Why Ottawa has the Best Nightlife in Canada
The great South Eastern state of Ontario sits between the border with the United States of America and the French speaking province of Quebec, and it is within this territory that you will find the nation’s capital city, Ottawa. Sitting astride the Ottawa River, just across the water from Gatineau, as the capital, this city is a hive of energy. Ottawa has something for everyone. Hang out with friends in bars, dance the night away at live gigs, cheer on one of the city’s iconic sports teams or even play some cards at the local casinos, you'll be literally spoilt for choice.
Start out downtown at the ByWard Market, a district which has become the city’s cultural hub. Here, take a walk down Elgin Street where you will easily find bars, restaurants, theatres and the like, or, failing that, simply explore the area around La Promenade du Portage for some live music, meaning that there is something fun and interesting for everyone to do.
Here, local farmers, artisans and boutiques come together during the day, helping this part of town develop into the epicentre of Ottawa’s nightlife. It doesn’t matter what musical choice you are into, at the ByWard all options are catered for. The majority of the popular bars and clubs can be found in the Market’s North End, particularly along York, Clarence and Dalhousie Street. York Street is a great place to start your night. Here, revellers are able to dance the night through to a DJ’s tunes or catch live entertainment in local hotspots such as The Mercury Lounge and Zaphod Beeblebrox, which, coincidentally, is the club used to shoot the video for the Rolling Stones' song Streets of Love.
Alternatively, if it’s something a little different you’re after then head over to the Velvet Room where you’ll find a 1920’s speakeasy lounge to slow things down a little. Vineyards bistro also provides a relaxing place to enjoy a drink, while, lastly, we can’t leave out the stylish and energetic Kavali Club. Referred to by locals as the “Irish Village” this bar is a night time hotspot you don’t want to miss, but remember that alcohol is only served in Ottawa until 2 a.m.
Another thing that Ottawa has become famous for its thriving theatre scene, so it is definitely worth booking and seeing a show at the National Arts Centre or Ottawa Little Theatre, where you’ll find something a little more local or fringe.
If you are planning to go for in a drink in the above locations, you should be aware that the legal drinking age in the province of Ontario is 19. That being said, some privately owned bars in the ByWard Market have been known to refuse entry to those under 21 or 25 years of age.
Gambling in Ontario also begins at 19 and, with 33 casinos in the province, punters are not short of options, the best of which isn’t actually in Ottawa. Just a short drive over the Portage Bridge you can find the Casino du Lac-Leamy and adjoining Hilton hotel, overlooking Lac Leamy, which is accessible by boat from the Ottawa River with docking facilities available.
The casino promises a lively evening out with your friends where you can enjoy the usual roll call of great casino games; poker, roulette, craps, sic bo and keno can all be played here, alongside more than 1,800 slot machines (But don’t go there with no knowledge, read online guides about how casinos work and gamble responsibly.) Of course no decent casino would be complete without entertainment and Lac Leamy is no different. Featuring a number of concerts and entertainment shows at Le Théâtre du Casino, plus three bars and top notch dining options in the Le Baccara gourmet restaurant and even a cigar room in Bacchus, this is a very popular choice for tourists and locals alike looking for a top night out.
For sport lovers, the city also boasts a thriving pro-sports culture. Sports are a huge part of the Ottawan life with three professional sports teams and a minor Can-Am League baseball team. The Ottawa Champions are the city’s newest sports franchise and are a Can-Am League baseball team that play at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton Park (RCGT Park). Representing the city at pro soccer are the Ottawa Fury who play at the TD Place Stadium at Lansdowne Park and compete in the North American Soccer League (NASL), while visitors to the city can also enjoy cheering on the Ottawa Redblacks. You will find the team playing football, once again, over at the TD Place Stadium in the Glebe neighbourhood.
However, the biggest sports team in the city is the hockey team, the Ottawa Senators. Known locally as “the Sens,” the side has been representing the city since 1992 and can be found hitting the ice at the Canadian Tire Centre.
So, with great bars, a thriving arts scene, five star restaurants, sophisticated casinos and a strong sporting nature, Ottawa really is a city that has something for all of us.