I am excited to start this week with the first instalment in a new series, Globe Trotting Friends. One of the many great aspects of travelling is meeting people from around the world, and if you are lucky, making lifelong friendships with them. Since finances and time currently restricts me from exploring every place on my bucket list, I thought I would call on my friends to contribute their knowledge on the places they know best. After all, I find a local’s perspective the best guide to any city.
Starting off this series is my friend and fellow blogger, Laura. We met while interning at a museum and became fast friends through our shared passion for interior design and travel. Funnily enough, Laura started an interior design blog and I started a travel blog. Laura is originally from Ottawa, Canada’s capital city, which is home to many of Canada’s treasures. I’ll let Laura take it away, but feel free to check out her blog, as she documents her adventures in home renovation and a new arrival!
Ottawa, Canada’s capital, is my birth city and home for my whole childhood. I know it quite well, and spent many days wandering about and learning all its little, secret spots. My parents still live here, although no longer in the suburban home I grew up in, but in an awesome condo right in the centre of downtown. We try to visit at least a few times a year, and I’m still learning of new spots through my parents’ newest discoveries.
If I was ever to move back to Ottawa this is the neighbourhood I would want to live in. Not right downtown, however, this area has a small town feel. It has a main street with lots of independent restaurants, cafes, and unique, little shops. Often when visiting we spend a morning just wandering around and browsing the shops. All of the buildings and the houses along the side streets are unique and old, giving the area a lot of charm.
The Glebe Emporium: An old house filled with every kind of house ware you can possibly think of. Lots of unique finds!
The Papery: So much paper products and gifts in one store, I just love this place.
This area has been up and coming over the last decade, making it very trendy now, with new developments on every corner. But I wouldn’t want to live here, as it is starting to look like so many other areas. Though for restaurants, this is the place to eat, as there are lots to choose from!
The Works: This burger restaurant started here, in Westboro, and was always packed! It is now a chain that you can find all over Ottawa and Toronto. It’s still great and I enjoy being able to go in Toronto now, but I remember lining up outside the original Westboro location not too long ago.
Juniper: If you are looking for a nice dinner out, this is the place. Great food, wine, and service!
SuzyQ Doughnuts: This is a cute little shop that just sells doughnuts, every kind of doughnut! They are amazing, and almost always still warm. Line ups go out the door, but it is worth it, and it’s fun to listen to everyone decide in line which doughnut they are going to get!
Located right in the middle of downtown Ottawa, at the centre is a large building, which houses the main market, full of bakeries and small independent food stalls. Along the outside are more independent grocers like the butcher and small fruit and veggie stores. My parents do most of their grocery shopping in these little places, as it is great to tag along for a fun outing. Additionally, during a certain time of the day, the ByWard Market becomes a farmers market, with temporary food stalls surrounding the entire building. They sell everything here! A bit farther from the centre, the ByWard Market is full of restaurants. On a beautiful summer evening it’s almost impossible to even move about the sidewalks, and there are line-ups for every patio. The area is quite charming, even just to walk around, with lots of little courtyards and old cobblestone roads.
Sidedoor: Asia Fusion, great tacos, located in a historic cobblestone courtyard.
Social: Regular fare done gourmet! They have a great brunch menu and excellent sandwiches for lunch. A bit more upscale for dinner, but everything is amazing.
The Black Tomato: This is a local favourite, you will often see lots of well-known people here. Their dishes have a little twist on the regular, with lots of unique options to try, and always delicious.
See and Do
One thing that Ottawa is known for is its museums and galleries. One of my favourites is the National Gallery of Canada, which houses art from around the world. The building itself is beautiful, and the galleries maze all over, it’s easy to get lost. Even if you are not that into art, it is still fun to wander around, with a room with a giant fountain in it, another with a live garden, and even a full size church inside. It had free entry when I was a teenager, as I would often visit and go straight to the observation floor of the garden room to work on my homework. So peaceful! Maybe this is the reason it’s not free anymore. Here is a guide to all the museums, galleries, and historic sites in Ottawa.
- Walk around the Parliament Buildings and check out the view around back.
- Attend one of the many festivals, such as: Tulip Festival, Bluesfest, Jazzfest, Chamberfest, Busker Festival, Ribfest, and Canada Day to name a few.
- Bike along the Rideau Canal (a World Heritage Site), and watch the boats go through the Locks.
- Hike in the Gatineau Hills, only a short drive from Ottawa. The trails are amazing, and the views are even better. However, the best time to go is during autumn to view the changing colours of the trees. Get there early, especially if you go on a crisp, sunny autumn day, there will be competition for parking.
Ottawa is called Canada’s winter playground. There is a reason for this, there are so many ways to get outside and enjoy the season.
- Visit the Gatineau Hills for lots of skiing, both downhill and cross-country.
- Once you finished skiing, visit Le Spa Nordik to relax in outdoor hot baths. Nothing quite like bathing outside when there is snow all around you, amazing!
- Skate on the Rideau Canal, the world’s longest skating rink, 7.8 kilometres long. When you get tired stop for a hot chocolate and a Beaver Tail, a famous Ottawa pastry. Outdoor cafes are set up all along the Canal on the ice, complete with outdoor fires to warm you up.
- Visit Ottawa in February and go to Winterlude, a huge outdoor festival, with lots of live music to see, food to eat, and ice sculptures to judge. If you have kids (or not), go across the bridge to Gatineau and visit the snow park, where houses, mazes, and slides are all made of snow! Make sure you bring your snow pants.