The Capital Itinerary
Capital itinerary takes you to the must-see Ottawa attractions, landmarks and sights, with stops in between for food, drink and entertainment.
It is awe-inspiring to walk into the marbled Grand Entrance Hall of the Supreme Court of Canada. If the time is right, you may be able to sit in on a hearing. Tours are 30 minutes.
Changing the Guard Ceremony is held each morning on Parliament Hill in Ottawa from late June through late August. The Changing the Guard Ceremony is a colourful spectacle of pomp, pageantry and music.
Visit Parliament Hill - Canada’s seat of government. Book group tours in advance (remember that the activities of Parliament sometimes have an effect on tours).
Tip: Watch for some of the fantastic stonework, including over 370 gargoyles, grotesques and friezes on the Peace Tower.
Stop for lunch at D’Arcy McGee’s Irish Pub — home of the beer cocktail and a terrific seasonal menu.
Take a stroll and shop down Sparks Street, Ottawa's most significant heritage streets. The Sparks Street Mall, Canada’s first pedestrian mall and a great place to people-watch in the warm weather. Sparks Street Mall offers over 150 unique and one-of-a-kind shops, as well as a wide range of banking, travel, and professional services. Take a stroll up the mall and keep an eye out for the amazing architecture, but save some time for its many unique shops too.
It’s time for the ‘Hill Hour’ at the Métropolitain Brasserie from 4 to 7 p.m. on weekdays. Stay for dinner and keep your eyes peeled for ‘capital’ types stopping in after work.
Youth/family-friendly option: Test your knowledge of Ottawa with a scavenger hunt with UrbanQuest. The Quest is designed to be your experience. You can run it as a race against your friends, a tour of the city, a new way to have dinner on the town or just a fun way to spend an evening.
Jazz, blues and folk are just a few of Ottawa’s fantastic music festivals in the summer months. Classical music fans will love the world-renowned Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival. Need a winter sports fix? The Ottawa Senators are the hottest ticket in town!
Youth/family-friendly option: In the summer months, head back to Parliament Hill after dark for Mosaika, the free nightly Sound and Light Show performance. (July 6-September 3, 2012 – July show starts at 10 p.m., August show starts at 9:30 p.m.)
The Canadian War Museum is a must for a ‘Capital’ tour. With six different galleries and special exhibits for all ages, plan to spend a few hours.
Tip: Don’t miss the dramatic Regeneration Hall.
Head back downtown and have lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe in the ByWard Market. You won’t be able to resist popping into the one-of-a-kind shops and stalls in the market, so schedule a good two hours for the lunch break.
For groups travelling in the summer months, Aboriginal Experiences (groups only), located minutes from downtown on Victoria Island, recreates the traditions, foods and dancing of First Nations Peoples from across North America. Alternatively, head east to the Canada Aviation and Space Museum and marvel at more than 130 aircraft on display: a collection that rivals many in the world.
Indulge yourself at the Blue Cactus Bar & Grill in the ByWard Market where you will find the right blend of a modern uptown atmosphere with contemporary cuisine.
Youth/family-friendly option: Head to the Buffet des Continents in Gatineau for dinner and satisfy everyone’s tastes. A vast salad bar, soup stations and a variety of international hot buffets are sure to please.
Check the schedule at Scotiabank Place, home of the NHL Ottawa Senators. Perhaps a hockey game, rock concert, family event or other great entertainment is on the bill during your visit? Or, Explore the haunts of Ottawa with Haunted Walk of Ottawa. Locals and newcomers alike are fascinated by these glimpses into the darker history and haunting of the Nation’s Capital.
No ‘Capital’ tour is complete without a trip to the town of Carp (30 minutes west of Ottawa) to see the Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum, named for former Canadian Prime Minister John Diefenbaker. A fascinating relic of the Cold War, this huge underground bunker was originally built to safeguard Canadian military and political elites in the event of a nuclear attack.
The Lone Star Texas Grill started right here in Ottawa, so go to the source for the best Tex-Mex food in town.
A stop at Rideau Hall, the residence and workplace of the Governor General of Canada, is particularly rewarding in the spring and summer, as the gardens are spectacular.
Wrap up your ‘Capital’ tour with a visit to Laurier House, the former home of two of Canada’s former prime ministers: Sir Wilfrid Laurier and William Lyon Mackenzie King.
Tip: See the study where King is alleged to have communed with the spirit of his dead mother.
Prepare for a fabulous evening by dining at Le Cordon Bleu Signatures restaurant. The Signatures restaurant present a formal fine dining atmosphere that celebrated the history and tradition of French cuisine and culture.Youth/family-friendly option: The Fishmarket restaurant and its upstairs neighbour Coasters Seafood Grill offer a variety of surf-and-turf options in a casual, friendly atmosphere.
The National Arts Centre always has something wonderful to see, whether your choice is theatre, music or dance.