Visit the Parliament Buildings
Canada’s Parliament is housed on Parliament Hill in Gothic Revival buildings complete with turrets and gargoyle facades. Take free guided tours or take the free elevator to the top of the Peace Tower and survey the view. You can even watch the changing of the guard ceremony, which takes place every morning during the summer months.
Explore the Rideau Canal
A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Rideau Canal includes 126 miles of locks and waterways stretching from Ottawa to Lake Ontario—and in winter becomes the world’s largest skating rink! Take a walk along the canal and enjoy the beautiful views—the view from nearby Major’s Hill Park is especially magnificent at sunset—or rent a bike or boat and explore the waterway yourself.
Admire—or Stay!—at the Fairmont Château Laurier Hotel
Slip inside—or grab a room in the ADSA block—at the historic nearby Fairmont Château Laurier. The grand railway hotel opened in 1912 and looks more like an ancient castle. Take a walk through the lobby and see the portraits from local photographer Yousuf Karsh, including his famous 1941 shot of a scowling Winston Churchill, taken seconds after Mr. Karsh snatched a cigar from Mr. Churchill’s mouth. Rumor has it the hotel is haunted by the ghost of Charles Melville Hays, the president of the company that built the hotel. Hays died on the Titanic, 12 days before the hotel’s opening.
Stop by the Canadian Museum of Nature
The Canadian Museum of Nature is a great place to learn about the natural world. The museum has a wide variety of exhibits, including a dinosaur exhibit, a full skeleton of a blue whale, a butterfly exhibit, and a Canadian wildlife exhibit. The museum even offers Nature Nocturne tours so visitors can explore—and dance through—galleries after hours.
Take a Food Tour of the ByWard Market
The ByWard Market is a historic market in the heart of downtown Ottawa originally built to accommodate Ottawa’s 19th-century canal builders. The market has a variety of shops, pubs, restaurants, and cafés, as well as a farmers’ market on the weekends. We recommend a stop at Moulin de Provence, a bakery and café serving Québécois classics including tourtière, a pork-and-beef pie. Across the street, stop in at the House of Cheese, which stocks award-winning Lankaaster from Ontario and cheese curds. Don’t miss the original BeaverTails stand serving the famed Canadian deep-fried confections shaped liked a beaver’s tail and topped with anything from cinnamon sugar to cream cheese frosting.
Visit the National Gallery of Canada
The National Gallery of Canada is home to a vast collection of Canadian and international art. The gallery has a variety of exhibits, including paintings, sculptures, and photographs. Don’t miss Maman, the giant egg-carrying spider that presides over the gallery entrance.
Tour the Canadian War Museum
The Canadian War Museum is a great place to learn about Canada's military history. The museum has a variety of exhibits, including artifacts from both World Wars and the Korean War.
Visit the Canadian Museum of History
A must-see for anyone visiting the Capital region, the Canadian Museum of History is located just across the Ottawa River in Gatineau, Quebec, and is the largest and most popular cultural attraction in Canada. The museum’s multi-level exhibition receives an astounding 1.3 million visitors annually, who explore exhibits including a First Nations exhibit, a Canadian history exhibit, and a children's museum.
Explore the Experimental Farm
The Central Experimental Farm is a research facility operated by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. The farm is open to the public and has a variety of exhibits, including a working dairy barn and a butterfly exhibit.