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Things to do in Ottawa, Canada’s Capital

ottawa picture

We love living in Canada’s capital city, Ottawa. With its mix of green space, culture, great restaurants, and amazing shops – there’s something for everyone and always plenty to do. That’s why, in this post, we’re going to tell you all about the things to do in Ottawa this summer 2013.

1. Bluesfest

Each year, thousands of people flock to Ottawa’s Bluesfest – one of the largest outdoor music festivals in North America. This year, the festival runs from July 4-14 and features acts including Jimmy Eat World, She & Him, and more. Day passes and festival passes are available, and fees vary depending on the day and which acts are playing. Once inside, you can move from stage to stage freely and enjoy plenty of food, drink, and fun. The festival goes on rain or shine, so be sure to pack an umbrella or rain poncho just in case!

2. Visit the Byward Market

The historic Byward Market is located North of Rideau Street and runs all the way up to the river. The main streets, filled with restaurants, bars and small shops are George Street, York Street, Clarence Street, and Murray Street. You’ll want ot be sure to walk along Dalhousie, too, as it’s home to plenty of unique stores including Victoire, Workshop Boutique, Young Janes, and more.

Looking to get your hair done while in Ottawa? The Byward Market boasts many award-winning salons including Texture, Rinaldo, and others. If you’re looking for somewhere tasty to stop for a bite, try Sidedoor Kitchen with its Asian fusion cuisine (order the fish tacos, you won’t regret it!) or swing by Melo’s on Dalhousie for an ever-changing dinner menu featuring some of Ottawa’s best chefs.

3. Enjoy Parliament Hill

If you’re up for a walk, stroll through Major Hill park and up to the Parliament buildings. You can go on a number of tours within the buildings, or just walk around and take in the sights. Since you’re over in the area, you should also visit Sparks Street and Elgin Street to check out some of Ottawa’s oldest buildings. In the summer, plenty of festivals and performers fill Sparks Street (Rib Fest, anyone?) so be sure to have your camera ready.

4. Shop along Sussex

If shopping’s your thing, be sure to visit the Rideau Center and then head North on Sussex. You’ll find boutiques like Trust Fund, Schad, Wolf & Zed, and others offering hand-selected items that are sure to build an enviable wardrobe. Feel free to stop at one of the many pubs along the way for some appetizers and a cool drink!

5. Visit the Many Museums

Ottawa-Gatineau is home to many museums! Whether you feel like taking in a little natural history at the Canadian Museum of Nature, or want to brush up on your history of civilization at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, there are options for you. Perhaps aviation is more your thing? If you head West on Wellington you’ll find the Canada Aviation and Space Museum. There are also plenty of art galleries sprinkled across the city and you can always enjoy a show at the National Arts Center on Laurier Ave, too.

6. Take a Tour

Want to see it all, but don’t know where to start? Take a bus or walking tour. We love the Haunted Walk of Ottawa, but recommend hopping aboard the Lady Dive if ghosts aren’t your favorite things. The Lady Dive is actually a bus boat that takes you along the streets and then into the Ottawa River! Enjoy bilingual tours all day long and get an experience of a lifetime.

7. Canada Day!

What better place to celebrate Canada’s birthday than in the nation’s capital? Roads shut down, you can ride public transit for free, and the entire downtown core turns into one big party. Enjoy fireworks over the water and walk the streets with thousands of people from all over the world. Just be sure to get downtown early if you want a table at a restaurant or bar… it’s the busiest day of the year by far!


We hope you like our guide to Ottawa! Which city would you like us to write about next?