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2014-2015Ottawa Visitor Guide

View our Ottawa Visitor Guide online to plan your stay in Canada’s Capital region.

2014-2015 Ottawa Visitor Guide
 

Let’s Go Ottawa

Ottawa Shopping Style Series: Sussex Drive, ByWard Market neighbourhood

 

Byward MarketOttawa has tons of great neighbourhoods with unique style and shopping experiences. The Ottawa Shopping Style Series will take you on a tour of Ottawa’s best shopping districts.

The ByWard Market district in Ottawa is the place for shopping, dining and the arts. With so many great stores, it has to be broken down in to sections, starting with Sussex Drive. Of course, Sussex Drive is one of Ottawa’s best-known streets. It’s home to 24 Sussex (the Prime Minister’s residence) and Rideau Hall (where the Governor General lives and works), but the street has another claim to fame—shopping! The four blocks between Rideau Street and Murray Street are jam-packed with high-end boutiques, galleries and restaurants. Here are a few highlights to check out on your next trip to Ottawa.

Desigual jacket carried at Envied Desigual jacket carried at Envied For the ladies
CANTAS specializes in evening gowns, elegant business attire and casual wear. Focusing on European designers, the boutique carries elegant clothing at affordable prices. Sizes range from 0 to 20. CANTAS located at 700 Sussex Dr. bridges the gap between Downtown Rideau and the ByWard Market district.

Poised caters to fashion-forward women who thrive on individuality, featuring exclusive and edgy designer labels. Drop in to the boutique at 535 Sussex or book a personal shopping appointment and let the talented stylists make you look and feel extraordinary.

Kaliyana, F/W 2013 Kaliyana, F/W 2013 Envied located at 513 Sussex features well-known designers like Betsey Johnson and Black Halo with additional labels hand-picked by their team of personal shoppers. When you walk out of this store in your new duds you’ll be… envied!

Kaliyana – This is the first boutique opened by designer Jana Kalous over 25 years ago at 515 Sussex. Kalous uses architectural details to create simple and timeless style. Made with all natural fibers such as linen and cotton, the clothes feature bold shapes, asymmetric lines, multiple layers and simply ooze comfort. Dressing women from size 6 to 22, this boutique is a definite standout.

Melow, S/S 2013 Melow, S/S 2013 Melow par Mélissa Bolduc was an Ottawa Fashion Week favourite for the spring/summer 2013 season. The Montréal-based designer recently opened a boutique at 457 Sussex bringing her particular brand of sophisticated yet comfortable designs to the Capital.

For you and the hubby
Trustfund – True, the majority of the floor space is dedicated to the women, but there is a section of very nicely selected men’s clothes. And let’s face it, they rarely need quite the same selection we gals require! Trustfund caters to a more relaxed trend with a downtown-chic vibe. Trustfund is located at 493 Sussex right across from the American Embassy.

Schad/Schad Blü – a men’s and women’s store duo run by a husband-and-wife team. This store is a go-to for hot new trends and the season’s must-haves. And their jeans selection is fantastic! And right next door, the owners opened Wolf & Zed, a shoe store that has the perfect pair to finish every outfit. 519-521 Sussex Drive.

For the Home
Il Motorino Pizza Cutter, $12 at Zone Maison Il Motorino Pizza Cutter, $12 at Zone Maison Zone Maison is a home store that carries the cutest and most practical accessories going. Located close to the National Gallery of Canada at 471 Sussex. Stop in to look at the gorgeous new home trends and you might find yourself leaving with a Vespa pizza cutter you never knew you needed!

As you shop your way up the street stop into Social Restaurant and Lounge or Play Food and Wine and make a reservation for dinner. After all that shopping, you’ll be hungry for a fantastic meal!

Happy shopping!

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10 romantic ideas for an Ottawa Valentine’s Day

 

Le Cordon Bleu Bistro @ SignaturesThink your partner might enjoy receiving yet ANOTHER teddy bear with red heart-shaped paws for Valentine’s Day? Not so fast…..

Think outside the box this February and step up the WOW factor for your loved ones. There are plenty of great things going on in Ottawa for Valentine’s Day that are sure to impress that “special someone” in your life (or, at least help you on your way….).

1. Kick-start your Valentine’s Day into gear with an urban adventure. UrbanQuest.com is offering a Valentine’s package where you and your partner follow clues and solve puzzles in and around an Ottawa neighbourhood that lead you to your mystery dining reservation!

2. Love to sing, dance, and be entertained? The popular Canadian group Blue Rodeo is playing at Scotiabank Place on February 14 at 8:00pm. Check out these 5-time Juno award winners live in action!

3. Got a sweet tooth? The amazing C’est Bon Chocolate Lover’s Tour runs on February 16, and includes samples of some of Ottawa’s best chocolate.

