Off the Beaten Path in Ottawa
By AAA Travel Editor Patricia Miller | June 01, 2023
When you're planning a vacation in Ottawa, Ontario, and you're looking for something unusual to do and see, include a local shopping and restaurant district, a farm, a museum, a walking tour and unusual outdoor art on your list of things to do.
Bordered by Rideau, St. Patrick and Sussex streets and King Edward Avenue
You won’t lack for things to do at the bustling ByWard Market. Meander through this district and explore local shops and restaurants housed in historic brick buildings. An assortment of unique boutiques, coffee shops, bistros, flower and produce vendors, buskers, gelaterias and bakeries entice shoppers and foodies alike. At night, university students and young professionals swarm to the area to kick up their heels in pubs, cocktail lounges, speakeasies and dance clubs.
Central Experimental Farm
960 Carling Ave.
If you consider yourself a mix of country mouse and city mouse, Ottawa may be the perfect vacation spot for you. After you’ve visited must-sees like the Parliament Buildings and the National Gallery of Canada, head just 3 miles south, where you’ll stumble upon an attraction that you probably wouldn’t expect to find in a city. Located on 1,055 acres, Central Experimental Farm houses gorgeous gardens, greenhouses and an arboretum. You’ll also find the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum here, where you can see dozens of cows, pigs, horses and sheep in a farm setting–there’s even an alpaca!Read More
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Diefenbunker, Canada's Cold War Museum National Historic Site
3929 Carp Rd.
In the unassuming village of Carp, 24 miles west of downtown, is what once was Ottawa’s best-kept secret: a four-story underground bunker built 1959-61 to provide shelter for members of the government and military in case of a nuclear attack. As you wander through this fascinating blast from the past, marvel at rooms filled with original mid-century furniture, including the prime minister’s modest living quarters. You can also see a fully equipped medical center, as well as the control room with two Burroughs mainframe computers, a war cabinet room and an emergency escape hatch.Read More
The Haunted Walk of Ottawa
46½ Sparks St.
Founded in 1826 and inhabited by settlers for about 200 years prior, this historic city has a lot of stories to tell, and some of them are a little creepy. Get the inside scoop about the spooky side of Canada’s capital on the Original Haunted Walk, a 90-minute walking tour. On this frightful night walk, lantern-holding guides cloaked in black tell spine-tingling tales about things that have gone bump in the night in places like the Bytown Museum and the Fairmont Château Laurier. (One word of warning: Be prepared for a sleepless night after your tour.)Read More
Remic Rapids Park
1 km (.6 mi.) s. of Parkdale Avenue off Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway W.
Art and nature lovers will appreciate the many freestanding balanced rock sculptures that grace a full acre of Remic Rapids Park, a short drive from downtown. Since 1986, artist John Felice Ceprano has created pieces entitled “The Art of Balance” using fossilized rocks found in the park alongside the Ottawa River. Each spring, the sculptor rebuilds the gravity-defying works, resulting in a new public art installation that visitors can enjoy, photograph and contemplate from June through November every year.