Things To See and Do in Ottawa

Ottawa panorama

Canada’s capital city is beautiful and dynamic, which makes it very interesting to explore. It’s also one of the most multicultural cities in the country. If you like discovering magnificent architecture, world-class museums, and strolling through quiet parks, you’ll love this place. This charming city is located along the Ontario side of the Ottawa River, right across from Quebec. Its downtown is lively and inviting, and it’s great for walking or riding a bike. Here’s our list of the most interesting things to see and do in Ottawa.

Explore the Rideau Canal

While walking through the center of Ottawa, you can’t miss the Rideau Canal. It’s one of the city’s most popular attractions and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

During the summer, Rideau Canal is filled with boats. The pathways surrounding it are crowded with walkers, cyclists, and runners. You can tour the canal by boat, and cruising is one of the best ways to experience it. There are more than 30 notable sights along the canal. For those who like to stay fit while traveling, there’s the option of canoeing and kayaking as well.

If you happen to visit the canal in the wintertime, your experience will be totally different but not less impressive, as this canal transforms into the world’s largest skating rink. In case you need a break from the cold, visit the nearby heated huts and stands selling hot beverages.

Visit Parliament Hill

The magnificent Parliament building is an architectural masterpiece, built in Gothic style. It’s located right in the heart of the city center, overlooking the Ottawa River. A gorgeous garden surrounds the structure and attracts many tourists.

The complex and its surroundings are the sites of various national celebrations and shows throughout the year. Guided tours are available in English and French, and they last from 30 to 60 minutes. The highlights of this place are:

  • The observation deck of the Peace Tower offering the best view of the city
  • Changing of the Guard ceremony which happens every summer day at 10 AM (June to August)
  • Northern Lights Sound and Light Show (during the summer months)
Canada's Parliament Buildings in Ottawa
Parliament hill is one of the most popular attractions in the city.

Head to the ByWard Market

The ByWard Market in Ottawa is one of the oldest and biggest markets in the country. It’s also conveniently located in the city center. There are main buildings surrounded by open-air stalls offering a wide choice of goods. This colorful, charming place is where you’ll find the most beautiful flowers, the best maple syrup, and delicious fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as other grocery items. There are plenty of restaurants, fast food kiosks, coffee shops, galleries, and boutiques in the ByWard neighborhood. All of this makes it a great place to discover more about the local culture, tradition, and culinary scene.

Learn about Canada by visiting museums and galleries

Ottawa is home to many national museums and galleries worth visiting, where you can experience the true spirit of Canada, such as:

  • Museum of History
  • War Museum
  • Museum of Nature
  • Science and Technology Museum
  • Agriculture Museum
  • Museum of Contemporary Photograph
  • The National Gallery of Canada
  • The Portrait Gallery of Canada

As you can see, there’s something for everyone’s age and interest, from those who like history, science, and technology to those who admire art in all its forms.

Ottawa architecture panorama
Ottawa has plenty of national museums and galleries worth visiting.

Book a biplane flightseeing tour 

Did you know that you could fly in a World War II Biplane? Yes, you can! It’s one of the best things to see and do in Ottawa. You can experience it if you visit the Canada Air and Space Museum in the summer months. During an approximately 25-minute flight, you’ll pass over the Ottawa river, the Gatineau Hills, the downtown, and the Parliament. It’s an incredible experience, and what’s most amazing is that you’ll sit in an outdoor cockpit in front of the pilot because he is in the back.

Relax in Gatineau Park

For a little break from the city and its highlights, head to Gatineau Park – a peaceful oasis and a national treasure. It offers a variety of activities for all seasons. You can enjoy comfortable Ottawa and go hiking, biking, camping, cross-country skiing, or swimming. There are also various heritage sites and beautiful nature everywhere around.

While here, don’t miss scenic Champlain Lookout for the best view from the Gatineau Hills over the Ottawa Valley. One more attraction that shouldn’t be overlooked in Gatineau Park is the Mackenzie King Estate. You can explore the paths surrounding it and peek into its restored cottages which feature various interactive exhibits.

