Ottawa-Gatineau Visitor Tips
Here are some quick suggestions for visitors with limited time in the city: The schedule is only a suggestion -- you may have more fun, or wish to take more time than mentioned below.
One Day Stay
To capture the essence of this city, here are suggestions for your first day (especially if its your only day) in Ottawa.
- Start your day in the Byward Market, taking in the heritage buildings, grabbing breakfast, visiting the weekend Farmers' Market, and shopping at the many stores and boutiques
- Continue along Rideau Street, walking past Rideau Centre, the Conference Centre, Chateau Laurier, Rideau Canal and the Ottawa Locks, National Arts Centre, and the War Memorial.
- Go to the War Memorial, and then head west on the Sparks Street Mall, enjoying the heritage buildings and the many interesting shops and services
- Parliament Hill. Catch the Changing of the Guards at 10 am, take a tour, and take in the city view from the Peace Tower
- Head West along Wellington Street, and see a number of important buildings: NCC Visitor Centre, the National Press Club, Bank of Canada, Confederation Block, Supreme Court, and National Library
- Cross the River at du Portage Bridge. See the Ottawa River Parkway to the west, pass the old mill (now a restaurant), the Aboriginal Experience on Victoria Island, various government office buildings, and wander around old Hull (this is also a nightlife hotspot, for later)
- Visit the Museum of Civilization, with its curvey lines designed by architect Joseph Cardinal, on the shore of the Ottawa River below Parliament Hill. If there's only ONE Museum you can visit on your stay in Ottawa, this is it.
- Cross the Interprovincial Bridge back to Ottawa, ending up on Sussex Boulevard. Here you can see Nepean Point, with its statue of Samuel de Champlain, the National Gallery, the Royal Canadian Mint, and the War Museum. Break for a bit in the Byward Market
- Head east to visit Rideau Falls, 24 Sussex (home of the Prime Minister) and Rideau Hall (home of the Governor General), and the posh homes of Rockcliffe Park.
If you are visiting for a longer period, there are a number of destinations worth visiting (each about a day, including driving):
- In the city's east end, take in the National Aeronautical Museum in Rockcliffe and the natural splendour of the unique Mer Bleue Conservation Area
- Enjoy the parklands of the city, driving along Queen Elizabeth Drive from the Arts Centre, past Patterson Creek, Lansdowne Park, the Bank Street shopping district, ending at Dow's Lake, a year-round play area in the middle of the city.
- Explore the city's south end, from Dow's Lake, drive up Prince of Wales Drive past the Arboretum & the Agriculture Museum to visit Mooney's Bay and Hog's Back Falls.
- Head back in on Colonel By Drive, which passes Carleton University, Rideau Canal Locks, Dow's Lake, and Ottawa University, ending up downtown again.
- head west on the Ottawa River Parkway to Island Park Drive, crossing the Ottawa Rive on the Champlain Bridge, and then heading east toward Hull, to the Gatineau Parkway. Head on this scenic drive to check out Pinks Lake, the Mackenzie King Estate and the Champlain Lookout up the Ottawa Valley.
- On the way back, visit the Casino de Hull, the quiet Gatineau River, the pretty Quebec town of Gatineau and the Leamy Lake Archeological and Environmental Preserve (there's also a popular public beach on the lake!).