OMG UPDATE: Question? Answer.

Updated on Tuesday, April 8


QUESTION: What are some interesting things in Ottawa? I'll be spending a coop term there and wondering what should I do.
Things that interests me including museums and nice parks with good scenery, or places that usual tourists go.


  1. The War Museum is pretty awesome. Walking around downtown and the Byward market is interesting. (And if you don't have a Beavertail you have wasted your entire visit). Blues Fest is coming up in a few months and that is definitely worth going to.

  2. I'm guessing you'll be there during the Spring term so count yourself lucky that you get to miss our shitty cold winters (though you do miss out on Winterlude).

    But-- there's still a lot of stuff to do here during the summer (and there's a year-round Beavertail shack near Rideau Centre)!

    It really depends what you're into.

    - Most museums offer free admission on Thursday nights (we have the Nature, Civilization/History, War, Science (iffy at best though), National Gallery, etc.
    - There are lots of shows over the weekend at bars like Zaphod's or a little further like the Black Sheep Inn that are really popular.
    - The NAC will have good shows during the summer, and sometimes they're way cheaper for students.
    - Bluesfest is happening in July and it's really gotten big over the past few years (Childish Gambino, Lady Gaga, and on and on:
    - The Mayfair Theatre plays some cult classics (Rocky Horror, The Room, etc.) on certain days of the month. I know two weeks ago, they actually hosted Tommy Wiseau from the Room and had an exclusive showing.
    - Sparks Street has a lot of nice restaurants and stores and such. That area around Rideau Centre is really nice during the summer.
    - There are lots of little festivals happening over the summer-- Buskerfest, Westfest, Greek, Fringe, franco-ontarien, Company of Fools etc. There's a huge variety:
    - If it's your thing, we have some small-ish to large water parks nearby (about an hour or two away) like Calypso and Tremblant
    - Also have some really nice bike paths and hiking areas around Gatineau Hills, and campgrounds like Fitzroy are close (I went for a weekend with my friends the summer after graduating from high school).
    - the Canadian Tire Centre (where the Sens play) also has a large list of shows over the summer, though it's in a suburb that's a little further away. Still very reach-able by bus (I live there, currently on coop downtown).
    ..... okay just checked the listings, doesn't seem to be much, but you can check it out anyways, haha:
    - Montreal is very accessible for a weekend trip-- about 2 hours away
    - Ottawa Comic Con is happening early May too, if you're into that. Not as large as Fan Expo but there's still a ton of stuff:
    - We also have lots of shawarmas. Shawarmas are fucking huge here and no one really knows why, but they're damn good. Don't forget to get poutine and beaver tails downtown. Fucking beavertails.

    1. (2/2)
      - There are a ton of Goodlife centres sprinkled everywhere, and they have memberships for young people priced at $25 for two weeks. It's a good price. The city also offers tons and tons of interest classes that you can register for online (though I think because you're not a resident, you need to pay more:
      - Lots of bars downtown! Bar hop! I don't really frequent clubs, but there's a few downtown too-- google search it!
      - We have a small but very vibrant art scene here too-- there's plenty of boutique galleries downtown and Crush Improv is pretty big, shows at Arts Court, burgeoning music scene (live bands at bars), etc.
      - The City also offers some free courses and fun stuff to do at City Hall-- following the City twitter (if you have it) is usually a good idea because they also post alerts to anything big happening around the city (@ottawacity)

      ..... that's about all I can think of, right now. I hope that's a good list!

      There's also a facebook group for UW students in Ottawa, so be sure to add yourself to that to get invites to socials-- there's a lot of Waterloo kids in Ottawa, haha.

      People rag on Ottawa for being a "boring government town", but there's so much more to O-town than that. It's got this great small-town feel, with big city amenities.

      I really fucking love this city (my hometown), and I hope you enjoy yourself here, OP. Have a good coop!

    2. (continuing from above)

      I'm also super dumb and forgot to say that you should check out the normal Ottawa stuff:

      - Parliament
      - the Canal
      - House of Commons/Senate
      - The Mint
      - Rideau Hall
      - Supreme Court
      - Mackenzie King Estate (where he used to live-- it's in Gatineau, but such a picturesque area)

      The hill has light shows during the summer at night. It's awesome.

      And since you're in Ottawa for Canada Day..... you know what to do. :)

      We have Bixis!

      We have a crapton of nice parks and little beaches too-- google it, and places like the Greenbelt, Lime Kiln, Britannia, Andrew Haydon, etc. will come up. Gatineau is beautiful.

    3. +1000 for everything.
      +1000000 for Shawarma.

  3. I also have a coop term coming up this summer in Ottawa.
    Do you happen to have the link to that UW Ottawa facebook group?
    I couldn't find it....

  4. Heart & Crown, Rideau Canal, Hogs Back Falls, along with anything else here that's been mentioned

  5. If it's your thing, check out the local bike paths around the city. There are some absolutely beautiful spots along the river. The inukshuks at the Remic Rapids are one of the best kept secrets in town.

    The Museum of Nature has a monthly event, Nuit Nocturne, where they the whole museum essentially becomes a dance club with bartenders and dj's and everything. Partying with dinosaurs is a singular experience.

    The Tulip Festival is May 9-19 this year. I highly recommend going. It's really beautiful.

    The Great Glebe Garage Sale is May 24 -- the whole neighbourhood has a garage sale. Even if you don't want to buy anything, it's a pretty special day and a lot of fun to attend, especially if you like talking to strangers. Plus, there's a lot of great stuff if you do want to buy. But don't drive there because there will be no parking anywhere.

    June 21-22 is the New Art Festival in Central Park (the Glebe). Local artists show off and sell their stuff.

    Check out the Manx pub on Elgin. It's literally an underground pub with one of the best kitchens in the city and some fantastic beers. Actually, just spend a lot of time on Elgin. It's one of the most fun streets in the city. And if you're into hockey, that's where you'll want to be during playoffs season.

    1. Those inukshuks are the coolest things.

  6. If you want to take a day trip, go to Merrickville-Wolford. It's less than an hour drive and it's officially Canada’s Most Beautiful Village. It has a ton of heritage buildings and local craftspeople -- everything from glass-blowers to blacksmiths. Everyone -- and I do mean everyone -- is super friendly and they thrive on local tourism. You can walk around the whole village in a day and you can meet some really interesting people.