Couple sitting on a bench during Fall in the park in Ottawa, Canada
When in search of relaxing things to see and do in Ottawa, head to one of many peaceful parks.

Watch a sports match

Ice hockey is Canada’s national winter sport, and lacrosse is its lesser known national summer sport. Ottawa has several professional sports teams, and if you’re passionate about sports, you should complete your visit by watching at least one match.

Canadian Tire Centre is a multi-purpose indoor arena that hosts various sports matches and a must-see for sports lovers. One more place worth visiting is the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame, located in the Heritage Building of Ottawa City Hall.

TD Place Stadium is the place where you can see Canadian football. Baseball fans can head to the Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton Park to watch a match.

Moving to Ottawa can be an excellent choice

There are many reasons why one should decide to move to Ottawa, and there are many possibilities once you do it. Apart from unique things to see and do in Ottawa, keep in mind that you’ll be living in a city with great job opportunities, excellent healthcare, great schools, and various cultural activities year-round, as well as great entertainment for all generations.

If you decided to move to Canada’s capital, be sure to leave enough time for a stress-free preparation. To save time and make the process more effective, you should consider hiring a reliable moving company that has all you need for your Ottawa-based relocation. Then you can choose from a wide selection of moving services, such as packing services, storage solutions, and much more. When you finally settle in, you’ll have plenty of time to explore the city and discover many of its gems by yourself.

Final thoughts

Whether you’re planning to visit Ottawa only for a short time as a tourist or you plan to relocate to the city permanently, you’ll be delighted by its charm. The number of things to see and do in Ottawa is almost limitless, so there’s guaranteed fun for every season and each person. Good luck with exploring, and good luck to those who come to stay!

Practical Tips for Memorable Family Travel with Kids

A family having fun at the beach

Creating happy memories is one of the most important parenting tasks. These souvenirs from the past help shape children’s identities and serve as valuable learning opportunities. While not many children would say they enjoy learning, most of them would say they like to play, explore, try new things, and have fun. This curious and open approach to life is a powerful teaching tool every parent should encourage in their children. And one of the most effective ways to do that is travel. Since traveling with kids can be challenging and, in a lot of cases, overwhelming, some extra preparation is necessary to ensure you don’t end up feeling even more exhausted after your vacation than before. These practical tips for memorable family travel with kids should give you the courage to take your tribe on any adventure.

Plan your trip together

At a certain age, kids begin to enjoy making their own decisions. Allowing them this pleasure (when possible) makes them feel appreciated and heard. If they are old enough to have opinions about your travel plans, make sure to listen to them. Since kids’ wishes can sometimes be a bit unrealistic, explaining what’s possible and what’s not should help avoid disappointment.

You shouldn’t underestimate your little ones as they might have interesting suggestions regarding the destination or the itinerary. If they’re too young for that, give them a few options from which they can choose. They’ll take the task very seriously and feel proud if you go with their choice. Ask for their opinion about the accommodation, food, and other details. After all, your kids are going on that trip as much as you are, so it’s only fair to let them participate in planning.

Help your kids understand the destination

A crucial step in making memorable family travel with kids happen is teaching the youngsters about the places you will be visiting. It’s always a good idea to explain a few things regarding the destination’s history, culture, food, and language. Show them where the country is and tell them exciting stories appropriate for their age. As a family, try to learn a few common words and phrases that will help you communicate if the locals don’t speak English.

Two children reading
The more your kids know about the place you’re visiting, the more they will be able to enjoy it.

Knowing something about the destination will help your children feel more confident and excited to travel. It will help avoid any confusion and fear as well. Even if you plan to stay in the US and spend summer visiting amazing places in America, remember many places are vastly different from anything they are used to seeing. From Boston to Hawaii, both the scenery and culture change drastically, and it’s essential to prepare your kids for such changes.

