is the capital city of Canada, and is located in the province of
Ontario. At Toronto's Boring Awards, which took place near the end of
May, it was voted Canada's most boring city, but anyone who lives here
knows that's a joke! Ottawa has a lot to offer both tourists and locals.
If you're paying the city a visit, there are many tourist attractions
you definitely won't want to miss. Luckily, most of these are located
downtown. Most importantly, you won't want to leave without seeing the
Parliament Buildings, the political hub of Canada, where the Canadian
Senate and House of Commons meet to make all of the important decisions
about how the country is run. You can also view the Prime Minister
Stephen Harper's house, located a few minutes away from the Parliament
Buildings by car, and you will be able to pay a visit to the Supreme
Court of Canada, Canada's highest appeal court, also located downtown.
Both the Supreme Court and the Parliament Buildings offer guided tours.
While you're at the Parliament buildings, make sure you visit the
statues of Canadian
historical figures outdoors—it's fun to climb one and have your picture taken!
If you're the artsy type, make sure you pay a visit to the National Gallery of Canada, which is downtown and features amazing displays of Canadian art, including authentic Inuit art. The National Arts Centre is also located in the heart of Ottawa's downtown, and hosts many concerts and
plays which span a variety of genres. There are also various museums located throughout the downtown area. If you're here during the winter months, make sure you rent some skates and take at least a little spin on the Rideau Canal. The canal usually opens in February, weather permitting, and will stay open until the ice starts to melt.
While at the canal, you'll have to try a BeaverTail, a tasty Canadian invention. Don't worry, they're not made out of beaver meat; they're absolutely delicious pastries shaped like beavers' tails! Speaking of skating, one thing you need to know about Canadians is that they love their hockey (well, most Canadians, anyway). Scotiabank Place in Kanata, a suburb in the West End of Ottawa, is home to Canada's National Hockey League team, the Ottawa Senators. From November to April, and up until June if the 'Sens' make the playoffs, you can drive out to Kanata (about 20 minutes from downtown) and watch Ottawa's much-loved hockey players take on their rivals. Not a hockey fan? Scotiabank Place also features many concerts by today's popular artists, as well as children's shows! If you haven't got a car with you, you can take one of Ottawa's special event buses from the Rideau Centre shopping mall downtown, straight to the venue.
You're probably wondering by now...is there anywhere in Ottawa that I won't want to go? Unfortunately, the answer is "yes." Ottawa's a pretty safe city, and quite frankly, most areas will rock your socks, but there is one area you definitely should avoid—Vanier. Vanier is located in the East End of Ottawa, and is quite crime-ridden. There aren't many exciting destinations there anyway, so you won't miss much by not going. You should also avoid Barrhaven, located in the West End of Ottawa, not necessarily because it's unsafe but because it's deadly boring. There is absolutely nothing interesting for tourists to do in Barrhaven. Well, unless you enjoy movie theatres and big box stores, but you can visit tons of those in Kanata as well, maybe before you go to a hockey game. There are a couple of other areas in Ottawa where you need to take some safety measures. The downtown is awesome, but there are some creepy critters out there at night who try to ruin things for everyone else. For that reason, do not walk alone in or near the Byward Market after dark, and if you're at bus transit stations, do not go in the underground tunnels alone unless it is absolutely necessary. Luckily, many of the connecting tunnels at transit stations are above-ground.
Speaking of transit stations, many people in Ottawa travel by public transit. Route 95 runs all night, and even the suburbs of Barrhaven and Kanata are served by buses until midnight in some locations. There are almost always taxis lined up in various places downtown, waiting to take you to your destination of choice, and the drivers are usually friendly. However, don't expect not to see any cars, as many people choose to drive their own vehicles to where they need to go. There are many car rental agencies in Ottawa, if you arrived here by plane, train, or bus and get the urge to rent a car. Watch out for the one-way streets downtown! While you are cruising around Ottawa using whatever means of transportation you've chosen, you'll notice that there are a lot of fast food places and coffee shops. Downtown, there's a Starbucks on almost every corner. Other common fast food places include Subway (sandwiches),
McDonald's, Tim Hortons (coffee shop), and Second Cup (coffee shop). Starbucks is great, but Tim Hortons is unofficially known as the national coffee of Canada. Both Starbucks and Tim Hortons offer free wireless internet to patrons, in case you forgot to look something up at your hotel.
It seems like a sure thing that you won't get bored in Ottawa, you're unlikely to become the victim of a crime here (especially now that there are social media alerts which tell citizens where the police are currently located), and you definitely won't go hungry. The last thing that needs to be mentioned is French. Even though Ottawa is part of Ontario, a predominantly English-speaking province, it borders Quebec, which means that there are many French-speaking people living here. Don't be bewildered if someone comes up to you and starts speaking in French; just make some unintelligible grunts and the person will likely start speaking to you in English! Most workers in the service sector downtown are required to be bilingual.
There you have it; a comprehensive guide to Ottawa, the city which is not the most boring city in Canada. If "boring" means infused with cultural heritage, plentiful in tourist attractions, and extraordinarily enthusiastic when rooting for the Sens...then I guess Ottawa's boring. However, the last time I checked, that's definitely not what boring means!