What To See In Ottawa And How To See It

If you’re thinking of getting away this summer, consider a trip to the vibrant city of Ottawa. This year’s sesquicentennial celebrations were out of this world, proving yet again that Ottawa is one of the most entertaining tourist attractions in Ontario. If you’d like to engage in top-tier dining, music, and cultural engagements, consider the Canal city.

Enjoy Countless Festivals

Ottawa is a city of celebrations, and offers visitors a calendar of parties, festivals and special events all year-round. Besides the biggest Canada Day celebration in the country, visitors will also enjoy a bevvy of music celebrations, including Bluesfest — that routinely features heavy hitters like Kanye West and Bob Dylan — the Ottawa Jazz Festival, and the Ottawa Chamberfest, which combined welcome some of the planet’s biggest acts to the city. In the colder months, Canada celebrates Winterlude, and offers up the world’s biggest skating rink, the Rideau Canal Skateway.

Culinary scene

The culinary and dining scene in Ottawa has also come alive in recent years, with a thriving collection of Ottawa chefs and Ottawa restaurants making waves in the gastronomy scene. Ottawa restaurants are particularly diverse — and restaurants like the Manx serve up new spins on old favourites. As one of the province’s designated culinary tourism destinations, the city, its restaurants and its local food producers work in tandem to bring locally-grown foods to diners through an innovative initiative called Savour Ottawa.

Shopping in Ottawa

When you’ve met your quota of Ottawa’s high culture, the city’s boutiques and outlets make for a retail paradise. From handicrafts by local indigenous craftspeople to specialty foods from the surrounding regions, it’s no surprise that a bustling marketplace is one of the major centrepieces of the city.

The Byward Market

The bustling Byward Market is Ottawa’s number one tourist attraction, and is by far the top destination for dining, shopping, arts and entertainment, and professional services for both residents and visitors alike. The Market is home to both a local farmers’ market and over 260 artisan stands, as well as over 600 businesses. It averages 50,000 visitors per weekend in the summer months, and customers walk up and down the boulevard from the French bakery Le Moulin du Provence in the South, to the raucous Irish bar strip in the North.

Wheels in Motion

Shopping and sightseeing in Ottawa are two of the city’s biggest draws, but unfortunately, you can’t get away with using transit to hop from one part of town to another reliably. Without Montreal’s subway system, or Vancouver’s Light Rail Transit system, cars are a must in the nation’s capital. Dealerships are aware of this fact, and car prices are sky high in the nation’s capital. This might help explain why many Ottawans travel to other cities like Toronto to buy their cars because the market is larger and prices lower. Many Torontonians are willing to sell a used car online on a classified site, where Ottawans aren’t, so better car deals are often found outside the Ottawa valley.

Ottawa’s beaches, parks, museums, and educational institutions are off the beaten path, and you'll need a car if you want to explore parks, the countryside or towns nearby like Gatineau Park and Mackenzie King Estate, or Manotick, or Westport. Find the right car at the right price, and the city’s throughways will open up to you, giving you the best possible vantage.