Historical and quaint, Ottawa is Canada’s capital city. Space-wise, it’s not big (most people call it a town) but it is made up of lots of small neighbourhoods. A weekend is enough time to get a taste of Ottawa. My Easter weekend trip was just that – jam-packed, full of food and experiences. So here’s a 24-hour guide to help you plan your trip to Ottawa.
Where to Stay
For the last three years, I’ve stopped staying at hotels and have opted for Airbnb homes. They have a homey feel, have been reliable so far and are a lot cheaper than hotels. Patrick’s home in Gatineau was roughly 15 minutes outside of Ottawa in a family friendly neighbourhood. The rooms was spacious with cozy beds. They even had a number of board games, foosball and table tennis. Between four guests we only paid $115/night!
Once you’ve freshened up from the long drive, head out for lunch at Pelican Seafood Market & Grill for deliciously fresh seafood. The staff is super polite and there are tons of food options from shrimp to fish to mussels and oysters. Just take a look at this mouth-watering display.
With bellies full, head downtown for history and architecture. First stop is Byward Market – a series of outdoor farmer’s markets and food stalls serving up great Canadian delicacies and lots of local handicrafts. In fact, my first Canadian jewelry piece was made by a street artist set up at Byward Market.
Spend the rest of the afternoon wandering the streets around Parliament Hill – if you’re a real history buff, take a tour of the government building. Walking along Rideau Canal is an activity for any season. They offer skating during the winter or canoeing in the summer on the canal. Both are highly enjoyable – even if your canoe tips over and you land straight in the water. PS. Mine did.
Dinner at Feast + Raval is swanky and so tasty, especially the seared scallops with colourful fruits and vegetables. Since you may have snacked at Byward Market, you shouldn’t be too hungry for a full meal and can actually try out their yummy small plates.
The most awesome evening activity that family and friends can enjoy is taking a haunted walk of the city. I’ve been to a number of hunted walks throughout Canada and it’s a great way to learn about a new place in a short amount of time.
The Ghosts and Gallows walk actually takes you inside the “haunted” ex- Carleton Country Jail. It’s the only tour that I’ve been to so far where the guide takes you inside the premises. The tour takes you into the original cells of life imprisonment and death row inmates! You will definitely feel the heebie-jeebies here.
End the night with Lychee boba tea at Chatime in Chinatown (the only area buzzing past 10 pm).
Brunch is a weekend staple so a few great options are the ever-popular Baker Street Café, Pure (vegetarian goodness) and Savoy Brasserie. Option three is a chic French café/bar with a good range of brunch options, suiting meat, seafood and vegetarian lovers. The only thing it’s lacking, oddly enough, is a suitable French toast option.
Since you’re already in Westboro and need to work off the heavy brunch, check out the cool local stores especially The Village Quire, great for taking some gifts home, and Flowers Talk Tivoli for beautiful plants and flowers. While walking around the neighbourhood, make sure you check out Mamie Clafoutis for delicious hot chocolate and fresh desserts. This little nook of Ottawa reminded me of Leslieville in Toronto.
The Glebe is another great area of Ottawa to check out in the afternoon. They’ve even got a farmer’s market on Sundays and the freshest bagels at Kettleman’s Bagel Co. I highly recommend the herb and cheese bagel made right in front of you!
At this point, you’ll be pretty stuffed so head to Proulx Maple and Berry Farm to learn and see firsthand how maple is harvested. Maple season ends Easter weekend but as the weather warms up, berries will be in full swing. So get your family and friends together for berry picking.
Before heading home, make sure to check out Sip Tea -Ottawa’s newest bubble tea place serving cheese mousse teas. They’ve also got lots of milk and fresh fruit tea options. Until mid-May they’re serving up Yumberry, a seasonal fruit tea, that’s sweet and sour. Get it if you can. Cheers!
Find more snapshots of Ottawa on my Insta-story highlight! Leave me a comment if this guide was helpful in planning your trip or if you’ve tried any of these places before.