If you’ve found the one you want to spend the rest of your life with, come to Ottawa to seal the deal! Popping the question can be a nerve-racking experience, but rest assured that with its beautiful views and quiet romantic locales, Ottawa will set the right mood to help you obtain the answer you so desire.
As Canada’s capital, Ottawa is home to many historic buildings and attractions that exude old-world class and charm. From an enchanting and striking château, to a quiet flowing canal, to gourmet candlelit restaurants, there is no shortage of romance in this former lumber town.
Topping the proposal location list is Signatures Restaurant at Le Cordon Bleu. Located in a former lumber baron’s beautiful 1877 mansion, Signatures offers low lighting, a quiet romantic atmosphere and delicious modern French cuisine. Enjoy a gourmet meal prepared by Executive Chef Yannick Anton and savour wine from the restaurant’s extensive wine list. And if you’d like to take the Signatures experience one step further, make a reservation for the red velvet ‘Chapelle Room.’ Located on the restaurant’s second floor, the impressive Chapelle Room is removed from other diners, providing privacy, dim lighting and exclusive service for two. Ensure that you will be completely alone when asking that very important question. Or if dinner and a show is of interest, visit Le Café at the National Arts Centre.
Offering a modern, softly lit atmosphere and contemporary Canadian cuisine, Le Café is a great location at any time of year and is a popular Ottawa proposal spot. During the warmer months, sit on the restaurant’s patio and watch boats float by on the Rideau Canal –a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the winter, this is a wonderful spot to watch ice skaters on the canal, the world’s largest skating rink. Enjoy a good meal, a great view and pop the question before taking in a performance at the National Arts Centre!
Another softly lit locale is the Fairmont Château Laurier. This historic château opened in 1912 and to this day, reflects all the grandeur and beauty of that era. Whether you’re staying as a guest or just stopping by for a drink, the Fairmont’s ornate gold décor and quiet marbled halls set the stage for intimate conversation. Start with a champagne cocktail at Zoé’s Lounge, named one of the best bars in Canada by enRoute magazine, before taking a walk out onto the hotel’s charming terrace. The Fairmont’s quiet stone terrace borders on the luscious Major’s Hill Park and at its edge, offers a stunning view of Parliament Hill, the Ottawa River, the Ottawa Locks of the Rideau Canal and the Canadian Museum of History. This is considered to be one of the best evening vistas in the city.
Just west of the Fairmont is Parliament Hill, which is a great place for romance either during the day or at night. Offering a castle-like setting, the Parliament Buildings are neo-Gothic and Gothic structures set on a tree-covered promontory overlooking the rolling Ottawa River. If crowds don’t bother you, take an elevator to the top of the 92.2-metre (302-foot) Peace Tower during the day. Though you will not be alone, the clock tower is an interesting space, offering a dramatic 360-degree view of Ottawa and its surrounding region. And if you’re looking for a more private moment, Parliament Hill is best after all of the tourists and politicians have gone home. After sunset, stroll the pathways, take in some of the great views behind the buildings or cozy up near the ever-burning Centennial Flame. And in true fairytale fashion, ask the question as the Peace Tower’s clock strikes!
The Corktown Footbridge also offers a great view of the Rideau Canal and of Ottawa’s downtown core. This pedestrian bridge, which stretches over the Rideau Canal connecting the University of Ottawa campus to Somerset Street West, is also known as the ‘Love Locks’ bridge. Visiting and local Ottawa couples of all ages come to this bridge to proclaim their everlasting love by locking a padlock onto the bridge’s railing and throwing the keys into the water below. This site is best visited at night, when the pedestrian traffic is low and the lights of Ottawa’s downtown core flicker over the water.
Another outdoor downtown location is Nepean Point. Located behind the National Gallery of Canada, the relatively secluded Nepean Point offers a spectacular panoramic view of Ottawa and its surrounding region. Visit this site during the day for a dramatic view of the city and the river, or head up to the point at night to see the city lit up with twinkling lights.
Just east of Ottawa’s downtown core is the Rockcliffe Park Lookout. Set high above a jagged rock cliff, this tiny terracotta-roofed pavilion provides stunning views of the city and of the Ottawa River. This place is a favourite among visiting and local couples alike in any season. Ask the question as the sun is setting and giving Ottawa that warm, romantic Rembrandt glow. Many proposals take place at this scenic spot!
And if you’re willing to get out on the water during Ottawa’s warmer months, get in touch with local company Au Feel de l’eau to book a private cruise aboard its cozy Aqua-Limo. Embark on a private sunset cruise that departs from the Casino du Lac-Leamy dock and tours the Ottawa River. Take in scenic views of Parliament Hill and other Ottawa landmarks, and pop the question as you cruise back towards the Casino under the boat’s dim, romantic lighting. And the best part? Au Feel de L’Eau’s Aqua-Limo is eco-friendly. It is powered by a nearly silent electric motor, meaning there are no roaring engine sounds to distract you during that big moment.
For a more casual setting, head into the ByWard Market neighbourhood. This neighbourhood is home to the city’s entertainment district, offering great restaurants, clubs, bistros, coffee shops and boutiques. But for a more intimate setting, sneak into one of the market’s charming cobblestone courtyards, which back onto lovely restaurant patios, featuring soft lighting and quirky public art. The Clarendon Courtyard, Jeanne d’Arc Courtyard, Tin House Courtyard and Beaux-arts Courtyard all have their own unique charms!
And if you’re willing to drive to the outskirts of the city, Gatineau Park offers a few unique romantic opportunities year-round. Located just a 20-minute drive north of Ottawa’s downtown core, the park is home to natural spaces and scenic views that are sure to enchant any visitor!
During the day, drive up to the Champlain Lookout, located atop the park’s Eardley Escarpment set 335 metres (1099 feet) above sea level. Relax for a while, and then ask the question as you take in beautiful views of the Gatineau Hills as well as the Ottawa Valley. This site is popular year-round, but is especially magical in the fall, providing great views of the glowing, brightly-coloured autumn leaves! In the winter months, Gatineau Park’s hiking trails give way to snowshoeing trails. For a unique romantic winter experience, participate in the Friends of Gatineau Park’s Snowshoeing Under the Stars activity, where you leave the park’s Visitor Centre with a guide and explore the beginner-friendly Sugar Bush Trail by twilight. During the colder months (roughly December to March), the Friends of Gatineau Park partner with Nordik Spa-Nature in nearby Chelsea, Québec, to offer an evening of snowshoeing that ends at the relaxing outdoor spa.
Open year-round, Nordik is the largest spa of its kind in North America, offering massages and rejuvenating Nordic baths. Spend your evening in total relaxation, while you enjoy a glass of wine cozied up together next to a warm roaring fire. With dimly lit spaces, hot tubs and a romantic rustic atmosphere, Nordik sets the right tone for that important question in any season.
Though Ottawa is best known as a government town, its residents and business owners are warm and friendly. No matter what your plan may be, most will be willing to help you with your big question.