Ottawa in a Day

(photo above Candice and I in front of the Parliament building in Ottawa)

Today was Day 5 of mine and Candice’s Cross Canada Adventure and we spent it in Ottawa.

(We arrived in Ottawa the day before but kind of took it as a breather day spending time with some of Candice’s family outside of the city. Holy cow there are frigin’ newfies everywhere!)

We spent only one day discovering our nations capital, which I had never been to before. The following is a list of things we did and also good tips if you ever visit Ottawa for a day.

1. Visit Parliament.

This should be first thing on your list no matter what, even if Beaver Tails are calling your name (ahem Andy) and no I’m not talking about the pub called Parliament (however foursquare tells me they have great fries!) I’m talking about the home of Canada’s Government. There was just recently an election and there are currently 308 MPs representing 5 political parties and there are 105 senators under the governor general….. Oh crud, I know nothing about politics so I won’t pretend I do.

We took a one hour free tour of the Parliament and our tour guide was Christine, fabulous girl, knows (pardon my french) “a shit tonne” of information about anything political that is Canada related, she was also bilingual (probably a must if becoming a tour guide there) and you should personally request to do her tour when visiting. There wasn’t a question she couldn’t answer.

2. Take a city tour.

There are hop on hop off buses, trolley car tours, amphibibuses, boat cruises and more available. For us it was a toss up between a boat cruise ( of either the Rideau Canal or the Ottawa River) or a ride on the amphibibus, the bus that drives on land and in the water. We had a hard time deciding but finally left it up to a coin toss (we filmed this, I apparently don’t know how to flip a coin, hilarious video to come) and the Amphibibus won!

An hour long fully narrated tour 40mins on land and 20mins in the water. Our tour guide was a comedic French man that had a million music cues to go with every joke or fact that he told us including jaws music, Irish music and even aboriginal songs. On this trip you also get to visit the province of Quebec, as that is where the amphibibus must enter the water.

3. Take a walk.

Ottawa is a fabulous city to take a stroll in, we limited our walking due to the extreme heat we were experiencing but the Ottawa River is lined with parks and pathways along the water and a stroll along the Rideau Canal can be beautiful.

4. Have a beer on a patio.

This seems like the thing to do in Ottawa on a sunny day. It’s a great place to people watch and take in the city, heck we all know this is a great thing to do in any city and yes I will continually put it in any list I make. In Ottawa you should do this particularly in the Byward Market area like we did.

5. ByWard Market.

(In French “Marche By” which I told Candice was a Newfinese translation) Located on the east side of downtown, the Byward Markets are open every day with vendors on the street selling, jewelry, art, fresh veggies and fruits, flowers, etc. with lots of small shops and boutiques specializing in cheese, fish, gelato, art, clothing, etc. And then you also have all of the pubs and restaurants with awesome street level and roof top patios.

6. Canadian Museum of History

Maybe you should do this one before the drinks. We didn’t make it here, but I would go back just to see it. Said to be one of Canada’s largest and most popular cultural institutions inside there is also a childrens museum and IMAX theater, along with a lot of native indian cultural heritage. The roof of the building was even designed to look like an upside down canoe as that is a sign of peace because when you are carrying a canoe on your shoulder there is no where to hide a weapon.

7. Mosaika Lights Show

If visiting in the summer time (from July to the end of September) you should finish your day watching the Mosaika Lights Show at Parliament Hill. Lasting 30mins the light show tells you the story of Canada through light and sound, pull up a blanket on the grassy area in front of the Parliament building and get ready to be amazed.

We had a great time in Ottawa, probably not long enough but we definitely saw everything that you wanted to see in just one day. Next on our Cross Canada Road Trip we head to Kingston, Ontario to pick up a car from and then we drive to Toronto to celebrate my birthday and to stay at the Delta Chelsea hotel who is graciously hosting us on our stay. Stay tuned to for new VIDEOs every day!


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  • Reply
    How great was 2011? | Cailin Travels
    December 30, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    […] in the same seat hurts your butt). We partied in Montreal for two nights, then we took the train to Ottawa our nations capital for two more nights before taking the train to Kingston, Ontario and picking up our car from […]

  • Reply
    Justin Morris
    June 4, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    Hey Cailin, really nice run down of Ottawa! Considering that I know about two-thirds of bugger all about Canada, it’s really good to get an idea of what Ottawa is about and the different cultural influences. Also, now I know which city is the capital! :P

    • Reply
      June 6, 2011 at 2:55 am

      Thanks Justin! I think it’s about time you made the trip over to Canada! :)

  • Reply
    June 2, 2011 at 5:41 am

    I definitely took Parliment for granted when I lived in Ottawa (I’ve done the tours, but I never understood really why it was #1 on visitors lists. . . ). I never did the amphitours, though I always wanted to… there’s some great stories about the rideau canal I’m sure they tell :)
    I LOVE the museum of civilizations! If you’re a museum fan at all, Ottawa is a great spot, though… the museum of technology is very interactive, that was my favourite as a child :) And the museum of nature was full of animals, so naturally I loved that ;P

    if that light show is anything like the one they have in Charlottetown, it would probably make me cry in amazement and Canadian pride… thumbs up to that.

    • Reply
      June 6, 2011 at 2:54 am

      How long did you live in Ottawa for? That was my first time there and I think I really liked it even though, I’m not so interested in politics :)
      I will definitely have to go back to see the museum of Civilization. and the light show too!

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