Nestled up against the Quebec border in the Southeastern part of Ontario is our nation’s capital, Ottawa. With half of its population under 35 Ottawa has a youthful heartbeat that you can feel throughout the many amazing farms, restaurants and local businesses there.
We think that “the city that fun forgot” (shame on you Maclean’s!) is actually one of Ontario’s best kept secrets. We’ll show you why with our Perfect Weekend in Ottawa:
1. If you’re looking for lodgings that depart from the regular hotel or B&B digs, we suggest the Ottawa Jail Hostel. Operating as a fully functional jail until 1972 the hostel is located right on the edge of the Byward Market and so is in the thick of things. The staff are also more than willing to share some of the buildings sordid past if you’re brave enough to ask.
2. Pack yourself a picnic by heading to the Seed to Sausage General Store where 95 per cent of the products are locally sourced. This is a great place to pick up some of their house cured deli meats, local bread, pickles and condiments to put together a ploughman’s lunch. I suggest the pastrami, but it’s always worth asking the knowledgable staff about anything that’s new or exciting!
3. If a pre-made picnic is more your style, head to Thyme & Again Creative Catering. Their Feast ON Certified take-out counter is brimming with salads, sandwiches and sweets ready to be whisked away to wherever you may be wandering.
4. With your ploughman’s lunch packed head on over to Gatineau Park, one of Canada’s national parks, for a hike. There are trails here to suit any fitness level and they can provide spectacular views of lakes within the park or even the entire Ottawa Valley. You can easily pick a trail that suits you by going online, there are even some trails with cabins if you would prefer to enjoy your lunch inside.
5. Ottawa has an abundance of great breweries in the area. Head out to Beyond the Pale if you want to try one that isn’t widely available in the LCBO or Beer Store yet. If you’re looking to try a variety of Ottawa breweries we suggest visiting the Black Tomato. Located in a beautiful historic building the Black Tomato offers flights so you don’t have to think too hard about which one of the 22 local beers they have on tap you want to try. Their carefully crafted cocktail list is also worth checking out as it often incorporates local ingredients.
6. Before you leave town hit up the Lansdowne Farmer’s Market on Sunday morning. This is a great crash course on the more than 1000 farms surrounding Ottawa. If you want to score one of the legendary loaves of jalapeno cheese bread from Art-Is-In Bakery you’ll need to be early though. The farmers market is also conveniently located next to the canal in case you want to stretch your legs before heading home.