4. When you think of the Diefenbunker, Canada’s Cold War Museum, generally, romance doesn’t spring to mind! But find “love, not war” this Valentine’s Day….75 feet underground! On February 14, the Diefenbunker offers up a 3-course meal with wine, some fun photo ops brought to you by Flashpoint Photo Booth and a romantic-comedy Cold War-themed movie called Blast From the Past...all in one “off the beaten track” location!

5. An action-packed snow day is a great way to spark a new romance, or add some fun to an existing one! The Ottawa area is jam-packed with great cross-country ski trails, tobogganing hills and snowshoe trails. Love is in the (frosty!) air.

Nordik Spa-Nature6. Stressed from trying to come up with the perfect surprise for your honey? Why not enjoy a couple’s massage and a soak in Nordic baths to help melt away the pain? The team at Nordik Spa-Nature has a number of wonderful romantic treats up their sleeves for Valentine’s Day.

7. Is wining and dining more your thing? Satisfy your tastebuds by booking an indulgent five-course fine dining experience at Brookstreet hotel’s Perspectives dining room. Extend the romance by staying overnight in one of their ultra-modern guest rooms; you won’t need to worry about driving back home, and you can enjoy their pool and spa the following day!

8. If “All You Need Is Love”, the National Arts Centre Orchestra performs a tribute to the Beatles February 14-16 at 8:00pm.

9. Do you believe that the way to your partner’s heart is through their stomach? Why not sign up for one of Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa’s Gourmet Short Courses? Or taste test their exceptional cuisine at a romantic dinner at Le Cordon Bleu Bistro @ Signatures (offered February 14-16).

Rideau Canal Skateway10. Picture this: A moonlit evening skate, hand in hand with your mittened Snuggly Poops and sharing a toasty sweet BeaverTails pastry on the famous Rideau Canal Skateway. Snuggle up in front of one of the open-air fire pits to really turn on the romance!

Everyone enjoys something a little bit different for Valentine’s Day, and with all the amazing options in Ottawa, it may be hard to narrow down your decision. No matter what you decide to do, enjoy every moment and let the romance bloom!

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WinterBites 2013 – a great way to sample Ottawa restaurants!

 

WinterBitesOTTAWA Magazine’s culinary festival, WinterBites, launches January 10 and runs through January 26, 2013. Sure to satisfy the palate, from pubs to fine dining, participating restaurants are offering special three-course prix fixe menus, two options for lunch and two for dinner. Many of the locations require a reservation so make sure you book ahead and mention the WinterBites menu. To follow are highlights of some of this year’s participating restaurants.

Aulde Dubliner & Pour House
Enjoy the food and atmosphere of an authentic Irish Pub, complete with a great view of the bustling ByWard Market neighbourhood.
WinterBites Menu »

Coasters Gourmet Grill
You’ll find Coasters above the Fish Market Restaurant, a casual seafood environment in the ByWard Market neighbourhood.
WinterBites Menu »

Courtyard Restaurant
Nestled off George Street in a heritage building, the Courtyard restaurant provides relaxed fine dining in a warm and charming ambiance with a menu that fuses European-based cuisine with contemporary flair.
WinterBites Menu »

Fish Market Restaurant
Canadian Maritime-themed fresh fish restaurant in a beautiful former hotel in the ByWard Market neighbourhood.
WinterBites Menu »

Grill Forty One
Grill Forty One can be found in the historic Lord Elgin Hotel in downtown Ottawa. This restaurant pairs a modern environment with a classic menu.
WinterBites Menu »

le café
Located in the National Arts Centre in downtown Ottawa, le café offers complementary parking voucher validation Monday through Friday for lunch, not to mention great views of the Rideau Canal Skateway.
WinterBites Menu »

Le Cordon Bleu Bistro @ Signatures
Ottawa is home to Canada’s only campus of this world-renowned culinary training school, and at the Bistro you can experience fine dining with exceptional French cuisine.
WinterBites Menu »

Peter Devines
Next door to the original Heart & Crown Irish pub, you’ll find the same fun, relaxed atmosphere and inventive pub-style menu.
WinterBites Menu »

Santé
Santé overlooks the busy Sussex Drive / Rideau Street intersection – a major crossroads in Ottawa – but they don’t overlook the details in providing healthy, vegetarian-friendly, Asian-inspired cuisine.
WinterBites Menu »

Vineyards Wine Bar Bistro
A casual relaxed atmosphere in the ByWard Market neighbourhood that offers free live local jazz Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. Descend into the cozy cellar for an amazing selection of wine, beer from around the world and Scotch.
WinterBites Menu »

ZenKitchen
A vegan restaurant that uses all-natural ingredients with no genetically engineered foods, preservatives or chemical additives. But it’s the taste that will bring you back – innovative offerings that even the most dedicated carnivore will appreciate!
WinterBites Menu »

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15 Quirky Reasons to Visit Ottawa

 

When news broke that the beloved Parliament Hill Cat Sanctuary has closed, many people commented that this was one of the quirkiest attractions in Ottawa and one they would miss visiting (or showing to visitors).

