So I'm going to Ottawa, eh?
July 21, 2010 11:12 AM   Subscribe

I'll be in Ottawa for a few days in September (attending RAID 2010). I've never been to Canada before (I'm a European), so I'm planning to stay a few days longer and enjoy the city and/or its surroundings. I'm looking for any recommendations of things to see and do. If anyone is up for a meetup, that would be great as well.
posted by cronholio to Travel & Transportation around Ottawa, ON (11 answers total)
My favorite thing to see in Ottawa is the Museum of Civilization.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:20 AM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Of standard historical fare, we enjoyed the tour of Parliament and the Museum of Civilization. At night there are often crazy light shows where they project lightshows on the front of the Parliament buildings - that's worth checking out if you're in that area at night (would probably be hard to miss if you're in that area at night).

The Byward market is an area of several blocks with food, flower, and craft vendors during the warm months, and lots of other cool shops and restaurants in the blocks surrounding the market areas. Worth wandering around that area on a nice day. There was a local fine foods restaurant, Domus Cafe, I liked a lot.

If you have a car, there's a great French restaurant, Les Fougeres, about 15 km north of Ottawa proper, we had great duck confit, and caribou meat pie; a little pricey but delicious. Also there was a yummy Ethiopian restaurant on Rideau St called The Horn of Africa (it's in a very unassuming-looking house).

Finally, it sounds crazy, but for something completely different there's a former Cold War era underground military installation in Carp, Ont., about 1/2 drive west of the city. It's weird and crazy and a little spooky but worth it (my partner was dubious when I suggested it but she ended up really enjoying it too).
posted by aught at 11:38 AM on July 21, 2010

In Ottawa you're only a couple hours away from Montreal...
posted by zadcat at 11:39 AM on July 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

for something completely different there's a former Cold War era underground military installation in Carp, Ont.

This is the hilariously-named Diefenbunker.

I recommend renting a bike and biking along the Rideau Canal (and do not, repeat DO NOT click on "interesting" as a way of sorting if you are at work/somewhere public - there is a very NSFW photo on there, even the the Canal is very safe for work). It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the longest continually-operating canal in North America. There's a bike rental place right at the last set of locks and even my non-cycling mom enjoyed it very much and it's a great way to see the city - and totally off-road paved bike path, so completely safe.

A bike could also take you around to the Gatineau side of things to see the aforementioned Museum of Civilization and a great view of Parliament; if you do bike, check out the National Capital Commission's displays along the canal for a free map or get one from the Tourism centre downtown in front of Parliament.
posted by urbanlenny at 12:13 PM on July 21, 2010

The War Museum is very new and, in my opinion, by far the best museum in Ottawa at the moment.
posted by Clandestine Outlawry at 12:53 PM on July 21, 2010

Check out the arboretum at the Central Experimental Farm. The arboretum has an eclectic mix of trees from around the world, making for a very bizarre, yet beautiful landscape. I was only in Ottawa for a single day several years ago, and this landscape is the thing that stuck with me the most.
posted by just_ducky at 4:36 PM on July 21, 2010

Byward Market and the Glebe neighbourhoods are where I hang out in Ottawa. There's also a tiny but pleasant Chinatown with some great banh mi joints. September should be great weather for strolling and you'll have a great time- take in the sound and light show at/on the Parliament buildings; as a naturalized Canadian I find it beautiful and moving.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 5:58 PM on July 21, 2010

Meetup! Meetup! Meetup! :D

Summer in Ottawa is filled with festivals, but the fall is reserved for country fairs. Richmond, Carp, Russell, all sorts of little villages just a 20 minute drive from the city. If you can swing a ride or rent a car during the weekend, that's what I'd suggest you do.
posted by LN at 6:46 PM on July 21, 2010

The Parliament buildings are beautiful, and I recommend visiting the grounds even if you've got better castles at home. Ottawa is a very walkable city, and you'll find a lot of interesting live music, shops, and food if you start here.

I wanted to see the War Museum, which ended up being a beautifully-curated, touching* and splendid place, far more interesting to me than the mannequins-in-uniforms in front of old planes (old planes are great, mind you) I expected. If you're at all interested in the history of Canada's alliance with Great Britain and France, don't miss it.

*oh MAN. the little bear destroyed me.
posted by Sallyfur at 7:18 PM on July 21, 2010

I highly recommend the tour of Parliament. It is a fascinating building and contains one of the most beautiful libraries I've seen.

We really enjoyed the free Currency Museum. The guide books presented as a way to kill a half hour. We were there for about 4 hours, and felt rushed. Learned all kinds of neat things there, like about playing card money.

For other stuff, I was in Ottawa a few years ago, and reported back in this thread.
posted by QIbHom at 7:52 PM on July 21, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks, all! I'll post a meetup thread to MeTa a week or so before.
posted by cronholio at 12:57 AM on July 22, 2010

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