Ottawa is most known for Winterlude and the Tulip festival, but there is something to do all year long. With new activities like ziplining and the Chaudiere Falls opening, there are even more things to explore. Whether you are looking for history, relaxation or adventure, you can find something that fits your travel style.
I’ve been to Ottawa with the kids at least once per year over the last 14 years, and I still have not run out of things to try. We’ve often used The Westin Ottawa as our base. Whether we were travelling as a family, as a couple, or on a girls’ trip, we’ve been able to explore different experiences while enjoying a bit of luxury.
I loved sitting by the window with breakfast in the morning and starting the day with beautiful views like this one.
With kids, I love the amenities like the heated indoor saltwater pool, the fact that it’s steps away from the ByWard Market neighbourhood, and the Rideau locks. My kids enjoy watching the opening of the locks as the boats come through the Rideau canal. It’s become a tradition to grab breakfast in the ByWard Market, sit on a bench in Major’s Hill Park, and take in the scenery.
With girlfriends or as a mommy & me day, I loved that the Rideau Centre is accessible from the hotel, especially in winter. The convenience of access to your hotel room means you can shop, stop for lunch at the hotel, drop off packages and head back out to shop some. If you are looking to keep up your exercise routine, you will be pleased with the state-of-the-art fitness studio & health club. They even have Peleton bikes!
Explore the area and dine at The Shore Club for a couples getaway. If you don’t want to leave the hotel, you don’t need to, but if you want a more active experience, you can rent a bike from the hotel and go cycling along the canal. Looking for a spa experience, visit Le Nordik for the day.
Whether you go as a family, with friends or for romance, plan to spend a few hours exploring the area. A visit to the Hog’s Back Falls, where the Rideau River and Rideau Canal split, is always a hit.
The following museums all offer free access at different times; check the website ahead to register online and book your visit.
The Ottawa Art Gallery is free to enter all the time; registration online might be required. Visit the website to get the most up-to-date information before your visit.
I cannot recommend the Canadian Museum of Nature enough. We’ve been a few times with the kids and they loved it every time.
Some other favourites are the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, the Canada Aviation and Space Museum and the Canada Science and Technology Museum.
If you go in Spring, there are many places to check out tulips and flowers. First is the Canadian Tulip Festival, but you can also walk and see tulips and other flowers at places like Major’s Hill Park. Major’s Hill Park is also the place to see some of the best views of parliament and the Rideau Canal locks.
Be sure to head to Lansdowne, and if you are there on the weekend, you can visit the Ottawa Farmers’ Market. Visit Vendors and try different foods while you are there. There is also a huge playground and other activities at the Kids Zone at TD Place.
Lansdowne is a hot spot to soak in the energy of Ottawa, especially in the evenings. It’s perfect for date night or girls’ night out with places like Craft Beer Market and other high-energy spots.
A drive to Almonte is worth the visit if you have the time. It’s a gorgeous little town about 30 minutes from Ottawa with a scenic main street. The ice cream shop was a fave with the kids, and they even have vegan ice cream. Have lunch or dinner with a view at Joe’s Italian Kitchen.
This might not be a big deal for some people, but during the summer of 2021, when I was more nervous about the kids getting sick, I was glad there weren’t any buttons inside the elevator because I didn’t have to remind anyone not to touch anything. We selected our floor in the main lobby and followed the directions for the elevator that would take us to our room.
I appreciated the Sleep Well Lavender Balm, part of their Sleep Well program; before bed, I’d rub this on the kids’ temples and give them a little massage, and it helped them wind down from the day and drift off to sleep.
Whether you are looking for adventure, relaxation, shopping, or romance, The Westin Ottawa is an excellent base for those who are looking for a luxury experience.