20 Photos to Inspire You to Visit Fun Places in Ottawa

20 Photos to Inspire You to Visit Fun Places in Ottawa


I may have left Ottawa to experience the nomad life, but it’s the place that I’ll always call home. When you spend a lot of time exploring different parts of the world with new foods, customs, and cultures you’ll always find something about home that you miss, and gain an appreciation for it when you return home. I was shocked when I realized, that after a few years, I actually missed the Canadian winter!

I still hate shoveling snow and the -20 degree weather, but I really did miss the crisp air and that crunchy sound you hear walking on the snow. That’s why I decided to come back to visit my hometown for a Canadian winter and Christmas after five years of living and traveling abroad.

So, over the last few weeks, I’ve been playing tourist in my city and exploring a mix of the old favorites with all the new and exciting things to do. Check out these 20 Photos to Inspire You to Visit Fun Places in Ottawa. 

Downtown Ottawa

Downtown boasts some of the best fun places in Ottawa. Downtown Rideau is home to the Arts, Fashion and Theatre district along with award-winning restaurants. The ByWard Market, is also located downtown and has been around since the 1820s. You’ll find an amazing open market here, as well local artisan shops and nightclubs. There’s also plenty of dining options with some of the best restaurants like Play Food & Wine for date night, or Zak’s Diner after a night out. 

Canal Locks leading out to the Ottawa river

The Canal Locks leading out to the Ottawa River


Parliament of Canada

Parliament of Canada which offers free admission and daily tours


Fairmont Chateau Laurier

The Fairmont Chateau Laurier. Try their high tea at Zoe’s Lounge.


National Gallery of Canada

National Gallery of Canada. One of the greatest collections of art from across Canada.


The ByWard Market

The ByWard Market

A little further afield…

Canada Science and Technology Museum

Canada Science and Technology Museum. Newly renovated with 11 exhibitions. Check out the Game Changer exhibition with gaming classics like super Mario bros, guitar hero, Pacman, and Tetris.

Ottawa Eats

From the beloved shawarmas to the warm comfort of a bowl of pho, Ottawa shines as a culturally diverse foodie haven. There’s also a vibrant craft beer scene that has been established over the last few years and if you follow me on Twitter, you will know that my first stop after landing back in Canada is always Tim Horton’s.

BeaverTails the best of Ottawa Eats

A Canadian pastry delicacy that’s in the shape of the national animal, the beaver. My favorite is the classic with cinnamon and sugar.

Pancakes with Canadian maple syrup

Pancakes with Canadian maple syrup. The maple syrup season starts in late February where you can visit sugar bushes and taste maple ice candy that’s made in the snow.



Another Canadian delicacy is the ‘classic’ poutine. Fresh cut french fries, cheese curds, and gravy makes this a tasty, comforting dish. Find out the best spots for poutine in Ottawa!


Shawarma - a Lebanese dish made of beef or chicken that has been roasting on a vertical spit

Another popular Ottawa eats is the Shawarma. The shawarma is a Lebanese dish with beef or chicken that slow roasts on a vertical spit. Wrapped with garlic sauce, hummus, and pickled veggies you won’t want to miss this dish. It may now be popular in other metropolitan cities across North America (otherwise known as the donair), but with its looong history and multitude of restaurants in the city, Ottawa is definitely a proud shawarma capital.


Pho- Vietnamese noodle soup dish

Vietnamese Pho noodle soup. This is my go-to dish in the winter. My favorite is the chicken broth pho with barbeque pork and a mix of rice and egg noodles. Undoubtedly one of Ottawa’s favorites, you will find Vietnamese restaurants all over Ottawa!

Outdoor Activities Ottawa

Canada is known for its great outdoors, and Ottawa lives up to the hype (even as a city). There are beautiful trails in Gatineau Park, winter snowshoeing and skating around parliament, cycling on the Capital’s pathways, kayaking and paddling on some of the best whitewater rivers, and a whole lot more. 

Rideau Canal Skateway

Rideau Canal Skateway under Laurier Bridge, Credit Ottawa Tourism


Gatineau Park

Outdoor ruins and winter trails in Gatineau Park


Cross country skiing in Majors Hill Park

Cross country skiing in Majors Hill Park, Credit Ottawa Tourism


Snowshoeing is one of the best outdoor activities Ottawa has to offer.

Snowshoeing by Parliament is one of the best outdoor activities Ottawa has in the winter. Credit Ottawa Tourism


Whitewater Rafting

Whitewater Rafting Ottawa, Credit Explore David Jackson


Bungee Jumping

Bungee Jumping, Credit Great Canadian Bungee


Vivacious Neighborhoods in Ottawa

Chinatown Ottawa - Marble ArchIn Chinatown, there’s a strong presence of Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Thai and Indian cultures and flavors in the restaurants and shops. Try the Chinese bbq pork buns (my favorite) at the Kowloon Market. 


Little Italy Ottawa

Next to China Town on Preston Street is Little Italy.What started as a settlement for Italian immigrants in the early 1900s, is now home to some of Ottawa’s biggest festivals (Italian Week June & GrapeFest in September), and houses unique boutiques, cafes, and pubs with live music. You can find restaurants of Italian cuisine, but also French, Greek, South African, Turkish, Thai and Indian. 


Westboro street graffiti
Image by Cassondra Dillman, Lemon Grass and Sass

Away from the downtown core is Westboro Village. Another charming neighborhood in Ottawa, there are one-of-a-kind boutiques, Westboro Beach, scenic views of the Gatineau Hills, trendy cafes, amazing restaurants, and my favorite spot for a weekend brunch at Baker Street Cafe. 


If you haven’t visited Ottawa yet, it’s time to organize a trip! 

20 Photos to inspire you to visit fun places in Ottawa

Some activities in this blog post were sponsored by Ottawa Tourism. As always, all opinions and travel tips are my own.

7 thoughts on “20 Photos to Inspire You to Visit Fun Places in Ottawa

  • I’m saving this! We are only 4 hours from Ottawa and have never been! There is a lot to see and do! I love the idea of ice skating on the canal in winter. Also, I’m glad to know Parliament offers free tours-sounds like a field trip!

    • Thanks for your comment Jillian! You’ll definitely have to visit since you are just 4 hours away. Skating on the canal is a lot of fun and there’s so many cool events to check out during Winterlude. Hope you get a chance to visit soon!

  • I love all of these photos! I’ve only been to the Ottawa airport because I had a layover but I love seeing more photos of cities in Canada. Inspires me to explore more of the country.

  • I only live a few hours from Ottawa, but I’ve actually never been there! Your photos make me want to go. And check out the Game Changer exhibit!

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