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48 hours in Ottawa

Where to stay

A boutique hotel that caters to art lovers, Le Germain Ottawa shares the same building as the recently revamped Ottawa Art Gallery. Stylish rooms boast ergonomic furniture and luxe touches like Egyptian bamboo and cotton linens. Common areas throughout the property are filled with artwork by Canadian creatives. 

ARC The.Hotel was the first boutique hotel to debut in the city, in 2002. With contemporary, minimalist design and a location steps from Parliament Hill, the 112-room accommodation has retained its desirability among out-of-towners.

Day 1

Begin with breakfast à la française at Benny's Bistro, a 30-seat café in the ByWard Market. Try house-made gravlax with fingerling potato salad, olive tapenade, and a sunny-side egg. After, tour the year-round outdoor food stalls that comprise one of Canada’s oldest and biggest public markets.

Choose your afternoon adventure:

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  • Option 1: Culture

    Spend the afternoon diving into Canadian history at Ottawa’s most revered cultural venues. Start at the National Gallery of Canada, which recently integrated Canadian with Indigenous and Inuit art, then visit the Canadian Museum of History. If you're passionate about natural history and science, make time for the Canadian Museum of Nature, which added a new gallery to showcase the lives of Arctic inhabitants.

  • Option 2: Fitness

    Experience Ottawa’s four scenic winter sport trails, with its newest—the Britannia Winter Trail—opening February 2020. For the longest recreational stretch, cross-country ski or snowshoe the 10-mile Sir John A. Macdonald Winter Trail from the Canadian War Museum to Westboro Beach.

Dip into Bar Lupulus, a gastropub with over 20 local craft brews on tap, for lunch. Opt for a charcuterie board of house-cured meats and artisanal Québecois cheeses, charred bison tartare with shiitake-anchovy oil, and pan-seared rainbow trout with beluga lentils.

Shop for Canadian-made goods in the emerging Wellington West neighborhood. Standout finds include the collection of handicrafts at Maker House Company, womenswear from independent designers at Flock, and fine jewelry at JV Studios.

Stick around Wellington West for dinner at Supply and Demand, a quirky restaurant with emerald leather banquettes, seahorse wallpaper, and antique mirrors. The locavore menu features dishes like charred leeks with walnuts and blue cheese and squid ink rigatoni. 

Day 2

Linger over a hearty brunch at Edgar, a cozy hotspot in the Gatineau neighborhood. Chef Marysol Foucault’s short menu of famous mainstays—namely the huevos rancheros with pepita salad and shakshuka—and weekly seasonal specials draws long lines every weekend. While you wait for your table, grab a tropical juice from Brazilian sweetshop L'assiette de Dessert around the block.

Choose your afternoon adventure:

Slide 1 of 2
  • Option 1: Culture 

    During the first three weekends in February, enjoy performances, massive snow sculptures, and cook-offs at Ottawa’s Winterlude festival.

    Drive through Parc Omega, a wildlife park an hour north of Ottawa populated by wild bears and bison. Or, choose to sleep over in a new Wolf Cabin tucked inside the wolf enclosure. Then, walk or snowshoe the First Nations trail to learn about Québec’s 11 indigenous groups from a series of illustrated totem poles and Inuit inuksuk structures with descriptive plaques.

  • Option 2: Fitness

    Glide along the Rideau Canal Skateway, the world’s largest naturally frozen ice rink. Formed atop Ontario’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Skateway stretches nearly five miles across downtown Ottawa on the historic Rideau Canal, with a surface area equal to 90 Olympic-sized ice rinks.

Defrost back at your hotel before dinner at Riviera, a restaurant housed in a grand former bank building. Expect modern, elevated twists on classic Canadian cuisine, like dill pickle chip–crusted halibut with peas and glazed duck breast with chanterelles and celeriac purée.

End your day with a signature cocktail at Zoe's. Go for the maple-infused Statesman, a spin on a traditional Old Fashioned served in a cocktail smoking box.

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