Rely more on your intuition and less on your itinerary

Most children live in the moment and don’t care much for tight schedules, so you should avoid squeezing too many activities and sightseeing into your trip. Your children won’t enjoy traveling as much if they feel like they’re running errands. You’ll probably miss a few things due to rest, snacks, and bathroom brakes but by being attentive to your kids’ needs and feelings, you’ll avoid unnecessary stress and frustration. If you notice they are enjoying certain activities more than others, don’t force them to participate in everything. However, do encourage them to try new things if they are skeptical.

Remember that traveling is all about spending quality time with your loved ones and not so much about following an itinerary. Embrace your kid’s spontaneity as it might lead you to unexpected and extraordinary places.

Don’t let your memories fade away

A sure-fire way to ensure your kiddos remember the exciting expeditions you went on as a family is to take lots of pictures. Some places are more photogenic than others, but your travel pictures will undoubtedly be among the most cherished souvenirs you’ll bring home. You shouldn’t feel pressured to take perfectly staged touristy photos, as most children find it boring to pose for hours in front of famous sights and landmarks. Instead, try to capture spontaneous and heart-warming moments you want to remember. And a few of the not-so-happy moments as well, just to give your kids something to laugh about when they grow up. Don’t forget to let them take the camera and snap some pictures themselves. Seeing their point of view will surely be entertaining.

A girl taking pictures
Letting your kids take pictures will help them remember their perspective.

Seek authentic experiences with the locals

Memorable experiences almost exclusively happen outside of your comfort zone. Forget about the popular tourist spots and the convenience of your hotel or resort. When looking for unique encounters, it’s always best to follow the locals. Walk the less busy streets, eat at local restaurants, talk to people, and encourage your kids to do the same. Sure, hanging out at the hotel’s pool is great but interacting with the locals is much more exciting and meaningful. Children might be a bit reserved at first, but if they see their parents are relaxed and confident, they will follow the same path.

A busy street in Morocco
Experiencing the local way of life is something your kids will never forget.

There are not many things as memorable as interacting with people whose mentality, culture, and language are different from your own. And if you’re worried your kid won’t be able to communicate – don’t be. Children are remarkably adaptable, so they’ll certainly find a way to get their point across.

Embrace the imperfection

When trying to make memorable family travel with kids happen, it’s best to come to terms with the fact that things will go wrong. No matter how careful and thorough you are, someone will inevitably scrape their knee, lose their toy, or their temper. Remember that memorable doesn’t necessarily mean perfect and that mistakes and accidents are a vital part of the experience. Teach your kids not to let the mishaps ruin the entire trip. As long as everyone stays safe and healthy, a few troubles along the way will help your children learn how to deal with the real world. In the end, it’s all about the time your family spends together. And once you accept that, traveling with kids will become much less intimidating.

Exploring London’s Underground Secrets

London1


Over the past century and a half, London’s Underground has seen two world wars, millions of passengers, and more secrets than we could begin to count. The “Tube” is used by Londoners and visitors to the beautiful city every hour of every day, but most are unaware of the history they’re traveling through.

Once you learn of the 150-years’ worth of secrets and history housed below England’s capital, you’ll earn a completely new appreciation for this feat of engineering and human-kind.

Underground History

In the early 1800s, London was booming. The influx of people bustling about quickly made it apparent that a better method of mass transportation was needed, and fast. The Metropolitan Railway took on the immense challenge of constructing the first underground line below the city. After months of construction, the 3 and three quarter mile railway carried 38,000 passengers safely to their destination on the inaugural ride on January 10, 1863.

soldiers parading on the streets of London

For the following five decades, London’s Underground saw changing ownership, builders, and thousands of passengers. However, once World War I began London saw its first air raid, and the tube was transformed into much more than a transportation system. The safe-haven continued on into the World War II.
Image Source: BiblioArchives

abandoned bomb shelter

Initially, British government officials tried to prevent the tube stations and lines use as bomb shelters. But, after their attempts to keep people from taking shelter there were decisively ignored, they decided to regulate the shelters instead. Trains continued to run on certain lines, bringing supplies, food, and other Londoner’s seeking shelter. A number of unused stations were converted into factories for wartime productions.
Image Source: secretlondon123

While the Tube was considered by many to be the safest haven, no place in London was completely protected from German Blitzes. Hundreds of Londoner’s lost their lives when the tube was hit by German bombs in 1940 through 1943.
Even in the times of crisis and tragedy, the Underground has remained as a point of togetherness for the people of London. It’s an unmistakable symbol of the ingenuity and strength of Britain as a whole.

