Canada’s capital is a world-class city with a charming, small town feel. With the annexation of some of its suburbs and exurbs a few years ago, there are rural areas that are still able to call themselves “Ottawa.”
As a member of the British Commonwealth, Canada has many traditions and things that show British influence.
Ottawa is a beautiful city with historic Victorian architecture, steep hills and rivers traversing it. It has a wealth of cultural attractions and has recently become an important destination for foodies. Canada is bilingual, with people speaking both English and French.
Where to stay: The Lord Elgin, pronounced “el-gun”, is right near attractions such as the National Arts Centre and Parliament. With its stark, high lines into the skyline and lighting at night, it’s a glamorous building with amenities such as a full service restaurant, fitness center, indoor pool and hot tub. Because Ottawa is known to get quite chilly in the winter, the closets are filled with extra blankets and comforters. Their breakfast buffet includes British favorites like smoked salmon and baked beans.
The Chateau Laurier is a landmark part of Ottawa’s skyline. This luxury hotel resembles a castle, with sophisticated amenities and special events.
What to do: Ottawa’s Food and Wine Fest has been attracting attendees and vendors for over 20 years. It’s a dress-up, huge party atmosphere. The festival also has add-on activities. This year marked the inaugural Foodies in the Field program, a fun field trip for grown-ups to see three farms in Ottawa.
Visiting Parliament is free: you can go on a tour or self-guided visit to see where federal decisions are made. The Peace Tower observation deck has a great view of the city and a special collection of books commemorating Canada’s fallen soldiers.
C’est Bon Cooking has food tours through several neighborhoods, including one that explores the diverse Byward Market. C’est Bon knows the most innovative chefs and who’s part of the localvore Savor Ottawa program. Along with many boutiques, Byward Market has a branch of “The Bay”. The Hudson Bay Company is North America’s oldest retailer, founded by Royal Charter in 1670.
The National Gallery of Canada features Canadian, indigenous and European art. Its collection includes sculpture, modern multimedia art, photography and silver.
The Rainbow is Ottawa’s premier place to hear the blues and other live music. Inside it is built to resemble a chateau lodge with exposed brick, masonry and fireplaces. They have entertainment seven nights a week and free matinee shows five days a week.
Where to eat: Social creates meals of culinary artistry. Living up to its name, Social is definitely the city’s place to see and be seen. It serves modern bistro fare and many of the plates that are meant to be shared. Social is the place to get such delicacies as regional cheeses, fois gras, local beers and wines.
The Grand in Byward Market, serves pizza made in a rare Italian wood-fired oven. The perfect crust is created by using birch and other aromatic woods. The flour has a special Italian certification and they use San Marzano tomatoes in their simply crafted sauce.
Le Café, located in Ottawa’s National Arts Centre, serves brunch, lunch, dinner and a late night menu that they call “munch.” It serves regional and international products, including duck, Qualicum Bay sea scallops and Queen Charlotte Island halibut, reflecting the diversity of Canada’s capital. The atmosphere is crisp and chic, with décor resembling the keys of a piano and soft jazz playing in the background.
Beaver Tails are Canada’s favorite daytime and late-night munchies, with a location in Byward Market. They’re fried dough sheets dusted with powdered sugar and spread with your choice of other toppings, including chocolate, candy bars or slices of lemon.