Just steps from Parliament Hill and the National War Memorial, Sparks Street was one of Canada’s first pedestrian-only malls. Amidst the Beaux-Arts buildings that anchor this busy part of the city, you will find intriguing history, cultural gems and fine food.

1. Experience Parliament Hill

West Block courtyard, photograph courtesy of the Library of Parliament.

A trip to Canada’s capital isn’t complete without a visit to the House of Commons and the Senate for The Parliamentary Tours. Explore the newly renovated buildings, watch live proceedings and find out how to attend a parliamentary committee meeting. Nearby, the nearly 100-year-old original Parliament Building, also known as Centre Block, is currently undergoing much-needed renovations that are scheduled to last for at least a decade.


2. View Indigenous art at The Snow Goose

Inside the Snow Goose, photograph courtesy of The Snow Goose.

Operating since 1963, The Snow Goose features a well-curated collection of Inuit and Indigenous art in a series of rotating exhibits. The store stocks sculptures, wood carvings and jewelry, along with items such as moccasins, handcrafted toys and quill work.


3. Learn about the Canadian economy at the Bank of Canada

Interactive exhibits at the Bank of Canada Museum, photograph courtesy of the Bank of Canada Museum.

Recently reimagined, the Bank of Canada Museum offers visitors a better understanding of the Canadian economy and their place in it. Explore interactive exhibits on everything from the health of today’s economy to monetary artifacts from the past, including shells and tree bark that were once used as a form of legal tender. The museum’s National Currency Collection is the biggest in Canada.


4. Dine at The Rabbit Hole

Pizza at the Rabbit Hole, photograph by Doug Wallace.

Order a dozen oysters and a signature shaken or stirred cocktail at The Rabbit Hole’s upstairs bar before venturing to the main floor restaurant for a meal. The intimate dining room, located in a modernized 122-year-old building, is perfect for a tête-à-tête, while the pizza menu’s dozen pies—topped with a choice of tomato or ricotta cream sauces—will certainly hit the spot after a day exploring the city.


5. Beautify yourself at Society Salon and Blow Dry Bar

Inside of Society Salon and Blow Dry Bar, photograph by Merritt DeCloux.

With à la carte services delivering cuts, various colour treatments and four signature blow-dry styles, Society Salon & Blow Dry Bar will send you out the door with a brand-new do. If you’re pressed for time, they can even give you express braids or glam-up your existing look in a flash.


6. Walk through haunted Ottawa

Photograph courtesy of Haunted Walks.

Get to know Ottawa’s darker side on a spine-tingling tour with The Haunted Walk. Five different treks take you through the city’s spooked-out spots, such as the old Carleton County Jail, Bytown Museum and the Fairmont Château Laurier. Historic and entertaining, these haunting jaunts, led by lantern light, mix hard evidence with great storytelling to hair-raising effect.


Two More Things to Do in Ottawa

1. Enjoy world-class performing arts

World-class music, theatre and dance performances can be found at the National Arts Centre.


2. Explore Ottawa’s landmarks

Escape Bicycle Tours and Rentals offers guided or self-guided tours of the city’s landmarks.


[This story appears in the October 2019 edition of WestJet Magazine.]