How to plan a staycation in Ottawa

Are you dreaming of jet setting to Europe this summer? Or would you prefer to take a road trip across the country? Or maybe your idea of a perfect vacation is visiting one of the wonders of the world. Whatever your dream holiday might be, vacation is always top of mind as summertime approaches.

But, with any vacation there comes a price tag—and a hefty one at that. Hotel rooms, transportation, restaurants and other travel costs can add up quickly and, for some us, a dream vacation might not be a reality this year.

Luckily, we are fortunate enough to live in a city where the sun shines brightly in the summer, where there are activities for young and old, where the streets are safe and the residents are friendly. Really, Ottawa is an ideal city to plan a staycation.

A staycation is more than spending a week at home to clean out the tool shed. It is a deliberate plan to relax, explore and enjoy the city that you call home. Live like a tourist; gain a fresh perspective and a new appreciation for the things that can so easily be taken for granted.

Commit to your staycation.

That little red bubble hovering above the Gmail icon on your smartphone can be hard to ignore when vacationing in your own home. Before your staycation begins, commit to unplugging from your day-to-day responsibilities. It will be difficult, but remember that this is your time to relax and reenergize.

Plan as you would if you were overseas.

Once you’ve dedicated yourself to a true staycation, it’s time to start planning. Get out the GPS, ask at the information desk, read reviews on Trip Advisor. Involve your family in the planning, just as would do if you were visiting another country. Once you begin to explore your options, you’ll be surprised by all that the city has to offer.

  • Visit the Gatineau National Park: One of Ottawa’s greatest treasures, the Gatineau National Park is located only 20 minutes from the Byward Market. Take a drive out and discover the many hiking and walking trails. The park is also home to a vast amount of lakes, so be sure the pack your bathing suit for a “beach” day.
  • Take a tour through a local Brewery or Distillery: Ottawa is home to dozens of breweries—and even a few distilleries—so there will be no shortage of “good times” on your staycation. Plan a tour of one of the local craft breweries like Bicycle Craft Brewery, Kichesippi or the Mill Street Brew Pub. If beer isn’t for you, check out North of 7 Distillery, a micro distillery with handcrafted spirits such as gin, vodka, rum and four grain whisky.
  • Plan a night out to the (local) theatre: The Ottawa Little Theatre is located in the heart of downtown Ottawa and is always showing plays, musicals and concerts. Plan a night out to the theatre, as if you were preparing to take in a Broadway show—but instead, you’ll be dazzled by a night of homegrown talent.
  • Catch a Major or Minor League Sporting Event: While the crowd at a Blue Jays game is usually entertaining, why not explore the live sporting action you can catch on home base. There are some popular teams that play throughout the summer, here, in Ottawa. Try to catch an Ottawa Fury FC game or a CFL Redblacks game at TD Place Stadium. If soccer or football isn’t your cup of tea, plan a night of baseball and take in an Ottawa Champions game at Coventry Road.
  • Watch a Movie in the Park: For the duration of the summer you can catch a movie on the Great Lawn of Lansdowne Park.  A sprawling manicured lawn will be home to some family friendly films such as Back to the Future and E.T. To add to the fun, grab a hot chocolate from the nearby Lindt Chocolate store (if the night is chilly) or cool down with an iced coffee from the Aroma Espresso Bar, among the many other shops at Lansdowne.
  • Visit the largest outdoor spa in North America: Not far from Gatineau Park, you’ll also find one of the most coveted spas in North America: Nordik Spa-Nature. The spa is fully equipped with steam rooms, saunas, hot and cool baths, an infinity pool and a saltwater pool. While you’re there treat yourself to some massage therapy or other body treatments. There is also a full service restaurant that adds to the appeal of Nordik Spa, converting a regular spa experience to something more like a holiday resort.

On your Ottawa staycation, be sure to take in every moment. Vacation always goes by too fast, whether you are far away or close to home.

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How to plan a staycation in Ottawa

New Restaurant boom in the National Captial

Along with the weather, restaurant openings in Ottawa are heating up this summer. While there’s no doubt that a whole crop of new restaurants will hit the scene this year, there are a few knockouts that deserve to be touted before the summer is up. Ottawa’s treasured chef, Matthew Carmichael, will be taking his talents onto Sparks Street. The brains behind the brawn of Fauna jumped on an opportunity for a new spot. The always-crowded Pure Kitchen of Westboro opened its doors to a new location on Elgin Street … and so much more.


