Doors Open Ottawa, a free, annual architectural event is taking place on June 4 and 5, 2016. This is a great opportunity to see Ottawa from behind the scenes, as some of the city’s most interesting buildings welcome the public over one weekend.
From embassies, to fascinating museums, to churches and Canadian heritage sites, you can spend the whole weekend exploring more than 130 culturally and historically significant buildings. This local event first started in 2002 and since then, more than 770,000 visitors have gotten an exclusive, behind the scenes look at Canada’s Capital.
And as Ottawa is a pedestrian-friendly city – many attractions are within a 20-minute walk from most downtown area hotels – it’s easy to see as many buildings as you’d like over two days. Alternatively, hop on your bike or rent one and visit all of the locations you like. Located right downtown across from the Fairmont Château Laurier, RentABike offers bikes for rent by the hour, the day and even by the week. And don’t worry, the bike comes with everything you need; a helmet and a bike lock. Also, local cycling companies Escape Bicycle Tours & Rentals and Ottawa Cycling Tours will be offering guided Doors Open experiences.
One of the places worth visiting, among the many choices, is the Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum. Though it is located at a short drive west of Ottawa’s downtown core in the town of Carp, Ont., this unique museum is worth a visit. Discover this four-storey, 300-room, 100,000-square-foot cement bunker that was built in complete secresy by Prime Minister John Diefenbaker between 1959 and 1961!
Or if culinary delights are more what you’re after, head down Laurier Avenue to explore Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts Institute. This beautiful yellow mansion is one of Ottawa’s best known buildings and is also home to the gourmet Signatures Restaurant.
Originally known as Munross House, the 1877 mansion was designed by James Mather and features a unique, half-octagonal tower. Visit this iconic Ottawa building and also discover the inner workings of the 120-year-old cooking school that resides within it. You might be able to find out how they make their famous macarons.
New this year, Ottawa company Shopify will open the doors to its unique office space at 150 Elgin St.! See its go kart track, log cabin-style president’s office and more. Shopify’s office is unlike any other space in Ottawa!
Other museums participating in this annual event are the National Gallery of Canada and the Bytown Museum. Other smaller museums as well as various municipal buildings and fire stations across Ottawa are also part of Doors Open Ottawa. For a complete list of participating locations and an interactive map, visit the City of Ottawa’s website.
And if you’d rather not walk or bike to various locations, that’s no problem; just take advantage of the FREE Ottawa Citizen Doors Open Ottawa Shuttle Bus. The bus will run every 35 minutes on Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Stops include Sussex Drive (between Bruyère and St. Andrew), Mackenzie at Rideau Street, Wellington Street (between Bank and Kent), Somerset and Bayswater, Booth Street at Somerset, Laurier Avenue in front of City Hall and Laurier Avenue at Chapel.
No matter what form of transportation you choose – on foot, by car, by bus or by bike – the Doors Open weekend is a great way to experience Ottawa and discover its secrets. Browse Ottawa Tourism’s website for more ideas on what to see and do. You can also explore different Ottawa getaway packages.