Ottawa Tourist Activities
Ottawa International Airport is the main air gateway to the city of Ottawa, in the Ontario province of Canada. The airport is the sixth largest in the country, handling over four million passengers per annum, and is served by several important airline companies. It is also only 10.2km from downtown Ottawa. The airport is frequented by local and international tourists, as the city of Ottawa is popular for its many attractions. It is also quite a large city, and the capital of Canada. A few Ottawa attractions include river cruises down the Rideau Canal and the Ottawa River, the Canadian Mint and various forms of entertainment and activities at the Dows Lake Pavilion. Several museums and parks are found in the city as well.
Ottawa is located to the west of Montreal, just south of Gatineau, a city in the Quebec province of Canada, and to the far northeast of Toronto, one of the largest cities of the country. Ottawa city has a population of well over 800,000 people, and covers an area of around 1,100 square miles, or 2,800 square kilometres. The main languages spoken include Canadian English and Canadian French. Approximately, Ottawa is visited by over five million tourists every year, and has therefore long since been a popular tourist destination. It is often described as a very modern, vibrant and lively city, with much to see and do. Many parts of the city have also recently been renovated and restructured, contributing to the attractiveness of the area. Besides the city’s more permanent attractions, it comes alive several times a year with a variety of events and festivals, for which it is well known. Amongst the most popular include the ice skating events along the Rideau Canal (when its frozen during the month of February), the tulip festival in May and the jazz festivals in July.
The friendly city of Ottawa is divided into several districts. Some of the best restaurants in the city can be found in the Downtown District, a lively area noted as the heart of the city. Large shopping centres are found here as well, such as the Rideau Shopping Centre, with over two hundred shops, and the Sparks Street Mall, featuring a variety of speciality shops. The Downtown District is split into two by the Rideau Canal, and is alongside the Ottawa River as well. Each Saturday, the Byward Market District and its local market attracts large crowds of people. Local arts and crafts can be purchased, as well as fresh produce from the farmers of the Ottawa Valley and from farmers in areas of western Quebec. Additional interesting city districts include the Glebe District, the Sandy Hill District, the Somerset Heights District (formerly Chinatown) and the Western Districts.
The Royal Canadian Mint is one of the most popular of the Ottawa attractions, and is a historic building that dates back to the early 1900’s. Today the establishment produces only commemorative coins, which are often taken home as souvenirs. The mint is open from 09:00 to 17:30, seven days a week. The National Archives of Canada and the National Library of Canada are found in Ottawa as well. The National Archives have millions of historical documents, maps and photographs, and can be very interesting place to visit. The library is located alongside the National Archives, and houses over ten million books and publications. It is also where a copy of every single manuscript published in the country is kept.
Two places often frequented by local residents and tourists of Ottawa include the Ottawa Civic Centre and the Dows Lake Pavilion. The Civic Centre is found at 1015 Bank Street, and hosts many of the city’s largest and most popular events. It is also where many ice hockey matches are played, in particular by the famous 67’s and Senators ice hockey teams. The Dows Lake Pavilion is found along the Queen Elizabeth Driveway, and for its wide variety of recreational activities, it has become a popular tourist attraction. Water sports here are particularly well-loved, and include canoeing and paddle boating. When its colder in Ottawa, the Dows Lake Pavilion is visited by those who enjoy ice skating, sledding and cross-country skiing.
A very enjoyable way to see the city of Ottawa is by taking a river cruise. Several cruise companies are available, offering tours along the river, and past some of city’s most notable attractions and architectural sights. The sightseeing river cruises last for an hour or two, and may include champagne and snacks. The boats depart from the Ottawa Locks and Hull Marina. For tourists who prefer dry land, tours on trolley buses are available. Gray Line Ottawa operate the buses, and provide guided tours of the city that are about two hours in duration. An experienced local guide offers information about various aspects of Ottawa.
The city of Ottawa has many interesting museums that are well worth a visit, and several parks and gardens which are the ideal location for a quite day out. Historical aircraft are the attraction at the National Aviation Museum found at the Rockcliffe Airport complex. Children will like a visit to this museum as well, as there are video games, aircraft films and a hang-gliding simulator, and even short flights in a vintage plane can be taken. The Canadian War Museum and Vimy House is where many war-related items and military memorabilia can be seen, and the Bytown Museum is all about the importance of the city’s Rideau Canal. Some lovely displays of the canal’s creation can be enjoyed, and there are various items from the early 1900’s on display as well. Additional museums include the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography and the Canada Science and Technology Museum, which is a fun outing for the whole family, with many hands-on activities for all age groups. Regular demonstrations are held here as well.
The parks and gardens of Ottawa often feature seasonal attractions and a variety of recreational activities, and include the Gatineau Park, Major’s Hill Park, Confederation Park and Nepean Point. Ottawa attractions are not only found in the city, but nearby as well, for example, the Canadian Museum of Civilisation and Canadian Children’s Museum are just a couple of miles away, and the Mackenzie King Estate is a short drive from downtown Ottawa. It has a small museum, a tearoom and many scenic trails.
Further details regarding Ottawa attractions can be found at the information desks of Ottawa International Airport, or at the city’s tourist information centres.