Top indoor activities in the Nation’s Capital to warm you up this winter!
Ottawa is well known for its array of lively winter activities. From skating down the world famous Rideau Canal Skateway, to enjoying cross country skiing in Gatineau Park, the Nation’s Capital is a great destination for those who look forward to the frostier time of year. However, for those of us who enjoy the comforts of warmth, and who would rather take off the parka than layer on the sweaters, there are many great indoor activities to keep you busy through to April. Leave the wind-chill and runny noses outside and delve into some of Ottawa’s best indoor activities this winter season.
Good eats: Ottawa comfort foods to satisfy those winter cravings
There’s nothing like a hearty meal to warm you up and re-energize the spirits in the dead of winter. Ottawa’s culinary scene, full of unique and innovative gastronomic experiences, also has an array of great soul satisfying comfort foods.
In the heart of the Byward Market, the SmoQue Shack on York St. offers mouth-watering southern BBQ at its very best. Try their succulent slow cooked ribs, savoury pulled pork, or tender beef brisket, and don’t forget to add a side of hearty mashed potatoes or some old fashioned corn bread. The smell alone will suck you into its doors!
Union Local 613, a Centretown hotspot, is also a great place to warm up your appetite. Known for their comfort food fare, their specialty without a doubt is their southern inspired cuisine. Satisfy your appetite with a spread of chicken and waffles, or opt for shrimp grits with a side of homemade buttery biscuits. Communal seating gives it a casual and friendly atmosphere, and a variety of bourbon cocktails are available to warm you from the inside out.
If the diner vibe is more your style, head over to the city’s west end to Wellington Diner. Snuggled between the trendy neighbourhoods of Westboro and Hintonburg, this old-school diner does not disappoint. Generous portions of hearty breakfast plates are available all day, alongside a variety of poutines including lobster poutine, smoked meat poutine and even breakfast poutine! Craving a hearty baked Mac n Cheese? Wellington Diner does not disappoint with such creations as Chicken Supreme Mac n cheese, Lobster Mac n cheese and Carbonara Mac n cheese, all served fresh from the oven.
Relax and unwind: Top spas to keep you relaxed and refreshed
There’s nothing like a fabulous spa treatment to keep you refreshed and invigorated during the winter months. Ottawa has a wide range of day spas offering everything from full body treatments, to soothing skin therapies, all to keep you revitalized during the winter season.
In the heart of the Byward Market, only seconds away from the Rideau Shopping Centre, Holtz Spa is a fabulous place to pamper yourself on a cold winter day. Their signature Tropical Escape treatment is a great way to rejuvenate your skin and awaken your spirit. After a full body mango body scrub and a citrus body buff, you’ll be pampered with a luxurious vitamin C facial, and a heavenly raindrop massage. You’re guaranteed to leave feeling revitalized and invigorated.
Another winter spa sanctuary is Daya Spa, located at the northern end of the Byward Market. Restore your inner and outer glow with a variety of treatments including the classic facial. Their organic facials use only natural ingredients, and are customized to your skin; perfect for those with skin sensitivities. Add on a mani or pedi (using only organic vegan nail products), and cure that rough winter skin during a day of pampering.
Looking for a full day escape? Then head 10 minutes north of Ottawa to Nordik Spa-Nature, an award winning winter spa oasis in the heart of Chelsea, Que. Nordik’s signature thermal experience is the perfect way to relax on a cold winter day. In a picture perfect winter setting, move from a series of warm and hot baths, saunas, and whirlpools, all aimed at relaxing muscles, boosting the immune system and eliminating toxins from the body. Add on a massage or the unique Källa treatment (their therapeutic underground salt-water pool), for the ultimate day of indulgence.
The Canadian Cultural Experience: Best of Ottawa’s museum and tours
Ottawa has a wealth of activities showcasing Canada’s culture, heritage and artistic diversity. There is without a doubt, no better time to explore them than in the winter months, when crowds are thinner and the weather outside is chilly.
A must-see for anyone visiting Ottawa is a tour of Canada’s Parliament. Often booked solid during the peak summer months, the free 20 to 50-minute guided tour of Canada’s political hub has a much more relaxed and less busied atmosphere on the flip side of the calendar. Visit the iconic Centre Block, home to the Canadian Senate, House of Commons and the impressive Library of Parliament. The option also exists to take a self-guided tour to the top of the Peace Tower, where you’ll enjoy an amazing view of the downtown core. If you’re looking for some more political excitement, visiting in the winter also provides you with the opportunity to view live debates in the Senate and House of Commons, on a first-come first-served basis.
If the arts scene is more your cup of tea, then a visit to the National Gallery of Canada should be at the top of your list. With great permanent collections, and amazing special exhibits such as Monet: A bridge to Modernity (on until Feb, 15, 2016), there is always of wealth of amazing art to explore. Don’t forget to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of the glass covered landscaped courtyards of the Garden Court, a calm place to rest after a few hours of art appreciation. The architecture of the building including the Great Hall, and the grand cathedral like Colonnade are simply stunning. Don’t forget to make a stop in the Gallery’s gift shop on your way out for some unique artistic take homes.
For nature enthusiasts, the Canadian Museum of Nature provides the chance to view wildlife and be one with nature, while the outside hibernates away. Tour the many fascinating exhibits and test your knowledge about Canadian mammals, fossils, birds and more. If you’re not afraid of insects, the special exhibit Bugs: Outside the Box (on until March 27, 2016) will give you an intimate, face-to-face, and one of a kind perspective into the astounding world of bugs. Learn to roll dung like a beetle, take a selfie with the “Big Bugs” and even eat a bug, if you’re up for it!
For all it’s great outdoor winter activities, Ottawa is also a city with no shortage of warm winter fun! Mix and match to create your perfect getaway, and enjoy all Ottawa has to offer. For more information on what to see and do in Ottawa, browse Ottawa Tourism’s website.