A former white pine logging town, Ottawa is now the Canadian capital city. Sitting on the banks of the Ottawa River (Kichisìpi in the native Algonquin tongue), Ottawa is a lush municipality surrounded by a verdant green belt, and only a bridge away from the French-speaking province of Quebec. One of the cleanest cities in the world, Ottawa is a North American urban getaway where travelers can truly find “a breath of fresh air.”
Ottawa’s downtown, eastern, and western areas provide great destination opportunities for all types of traveler. Parliament Hill, in downtown Ottawa, is the seat of the Canadian government and home to many Ottawa landmarks that picturesquely overlook the Ottawa River. The district is the setting for daily changing of the guard ceremonies and home to the iconic Peace Tower.
Travelers whose kicks don’t come from history books can stroll onto Bank Street and satisfy their commercial desires at over 500 stores, shops, restaurants, bars and nightclubs. Want a more genial shopping atmosphere? The Glebe, besides being one of Ottawa’s premier shopping districts, is a strong community neighborhood and a great place to find some “real” Ottawan life. Bargain hunters should not miss The Glebe’s yearly, charitable Garage Sale, and all travelers should check out Ottawa farmers market held weekly in The Glebe. People watchers will not want to bypass ByWard Market, the oldest and largest public market in Canada and a year-round destination for fresh food, flowers and arts. Wellington West is the place for trendy travelers where old industry has transformed into art galleries, multimedia studios, and loft apartments. A little farther out, the relaxed Westboro village hosts WestFest every June where music and art treat the senses.
As the capital of the country, Ottawa’s Canada Day celebrations are a must-see spectacle of Canadian performers, Air Force fly-by acrobatics, and magnificent fireworks displays. One of Ottawa’s newest festivals, the Rideau Canal Festival, is a four-day celebration of the Rideau Canal World Heritage Site. The 125-mile-long canal is a boater’s paradise in the summers and freezes in the winter to become the world’s longest skating rink.Just north of Ottawa, outdoorsy travelers will find a plenty of hiking, biking, canoeing, camping and cross-country skiing during the winter at Gatineau Park.
Ottawa is best accessed internationally by plane into Ottawa MacDonald-Cartier International Airport, though driving into Ottawa on one of the city’s many scenic roads can be an attractive option as well. Once in Ottawa, getting around is easy and there is a method for everyone. A good light-rail system and bus service are convenient. The more active traveler may enjoy the over 250 miles of bike path that web the city. During winter, the skate-steady traveler can have enjoy the truly singular experience of ice-skate commuting on the Rideau Canal.
If you love the snow, and are tough in the colder weather, Ottawa might be a winter destination for you. Otherwise stick to the summer months. They are short, and can be humid, but summers in Ottawa are mild, generally maxing out in the mid 80s° F. Spring and fall temperatures tend to vary in Ottawa,though the colorful fall in the city is beautiful regardless of the weather. Verdant, beautiful, and clean Ottawa is a city for the urbanite in every outdoor lover.