Ottawa is a celebrated Canadian city-break hot-spot and a destination that changes with the seasons. At any time of year there is no better place than Ottawa for a romantic getaway, a weekend fling, a celebration… or a much needed break.
Ottawa is a walkable city with great outdoor spaces to explore. You can wander through national wonders, see the sights, cycle, shop, dine and generally unwind in our Nation’s Capital. So plan a trip to Ottawa - holidays like Labour Day and Thanksgiving weekend are great opportunities to take a long weekend break in Canada’s Capital.
Ottawa has beautiful colours in the Fall as places such as Rideau Hall, Majors Hill Park and Gatineau Park burst into colour at summer’s end. There’s still time to sit out on one of Ottawa’s many patios throughout the city. And don’t forget to sample one of the growing number of local craft beers that are on offer. The end of summer also means a great harvest – so check out the fresh produce in the ByWard Market as well as the Ottawa Farmers Market at Lansdowne and the Main Farmer’s Market, currently at the Canadian Museum of Nature.
The Fall is a wonderful time to pamper yourself at the Spa. The downtown Holtz Spa is a sophisticated urban spa with unique Canadian maple treatments. You can choose between a variety of spa packages such as their mother daughter retreat or a romance package. New this Fall is a partnership with Escape Bicycle Tours, providing the opportunity for recreational cyclists to visit the sights and hidden gems of Ottawa. After the bicycle tour – you chill out at Holtz Spa with a well-deserved Massage or Signature Spa Pedicure & Reflexology.
And as we head into crisper weather, the outdoor thermal pools at Nordik Spa-Nature offer an amazing experience. Tucked just inside the gates of Gatineau Park, this outdoor spa is the largest spa in North America. You can enjoy a wide range of spa treatments, massage therapy and Källa treatment in the only salt-water floating pool in America. Nordik Spa Nature also has a number of packages including:
After a relaxing spa - time to feed the mind at one of Ottawa's National Museums. A fun option for getting around Ottawa in the Fall - and also a great way to travel between some of the Museums - is the electric powered Au Feel de l’eau water taxi. It takes you between the iconic sites on the Gatineau and Ottawa Rivers. With continued great exhibitions at Ottawa’s cultural attractions, together with Festivals like the Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival (September 1 - 5, 2016) - there is always something exciting to do in our Nation’s Capital.
Whether you’re craving culture, shopping, art, a spa —or an exceptional meal— always plan some time wandering the ByWard Market neighbourhood, one of Canada’s oldest and largest public markets. The city’s recent shopping renaissance is most evident here with international retailers opened up alongside chic boutiques owned and operated by locals.
Then head to the Rideau Centre, the region’s premiere shopping centre, for some more retail therapy. The Rideau Centre has completed a $360M redevelopment project. August 2016 will see the opening of a new expansion that will add 230,000sq. ft of shopping over 4 levels. Simons is also scheduled to open this August. This Quebec-based department store is also known for its affordable fashions for women, men and kids. Simons also offers home accessories such as linens, pillows, kitchenware and more.
There’s always something going on in Ottawa, no matter what time you visit. You can always check out the events calendar at www.ottawatourism.ca for up to date information.
Whether you are looking for craft beer to toast at Oktoberfest or a spine chilling Halloween adventure - Ottawa has activities to keep the whole family busy.
Fall festivals and events coming up include:
Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival (Sept 1 - 5, 2016)
Come to Canada’s largest balloon festival where hot air balloons fill the Gatineau sky and a number of exciting shows take place.
Parliament Hill – Northern Lights: Sound and Light Show (Until Sept 10, 2016)
The free bilingual show takes place each night at 9:00pm and takes the audience on an unforgettable journey of sound and light, as they explore Canada’s physical, historical and cultural landscapes.
