Things to Do in Ottawa - Ottawa Today | The Metcalfe

Ottawa Today

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If you’re looking for some things to do in Ottawa that showcase Ottawa’s local culture and huge foodie scene, just ask our staff for their top spots.

Some of their favourites? The Rox serves Equator coffee, a local roaster from Almonte. Or check out The SconeWitch (a staff favourite for their scones!) or Morning Owl, both within walking distance of The Metcalfe. For something to eat, we recommend Riviera (one of Canada’s trendiest restaurants), Rosie’s Southern Kitchen & Raw Bar (try the oysters or pulled pork), or, for the best tacos in Ottawa, we like El Camino. Other recommendations for things to do in Ottawa? The Whalesbone Oyster House for, yes, oysters. Datsun for Asian (try the seafood laksa). Also close to The Metcalfe is Union Local 613, a local favourite for southern food and house-crafted cocktails. Or check out the craft beers at three of our many local breweries: Beau’s Brewery, Stray Dog Brewing Company or Kichesippi Beer Co.

Canadian Museum of History

Here are a few other recommendations for unique Ottawa spots off the beaten path, all close to The Metcalfe:


The Loft Board Game Lounge – Espresso drinks, beer, snacks and 900+ board games
The Highlander Club – A great scotch bar
Hooch Bourbon House – Bourbon cocktails (and try the chicken and waffles)
Imperial Barber Shop – A traditional barber shop complete with hot towels
Hair Fellas – The barbershop made modern
Bytowne Cinema – Independent and foreign films
Mayfair Theatre – Ottawa’s oldest movie theatre (since 1932)
Boogie & Birdie Souvenir – We love the gifts here – lot of locally made products

And don’t forget that we’re minutes from Parliament Hill and other downtown Ottawa attractions.

Elgin Street buildings
Must see attractions in Ottawa

Let us inspire your trip to Ottawa, Canada’s Capital, by highlighting some of the most popular attractions or experiences in the area.

Parliament Hill

Parliament Hill is home of Canada’s national government and the setting for national celebrations the year round. Each morning during summer months, the front lawn of Parliament Hill is the setting of the daily Changing of the Guard ceremony; each evening the public is invited to gather again to witness the awe-inspiring Sound and Light show – spectacular lighting effects and stunning giant images projected on the Parliament Buildings set to words and music. In December, it’s bathed in brilliant colours of Christmas Lights Across Canada.

National Cultural Attractions

Ottawa cultural attractions, museums and galleries invite visitors to experience the best of Canada all in one place. Ottawa’s national museums tell the country’s story in art, history, nature, at war, in aviation and space, agriculture and food, science and technology, plus attractions that focus on Canada’s Aboriginal peoples.

ByWard Market

For nearly 200 years this rollicking public market has played host to artisans, farmers and craft merchants who converge year round to sell their speciality items and wares. The downtown market, just a short walk from Parliament Hill, also houses numerous cafés and some of the city’s best pubs and restaurants. And when the streetlights turn on, the market becomes one of the spots in Ottawa to grab a late night drink and catch some live music.

Rideau Canal

A historic waterway filled with boaters spring through fall and the world’s largest naturally frozen ice skating rink in winter – the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, winds through downtown Ottawa before connecting with the Ottawa River through stepped locks right next to Parliament Hill. It’s a beautiful place for a stroll no matter the season.

Outdoor & Adventure

Ottawa is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream destination, with an extensive network of scenic recreational biking paths, hiking trails and a significant number of golf courses close to downtown. The more adventurous can try whitewater rafting and kayaking on the Ottawa River, some of the continent’s finest.


Ottawa is a city of celebrations, offering visitors a year around calendar of parties, festivals and special events.  On July 1st, the city celebrates the biggest party in the country, Canada Day. Visitors will also experience a host of music celebrations, including the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival, Ottawa Chamberfest, and Bluesfest, which welcome some of the world’s biggest acts to our city.  In winter, Canada celebrates Winterlude during the first three weekends in February, and takes to the ice on the world’s largest skating rink, the Rideau Canal.

Culinary Scene

The culinary scene in Ottawa has come alive in recent years, with a thriving community of Ottawa chefs and Ottawa restaurants making names for themselves both at home and abroad. From fine dining to casual pubs and a diverse selection of cuisine choices, Ottawa’s food scene offers a little something for everyone. As one of Ontario’s designated culinary tourism destinations, the city, its restaurants and its local food producers are all working together to bring locally-grown and prepared foods to tables across the region through an initiative called Savour Ottawa.

Performing Arts

The Capital’s premier performing arts venue, the National Arts Centre, presents a full lineup of music, dance and theatre, plus popular touring acts and shows. Ottawa also has a thriving local theatre scene, including the Great Canadian Theatre Company, Ottawa Little Theatre, and The Gladstone.

City Tours

Add some structure to your time in Ottawa. Fold up your map, put it in your backpack, and relax as one of the city’s experts shows you the town. There are numerous tours and sightseeing options in the capital, from bird’s eye view see-the-whole-city type of tours, to niche companies that give you an in-depth understanding of a particular aspect of Ottawa. And you can choose your mode of transportation — bus, boat, plane, helicopter, bicycle or feet!

Neighbourhoods & Shopping

Unique Ottawa neighbourhoods offer distinctive shopping, dining and nightlife experiences across the Capital city. From Little Italy’s charming bars and restaurants, to the glorious new archway over Chinatown, there is plenty to experience in Ottawa’s varied neighbourhoods. Discover the unique ambiance of each.

Things To Do
Neighbourhood Map