Traveling the Underground Today

The Underground lines cover nine zones and stop at more than 200 stations. Even though there are nine zones, tourists typically stay in Zones 1 and 2 because they cover Central London where many of the major tourist attractions and hotels are located.

These days, 11 Tube lines transport locals and tourists throughout Britain’s capital:

  • Bakerloo Line
  • Central Line
  • Circle Line
  • District Line
  • Hammersmith & City Line
  • Jubilee Line
  • Metropolitan Line
  • Northern Line
  • Piccadilly Line
  • Victoria Line
  • Waterloo & City Line

Generally, the Underground runs are between 5:00 a.m. — 12:00 A.M., Monday through Saturday. Sunday times are reduced by a few hours with later starting times and earlier stopping times.

Secrets Along The Stops

We alluded to the importance of the Underground during the World Wars, and proof of that is beneath 8 of the 11 Tube lines. For under these lines sit deep-level air-raid shelters. The construction of the shelters took place between 1940 and 1942. Originally reserved for government officials, 5 of the 8 shelters opened up to civilians as bombing intensified.

abandoned tube station in London

Image Source: secretlondon123

The shelters that were constructed include:

  • Chancery Lane
  • Belsize Park
  • Camden Town
  • Goodge Street
  • Stockwell
  • Clapham North
  • Clapham Common
  • Clapham South

After the war ended, several of the shelters were still used by London’s military. The Goodge Street shelter was used by the army until the 1950s. The Chancery Lane shelter was used for the Kingsway Telephone Exchange during the Cold War years.

Recreated World War 2 communications room

Image Source: Shiny Things

In addition to the secrets you’ll uncover while traveling the Underground, you’ll also see all of the most iconic sights of the region.

Circle Line – Tower Hill Station

Tower Bridge – Built 120 years ago, the Tower Bridge is an engineering marvel and arguably one of the most recognizable attractions in the world. If you’re feeling brave, trek out onto the high bridges suspended between the bridges towers.

Tower Bridge in London

Image Source: spacedust2019

District Line – St James’s Station

St. James’s Park – Millions of visitors flock to the beautiful St. James’s Park every year. It’s the oldest of London’s eight Royal Parks, and it includes The Mall and the Horse Guards Parade.

View of St. James Park, London

Image Source: foshie

Jubilee Line – Westminster Station

Big Ben – Is there a more iconic London sight than Big Ben? Lucky for visitors, this sight is right along the Jubilee Line outside of Westminster Station. Whether you’re a history buff or just want to check it off of your bucket list, you need to stop by Big Ben.

Night view of Big Ben and Parliament Buildings

Image Source: Nan Palmero

Northern Line – Waterloo Station

London Eye – The London Eye is a larger-than-life Ferris wheel on the River Thames in London. From here, you will be treated to the most spectacular views of the city and a ride you won’t forget.

The London Eye at night

Image Source: Altug Karakoc

Piccadilly Line – Covent Garden or Leicester Square Station

Covent Garden – The district of Covent Garden in London is a hub for local shops, delicious food, and incredible street performers. Once you hop out of the Covent Garden station, you’ll have a tough time fitting everything you want to explore into just one day.

Covent Garden

Image Source: Aurelien Guichard

Parts of the Tube’s storied history are somber, but the incredible spirit of London persists and prevails. For once you wander the stations and secret passageways hidden beneath the surface, you’ll never think of London the same way again.