Ottawa CityFolk Festival (Sept 15 - 18, 2016)
Held on the Great Lawn at Lansdowne Park, right beside the Rideau Canal, this festival will feature a wide variety of music including folk, indie and classic rock. Artists include Vance Joy, James Bay, Bryson Tiller, X Ambassadors, Dean Brody and many more. See their website for the full lineup. Marvest run as part of CityFolk, is a fantastic idea that merges a harvest of local music, food and beverages plus FREE live entertainment. A new stage in the Aberdeen Pavilion will offer iconic acts as well as featuring a food and micro-brew experience. There will also be a KidZone open to the public, offering numerous family activities.
Ottawa International Animation Festival (Sept 21 - 25, 2016)
The Ottawa International Animation festival is the largest of its kind in North America, attracting film buffs, art lovers, filmmakers, and cartoon fans from around the world to the nation’s Capital.
Ottawa International Film Festival (Oct 14-16)
Ottawa OIFF showcases features and films from film makers all around the world.
Yoga on the Hill (Until Sept 28, 2016)
Join Lululemon on Wednesdays at 12:00 noon for a free yoga session on the lawn in front of Parliament. Bring your own mat and water!
Ottawa Craft Beer Festival (Aug 26 – 28, 2016)
Held in the Aberdeen pavilion at Lansdowne Place, this is the largest craft beer festival in Ontario with over 40 craft breweries in the park and over 150 craft beers to try.
Baconpalooza (Sept 9 – 11, 2016) Canada Agriculture and Food Museum
This festival brings you bacon goodies for purchase from vendors, sample craft beers, food trucks, local bands and bacon and bourbon demos! Various chefs including Chef Michael Blackie of NeXT and Chef Corbin Tomaszeski of the Food Network will be offering cooking demonstrations.
Mac My Cheese Fest (Sep 30-Oct 2, 2016)
3 days of ooey gooey awesomeness featuring traditional and exotic mac and cheeses! Held at Ottawa City Hall you will discover food vendors, live entertainment, a best in mac n cheese competition, mac and cheese diving, eating contests and more!
Beau's Craft Brewery will hold 2 days of Food, Music, Beer and Fun at their Oktoberfest in Vankleek Hill. On Sept 23 - 24, 2016 there will be live music and events for the whole family. This festival of craft beer and Bavarian culture has music performers including headliner K-OS.
Oktoberfest Ottawa, Sept 30-Oct 1, 2016 in held in Barrhaven - home of the biggest Bavarian Beer Hall in Ontario! This traditional Oktoberfest serves up local beer, food, and local performers.
Saunders Farm (Sept 24 - Oct 31, 2016)
Days of fall-tastic family fun and nights of locally grown frights! Younger children will certainly enjoy the Pumpkin Patch Hayride, Wagon Ride, Fairy Gardens, Themed Mazes, Puppet Shows and the Witch Mountain Slide, to name a few - and with so many options the kids are sure to be entertained for hours!
Haunted Walks of Ottawa (Halloween Season)
Ever wanted to know about the spooky stories surrounding Ottawa's historic districts? While these haunted walks are held throughout the year, visitors who travel to Ontario during Halloween will get an extra special treat when they take this tour as the frightful holiday approaches.
The whole family can go on these walks, led by cloak-wearing, lantern-carrying guides, taking visitors to the Carleton County Jail, which held the murderer Patrick Whelan until he was hanged for his crimes in 1869. People say he still haunts the prison (now the HI Ottawa Jail Hostel) to this day. Check out the “Ghost and the Gallows” and “Crime and Punishment” tours.
Proulx Farm Pumpkinfest (Sept 25-Oct 31, 2016)
Fall brings pumpkin picking and mazes as well as wagon rides and a petting farm at this maple and berry farm. Skreamers Haunted House/Haunted Hayride is a Halloween attraction intended for more mature visitors.
Pumpkinferno in Upper Canada village (Sept 30 – Oct 30, 2016)
7,000 hand-crafted carved pumpkins are set against a stirring night-time backdrop just inside the gates of historic Upper Canada Village.
