15 top places to visit in and around Ottawa, Canada

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Make sure to include some time in Ottawa if your next business travel itinerary finds you in the area. Situated at the convergence of the English and French provinces, the capital of Canada reflects the dual nature of the country perfectly. There are a multitude of exciting attractions here. You’ll find charming old quarters and a range of fascinating museums, and no less than seventy parks. To help you decide what to do, we’ve compiled a list of the 15 top places to visit in and around Ottawa.  

Ottawa, Canada

Explore Ottawa’s glorious outdoors  

  1. The western bank of the Rideau River is home to three parks: Strathcona, the adjoining Dutches Hole, and Robinson Field. In the summer, watch the swans that live in the park’s ponds; and in winter, go sledging, stubbing, and even snowboarding. Strathcona Park also has a quality baseball field, while Dutches Hole has a football field. 
  1. Gatineau Park is one of the nicest places to visit near Ottawa. It is vast and offers hundreds of kilometres of cycling and hiking trails. In season you can try fishing in local lakes, canoeing, swimming, or horseback riding. Remember to take stunning photos in the marble cave, on the beaches, and on the Mackenzie King estate with its picturesque gardens and cosy chalets. Crossing Alexandra Bridge is the quickest way to get to Gatineau Park. This metal bridge across the Ottawa River dates back to 1901 and connects Ottawa and Gatineau. It is an impressive example of the industrial architecture of the early twentieth century and a remarkable photo setting. 
  1. Take time to visit the Central Experimental Farm, a unique working farm and also a research centre. Take a walk in the fresh air, admire the arboretum and gardens, or take shelter from the weather in the agricultural museum. The Museum of Agriculture and Food occupies a farm building and hosts exhibitions devoted to energy saving and agriculture, food storage, and healthy eating. You can buy fresh farm produce and homemade products here, and discover recipes for international rural dishes.  
  1. The Dominion Arboretum lies between Dow Lake, the Rideau Canal, and Prince of Wales Street. Opposite the Botanical Gardens, on the other side of the canal, is Carleton University. Visit the botanical garden for free and see more than 1700 different types of plants. The garden opens for walks from dawn to dusk. 
View point - places to visit in and around Ottawa

Broaden your horizons in Ottawa 

  1. Walk through the ByWard Market, part of the city’s ‘old quarter’ and one of the largest, and oldest, markets in Canada. It covers a large area in the city centre, and includes hotels, restaurants, and small enterprises. By the 19th century it was already an important commercial and industrial area in Ottawa.  
  1. The Canadian Museum of Natural History opened its doors in 1990 and is a must see. It houses an outstanding collection of minerals and precious stones and exhibits ancient fossils of animals and plants, as well as a herbarium of over 500,000 specimens. 
  1. Don’t miss the Canadian Air and Space Museum in the vicinity of the training airfield near Ottawa. Its collection houses both rare and modern models and often organises exciting air shows which bring in a host of spectators.  
  1. Be sure to visit the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau. The exhibitions cover Canadian history from ancient times to the present day. Learn about the history of the indigenous population, the period of European colonisation, and the New Age.  
  1. The National Centre for the Arts is a work of art itself, as the building is a remarkable specimen of the brutalist style of modernism. Its four ample venues host concerts, festivals, theatrical performances, opera, and ballet. The centre actively supports new artists and runs educational programmes.  

Be amazed by the man-made marvels around Ottawa 

  1.  Admire the beauty of the Rideau Canal, the oldest artificial waterway in North America, which dates back to 1832. It runs for 202 kilometres, connecting the cities of Kingston and Ottawa. Take a tourist boat along the Rideau Canal during the summer. In winter, the canal becomes a skating rink of approximately 8 kilometres long.  
  1. Visit Diefenbunker, a nuclear shelter that used to be part of the defence infrastructure during the Cold War. The main bunker is 30 km from Ottawa on the territory of a military base; this four-story shelter has now become a museum.   
  1. The artificial waterfalls on the Rideau River, also called the Hogs Back, make for a stunning site for a photo shoot. What used to be natural river rapids have now become waterfalls. The stream looks natural and picturesque and it is most colourful in autumn. In winter, the waterfalls freeze completely and the water jets turn into bizarre ice figures. Get the best view from the observation deck. 
  1. Include the enchanting Watsons Mill in your list of places to visit near Ottawa. This remarkable mill stands as a unique testament to the region’s. This is the only flour mill left in operation in Ottawa and one of the few in all of North America. Serving as a prominent symbol of the village of Manotick near Ottawa, Watson’s Mill offers an enchanting glimpse into the past. The mill’s interior is beautiful and has been very carefully designed. On Sundays, the windmill is run for demonstration purposes, and you can buy whole-grain flour and fresh bread made on-site.  
Parliament in Ottawa, Canada

Get active in Ottawa 

  1. Don’t miss the Royal Canadian Mint and museum located in downtown Ottawa. You can see an impressive exhibition of coins and ingots and watch the fascinating minting process. The local store also sells collectables made of precious metals.  
  1. Get your tickets for an event at the Canadian Thayer Centre. This sports arena is used for various sports competitions and music concerts and is home to the Ottawa Senators of the NHL. The arena has hosted the Stanley Cup and the Ice Hockey World Championship. The complex also has a fitness centre, a Hall of Fame, and several themed restaurants.  

We hope you’ve enjoyed our list of 15 top places to visit in and around Ottawa! If you need somewhere to stay do visit staysitu.com or talk to one of our friendly and knowledgeable experts on +44 (0)1392 690 079.