Ottawa secrets that won’t stay secret for long! We all love discovering hidden gems and insider tips! Here is a continuously growing list, sorted alphabetically, of secrets that I don’t mind passing on.
To share a secret that I may have missed, click here if you’ve got an Ottawa secret that just begs to be told.
Most of my choices haven’t stayed “secret”–they’re so good, you can’t help telling all your friends!!! But you can definitely get a feel for the local experience, if you have the chance to visit or experience some of the following:
Aboriginal Experiences, Arts and Culture
Victoria Island (Off Portage Bridge for walkers cyclists) (Off Chaudieres Bridge for drivers)
“Aboriginal Experiences” is a new cultural attraction in Ottawa that provides groups of 25 or more visitors with a rare opportunity to experience the culture, teachings and history of Canada’s First People from their own perspective. They deliver a truly authentic experience through traditional and contemporary foods, performances, and displays of visual art. Unfortunately, the attraction suffered a devastating fire which prevents them from being open to the general public, or for drop-in visitors. See their website for details on booking a tour for 25 or more people.
A Company of Fools
A Company of Fools makes the Bard accessible to all who see their madcap shows. Famous for “Shakespeare’s Interactive Circus” that offers a 1 hour “highlights only” tour of Shakespeare’s best known plays. They are known for their Torchlight Shakespeare outdoor summer work as well as their clown and Shakespeare combinations indoors. Their shows get audiences involved in their high energy, fast-paced shows.
Billings Estate Museum
2100 Cabot Street
This museum is designated as a National Historic Site. The Billings Estate houses exhibits and artifacts gathered from one of the founding families that settled in Gloucester Township and played an important role in early Ottawa history. The collection is drawn from five generations of the Billings family, who contributed to such diverse fields as: medicine, healthcare, business development, real estate, politics, education, religion, science, and more.
280 Metcalfe Street at Gilmour
Ottawa secrets wouldn’t be complete without this one, but I guess the cat’s out of the bag. This little pizzeria has been a popular restaurant since 1967. Tucked away on Metcalfe Street, it is a located a few blocks north of the Museum of Nature. The family-friendly restaurant serves Italian cuisine (appetizers, salads, sandwiches, pasta, etc.) but is legendary for its pizza.
If parking in downtown Ottawa makes you quake in your boots, check out our five options for getting around downtown. We offer some stress-free, easy alternatives to driving downtown. And if you really must take a car, check out our great Ottawa secret: parkopedia and read our lighthearted look at “Downtown Parking Personalities” here too.
Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa Culinary Arts Institute
453 Laurier Avenue East
Ottawa secrets that are good to eat?? Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa Culinary Arts Institute is Canada’s only campus for the famous Cordon Bleu cooking school based in France. The campus also houses Le Cordon Bleu Bistro @ Signatures restaurant. The Ottawa campus offers short/gourmet classes that take place between one to four days. Courses range in price from $50 for demos – $695 for four day theoretical and practical courses. Avoid disappointment and book early–they often sell out.
Indian and Inuit Art Center
Lobby, 10 Wellington Street
(Les Terrassses de la Chaudiere)
Just a short hop across the Ottawa River in Gatineau, you can find the Indian and Northern Affairs Canada Art Gallery. The gallery represents works of art by Canadian First Nations (Indian), Inuit, and Metis artists. Their collection of over 4,000 works includes basketry, beadwork, carvings, ceramics, drawings, installation art, paintings, photography, prints, sculpture and textiles from 1960’s until now.
Ottawa secrets also include this high energy show! An Ottawa favourite at local festivals and schools, the Junkyard Symphony is a self-styled “eco-entertainment company” that is best known for their junk / percussion / comedy / circus shows. The Junkyard Symphony does shows all around Ottawa and Montreal. Check out their tour schedule on their webpage or book your own shows.
Mer Bleue Conservation Area
Under “Discover the Capital”, click on “Greenbelt” and then “The Amazing Mer Bleue!” to read more…
Discover Ottawa secrets that also make you smarter! Mer Bleue is a 3,500 hectare wetland, and is a unique example of northern ecosystem. In high school, we conducted field experiments for biology class in this area. The wetland offers a 1.2 km self-guided bog interpretation trail. The trail has an accessible boardwalk with signage that describes what you are seeing and lookout points placed strategically along the way. There is a picnic area and toilet facilities. From Parliament, take Highway 417 East to exit 104 for Anderson Road. Turn left at Anderson, Right on Ridge Road and follow the signs.
Public Transit System
OK, it’s hard to be a secret when the OC Transpo fleet has over 1,000 buses and three trains running all over Ottawa. The secret? It’s an economical way to travel. With a dedicated Transitway system, it’s a stress-free way to beat the traffic. Seniors (aged 65 and older) get to ride free all day on Wednesdays, and Mondays and Fridays after 12 noon. A DayPass can be purchased for $7.50 and is valid for unlimited travel on regular and express routes all day long. Cool thing: The whole family (2 adults, 4 kids under 12) can travel with one DayPass on weekends and statutory holidays.
55 Murray Street, Suite 102
and 96 Bank Street
This little ice cream store arguably serves the best ice cream in all of Ottawa. It’s product is called gelato. Gelato is Italy’s answer to ice cream: a rich, creamy version that has a maximum of 6% fat (almost two thirds less than premium ice cream versions). So enjoy!! With flavours likeAmaretto, Bacio, Chocolate Caramel, Nutmeg, Chocolate Mint, and Tiramisu, you’ll want to try them all!!
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