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What to do in Ottawa?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
I'm hoping the Ottawa area mamas here can give me some ideas. DH has a work conference in Ottawa in October and we've decided we're going to take our first big trip away from the kids since our honeymoon when DS1 was just a babe. He's out there for a week and I'll either be flying out with him the weekend before or joining him the weekend after his conference and enjoying a 3 day weekend in Ottawa with him.

So... besides Parliament Hill, what else is there to check out in Ottawa? I've never been and DH was there when he was young and doesn't remember much of the trip. How is public transit? Would it be possible for us to get around to see the sights via transit/walking (want to avoid renting a car). Any recommendations on places to stay that are close to the attractions? How about any "OMG, you have to have the food at this place" restaurants? Any ideas and suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
post #2 of 8
The art gallery, the museum across the river in Quebec.

The market! The market is close the Rideau Centre.

We lived downtown and walked everywhere, never used the car. We could walk around all day and be entertained. It's a very walkable city.
post #3 of 8
The market, Parliament hill, and the National Gallery are great suggestions, and you can easily walk around this area.

If you're outdoorsy, Gatineau Park is beautiful at this time of year. (Get some snacks at the bakery on the way up-yum!)

Downtown Ottawa is fairly smallish. You should be able to walk/us transit/catch a taxi fairly easily. I'm not sure how late buses run, but I think they cover Ottawa pretty comprehensively.

Enjoy your kid-free time!
post #4 of 8
There's no need to rent a car if you choose a central hotel. You can easily walk, bus or cab.
I third the suggestions of wandering around the Byward Market and going to the National Gallery. The Museum of Civilization in Hull is a quick (and pretty) walk across the river from the National Gallery, too, if there's an interesting exhibit on.
My fave restaurant is Domus (local, seasonal upscale) in the Market, which would be great for a Saturday night out.
Any particular interests or food cravings? I could suggest something...
post #5 of 8
If you enjoy taking in the "local experience" and happen to be in Ottawa over the weekend, the Ottawa Farmer's Market at the Landsdown stadium (sunday) is worth a visit, or the Main St. farmer's market (saturday) on the St-Paul University campus.

I second a hike in the Gatineau hills.

Another out of town excursion that is very nice is taking the steamtrain to Wakefield Quebec. It is very picturesque, and wakefield is a lovely little town with some nice shops and restaurants. Here is their website http://www.steamtrain.ca/intro_en.asp:

Enjoy your trip!
post #6 of 8
i'm late to this thread, but what are the approx dates in october? what do you both like to do?

the weather could still be really nice or cold, although the past few years it's been nice past thanksgiving. i live downtown, about a 15min walk from parliament hill and we walk everywhere - very walkable city (used to live in downtown toronto for years, can't even compare for walkability

gatineau park is amazing during fall rhapsody for the first half of the month - there isn't bus service to the best parts of the park, and the bike rental places shut down by then but you could consider renting a car for one day (we are car-free and sometimes rent a car for a day from enterprise as they often have local weekend specials for cheap if you are doing less than 100km a day even for just one day). champlain point is breathtaking at that time of year. there are other great spots that are walkable on the ontario side if you don't want to consider a car at all.

if you want to be close to the market the novotel is probably a decent choice as it isn't too noisy.

for downtown closer to parliament hill - minto place suites is good with great amenities and good kitchens. radisson, delta and albert at bay would all be reasonablr choices and close to parliament hill and within walking distance of almost everything.

transit is good in ottawa, with any of those hotels you'd be close to the transitway (tonnes of buses to everywhere in the city)

my favourite walk in ottawa is along the river behind parliament hill - it's gorgeous and not very touristed at all (i do the walk regularly). you can start/finish at either spot i'll mention. go toward the bytown museum (down the hill beside parliament hill and the last of the canal locks...continue down to the bottom of the hill and take the path for a gorgeous 20min walk to end either at the back of the natl library/archives, or continue to the war museum or even beyond. so lovely

for restaurants...again what do you like? if you stay at one of the downtown hotels you can head to where many of the locals eat on somerset or near somerset - upscale but with a fixed menu - zen kitchen, mid - tapas, inexpensive - ceylonta, tonnes of vietnamese places like ph bo go la. all you can eat sushi at yummy sushi is great. if you stay in a downtown hotel and want delivery for chinese - jo moon ting (hong kong style - don't order canadian chinese options), and seasons pizza - my bil is a fussy pizza eater from chicago and when they come to ottawa he always gets seasons pizza!). also on somerset is umi cafe (co-op) they often have live music...great space

in the market, i agree domus is a gem as is sweetgrass bistro. for inexpensive my faves are chez lucien and ahora. there's more but that's off the top of my head.

more suggestions if you'd like if you have any specific questions.
post #7 of 8
I second Gatineau park and the Museum of Civilization in Hull (they have a children’s museum inside it!)

There is a fantastic vegetarian restaurant called the Green Door on Main (across the street from St. Paul's University) we are not even vegetarian but love eating there. All the food is really fresh and it is buffet style.

Another place you could go with your little one is the experimental farm. You could go for a walk in the Botanical gardens afterwards. It is next to the barn with all the animals.
post #8 of 8
Originally Posted by bluedaaria View Post
Another out of town excursion that is very nice is taking the steamtrain to Wakefield Quebec. It is very picturesque, and wakefield is a lovely little town with some nice shops and restaurants. Here is their website http://www.steamtrain.ca/intro_en.asp:
DEFINITELY do this!!! October is the perfect time. Gatineau Park is right out my front door, we're near Wakefield, and we call it "Fall Rhapsody." The leaves are absolutely spectacular, even in a bad year. The steam train is so lovely and so is walking around the village (the train stops for an hour or two before heading back to town).

If you want to go for a hike in Gatineau Park, you can get to the southern tip by public transit (STO is the Gatineau city bus, the map on their website shows where various bus routes touch the park) and I bet you could ride share to the more northern (but still only 15-30 mins from downtown max) trails and lookouts if you posted on craigslist.

If you can't make it out of the city to see the fall colours, you could go to the revolving restaurant on top of the Radisson (I think it's the Radisson but I might be mixing it up with another downtown hotel, google should be able to tell you). The food is only so-so for the price but the view is amazing in the fall. Go early enough so that you can see the hills before sunset.

There is tons to do right downtown, as pps have mentioned. You'll have no problem finding things to do/see even if you don't plan in advance. If you have any connections on Parliament Hill even if only the third cousin of a friend of a friend, it would be worth calling in a favour to get access to the Parliament Hill cafeteria. It's not like any other cafeteria! (and there's always lots of members of the public there so you don't have to feel intimidated)
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