We at Ottawa Tourism humbly offer these other quirky Ottawa offerings to help fill the void. Some are family friendly, others more adult-oriented, some are free and others have a fee.

How many have you done? What’s favourite unexpected Ottawa attraction is NOT on this list?

Yoga on Parliament HillYoga on Parliament Hill1. Other Parliament Hill attractions: The monument to 19th century politicians Robert Baldwin and Sir Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine has a neat quality that is not immediately apparent. Because of the curve in its wall, two people can sit on opposite ends—metres apart—and converse in just a whisper! Check out the “Whispering Wall,” also known as the monument to 19th century politicians Robert Baldwin and Sir Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine at the northeast corner of the grounds. The monument has a neat quality that is not immediately apparent. Because of the curve in its wall, two people can sit on opposite ends—metres apart—and converse in just a whisper! And if you’re in Ottawa between May and October and your visit extends over a Wednesday at noon, head to Parliament Hill for a free yoga class! Hundreds show up and cover the lawn with their colourful mats. Say ooommmm!

2. Balanced rocks in the Ottawa River: Local artist John Ceprano’s works are beautiful but ephemeral. Each spring, Ceprano wades into the shallows of the Ottawa River near Remic Rapids and starts stacking the river rocks. No glue, no rods—just gravity and balance and patience. By the end of the summer, there is a whole community of whimsical sculptures, which disappears each winter as the ice, snow and wind take their toll. Then each spring, the magic starts again.

3. Horse stables in the ByWard Market: Did you know that there are horse stables still operating within the bustling ByWard Market neighbourhood in downtown Ottawa? John Cundell is the third generation in his family to keep horses on York Street just east of Dalhousie Street. Available for weddings, birthdays and groups, the local merchants’ association also uses Cundell’s services to provide free horse-drawn carriage rides in the neighbourhood each Christmas season.

4. Rideau Hall celebrity trees: Rideau Hall is the name of the residence of Canada’s Governor General (the Queen’s representative). Over the years, many visiting dignitaries have planted a commemorative tree on the grounds of Rideau Hall, including Nelson Mandela, Princess Diana, the Emperor of Japan and more. One romantic fact—the tree planted by John F. Kennedy and the tree planted by Jacqueline Kennedy “kiss” above one of the walkways near the residence, their leaves entwined! Visiting the grounds is free—watch for small plaques at the base of the “celebrity” trees explaining who planted it and when.

Rideau Canal SkatewayRideau Canal Skateway5. Rideau Canal Skateway: Ottawa is home to the world’s largest naturally frozen skating rink, according to Guinness World Records. Once the ice is a foot thick (usually in early January), the Skateway is open 24/7, for free! Skate and sleigh rentals are available at 3 different locations along its 7.8 km (4.8-mile) length, and there are 4 spots to get BeaverTails, that hot pastry treat that Ottawans love. Put that on your bucket list, if it’s not already there! J And if Mother Nature isn’t cooperating, you can also check out the free Rink of Dreams at Ottawa City Hall or the free historic rink (weekends only) at Rideau Hall.

6. Urban sugarbush: Yes, Ottawa is next to Lanark County, the maple syrup capital of Ontario, but it’s also home to the only urban sugarbush we’ve ever heard of, the Vanier Sugarbush. Located within the Vanier Museoparc, a collection of cultural assets especially important to the Franco-Ontarian community, the Vanier Sugarbush taps 14 acres of trees to produce its own maple syrup. Join them at the annual Maple Sugar Festival, March 17-24, 2013.

7. Diefenbunker, Canada’s Cold War Museum: What’s not to love about a once-secret, four-storey, underground nuclear fallout shelter? Beyond the Mad Men-era nostalgia, there’s great programming, from monthly Cold War-themed movie nights to zombie nights to kids’ spy camps! They’ve even hosted weddings!

HOPE Volleyball SummerFestHOPE Volleyball SummerFest 8. HOPE Volleyball SummerFest: What’s cool about volleyball? Well, it’s BEACH volleyball, for one thing. It’s the largest one-day beach volleyball tournament in the world, for another. And it raises thousands of dollars for deserving local charities for a third. THE place to be for Ottawa’s young and fit set.

