Ottawa

Sample Itinerary for One Week in Ottawa

Day 1

Arrive in Ottawa, settle in, get rested from your travels. Explore the area around wherever you are staying. Find a nice restaurant or park. Take it easy.

Day 2 

Take a bus tour around the city of Ottawa to get a lay of the city and learn some interesting facts (and also have transportation through the hop-on, hop-off option).

Go to the Canadian Museum of History right over the provincial border.

Finish the rest of the tour. Find a local restaurant for dinner and call it a day.

Day 3 

Go to Parliament, the Bank of Canada Museum, and the Royal Canadian Mint.

Day 4 

Go to the Supreme Court of Canada, the National Holocaust Memorial, and the Canadian War Museum.

Day 5 

Go to the National Gallery of Canada, Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica, and the Canadian Museum of Nature.

Day 6 

Visit the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum. Go to the Canada Science and Technology Museum (this is not one I went to, but this goes well with the CASM and might be of interest to you).

Spend the afternoon at Dow’s Lake and take a kayak downtown.

Explore Canadian nightlife in the evening at ByWard Market. Have a few drinks and dinner and reflect on the trip. There’s nice low-key restaurants and also bars and clubs if you’re into that scene.

Day 7 

End your trip with a relaxing day at Le Nordik Spa about 30 minutes from downtown Ottawa over the provincial border.

Day 8 

Sleep in. Pack. Travel home. Rest from your trip.

Note: This is based off of my itinerary and is very similar to what I did, but I made some slight changes. 

Ottawa

The Trek Home

Sunday morning I was up around 8:00 AM and off to packing for the trip home. Then, it was goodbye to my Air BNB hosts, into a Lyft, and off to one of Ottawa’s airports.

After the fiasco of getting to Ottawa (shoutout to Porter Airlines, American Airlines, and Vayama for taking my sanity, a day of my trip, $100 extra, and 12 hours on the phone), I was super nervous about getting back to Boston! Thankfully, the first one was only a few minutes behind, but my second one from Toronto got delayed by about a half hour, thankfully that was all! After my trip there, I think I was deserving of a smooth trip home.

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I arrived in Portland a little later than expected because the plane was just late enough for me to barely miss the 6:35 bus, but I was on the 7:35 one and back to Portland around 9:00 PM! Then back home to spend time with my family and my doodle.

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Ottawa

Canadian Aviation & Space Museum

On my last full day in Ottawa (Saturday, May 26), I decided to go to start the day with the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum. This is another highlight of Ottawa, but one that I only had a passive interest in and wasn’t sure I was going to go. But, when Saturday hit, I wanted to fill the day with more adventures, so I decided to go for it! And I’m glad I did. It was super interesting!

This was another affordable museum. I paid about $10 USD for a college student ticket. One thing I really like about Canada is that I find a lot more college discounts than back home.

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I started off with a 45-minute guided tour through some of the highlights. It was really interesting learning about aviation history through a Canadian lens. We saw the first airplane developed in Canada (around the time of the Wright brothers) as well as original fighter and training jets from WWII. Here’s a floor plan and a detailed directory of the aircraft currently on display:

Courtesy of https://ingeniumcanada.org/casm/visit

A lot of this was over my head, and I’m sure people who are more of a history buff or interested in aviation would have learned a lot more and engaged more. But, I definitely still enjoyed it, and I’m glad added it to my list!

Ottawa

Thursday’s Adventures

Thursday, May 24th started with a trip to Tim Horton’s and a visit to the store for sunscreen. Then I decided I wanted my hair dye touched up, so I spent a few hours there.

Around 4:00, I headed to the day’s next adventure: Dow’s Lake, which is a  small man-made lake on the Rideau Canal.

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I headed to Dow’s Lake Pavilion for a margarita and some lunch before heading to the kayak rentals!

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I was nervous to take a kayak out because I haven’t been in years, but I really enjoyed it. It was about $20 CAD (about $15 USD) to rent a kayak for an hour, and then $12 CAD for each additional hour. I went for one hour and went on a short loop towards the right side of the lake, rather than farther down the Rideau Canal which can bring you all the way downtown!

Ottawa

Supreme Court of Canada

Wednesday started with yet another attempt at a Parliament tour… I arrived at 9:10 AM, and they were booked until 5:30! I got a ticket and decided to do a few other activities on my to-do list for the day.

First, I went to the Supreme Court of Canada. They have three levels: the trial courts, the Federal Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court. The SCC also offers free tours (check on the dates and times because some require a reservation) which was great. The Court was in session, so we were not able to view the chambers. The public gallery was also full, so we couldn’t watch the case directly, but we were able to watch it from the lobby. We learned a lot about the history of the SCC, its creation in 1875, and how it functions today. I will write more about social and political differences between the US and Canada later on! Stay tuned for the Parliament post, too!

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After, I decided to walk aimlessly around and explore this part of the city. I found a place to have lunch, stopped into a LASIK clinic for a consultation (whoops, impulse decision anyone?), and then found myself suddenly near the Ottawa Locks! This was beautiful, and I took a few moments to just be mindful by the water before I headed to my next stop….the Canadian War Museum, one of Ottawa’s highlights!

Ottawa

Canadian Museum of History

After crossing the Ottawa River and entering Gatineau, Quebec, I took my first stop at the Canadian Museum of History. This place was huge, which makes sense as Canada’s natural history museum. The museum used to called the Canadian Museum of Civilization, and its purpose, past and present, has been to collect and study objects regarding the history of Canada and its cultural diversity.

 

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Courtesy of Canadian Museum of History

 

Special Exhibitions 

 

 

Canadian History Hall 

 

 

 

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Lower Level and Outside

 

 

 

Ottawa

Day 1 Bus Tour

Whenever I travel to a new city, I like to do one of their very tourist-y attractions right off the bat: a bus tour. Why? Because it gives you a layout of the city immediately, you do a big loop through major parts of the city and get some background and history. You also get transportation between the sites that you might be going to anyway. I’ve never regretted it, and I usually do a 2-day pass. I take the first day to do their tour and learn, and then the second day I usually use it more for transportation between sites.

I bought a two-day double decker tour from Lady Dive for Monday, May 21, and Tuesday, May 22. Here is the route that they take:

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Courtesy of Lady Dive

On the other side of the Ottawa River is the city of Gatineau, Quebec. So, on the map you’ll see the tour crosses into both (and my next post, the Canadian History Museum, takes place in Gatineau). For today, I only stopped at the CHM and then later at the National Gallery. My next two posts will be about those experiences. Check out some photos from around the city as we took the tour!

DAY 1