has a separate vegetarian menu (dishes are also vegan unless stated) and there are many choices . Try anything "Wu Se" (peanut sauce). Dinners are about $10 (entree and rice).
  • Perfection-Satisfaction-Promise, 167 Laurier Ave E. (Near University of Ottawa, Sandy Hill),  +1 613-234-7299. M-Tu 8AM-8PM, W 8AM-5PM, Th-F 8AM-8PM, Sa 4PM-9PM. Fully vegetarian with a great vegan selection. "Unquestionably some of the best vegetarian food in the city" - Ottawa Xpress, 2007. 6.50 - 12.00.

Drinks

The most popular bar areas are in the ByWard Market, along Wellington Street in Westboro, along both Elgin Street and Bank Street between Somerset and Gladstone in the Centretown area, and further South on Bank. There are pubs and bars scattered throughout the city as well.

You can also take a small trip over the Ottawa river to Gatineau. Bars on Ottawa side close at 2:00 AM, though the province of Québec has a last call of 3:00 AM, an exception is made in Gatineau where bars also close at 2:00 AM.

Note that smoking is not permitted in Ontario or Quebec restaurants and bars. A new bylaw, which came in force in 2012, also bans smoking on the patios of bars in Ottawa.

Bars and nightclubs

  • The Standard, 360 Elgin St. A restaurant during the day, pumping club/lounge at night. The Standard is popular Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights with a different style of music each night. Friday is excellent old-school and modern hip-hop/R&B while Saturday is a little of everything. Excellent beer tap selection and daily drink specials.
  • Club 292, 292 Elgin St.
  • E18hteen, 18 York St.
  • Barrymore's, Bank St. An old converted movie theatre, their 80's night is the place to be in Ottawa on Sundays. They also have a 90's night on Thursdays and live concerts on most other nights.
  • The Dominion Tavern, York St. Simple beers and some pool: picture your friend's basement apartment, even serving 40's of beer.
  • Zaphod's Beeblebrox, York St (next to Dominion). Alternative rock/new age punk, hip-hop nights on Thursday. Recently short-listed in CBC Radio 3's "Searchlight: The Best Live Venue in Canada" competition. And yes, they do offer a drink they call a "Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster"!
  • Foundation York St. in the alley behind E18hteen. Restaurant during the week that is open for lunch and dinner. Excellent food and one of the only restaurants in Ottawa to serve fondue. On Friday and Saturday nights it transforms into an upperclass nightclub. Dress to impress, no logos or running shoes, and be prepared to spend a few bucks on drinks.
  • Options Bar located off the main lobby of the Brookstreet Hotel, 525 Legget Drive. A relaxing and sophisticated lounge, sometimes good for celebrity sightings.
  • Mercury Lounge, an awesome bar that changes its themes nightly ranging from African beats to hip-hop to house (depending on the night). Spread out over 3 (relatively small) floors, this bar offers different DJs and atmospheres throughout. Hump Night is one of the best gay nights in the city and occurs on Wednesday (4$ cover).
  • Edge, A popular gay bar, especially with younger people, is located at Sparks St and Bank St. Best on Saturday nights. Through the summer months the Edge has a rooftop patio that is chic, but be prepared to climb up 7 stories!
  • The Lookout, is located in the Byward Market at 41 York St. They have a very popular "bois night" on Thursday that attracts lots of people. Friday and Saturday are mostly lesbian nights.

Pubs

Since the mid-1990s there has been an explosion in Irish-/British-style pubs across the city. In the core you will find:

