The Largest Naturally-Frozen Ice Rink (And Eight Other Reasons to Visit Ottawa)
There are so many reasons to visit Ottawa at any time of the year. Yet some argue that one stands out more than others. Are you ready to see what joys await you in Canada’s political center?
Booking a stay in Ottawa is almost a must-do vacation activity even if you don’t live close to the border. The city offers so many exciting things to do, especially during the winter.
If Ottawa’s winter weather doesn’t scare you, then there’s no reason to postpone your trip. Here are some of the most amazing things you can see and do while visiting Canada.
1. Largest Naturally-Frozen Ice Rink
Winter is one of the busiest seasons in Ottawa, as it’s when the city sees the most visitors. One of the top reasons to visit Ottawa is to skate on an ice rink the length of the Rideau Canal. The river entirely freezes during the winter, and it’s safe enough for hundreds of people to skate on it.
You can follow the ice rink from Parliament Hill to Dow’s Lake. Interestingly enough, some of the locals also use this as alternative transportation during the winter. And there are many kiosks along the canal that rent sleds and skates.
The rink is 4.8 miles long. It provides plenty of fun, and it’s ever so satisfying when you encounter professional ice skaters along the way. They can really put on a show for visitors.
What’s even better is that once the water freezes, the ice is very thick and safe to skate on every day for months.
2. Learn the Culture
Ottawa is in many ways a cultural hub for Canada. It has so many museums and galleries that some people don’t even bother with the ice rink at all. They visit during the summer just to soak up the local culture.
The city has many military museums, including an awe-inspiring Cold War Era museum tucked away in an underground bunker. The first Royal Canadian Mint is also in Ottawa. It’s a site that can teach you much about the history of the country, the currency, and its relationship with the UK.
There’s a lot to see and the museum entrance fees aren’t too expensive. You won’t find anywhere else many of the things you can see in Ottawa.
3. Winterlude Festival
Ottawa tourism thrives in the winter season. But not everyone comes just for the ice skating. From the end of January through to mid-February, the city hosts the Winterlude festival. It’s the most important event of the winter.
Held in Confederation Park in downtown Ottawa, the festival generates a lot of excitement with both locals and visitors. The main draws are the ice sculpting and carving competitions. And the city turns into an urban winter playground.
Besides snow and ice artwork, you can also check out treasure hunts, ziplining, and amazing tubing slides. Everything really helps put color back in your cheeks and makes you forget about the cold.
4. Haunted Walk of Ottawa
Among the many cool things to do in Ottawa, this is often a fan-favorite. You can take a haunted tour of the city and explore many local haunted buildings in around 90 minutes.
The tour takes you to iconic locations, such as the Carleton County Jail and the Bytown Museum. Guides also share ghost stories and delve deep into the history of the town during the tour.
It’s a unique experience, especially when you visit outside the busiest tourist season.
5. Learn About Nature
Aside from military museums and art galleries, there’s more to learn if you visit Ottawa. The city houses the Canadian Museum of Nature, among the biggest and most popular museums in North America.
Here you can take interactive tours and learn about everything, from insects to dinosaurs. And the extensive zoology and fossil collections draw massive crowds every year.
There are also geological exhibits, live exhibits, and pretty much anything else you can imagine. Be sure to check out the complete whale skeleton, too, as it’s a fantastic thing to see.
6. Cheap Eats and Cafes
Ottawa is many things. It’s a political center, a cultural hub, and a place where you can find tasty cheap eats. It’s also not an expensive vacation destination by any means, and you can see and do so much without leaving the city’s borders.
Many visitors praise the town’s ability to offer amazing menus that use locally-sourced produce. But that doesn’t mean you can’t also have a few fine-dining experiences while in town. Ottawa provides a bit of everything for everyone.
7. Gorgeous Scenery and Landmarks
Ottawa has another advantage that draws in massive crowds of tourists. It’s a beautiful city with picturesque surroundings. The parks, patios, and surrounding areas offer amazing views and fresh clean air.
The city’s buildings are also very impressive, with the Parliament building and museums topping the list. There are also many old houses that you can visit.
Don’t forget about the Fairmont Chateau Laurier. It’s a Canadian landmark and one of the oldest railway-era hotels in the region. Its French-Gothic architecture blends into the surroundings and it helps cement Ottawa’s old-time appeal.
8. You Don’t Need a Car
Ottawa is one of the few cities in North America where you can visit everything on foot or in the comfort of the excellent public transport system.
It also helps that most of the landmarks and iconic attractions are within walking distance of each other. Of course, things are even easier in the winter when you can speed skate across the Rideau Canal to get to where you need to go.
Ottawa Entertains Visitors of All Ages
The reasons to visit Ottawa are quite clear – it truly is fun for the whole family. No matter when you visit, there’s always something unique you can see or experience.
And if you’re more concerned about saving money on transportation, food, and rooms, Ottawa eases your worries. The city is an affordable vacation destination that encourages you to move around and explore without breaking the bank.
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