Cenotaph in Ottawa

BEST OF OTTAWA 2018: Neighbourhoods

BEST OF OTTAWA 2018: Neighbourhoods

After over 20-years writing about life in Ottawa, we think we have
a pretty good idea of the best of what this city has to offer.
In this weekly series, we’ll share our picks with you - 
our top hotels, live music venues, local brews,
bands and more. Check, share and discuss
#OLMBest every week!

By: Anna Jonas and Kat Walcott

The Glebe

Calm, cool and collected may be the very definition of the Glebe. Close to the downtown area and university campuses while still maintaining some distance, it strikes a rare balance between creating a relaxed vibe and still featuring a bustling main strip of Bank Street running right down the middle. The lucrative combination of urban and residential makes it a great fit for just about everyone. The area’s highlight event of the year comes in the form of the famous Great Glebe Garage Sale, a mecca for antiques collectors and kids looking to spend their allowances alike.

Rockcliffe Park

Rockcliffe Park is a small, but beautiful community near the centre of the city. You may be familiar with the area because it’s where Stornoway, the official house of the Opposition Leader, is located, but it has so much more to offer. The small neighbourhood, with a population of under 2,000 residents, is home to tons of green space, two gorgeously scenic lakes, McKay Lake and Sand Pits Lake, and the Rockeries, a must-see rock garden that is maintained by the NCC. The neighbourhood is a designated Heritage Conservation District since it is one of few surviving 19th century communities of its kind in North America.

Photo credit: Elizabeth Spina

Centretown West

Strong neighborly comradery and cultural respect are staple features of Centretown West, which is home to Chinatown and Little Italy. These traits are evident in everything from the way people greet each other on the street to the different languages being spoken between friends to the presence of some of the city’s best restaurants. But hometown pride is taken to a whole new level when this diversity is celebrated through the large number of festivals in the area throughout the year. From Italian Week to the Asian Night Market, they offer you a taste of Ottawa’s multicultural community.

Photo credit: Anne Dion

ByWard Market

The ByWard Market is where everything is happening in Ottawa. By day, the area features a farmer’s market, buskers and various craft stalls selling everything from hand-knitted mittens to crispy fall apples to hanging baskets of flora and fauna, all surrounded by local shops and cafes. By dark, the cultural centre of the city has the best nightlife around. The smorgasbord of clubs, bars and restaurants provide for endless options for an entertaining night on the town. It’s mostly urban and the vibe is young and trendy, making it a great fit for students and young professionals.

Photo credit: Anne DIon

Sandy Hill

Sandy Hill is considered by many to be a student neighborhood, given its proximity to Ottawa U, mixed with a spattering of families and seniors. There is also a large francophone population. It’s mostly residential, but is also home to many of the city’s embassies, as well as Laurier House, the Ottawa outpost of Cordon Bleu and the beautiful Strathcona Park. The disproportionate number of hills and the sandy soil gave the area its name, but are also the reason that the neighborhood lacks many tall office buildings or condos, giving it a cozier feel.


Located in the west end of the city between Island Park and the Ottawa River, Westboro is chic and upscale. The expansive selection of boutiques, coffee shops and funky restaurants off Richmond Road have everything you could ever need, from activewear to home goods. Many commercial buildings are decorated with murals. Mostly made up of individual homes, it’s a great choice for families. The neighborhood is clean and well-kept, close to several schools and a stone’s throw away from McKellar park. You can even see the Gatineau Hills in the distance.


Barrhaven is one of Ottawa’s biggest suburbs with a growing population of over 85,000. The neighbourhood is popular with families who desire that suburb life rather than the busy city life of downtown. It is also a melting pot of culture – many new immigrants settle here giving the community a very rich, multicultural population. Barrhaven’s features include big shopping complexes, highly-rated public and Catholic schools, and the stunning Walter Baker Sports Centre – a community centre that houses a library, public pool, weight gym, ice rick and more.

Photo credit: Anne Dion


Literally the center of everything, Centretown is a prime location for those looking to be in the middle of the action with the downtown core, the Rideau centre, the NAC and Parliament all within reasonable walking distance. An even split of residential and commercial, it’s comprised a mix of houses, condos and apartments among the office buildings, restaurants, shops, cafes and bars. On its edge is the Golden Triangle, so named due to the shape created by its borders - Elgin Street and the Rideau Canal. This spot is also ideal in that it’s close to both the numerous festivals on Sparks Street as well as the year-round recreation mecca of the Canal.


The name of Orléans can be attributed to the historical French ties of its founder, Théodore Besserer, and substantial francophone population. Once mainly rural, the eastern suburb started to be developed in the 60s and has maintained constant growth ever since. The expansion of many local commercial areas and the Place d’Orléans shopping mall has led to a boost in the construction of new condos and homes. Orléans is also the location of many recreational facilities, including multiple skating rinks and community centres, nature trails and Petrie Island.


Vanier is quickly becoming a desirable spot for students and young families because of its relatively inexpensive housing prices and close proximity to downtown. The neighbourhood, named after mid-twentieth century Governor General Georges Vanier, is home to many restaurants, bars and shops making it trendy, yet home-y. The neighbourhood is also home to Trille Des Bois Elementary School, the only public school in Ottawa that follows the Waldorf Education model–a holitistic, artistic hands-on style of teaching sought after by many parents. Another notable feature of Vanier is the gorgeous Grotte de Lourdes, an ornate outdoor Catholic shrine.