Ottawa this weekend
June 23, 2015 5:20 AM   Subscribe

Off to Ottawa this weekend to see the US play China! What else should we do there?

Partner and I are driving to Ottawa on Thursday to see the US play China Friday evening in the World Cup. So, we'll have Friday morning/afternoon and all day Saturday to explore.

I was in Ottawa about 7 years ago with my family on a short visit, and went to Parliament and the National Gallery and enjoyed both. What other things are there to do? We're both museum and arts inclined, and enjoy walking around in neighborhoods and doing window shopping. We'll have a car and might want to do some hiking on Saturday-- how's Parc de la Gatineau this time of year?

Any suggestions for food/drink? We're staying downtown, but are definitely willing to roam for good food.

And, we're driving from Ohio- we've both done Niagara Falls, but if there's anywhere else we should stop on the way there, let us know!
posted by damayanti to Travel & Transportation around Ottawa, ON (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The Jazz Festival is on this weekend - I don't know who exactly is playing but it's definitely worth checking out (there are both jazz and non-jazz acts). The Fringe Festival also continues through this weekend, with a huge number of shows to choose from.

I think the current exhibit at the National Gallery is Alex Colville, which would probably be interesting to see, though you could also check out the Museum of Nature or Museum of Civilization (oh, I think it's the Museum of Canadian History now).

Gatineau Park has great hiking, though it is likely to be pretty bug-filled. If you don't mind slapping on lots of bug dope and wearing long sleeves, there are great hikes there. If you want a longer hike, Wolf Trail is great and gives you some nice views over the valley, or you can even just do the shorter hike by the Visitor's Centre, and then get some ice cream at the very delicious ice cream place across the road.

For food, in the Byward Market I really like Play for something a touch more upscale (wine bar and small plates), and Khao Thai. For a great quick bite, there's a delicious authentic Mexican place in the Byward Market building, that I can't remember the name of. It's delicious, though. There's also a chain of local burger places called The Works which is pretty tasty and a bit of an institution in town. My less downtown-centric suggestions are mostly veggie places so may not fit, but if you're interested in a really awesome vegan restaurant with a great vibe, check out Cafe My House. There are also lots of other great little restaurants in that neighbourhood (Hintonburg).

Hope that helps to get you started, at least! See you at the game on Friday! ;)
posted by sabotagerabbit at 6:02 AM on June 23, 2015

The Colville exhibit is pretty good. There are some Fringe Festival reviews up on

My favourite places to eat these days are Hareg (first-rate Ethiopian, cheap), Corazón De Maíz (nice fresh Mex, tiny, great for take-away to bring to a park), and Ahora (Mex again, cheap again, everything done just right).

For window-shopping walking about, try Wellington West; I also like the Ottawa Antique Market (big multi-vendor mall).

To grab a beer: Chez Lucien (try the fries), and/or The Manx (again, try the fries).

House of Targ is noisy and dark but worth at least a quick peek if it intrigues. It's near Quinn's, and a good dessert place, Stella Luna.

If you are driving through Kingston, get eats to go at Pan Chancho.
posted by kmennie at 6:54 AM on June 23, 2015

Oh yes, Hareg is excellent! And walking distance from Lansdowne Park, too.
posted by sabotagerabbit at 8:08 AM on June 23, 2015

My personal favorite for food is the best veggie food in town at Café My House and the neighbohood is up and coming. If you are into fibre arts you should check out Fabrications and Wabi Sabi across the street.

Also, you can check out for events and Fringe reviews. Couch Assassin is more of a bare bones event listing site.

Gatineau Parc is great, I recommend a quick swim at Lac Meech (second beach), the very vertical Luskville Falls for a view of the Ottawa Valley or a hike to Lusk Cave. If you want to stay in town, I recommend Hog's Back Falls, it's an easy bike ride down Colonel By Dr.
posted by Gor-ella at 8:25 AM on June 23, 2015

We will also be at the game on Friday! The rest of the weekend we will be taking in a very awesome and very free lineup of musicians at the Dragonboat Festival. Also lots of local beer like Kitchisippi and Beau's at the festival and it's in Mooney's Bay park which is a lovely little bike ride away.

You'll be in the Glebe for the game, so in and around there we like Irene's for music/a pre-game beer (our local pub.) If you like seafood, the Whalesbone is just a little walk down to Centretown and, though small, generally has a couple of awesome things on the menu. Hareg was also a bang-up recommendation earlier.

If you're coming back from the game, pick up some bagels and cream cheese from Kettleman's (either as a snack or breakfast the next morning) as it's right at the Bank Street entrance to the stadium.

If you head down to the market, Mellos is consistently amazing - creative diner fare. I would avoid The Works because it's bloody expensive for the quality - it feels a lot more like a chain than it did five years ago. There's also an incredible little korean spot called Alirang in the market which tends to have a wait at the door for a reason.
posted by buoys in the hood at 8:53 AM on June 23, 2015

The Colville exhibit is excellent- one of the best I've ever seen. Ottawa has a lot of fantastic restaurants now and the recommendations are all good.

If you're into walking through neighborhoods you can start in Hintonburg where Somerset turns into Wellington West and walk west. Lots of coffee shops, restaurants, shops, etc. Heading west: Suzy q's for donuts, Hintonburg public house for a pint, supply and demand or Wellington gastropub for dinner.

The local coffee chain is Bridgehead and sometimes locals grumble about them because they're ubiquitous but the coffee and food are excellent. They have a Roastery on Anderson just off Preston Street and the baristas there are really into taking about coffee.
posted by betsybetsy at 9:24 AM on June 23, 2015

Roam over to Quebec for a taste of their national dish, poutine.
posted by beau jackson at 9:49 AM on June 23, 2015

Go to the Diefenbunker, Canada's Cold War museum. It was meant to keep the government alive for several months after a nuclear attack.
posted by brujita at 9:53 AM on June 23, 2015

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