Ottawa – Gothic revival time


Capital cities have a reputation for … how shall we say it… being boring! Mostly deserved, but not Ottawa. This place rocks and the reasons are simple. Ottawans in the cold north have to make their own fun; so they do. They’ve created a great city, cosmopolitan in nature with outstanding museums, a clutch of world-class parks and the very grand National Arts Center. Set on a picturesque river, Ottawa makes the most of its water location with miles of bicycle and jogging paths. There’s a busy little bar and cafe scene, lots of late night entertainment and some rather fancy restaurants. (Who says public servants aren’t well paid!)

is quite unique for Americans as you’ll hear as much French in the streets as you do English. The food takes a French spin as well, as do the drinking laws.

Wherever you stay in Ottawa, you’re just minutes away from the major attractions. Downtown is home to Parliament with its gothic revival buildings. They’re spectacular from afar and even more impressive as you get up close. The tours are free and you’ll get an amazing view of the surrounding vistas from the Peace Tower. If you’re there in the evening, there’s a fabulous light show using the buildings as a backdrop.

The must-sees are the National Arts Center and the National Gallery of Canada. Both have outstanding exhibits. The Museum of Nature is close by and if you have time, check out the Canada Science and Technology Museum.

The best part about downtown though is the funky street vibe. Plenty of people call the inner city home and there are several cool shopping meccas, including the pedestrian Sparks Street Mall and the Rideau Shopping Center. For something a little more artsy, head for the Glebe, running alongside Bank St, this little area has some nice specialty shops and cool coffee shops.

The Byward Market does a roaring trade in specialty boutiques, great restaurants and, as night falls, the area’s bars and nightclubs take over. This is your party place and if you’re in need of a big night out, the Market is where you’ll find it.

Let’s drum up some visitors for Ottawa.

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