It all started with a slight craving of the Red Lobster's complimentary bread. Then a miracle occurred. A cousin of mine graced me with the gift of the century by hopping on the road to fulfill my epic mission: driving all the way to Ottawa to satisfy my random Red Lobster craving. 2 hours later, we were triumphantly stuffing our faces in the breadbasket. Best day of my life hands down. In the spirit, here's a little guide to make your day trip to Ottawa as magical as mine.
What to see?
Head over to Parliament Hill
Start your day at the most iconic sightseeing site in Canada's capital. Of course, at the moment the Parliament might not be the best sight to behold as the latter is undergoing massive renovations, but the historic neo-Gothic Parliament Buildings stand tall on the hill overlooking the majestic Ottawa River and offer a tour to the grand public.
Skate on the longest ice skating rink in the world
In the winter months, a section of the Rideau Canal is turned into a massive skating rink. In truth, the Rideau Canal stretches over 8 km making it the longest in the world. This could be a cute date idea or simply a nice activity to do both day and night as the rink is open 24 hours. Beware; you might look like Bambi who struggles to live with itself by instantly bruising your tooshie like me, but you can always take a small break alongside the rink to indulge yourself in a beaver tail as a reward since there are several kiosks placed by the rink.
Now onto the booze and carbs bit
Head to ByWard Market Square
After giving your all with that amazing Olympic performance, you can simply walk to ByWard Market. Home to several cafes, boutiques, and restaurants, the market is one of the best attractions in Canada's capital. Also if you wish bring a souvenir home, you will easily stumble upon great finds at the market itself at in the little shops. Moreover, the market is hosting this year's Winterlude until Feb 17th: from an annual cook-off, food tours, a beer market, Kiwanis bed race, light and sound installations, family activities to a petting zoo, Winterlude will charm both kids and adults.
55 ByWard Market Square
Get your Obama Cookies at Le Moulin de Provence
In truth, there are actually two Moulin de Provence in Ottawa but the one that retains attention is located at the ByWard market after the visit of a very special guest. Indeed on a faithful February day in 2009, President Barack Obama gracefully entered the cafe to buy a shortbread cookie. Unbeknownst to us all, the shortbread cookie shaped as a Maple Leaf with "Canada" written on them in icing did not only become a symbol of a new era in US-Canada relations, but the most prized possession of shoppers when passing by the café. Plus, they're proudly named the Obama Cookies! Talk about a historic day. But if cookies aren't your cup of flour, rest assured Le Moulin de Provence serves freshly baked goods, sandwiches, comforting soups, and a great cup of coffee.
55 ByWard Market Square
Brunch in style at Fraser Cafe
Just across the Rideau River, you will find one of my favorites places to have brunch in Ottawa. Fraser Cafe offers locally sourced dishes with a global touch. Keep in mind the menu changes upon the season. That being said, you will always be surprised upon each visit!
7 Springfield Road
GET THAT RED LOBSTER BREAD!!!
I think it is safe to say for us Montrealers are still grieving over the fact that there is no Red Lobster in the province. Which means we would have to venture west in order to satisfy our taste buds. You might not be a fan of seafood, but the complimentary bread basket will plague your dreams once you're back home. Trust me!
1499 St. Laurent Blvd
Confess your sins, my child, at Pub Italia
The first thought that crossed my mind when entering Pub Italia was a mix of so many things. First off, the western-movie-type doors with the church-themed pub were a lot to take in but what a unique experience that was. Yet, there's a strong religious decor with stained glass amidst the premise but oh boy did the priest showered this church with beers to wash away our sins. Fun night on the agenda guaranteed!
434 Preston St
If you can't drive home and need to stay overnight
Of course, if you are indulging yourself with the good things, rest assured there are a few accommodations worthy of a look if driving back home isn't an option. One I would suggest on the top of my head is the Metcalfe; a boutique hotel located in the heart of the city a few steps away from the Hill. With a rich and long history, the hotel was the former site of a home once owned by Father of Confederation Sir George Etienne Cartier who was a powerful Quebec lieutenant and long-time political protege of Sir John A. Macdonald (Canada's first Prime Minister).
The Metcalfe Hotel
123 Metcalfe Street
Cover image by Daily Hive
All photos were taken by me unless stated otherwise