Ridaeu Canal, Ottawa, Canada

The oldest continuously operated canal system in North America and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Ridaeu Canal runs right through the soul of Ottawa. It connects the capital from Lake Ontario to the Saint Lawrence River at Kingston, flowing 125 miles opening Canada up to settlement and trade. Some people take multi day tours riding the length of the water, but there are many ways you can experience the canal on land in the city. Right in downtown you can visit locks 1-8.

Can you believe most of the 45 locks are actually still hand operated?

In the same spot is the Bytown Museum [1 Canal Ln, Ottawa, ON K1P 5P6, Canada] housed in the oldest stone building in the city. Did you know that Bytown was the original name of Ottawa? The museum discusses the growth and development of capital. Grueling labor was necessary to build this great canal, hundreds of people died due to accidents, disease, and cold during the process. One of the most difficult projects was trying to dam Hog’s Back Falls – where the Rideau River and Rideau Canal part ways. Today you can take a short walk to the spectacular manmade waterfall, sometimes referred to as Prince of Wales Falls.

Peaceful trails lead to perfect vistas and hidden picnic spots.

Don’t forget to take a walk out to the rocks at the base of the falls.

Parking is free, there are restrooms available. In winter the scene around the canal changes completely – it becomes the worlds largest natural ice rink! Five miles long and free to skate – it sounds like a bucket list winter adventure.

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Play Pinball in Ottawa, Canada

House of Targ, 1077 Bank St, Ottawa, ON K1S 3W9, Canada

Pinball, perogies, and punk. What more could you want in life? Head downstairs to the underground lair.

During the day the stage is quiet, and quite family friendly. There are 18 pinball machines, a great diverse collection ranging from Tales from the Crypt, to Golden Eye, and the new Batman Forever.

Plus there are plenty of classic arcade games. My biggest regret may have been my lack of appetite, because the handmade perogies looked amazing. Sundays are a different story all together. There is a brunch menu, and games are on free play for a minimal charge of $5.

Check their online schedule to see when you can catch a live show.

Lowertown Brewery, 73 York St, Ottawa, ON K1N 5T2, Canada

Location, location, location. Right in the heart of ByWard Market – a must see in Ottawa, you can play some pinball and drink some pints.

The place is spacious and there are plenty of tables to spread out and enjoy a flight, or a maple beer.

The back room was empty – all the better because I had Ripley’s Believe It or Not, Star Trek, and Creature from the Black Lagoon all to myself.

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Fritomania is the Best Poutine in Ottawa, Canada

Possibly the best poutine on the planet, definitely the best I have ever eaten. Fritomania [2442 St Joseph Blvd, Orléans, ON K1C 1E9, Canada] is a little roadside shack that’s been open for over 50 years, right outside the city and well worth the adventure out of the capital.

Service is ultimately friendly and greets with a smile – order at the counter or call in. Potatoes are fried in peanut oil – making them super delicious, gravy is homemade. The food comes out steaming hot in a takeout container, no frills.

Portion sizes are so large, a small will do the job and then some – a real score at under $5. Add-ins such as fried mushrooms, bacon, and chicken enhance the dish – other options include burgers, chicken fingers, sausage, and hot dogs.

Good to know:

+Ample parking in the private lot

+Primarily a takeout place with just a few seats inside

+Cash only

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Remic Rapids Sculptures, Ottawa, Canada

Every summer for the past 30 years the shores of the Ottawa River come to life at Remic Rapids Park [351 Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway, Ottawa, ON K1Y, Canada].

You can spot sculptor John Felicè Ceprano wading in the shallows, fixing up his creations which may have been affected by the elements the night before.

Wind, water, wildlife, sometimes get the better of these mystical balanced creations. By hand, just using the rocks from this location, Ceprano peppers the water with balanced natural rock sculptures in curious scenes.

The park is adjoined to the Ottawa River Pathway, a perfect place for a walk, jog, or bike ride after viewing.

