The city of Ottawa and the area surrounding it, known as Canada's Capital Region, as well as the picturesque Ottawa Valley area, comprise a beautiful region of rivers, canals, parks and rolling countryside. Close to the Ontario/Quebec border, the Region has unique and contrasting advantages: a vibrant cosmopolitan centre for business and government; a blend of English and French cultures adding European charm and flair; and a showcase of Canadian heritage. Representing the fourth largest metropolitan area in Canada, Ottawa, like its counterpart, Washington, DC, is a bustling city of graceful government buildings, diplomatic embassies, cultural attractions, national historic monuments, shopping and festivals.
In the springtime, Ottawa is bursting with life, as its annual Canadian Tulip Festival is in full swing throughout the month of May. Millions of tulips and daffodils fill parks throughout the city and are particularly spectacular along the Rideau Canal, which winds its way through the centre of the city dropping through a series of locks to the magnificent Ottawa River.
Don't let the Ottawa River stop you from exploring the city of Hull, just a quick drive across one of Ottawa's many bridges. In only a few minutes, you will discover a totally unique French-Canadian atmosphere in this exciting city. Casino du Lac-Leamy draws thousands of visitors each day. And right down the street is the station for the Hull Chelsea Wakefield Steam Train, a picturesque half-day excursion through the Gatineau Valley aboard one of Canada's last remaining authentic steam-powered trains.
Celebrate our Canadian winter in February at Winterlude, featuring dozens of outdoor events spread along the world's longest skating rink – the historic Rideau Canal. Jazz festivals, air shows, balloon fests and various historic celebrations occur throughout the warmer months, making Ottawa a host for special events throughout the year.
With so much to do, you'll always wish you could have stayed one more day in the Ottawa Region!
Day 1: If travelling to Ottawa from the south, take some time to discover the scenic Rideau Canal and Lanark County areas. In the picturesque village of Merrickville, visit a local museum which traces the canal's history, watch boats "lock through" and explore the antique shops. In nearby Smiths Falls, take a self-guided tour of the Hershey Canada chocolate factory. Don't miss out on the free samples! Continue on to Wheeler's Pancake House & Maple Sugar Camp for a hearty Canadian lunch in the majestic heritage log restaurant and a horse drawn tour of a real maple bush. Stop in at Balderson's Cheese Store, the home of Canada's leading premium-aged cheddar cheese. Arrive in Ottawa and check-in to the lovely Cartier Place Suite Hotel.
Day 2: This morning, a professional city guide will give your group an overview of the historical, political and economic reasons why this geographically remote city became Canada's capital city. Ottawa abounds with spectacular government buildings and embassies representing countries from all over the world and is crowned by Parliament Hill, perched atop the banks of the Ottawa River. During the summer months, don't miss the daily Changing the Guard ceremony, featuring the best in military pomp and pageantry. Stop for lunch at Dow's Lake Pavilion, offering restaurants with beautiful views overlooking this man-made body of water. After lunch, visit Billings Estate Museum, a heritage home which traces five generations of one of the city's founding families. Afternoon tea can be served with prior arrangement. Return downtown to the National Gallery of Canada, containing the world's largest collection of contemporary and historic Canadian art. This evening, dinner is at The Fish Market Restaurant in the heart of the lively Byward Market area of the city, chock full of vendors selling everything from fruit and produce to arts and crafts. Enjoy a sunset cruise along the Rideau Canal to Dow's Lake and then take in a performance of a sound and light show tracing Canada's history and offered every summer evening at dusk on Parliament Hill.
Day 3: Today, head across the Ottawa River into the city of Hull, Quebec and sample French-Canadian "joie de vivre". First stop is the spectacular Canadian Museum of Civilization, offering vivid exhibitions of history and heritage. The museum also contains the world's only convertible IMAX®/OMNIMAX® theatre, regularly showing the newest 70mm IMAX® films. Continue on to the Hull Chelsea Wakefield Steam Train for a nostalgic half-day excursion along the Gatineau River to the quaint village of Wakefield in the Gatineau Hills. Complete the day with a visit to Casino du Lac-Leamy.
Day 4: Depart Ottawa and head west through the picturesque Ottawa Valley. Those who are continuing west toward Algonquin Park can stop in at the Bonnechere Caves near Eganville and take a guided tour through beautifully lit underground passages. Others can follow the Ottawa River and experience the thrill of a lifetime on a rubber raft "float" ride along some of the calmer channels of this mighty waterway. Expect to get wet! Either overnight in a nearby town or return to Ottawa.
- Winterlude: Ottawa – dozens of outdoor events, including ice sculptures and figure skating demonstrations (first three weekends in February)
- Canadian Tulip Festival: Ottawa – the city blooms with millions of tulips, concerts, arts and crafts shows, and a colourful Tulip Flotilla on the Rideau Canal (Events throughout May)
- Canada Day: Parliament Hill – Concert and fireworks spectacular celebrate Canada's birthday (July 1)
- Changing the Guard Ceremony: Parliament Hill – Experience the pomp and pageantry of Canada's British heritage (mid-June to end of August)
- Ottawa Tourism & Convention Authority: Phone (613) 237-5150, Fax (613) 237-7339, Toll Free 1-800-363-4465 Website: www.tourottawa.org
- Lanark County Tourism: Phone (613) 267-4200, Fax (613) 267-2964, Toll Free 1-888-452-6275, Website: www.county.lanark.on.ca/
- Ottawa Valley Tourist Association, Phone (613) 732-4364, Fax (613) 735-2492, Website: www.ottawavalley.org
- Cartier Place Suite Hotel: Contact: 180 Cooper Street, Ottawa, Ontario K2P 2L5, Phone (613) 236-5000, Fax (613) 238-3842, Toll Free 1-800-236-8399 (U.S./Canada), Website: www.suitedreams.com
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