This year Canada celebrated it’s 150th birthday on July 1, 2017. But the festivities did not end there. Ottawa is celebrating all year long and this summer there is so much to see and do in the nation’s capital city. With special events, music, food and much more, it is a city worth exploring any time of the year.
Situated on the Ottawa River in the eastern part of Ontario, this richly cultural city borders Gatineau-Quebec and the U.S. Safe, historical and fun, it is a city full of interesting architecture, green spaces, shopping, and museums. The beautiful Rideau Canal is a gorgeous walk for any outdoor enthusiast and ideal for family strolls or bike rides in the warmer months.
Where to stay in Ottawa?
Ottawa is full of hotels, inns and B&B’s. You can find numerous types of accommodation within walking distance of the historic Parliament buildings where Canada’s federal government resides. It is easy to find suites with kitchenettes and that offer 1 or 2 bedroom suites. What could be more perfect than picking up fresh fruit and bread at the nearby market, easy breakfast in the room before a day of exploring?
The hotel we chose for this trip was Les Suites Ottawa. The location of this hotel made it an ideal choice to explore downtown Ottawa for our short stay. The rooms are spacious, clean with fully stocked kitchenettes and are ideal for large families. It is very close to the Rideau Mall, Parliament buildings and famous Byward Market and also offers a pool, balcony rooms, and spacious bathrooms.
Markets and Family Events
Arriving on a sunny Sunday, our first stop was the Byward Market. Open every day, this bustling and lively downtown market is a wonderful place to wander with your family. There will be something for everyone to enjoy. Music, events, food, farmer’s market, shopping, and merchants, there is always something going on at the Byward Market.
This year, to celebrate Canada 150 and Ottawa 2017 – Inspiration Village was created in the center of the historical market. Built out of sea shipping containers, it is the hub of all the events happening and opens from noon – 8 pm. Full of exhibits, demonstrations and music children of all ages will enjoy wandering through and exploring what Ottawa has to offer.
After wandering through Inspiration Village – head to the farmer’s market to pick up fresh baked goods and local fruit and vegetables for breakfast the next morning or visit one of the many shops for local Quebec cheeses to take back to the hotel.
Need a quick bite or lunch? There are numerous café’s, restaurants or street food vendors to feed your large brood within the market. If your family craves something sweet, a stop at Beaver Tails is a must visit.
Afterwards, enjoy shopping the many vendors, grab an ice cream and watch the multitude of busker performances going on all over the market.
Post Market Exploration
The nice thing about Ottawa is that you can go anywhere on foot. After the market, you can head up the stairs for a stroll through the park on the canal and head to the Parliament buildings, the center of Canadian Federal Politics.
Until September 16, 2017 there is a fabulous free light and sound show against the backdrop of the iconic Parliament Buildings. This multimedia extravaganza takes visitors through a visual journey of Canada’s history. On your way to the show, take a peek at the canal at night, carry your picnic blanket and grab a seat on the expansive front lawn of the Parliament to catch the show. It is breathtaking to watch these old buildings light up in the night sky and provides a rich and interesting journey to Canada’s past. The show starts at 9:30 pm in August and 9:00 pm in September. It is a must-see event!
Originating in 1842, this historic landmark was the first building in Canada created to house a museum. The gorgeous Queen’s Lantern was added during renewal and restoration efforts in 2010. Many of the original stained glass windows and wide spaces make this museum a gorgeous architectural building to explore.
Inside the museum is ideal for large families and plan to spend the day.
Start with the Dinosaurs and work your way up the impressive staircases to each of the levels. Fossils, Water, Earth, Mammals, Birds, Water and Nature Live are the main exhibits but there is always interesting Special Exhibitions as well with lots of interactive media. Elevators are also easy to access for those with strollers or wheelchairs. You can pack a lunch or check out the bottom level café when you are hungry.
Our family had fun exploring the many different exhibitions – the Water Gallery was a favorite as was the Bird Gallery.
No matter where you go in Ottawa – outdoors, indoors, day or night going to celebrate Ottawa 2017 and Canada 150 is a fun time for families and always something to explore.