Good to know:

+The project is dismantled in the fall every winter

+Don’t touch any of the sculptures, the rocks may fall

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Mer Bleue Bog Boardwalk, Ottawa, Canada

A world away from the capital of Canada, but right within the Ottawa city limits – there is Mer Bleue Bog. A strange and out of place ecosystem, more common in the Artic than in Ottawa Valley.

Over a dozen trails snake through the conservation area, but the boardwalk, not even a mile long, is easy, well maintained, and perfect for everyone to explore.

No matter the weather! It was a cool drizzle in early September, not another soul to share the trail with.

The bog obtained its French name, blue sea, from the way it looks shrouded in early morning fog. A blue effect over the wetland that could almost fool you into thinking you’re looking out over the ocean. What a curiosity this land is. Spy a beaver dam and look for paths through the grass.

A lone flicker stood gallantly against the rain, I’m sure on a warmer day the birds would be most happy in this city retreat.

Take the trail slow to notice little details – the pinkest berries I’ve ever encountered,

and a lettuce of green at the waters edge.

The Ottawa River used to flow through this area, and interpretive panels explain elements of the bog that was once a riverbed. The wetland is a very important part of stabilizing the climate – a research station details the carbon dioxide and methane released in the area. Stay on the trail and admire the significant environment with respect.

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Eat Beavertails in Canada

There is nothing more Canadian than eating a lightly fried beavertail. They are so good, even vegetarians are doing it! No, I’m not talking about the dam building semiaquatic rodent that happily makes its home throughout the country – but the delicious pastry that resembles its flat tail. It’s a playful snack that spread nationwide – but got its start in the capital city of Ottawa, in 1978. Embrace your inner-tourist head to the nearest location. I chose the Beavertails [69 George Street Ottawa, Ontario K1N 1K1] in Byward Market to kill two birds with one stone. Gnawing on a fantastic dessert and experiencing the exciting neighborhood market.

The pastries are made with whole wheat and freshly stretched right before you. Plenty of toppings are available depending on your taste, ranging from maple spread, to cheesecake, and my personal choice: the killaloe sunrise.

A simple cinnamon sugar coating with just a bit of acidity from a lemon squeeze, it makes all the difference! Addictively delicious.

Other offerings include poutine, beaver bites, beaver dogs – no actual beaver meat is on the menu!

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Visiting Parliament Hill, Ottawa

Ottawa is the capital of Canada and home to Parliament Hill, its political center. Centre Block contains the Senate and House of Commons chambers, Library of Parliament, and the Peace Tower – buildings that are done in the Gothic Revival design complete with gargoyles and unicorns.

Stop by to take a look and admire the architecture if you’re short on time, or better yet take a tour. Same day tickets are available and completely free. Lines queue up early at 90 Wellington Street and issued on a first-come, first-served basis. The tour can last up to an hour long and is extremely informative. Just walking through the halls of the building is an aesthetic dream.

From the ceilings

to the hidden faces,

and no shortage of mystical creatures,

this alone is worth your time. The stained glass windows in the chambers are breathtaking, illuminated even on a rainy day.

In the hall there is another window, a newer addition. It is an ode to indigenous peoples of Canada recalling the trying history and breathing hope into a more promising future.

On the tour our guide told us that Canada is not a perfect country. If the members of parliament are not in session, enter the chambers. The first thing you’ll notice is red

and green.

Learn about the legislative process and how Canada strives to have a transparent government. In 1916 a fire burnt the original building to the ground. The only area that was spared was the library, because an employee closed the steel doors protecting the room.

The area is stunning and different, done in the Victorian that the original design of the complex.

The last stop on the tour is to the Peace Tower, built after World War I in memory of the sacrifice of men and women serving their country. It stands over 300 feet tall and the carillon has 53 bells. There is a 360 degree view from out the windows spanning over the Ottawa-Gatineau region.

Then down to the Memorial Chamber whose centerpiece is the Books of Remembrance listing all Canadians who lost their life in service before exiting the building.

Good to know:

+The tour is completely free and offered daily

+Lines to acquire tickets begin before opening time – 9AM and can be lengthy on busy weekends

+Over the summer watch the Changing of the Guards in the morning and the Sound and Light show at night

+Carillon concerts occur year round

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