  • Patty Boland's, Clarence St. Feels like an old tavern, but big. Friday and Saturday nights Patty's has live music so expect to pay cover, and mandatory coat check in the winter. During the musician breaks there is a dance floor with Top 40 music.
  • Black Thorn, Clarence St. Upscale, great food, huge patio with good views.
  • Irish Village, Clarence St. Ottawa's largest pub complex, including the eponymous Irish Village (loud, lots of live music) and The Heart and Crown.
  • Lieutenant's Pump, Elgin St. British style pub with a good variety of food selections and inexpensive draught.
  •    The Manx, 370 Elgin street,  +1 613 231 2070. Great microbrews, wide scotch selection, bohemian/hipster feel.
  • Pub Italia, Preston St. A large selection of beers from the world, especially Belgian. Excellent pizza and pastas. Interior design is a bit strange but the patio is very nice.
  • D'arcy McGee's Sparks Street & Elgin St. Beautiful architecture with impressive food selection
  •    Clocktower, 575 Bank Street,  613-233-7849. A microbrewery with 4 locations throughout downtown. Excellent beer at a good price with a very tasty and well priced menu. Also a location on Bank St. and Pretoria.
  •    Minglewoods, 14 Waller Street (The corner of Waller St and Rideau St). A great place to drink for cheap! Pitchers of domestic and premium beers are priced under $11 so if you're on a budget this is the place to go. It is close to the University of Ottawa so many students frequent Minglewoods between or after class. There is a good selection of pub fare, also for reasonable prices. On the weekend there is a packed dance floor on the second level.
  • Centretown pub (CPs) A gay pub located near the corner of Bank and Somerset.
  • Chez Lucien, 137 Murray St (corner Dalhousie). one of the few pleasant, non-faux-Irish pubs downtown (a favourite along with the Manx). Serves good pub fare (including excellent fries), can get busy especially after work. A good selection of microbrew beers.
  • Quinn's, 1070 Bank St. Is a small but cozy sports bar and pub located next to the Mayfair theatre. Expect good pub fare, a nice ambiance and good selection of beers.

Shopping

  •    Byward Market (downtown, located east of the Canal and Sussex Drive, north of Rideau). Among other things, this is a farmer's market; in summer, stalls selling fresh produce and flowers line the streets, and maple syrup bought here costs half the price of souvenir shops elsewhere in the city. It is also a craft and tourist market with a range of shops and the city's busiest entertainment district with restaurants, pubs, bars and many street performers.
  •    Sparks Street. Is a pleasant pedestrian street one block off Parliament Hill and a common tourist thoroughfare for seeing the sights. Along this street you'll find the majority of the tourist shops selling postcards, magnets, and maple syrup. The Astrolabe Gallery, located on this street, is a treasure trove of antique maps as well as vintage posters. There are several outdoor cafes and restaurants to choose from also.
  •    Westboro Village. In recent years a stretch along Richmond Road in the "near west" of Ottawa from Golden east to Tweedsmuir has become a popular tourism and shopping zone, and includes several outdoor stores (clothing and equipment), restaurants and coffee shops. Notable shops include the Mountain Equipment Coop, Ten Thousand Villages, Starbucks, Bridgehead (fair trade coffee), Kitchenalia, a chocolatier and several others.
  •    Bank Street Promenade. Great mix of stores ranging from chain restaurants to specialty shops. District extends from Wellington St to Gladstone Ave.
  •    Wellington West. Wellington West is the commercial district of Hintonburg and Wellington Village, located in the west end between Little Italy and Westboro. It is home to independent businesses in Ottawa, such as boutiques, restaurants and food shops, and local art galleries, as well as the Parkdale Market. Notable shops include Hintonburger, Suzy Q, Elmdale Tavern and several others.

Larger shopping malls include the Rideau Centre (downtown), St. Laurent Shopping Centre (East Central), Place D'Orleans (East End), the Bayshore Shopping Centre and Carlingwood Mall (West End).

The last Saturday in May, Ottawa's Glebe neighbourhood hosts the annual Great Glebe Garage Sale. Hundreds of residents set-up tables in their garages or on their lawns and sell used goods ranging from household knick-knacks to electronics to clothing. Businesses in the area also hold sidewalk sales, and vendors sell artwork, baking, and refreshments. Driving and parking during the sale itself is unnecessary and nearly impossible. Arrive on foot or park and walk into the neighbourhood. For parking, and for the best deals (especially on larger items like furniture), arrive early. The event is bustling by 8 AM but continues well into the afternoon. Vendors are encouraged to donate a portion of their proceeds to the Ottawa Food Bank.

This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Ottawa on Wikivoyage.

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