One Perfect Day: Tips for Visiting Ottawa.

By Posted in - Canada & Travel Blog on September 10th, 2012

Ottawa was everything I had hoped it would be, and so much more. Honestly, I didn’t know much about the city before our trip there in July, other than it is the home to the Ottawa Senators and is Canada’s capital city. However, I had a feeling that Ottawa was going to be nothing like a typical big city, especially a capital city, like Washington D.C. For whatever reason, I imagined a smaller, walkable city with more European attributes than American, and this is exactly what I discovered upon our visit.

From the moment we touched down at Ottawa’s award winning Macdonald-Cartier International Airport, I had a good feeling about the city and the day ahead. Not only did I run into two of Ottawa’s pivotal leaders–Sirs John A. McDonald and George-Etienne Cartier (though, they were a bit quiet), but there was vibe in their airport that actually reminded me a lot of Lindberg Field in San Diego in terms of setting a great tone for your first moments in a new city. Things only got better on the taxi ride into the city that took us past Ottawa’s famed canal and the beautiful green spaces that led into the city center.

Arriving at Indigo Hotel, we met Jantine Van Kregten of Ottawa Tourism, and she gave us a lot of insider information about her favorite spots and recommendations. Since we only had about 24 hours in the city this was a huge help, plus the love she had for Ottawa radiated from her, making us all the more excited to get out and see what Ontario’s second largest city had to offer. After freshening up in our stylishly cozy room, we hit the city to create our perfect day.


Arrange for an early check-in at Hotel Indigo, where you’ll be greeted and taken care of by a fantastic staff. Located in the heart of Ottawa, the Indigo’s rooms, with its blue accents, give off a feel similar to staying in a guest room at your friend’s house. There’s a warmth and chic at the Indigo that’s a rarity in hotel room nowadays. A room at the Hotel Indigo in Ottawa. After you freshen up, catch a taxi to the historic Byward Market to stroll and sample some of the fresh and homemade goods from the market, while checking out the colorful vendors, street performers and boutique shops in a marketplace that still retains its Victorian-era feel.


Now that you’ve sampled the Byward Market scene, head on over to Play for lunch. On your way there, stop into the popular York Street Spa (located right next door to Play) to make a late afternoon appointment for a massage or facial. Located in Byward Market, Play serves up an excellent selection of small plates, wines and outstanding hospitality, and its “2 plates for $20 lunch” option is one of the best ways to delve into Chef Michael Moffatt’s delicious creations.     

In need of a good walk after afternoon wine and dine session, you go to the National Gallery of Canada to get your culture among 36,000 works of art and 125,000 images. In addition to its permanent collections, the gallery features special exhibitions,  like Van Gogh: Up Close.


Following the National  Gallery, make your way up past the stepped locks of Rideu Canal, a Unesco Heritage Site, to Parliament Hill, where you’ll find fantastic panoramas and the off-beat cat sanctuary on the Parliament’s grounds. By now, it should be time for your spa session, so grab a cab back to York Street Spa and enjoy your treatment.


Feeling good from your treatment, head across the street for an ice cold beer on the small patio at Chateau Lafayette, which is recognized as the oldest tavern in Ottawa dating back to the 1840s. The Laff’s patio is the perfect place to watch as Byward Market transforms into one of the city’s hip nightspots. With a belly full of Canada’s finest, it’s time to add one of Ottawa’s finest to the mix: the Beavertail. Make your way to the Byward Market Beavertail stand and dig into this fried dough pastry that is stretched to resemble a beaver tail and topped with a lot variations – both savory and sweet.

With the Beavertail as your appetizer, it’s time for the main course, so head down to the Brother’s Beer Bistro for some eclectic dishes centered around one of the deepest craft beer selections I’ve seen. Now that the sun has finally set (if it’s summer that means it is must be around 10 p.m.), it’s time to call it a night so you grab a cab and had back to your soothing room at the Hotel Indigo and dream a little dream for me. Alternatively, if you wanted to stay out later, Byward Market is full of nightlife, so you’ll have no problem diving deeper into Ottawa’s nightlife if you so choose.

Did we miss your favorite Ottawa spot? If so, we’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

>>Full disclosure, while this trip was hosted by the Ontario Tourism Commission our thoughts and opinions are completely our own.

*Please remember all photos on this website, unless otherwise noted, are copyrighted and property of Beers and Beans Travel Website, Nariko’ s Nest Weddings & Bethany Salvon. Please do not use them without my permission. If you do want to use one of them please contact me first because I do love to share and I would be flattered. Thanks!

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(11) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Lane -

    September 10, 2012 at 5:39 am

    The more I visit Canada, the more I want to visit Canada. Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver enchanted us. Now, we’ll need to head to Ottawa.

  • Juliann – Browsing the Atlas -

    September 10, 2012 at 8:34 am

    Funny – your day in Ottawa was very different than mine and I thought mine was perfect. 🙂 Ottawa is such a great city that it must be easy to make a perfect day of it. I can’t wait to go back.

  • A Cook Not Mad (Nat) -

    September 10, 2012 at 11:05 am

    So glad you were able to enjoy our home town. Steven Beckta’s Play is another of his amazing restaurants, there are also some great old school places like The Lafayette and Colonnade Pizza that are worth checking out. If you’re into music you have to get your butt to Barrymore’s Jimmy Hendrix played there in his heyday.

  • Destination Mike -

    September 10, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    Ah yes, Ottawa is a beautiful city!

    From the quaint courtyards in the ByWard Market to the city’s haute cuisine scene to walking through the colorful fall leaves to enjoying a different festival almost every summer weekend to skating on the world’s largest skating rink on the Rideau Canal in the winter to celebrating the arrival of spring with countless daffodils and tulips, there is plenty to see and do in Ottawa. It’s too bad you could only stay a day!

    I know I can’t wait to go back!

  • Vivre Au -

    September 10, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    There’s a lot of cool spots in Ottawa. We tried to summerize them in videos : and

    Somehow, it takes at least two perfect days!

  • Audrey -

    September 12, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    That’s a side of Ottawa I’ve never seen before. I’ve been there a couple of times but the cold usually kept me doing indoor activities. It actually looks like a fun place in the summertime. 🙂

  • Amanda -

    September 12, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    I really, really like Ottawa. A lot. I visited in January (yes, I may be insane), and had an amazing time!

    Another favorite spot of mine was Parliament Hill! The view from the Peace Tower especially was awesome.

    AND the Museum of Civilization across the river is also great.

  • Tom -

    September 12, 2012 at 11:27 pm

    Ottawa is a well known place in Ontario city and many tourists keep coming here to enjoy the beauty and food of this place. You can shop and shop the entire day and it is crazy fun. I love this place and feels good to hear that to came here and had a good time.

  • Christy -

    September 13, 2012 at 11:08 am

    It looks great! I’m excited to extend my TBEX trip and finally see some of Canada!

  • Fiona -

    September 21, 2012 at 5:04 am

    Wow – Ottawa is a place I wouldn’t ordinarily have thought about visiting. Seems like an interesting place though – you’ve inspired me to find out more!

  • eTravelSense -

    October 17, 2012 at 4:21 am

    I traveled through Ottawa a while ago on my way to a tree farm and after reading this I really wish I had stayed to enjoy it, even if for a few ours. It’s definitely on my hit list for when I head back.