No matter when you visit Ottawa you are sure to find fascinating exhibitions at the National Museums that excite and challenge the mind. Check out Canada's Capital Museums Passport, which gives you access to seven wonderful museums over a period of seven days. An Individual passport is $45 including taxes and a Family passport is just $99 including taxes.
The Passport gives you access to all these great cultural attractions:
Canada Agriculture and Food Museum
Canada Aviation and Space Museum
Canadian Museum of History
Canadian Museum of Nature
Canadian War Museum
National Gallery of Canada
Royal Canadian Mint
Here is just a flavour of what exhibitions are being staged this Fall:
Last chance to see! Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (until Sept 12, 2016)
Living from 1755 to 1842, this female artist was born in Paris and became Queen Marie-Antoinette’s official portraitist. The exhibition demonstrates both Vigée Le Brun’s immense talent and her extraordinary ability to carve out a significant career in a man’s world.
A remarkable painter, Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun has left us paintings that are a veritable “who’s who” of 18th Century Europe. But the portrait everyone will want to see is of Marie Antoinette! The exhibition features around 90 works — many on loan from institutions such as the Louvre, the Château de Versailles, and the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg — including some of the famous self-portraits the artist used as promotional tools.
New! Alex Janvier (Nov 10 2016 – March 12 2017)
This major retrospective celebrates Alex Janvier’s lifetime of creativity, knowledge and perspective, gained through his love of the land, art and Dene culture. Janvier was one of ten children born to Mary and Alex Janvier on the Le Goff Reserve of the Cold Lake First Nations, in northern Alberta. He is one of Canada’s most acclaimed contemporary painters.
Visitors will have an unprecedented opportunity to appreciate Janvier’s work, which combines both Dene and Western art styles and techniques. His paintings on paper, canvas and linen reference Indigenous culture and history and have universal appeal.
New! Deadly Skies - Air War 1914- 1918 (until Jan 29, 2017)
Go beyond the dogfights and immerse yourself in the lives of nine people, from both sides of the conflict, who experienced the first air war between 1914 and 1918. Join them as they train to fly, gather intelligence, fight aerial battles and drop bombs. Their stories - told with more than 80 authentic artifacts woven into an innovative graphic novel presentation - provide insight into the history and consequences of the first air war.
Exhibits include a tiny silver cup that was a souvenir of victory for the famous “Red Baron”. You can see the tiny bombs dropped by hand during the early days of the conflict and the comparatively huge 12-foot bombs that were in use by the end of the war. And there is a full-sized recreation of a Sopwith Pup biplane.
Last chance to see! Ultimate Dinosaurs (until Sept 5, 2016)
See dinosaurs that you’ve never seen before. This exhibit features exotic, larger dinosaurs from the Southern Hemisphere (South America, Africa and Madagascar). Discover more than 20 new full-scale and flesh-covered beasts and meet “Giganotosaurus” - T Rex’s big, bad cousin.
New! Reptiles: The Beautiful and the Deadly (Oct 6, 2016 - April 2, 2017)
Meet an amazing variety of live reptiles from around the world and go eyeball to eyeball with deadly snakes, colourful lizards and bizarre turtles.You'll discover cool facts and get a new appreciation for these misunderstood creatures. The exhibition’s science and conservation messages aim to dispel common myths and demonstrate how reptiles fit into the animal kingdom and their native environments.
The show is produced by Clyde Peeling’s Reptiland in Allentown, Pennsylvania, creators of the popular Frogs exhibition hosted by the museum in 2013.
New! Gold Rush! – El Dorado in British Columbia (until Jan15, 2017)
Relive the tumultuous days of gold’s discovery in British Columbia’s Fraser Canyon and travel back to 1858 to meet starry-eyed, fortune-seeking prospectors who dreamed of astonishing finds like the huge Turnagain Nugget. Find out how the gold rush brought thousands to BC and forever transformed this once-remote region.
