19 things to do in and around Ottawa in 2017

19 things to do in and around Ottawa in 2017

Illustration by Jeannie Phan


19 things to do in and around Ottawa in 2017

Rediscover Ottawa, which walks the line between charming town and cosmopolitan city, with first-class cultural and historic experiences.


Modern digs: Alt Hotel Ottawa
Rest your head at the Canadian-owned Alt Hotel in downtown Ottawa, where you can grab snacks (or full meals) in the lobby and keep up your yoga practice with the hotel's new Nama-Stay yoga videos. Bonus: The Alt is eco-friendly, with geothermal energy used for heating and cooling, plus energy-efficient lighting.

Historic haven: The Century House Bed and Breakfast Ottawa 
With just four rooms, The Century House offers a quaint stay without skimping on modern amenities such as free parking and Wi-Fi. It's known for its gourmet breakfasts (think indulgent waffles or a hearty frittata), served up family-style in the dining room.


Morning munch: Benny's Bistro
Hidden behind The French Baker in the ByWard Market, this is a tiny gem that serves some of our all-time favourite brekkies. Order the buckwheat crêpe, which is stuffed with ham and Gruyère and topped with an egg.

Dinner hour: Absinthe Café
Stop by this Wellington West hot spot for French-inspired cuisine and a taste of its namesake drink. On Monday nights, there's a special fondue menu; go with friends and order cheese and meat varieties to share, then finish with the Valrhona chocolate fondue for dessert.

Sweet treat: Moo Shu Ice Cream & Kitchen 
Try small-batch ice creams and ice cream truffles made with Ontario dairy and fresh, sometimes surprising, ingredients, like craft beer or lime leaves.


Spring: C'est Bon Gourmet Food Tours 
Take a guided walking and tasting tour of one of Ottawa's famed foodie neighbourhoods: the ByWard Market, Wellington Street, Preston Street (Little Italy), the Glebe or Chinatown.

Summer: Yowttawa 
This outdoor music fest will celebrate the country's 150th anniversary with performances by Canadian artists, plus contributions by other international artists. 

Fall: The Canada Science and Technology Museum 
After $80.5 million in renos, the museum will reopen in November, just in time for its 50th anniversary of celebrating Canadian innovations, such as a prototype of the world's first pacemaker and a cobalt-60 therapy machine from the '50s—at the time, a revolutionary new way to deliver radiation to cancer patients.

Winter: Nordik Spa-Nature
Spend a day rotating between the spa's seven outdoor baths and eight saunas. Book a massage for ultimate R&R.

If you have the time to range farther afield, here are three other spots to see in Ontario.

1 hour away: Pakenham
Sporty types will love the ski hill, or visit Fulton's Pancake House & Sugar Bush for horse-drawn sleigh or wagon rides, live music and maple treats.

2 1/2 hours away: Thousand Islands
A pretty archipelago with ton of history (it was once pirate territory!), this region is now an ideal spot to go boating, hiking and exploring historic castles.

3 hours away: Prince Edward County
Visit a few of the dozens of artist studios and galleries in the region, where you can even take an art class—in between wine tastings, of course.

To celebrate Canada's sesquicentennial—the 150th anniversary of Confederation—Ottawa is leading the charge with a full year of awe-inspiring events. Here's a small sampling of what's on in our nation's capital.

March 3 and 4: Red Bull Crashed Ice
Watch downhill skaters race to the finish line on a huge track that runs along the locks of the Rideau Canal— which will be the final leg of the 2016–17 ice cross downhill championship.

May 20 to Sept. 4: Inspiration Village
Located in the historic ByWard Market, Inspiration Village will pay tribute to our provinces and territories, while also showcasing special exhibits and performing-arts events.

All summer long: Kontinuum, an "underground multimedia experience"
Though the Confederation Line of Ottawa's Light Rail Transit won't open until 2018, one underground station will be transformed into a futuristic world by a 10-weeklong multimedia presentation.

Nov. 26: The 105th Grey Cup 
This year, Canada's capital will host the CFL's annual championship game.


Ignite 150: In a series of 17 stunts spaced throughout the year—from yoga on a barge accompanied by a live orchestra to gourmet dining at a table suspended nearly 50 metres in the air—Ottawa will delight visitors and residents with once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

Ottawa Welcomes the world: Ottawa's many embassies and high commissions will be given the opportunity to take over Aberdeen Pavilion and the Horticulture Building with multicultural celebrations including food, art and music.

Agri 150: More than 20 unique one-day outdoor events in 2017 will showcase Ottawa's food and drink, such as the Wine and Words Tour, which will take participants to local wineries to sample wine and cheese, with a local author to tell stories at each stop.

For more events and info, visit



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19 things to do in and around Ottawa in 2017