As a resident of Ottawa, I have not taken nearly enough time to explore my own city. I thought doing a blog post would be a great way to explore more of Canada’s capital and share my experience of being a tourist in my own city.
My best friend planned a Friday/Saturday in Ottawa to help get over the winter blues and it certainly worked. I woke up Monday morning feeling better than I had in the last few months. The weather was windy and a little chilly this past weekend but it didn’t dampen our spirits!
We started off the weekend by taking a tour of Parliament – I had only been inside Parliament as a student in high school and my friend had never been. We both grew up an hour outside the city and have been living here for a few years!
Here is some useful information about the tour:
Price: FREE! You can pick up free tickets (for the tour or the Peace Tower) across the street.
Parking: Parking is limited in the area. There are a few parking garages within a four block radius, you can park at the Rideau Mall or in the Byward Market.
Tour: The tour is approximately 45 minutes and you get to see the House of Commons, Senate and the Library. Tours for the Peace Tower are separate.
Things to Note: You do have to go through security to get into Parliament so I recommend arriving 10-15 minutes early.
Centre Block and the Peace Tower are closing for the next 10+ years for renovations! They will be opening the West and East Blocks for tours but if you want to go up the Peace Tower I recommend doing it sooner, rather than later.
The tour only includes about 2 minutes in the library. Our guide was wonderful and spent his last few minutes of his shift taking us back to the library to snap a few more pictures. Thanks Nick!
Union 613 (Dinner)
Next stop was dinner at Union Local 613 on Somerset. We had reservations for 6 pm but got there a little early to try to make it down to the Speakeasy (Ottawa’s only one). Luckily it wasn’t busy yet so we made it down and it was so cool (I’ve never been to a speakeasy before). I’ve heard you can wait more than 2 hours to go down so hopefully you get a chance – it’s worth it!
Afterwards we went to the movies on Carling Avenue – all movie theatres should have the recliner seats, they’re a dream!
We slept in on Saturday. Our original plan was to bike to the War Museum on Sir John A MacDonald Parkway but it was too cold and windy (and we both needed new helmets) so we decided to drive and park at the museum instead.
Parking: There is an underground parking garage or parking along the front of the museum where you pay at the parking meter. I recommend parking in the garage – you pay when you leave and then you don’t need to stress about whether you have enough time on the parking meter.
Time: There are four sections of the museum with additional exhibits. I recommend at least 45 minutes for each section and another 20 for the additional exhibits.
Things to Note: You can leave your coat in the cloak room for free. It does get warm in the museum.
Another recommendation is to spend some time at the museum in the morning, have lunch in the cafe, and then head back for a few hours in the afternoon. There’s a lot of information to take in!
After the museum we drove across the city to Chocolats Favoris. They make their chocolate and soft serve ice cream in house and the flavours are amazing and so fresh. Their dipped ice cream cones are thick chocolate and you can now get toppings! I got the Nanaimo Kooky cone (so Canadian and delicious).
We stopped at Farm Boy across the street to pick up some brie and toppings for dinner. Seriously, Chocolats Favoris is a meal in itself.
I’m planning to explore more of Ottawa this summer (including the Governor General’s house and the Peace Tower). Do you have any suggestions?