New! Napoleon and Paris (until Jan 8, 2017)
Napoleon’s extraordinary life is inextricably linked to Paris. From his rise to power to his fall from grace, Paris was the theatre for some of the key moments in his career. A man of war, Napoleon made Paris the capital of an empire. A man of ambition, he revived Paris’ glittering court life. A man of vision, he reshaped the city and filled it with enduring institutions.
The exhibition includes fascinating artefacts such as Napolean’s camp bed where he slept when encamped with his army. There is also a snare drum from the Battle of Waterloo and his iconic bicorne hat.
Last chance to see! Star Trek – The Starfleet Academy Experience (until Sept 30, 2016)
Learn the actual science behind the science fiction of tricorders, warp drive theory, phasers and teleporters. As a Starfleet cadet, you’ll be put through a rigorous training program that looks at aspects of science, engineering, medicine and command courses. Then, after graduation, you’ll advance to the deck of an active star ship!
Last chance to see! Forged in Fire: The Building and Burning of Parliament (until Oct 31, 2016)
This exhibit highlights the hundredth anniversary of the fire that destroyed Ottawa’s original Parliament Buildings on Feb. 3, 1916! All was lost during the fire except for the beautiful Library of Parliament, which was saved by solid iron doors.
The culinary scene in Ottawa has come alive in recent years, with a thriving community of Ottawa chefs and Ottawa restaurants making names for themselves both at home and abroad.
Located in the historic Sandy Hill neighbourhood in downtown Ottawa, Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa Culinary Arts Institute has been a driving force behind this culinary resurgence. It is the only Canadian campus of this world renowned culinary training school – and includes Signatures Restaurant where anyone can sample the delights of exceptional French cuisine.
Click here for restaurant sugestions covering a number of Ottawa's lively neighbourhoods.
As well as Ottawa’s restaurants – here are two rather different ways to enjoy the foodie scene in Ottawa. Both of these activities can be booked at weekends so you can plan them as part of a short break in the Capital.
C’est Bon Gourmet Food Tours allow you to explore Ottawa’s neighbourhood food markets, discover local produce and dishes, and meet area chefs and food artisans. Find the hidden treasures with the help of expert and insightful guides.- current tours explore Ottawa’s ByWard Market, Preston Street, Chinatown, Wellington West and the Glebe neighbourhoods, as well as Eddy Street in old Gatineau. These delightful epicurean outings last an hour and a half to two and a half hours each. They’re casual walking tours, so be sure to dress comfortably and allow for the weather.
Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa Culinary Arts Institute offers short cooking courses to the public ranging from half day to four days in length. Some are offered at the weekend – so this is something that a visitor to Ottawa could easily fit in as part of their stay. Though the courses are taught by the same teachers who educate the budding chefs at the Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa Culinary Arts Institute - everyday cooks should not be intimidated. These really are courses for everyone. Course topics include Cake decorating, Healthy Cuisine, Knife Skills, Potatoes and Oh Chocolat amongst many others.
Of course Ottawa is an easy getaway from both Toronto and Montreal. It’s not far by car - and VIA Rail is a great option as well.
From Toronto you also have the option of Air Canada’s award-winning service to Ottawa, with the most flights to the nation’s capital. The best place to find the lowest fares is at www.aircanada.com or ask your travel agent..
To plan a trip to Ottawa visit www.OttawaTourism.ca or phone 1–888–OTTAWA–8 for some great short break ideas.
Create your own unique Ottawa getaway as you book hotel stays and a range of discounted attraction admission tickets right on the website. Book in advance for museum admissions, spas like Holtz Spa and Nordik-Spa Nature, sports such as Ottawa REDBLACKS CFL tickets, Ottawa Senators NHL tickets and culinary delights such as C’est Bon Epicurean Adventures gourmet walking tours.
Right now, for example, there is a Shop, Dine and Unwind Package to make it easy to book to go to Ottawa for some Fall excitement and pampering. The package includes: