The Culture Itinerary
The Culture itinerary is all about discovering Ottawa’s cultural attractions, including museums, theatres, and galleries, punctuated by uniquely Canadian experiences.
10:00 am: Begin this tour with a broad cultural overview of Canada at the Canadian Museum of Civilization. The building itself is spectacular, with its curving forms and breath‐taking interiors such as the Grand Hall.
Tip: The museum also houses the Canadian Children’s Museum — one of the most fun places in the region—so there’s plenty to see and do before lunch.
1:00 pm: Take a break and have lunch at the museum’s Bistro Boréal or the more casual Voyageurs Cafeteria.
2:00 pm: Catch the latest IMAX flick. Sit back in a reclining seat to get the full effect of the seven‐storey high screen and curved dome.
Youth/family‐friendly option: Stop in for an Italian treat at The Grand Pizzeria, a great hotspot with authentic Neapolitain pizza.
8:00 pm: Theatre? Dance? The symphony? The National Arts Centre is home to the NAC Orchestra (under the musical direction of Pinchas Zukerman) as well as English and French theatre presenting the best of stage artistry from across the country.
10:00 am: You can’t leave town without a tour through the National Gallery of Canada with its giant bronze spider, Maman, on the plaza entranceway. Permanent exhibits include major works from European, American and Canadian masters among many others. Guided tours or personal tours with audio guide are available.
3:00 pm: Spend the afternoon at the Mackenzie King Estate in Gatineau Park. Roam around the romantic gardens and picturesque ruins or take one of the many trails through the woods before stopping for tea at the Mackenzie King Tearoom. Travel time is approximately 20 minutes.
6:30 pm: You can indulge in dinner at the Courtyard Restaurant specializing in Canadian cuisine using fresh, seasonal ingredients from local suppliers and is a favorite destination for relaxed fine dining.
8:30 pm: No need to wait for Halloween to enjoy a really good scare. Take a lantern‐guided walking tour of the city’s ‘darker side’ with the Haunted Walks of Ottawa. Large groups are welcome with reservations.
9:45am: The ideal place to start the day is on Parliament Hill to watch the Changing the Guard Ceremony (late June‐late August).
11:00 am: After the ceremony make your way to the Bytown Museum, with its wealth of photographs and artifacts about Ottawa’s early days, before it became the capital. As the museum is located at the entrance to Ontario’s first UNESCO World Heritage site, the Rideau Canal, you’ll view those first locks with fresh eyes once you learn about the monumental challenges of their creation.
Adventurous groups will love paddling a voyageur canoe to Aboriginal Experiences (groups only), a native village with live dance performances, guided tours, craft workshops, authentic meals, and more.
1:00 pm: Pick a delicious dish from the Blue Cactus Bar & Grill in the ByWard Market.
2:30 pm: Stay in the neighbourhood and head over to the Royal Canadian Mint. Unique collectables such as hockey and dinosaur coins are for sale in the boutique.
4:00 pm: Paul’s Boat Lines is the ideal sightseeing venue on the water. Choose to see Ottawa scenery via the Rideau Canal or the Ottawa River. You will see the natural beauty of the region that captured the imagination of the first European explorer Samuel de Champlain. Operating from May to October, evening cruises end on Labour Day.
5:30 pm: Patterned after the great steak houses of North America, is one of Ottawa's best choices for steak and seafood, Prime 360.
8:00 pm: Jazz, blues and folk are just a few of Ottawa’s fantastic music festivals in the summer months. From the avant-garde to big band and swing, the TD Ottawa International Jazz Festival offers musical styles to suit any jazz aficionado (see the Calendar of Events for dates). Need a winter sports fix? The Ottawa Senators are the hottest ticket in town!