9. Sleep it off in jail: The Ottawa Jail Hostel, to be more precise. Until the 1970s, this grand old building was the Carleton County Gaol and visitors today sleep in the very cells that were once home to prisoners. Except no one sleeps on Death Row (the top floor)—it’s too haunted. See for yourself on a Haunted Walk tour, offered daily—I mean, nightly.

The Ottawa Jail HostelThe Ottawa Jail Hostel

Haunted Walk tourHaunted Walk tour

10. Whitewater kayaking in downtown Ottawa: Yes, the Ottawa River near Beachburg—90 minutes’ drive west of Ottawa—boasts some of the world’s best whitewater, but did you know you can learn how to whitewater kayak in DOWNTOWN Ottawa? At the Pumphouse, an offshoot of the Ottawa River located between Library & Archives Canada and the Canadian War Museum, the Madawaska Kanu Centre offers one-day whitewater kayaking lessons each summer. That’s within walking distance of most downtown hotels!

11. Lucky Ron: A true Ottawa icon, Lucky Ron has been singing the same batch of old-school country tunes since 1986. Every Saturday around 4:30pm at the Château Lafayette—which, dating back to 1849, is Ottawa’s oldest tavern—Lucky Ron’s army of fans bring audience participation to a whole new level. No cover charge but let’s just say that quarts of beer are de rigueur.

12. China Doll at Shanghai Restaurant: The oldest Chinese restaurant in Ottawa is known for more than its food—on Saturday nights, it hosts a wild karaoke night. Hosted by China Doll, the son of the owner and one of Ottawa’s most colourful drag queens! Occasionally, China Doll hosts Retro Disco Funk & Punk Bingo!

13. Duelling pianos at Fat Tuesday’s: On Thursdays and Saturdays, check out Ottawa’s only duelling piano show: one of the best impromptu sing-alongs you’ll find! Shows start at 10:30 p.m. Live music also on Fridays.

Nordik Spa-NatureNordik Spa-Nature 14. North America’s largest spa: After $4.1 million in recent upgrades, Nordik Spa-Nature in nearby Chelsea, Québec, offers 45,000 square feet of relaxing interior space and more than 100,000 square feet outside. Surrounded by trees and rocks, you’re encouraged to follow a gentle routine of heat (sauna), coolness (plunge pools) and relaxation. Or try the infinity pool with panoramic view, casual lounge or the salt-water floating pool. Ahhhh!

15. Pure indulgence at Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa: Several of Ottawa’s great chefs got their start at Ottawa’s Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa Culinary Arts Institute—the North American headquarters for the world’s foremost school for teaching classical French cuisine. While you could take the 9-month Grand diplôme course, you could also access your inner Julia Child by enjoying a three-hour demonstration course (or six-hour practical course where you can get your hands dirty!). Or if you just want to enjoy the fruits of others’ labour, you can dine at Le Cordon Bleu Bistro @ Signatures. Set lunches are offered Wednesday through Friday and à la carte dinners are available Wednesday through Saturday. The restaurant and school are located in a former lumber baron’s beautiful mansion in the leafy Sandy Hill neighbourhood just east of downtown Ottawa.

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Christmas with the Kids

 

Share the whimsy of the holidays with these magical family-friendly events this December in Ottawa.

The Nutcracker, A Canadian Tradition. Performed by The Ballet Jörgen at Centerpointe Theatre and Shenkman Arts Theatre this December. The Nutcracker, A Canadian Tradition. Performed by The Ballet Jörgen at Centerpointe Theatre and Shenkman Arts Theatre this December. There are three ways to see The Nutcracker in Ottawa this season. The National Arts Centre presents the Alberta Ballet’s classic interpretation of the Tchaikovsky favourite until December 9. This big-budget fantasy will pull you in as you follow little Clara to the Sugar Plum Fairy’s dream world. Meanwhile, Ballet Jörgen showcases their rendition with a Canadian twist: the show features the Group of Seven’s famous artwork as a backdrop. The familiar story takes you on a journey with iconic Canadian influences and visits from lumberjacks and Mounties, playing at Centerpointe Theatre on December 15 and the Shenkman Arts Centre on December 17 and 18. And arriving just in time for Christmas is a show for the littlest ones as Treehouse favourites, Max and Ruby, take to the stage. Through dance and some bunny hijinks, they bring the Nutcracker Suite to life at Centerpointe Theatre December 18.

For a more interactive take on a Christmas activity, visit the Diefenbunker for “How the Grinch Spied on Christmas.” Located a half-hour’s drive west of downtown Ottawa, this once-secret bunker was built during the Cold War to protect the government from nuclear attack. It’s now a museum. There is no better place to learn about the spy of all Christmas spies, the Grinch! On December 15 and 16 from 1-3 p.m. take part in storytime and learn spy skills. This great activity is included in the price of admission and will be followed by cookies and hot chocolate.

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