Now, Sparks Street is home to more than just Ribfest (but we’ll still take a double order of ribs, please). Chefs Matthew Carmichael and Jordan Holley have been working on the concept of restaurant Riviera since 2013 and will be opening its doors before long. They were the chefs who delivered tacos and ramen through two of Elgin Street’s most popular restaurants: El Camino and Dat Sun, respectively. Both restaurants boast a unique style of fare that appeals to the masses; but Riviera’s menu will be made up of “the heavy hitters from over the years”, in a fine-dining atmosphere. The space, formerly the home of an old bank, is as luxurious of a shell as the immaculate interior design—the vault transformed into a charcuterie room and a cascading brass bar as a focal point.


Even though Carmichael has turned his attention away from Elgin Street this summer, that doesn’t mean that other prominent restauranteurs aren’t sniffing around. The almost cult-like following that restaurant Whalesbone has attracted is preparing to welcome a second location, at 231 Elgin. The new location will dwarf the original in terms of size and though the menu will continue to star the famous oysters and seafood that have made Whalesbone’s name, there will also be a cameo of some red meat options. Pure Kitchen—a vegetarian food and juice bar—previously drew crowds to its home in Westboro.  After operating for only a few weeks, their second location on Elgin Street is quickly starting to feel like home, too.  Formerly known as the infamous Maxwell’s nightclub, Pure Kitchen Elgin has seen a complete (and beautiful) renovation and is offering up mouth-watering vegetarian fare for any Centretown health aficionado.


In the past, Somerset Village hasn’t always had the best luck with new restaurant openings.  Summer 2016 in the village—with a whole array of new and exciting eateries—is ensuring that history doesn’t repeat itself. The modern, upscale restaurant Fairouz opened its doors a few months ago and is only gaining momentum as the summer months unfold. Fairouz offers a modern twist on Middle Eastern cuisine and the menu strays far away from the usual flavours found around the city. Its fare and thirst-quenchers have been praised by countless critics, including Anne DesBrisay, and the owners, staff and management are hospitality personified.

Right next door, Prohibition Public House has shone a tiny, dim light on the era of embargoed alcohol.  But don’t let the name fool you—not only is it a trendy, late night hang out, but also a relaxed dining atmosphere for some savoury sustenance.


Hintonburg always seems to have something happening, whether it’s a festival, a street party or a new restaurant opening. So it came as no surprise when two-year old Fauna on Bank Street decided to give way to a little sister, located on Wellington Street in the heart of Hintonburg. Bar Laurel has yet to open its doors, but the anticipation is enormous. Fauna has carved a path of delight in the culinary scene of Ottawa and there is expectation that Bar Laurel will follow suit.

So if you’re not satisfied with the eateries that exist in the National Capital as of today, just hold on until the final weeks of September— “summer sixteen” will have seen a boom in Ottawa’s restaurants.


New Restaurant boom in the National Captial


Spring cleaning brings a renewed sense of pride in your home. Redecorating, styling and brightening each room will be top of mind as you blow away the dust bunnies and embrace the warmer spring and summer months. But, new styles and redecorating can come with a hefty price tag. Restoration Hardware and Urban Barn will give you the desired look, but not without a depleting bank account, too. If you’re looking to spruce up your home in an affordable way, don’t rule out the home decor improvements that you can make with your own two hands.

We have a list of five favourite DIY home decorations that are tasteful, but won’t break the bank.

1. Table Runner Lumbar Pillow

Throw pillows are all the rage in today’s home decor trends. And, unless you’re Ben Stiller in Along Came Polly, you’ll find that the addition of a throw pillow (or two) can bring new life to any room—whether that be a bedroom, a living room or simply a barren bay window. We particularly like the unique look of a lumbar pillow which can be crafted from, believe it or not, a table runner. This long throw of fabric works perfectly for a DIY sewing project, especially if you’re a novice sewer.

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2. Pegboard Coat Hanger

The entrance of your home is the “welcoming committee” for the rest of your abode. A warm, convivial and tidy entrance says a lot about what lies ahead. Functional, yet charming, we have included a Do It Yourself pegboard piece to add to the walls of your entryway. This pegboard coat/hat hanger doubles as a shelving unit and says, “All guests are welcome… but please be tidy on your way in!”

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3. Marbled Art

Marble accents were huge in home showcases this year. But any marble accent, from countertops to wall clocks, may require some cold, hard cash. Not to worry, DIY marbled wall art capitalizes on this amazing trend, leaving you with a colourful display not unlike a Jackson Pollock. Although this DIY activity may take a few tries until you get it just right, the end result is well worth the effort.

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4. Golden Fixtures

Statement fixtures were very popular among home designers this year. Home decor expert Emily Henderson took on a massive bathroom renovation, and one of the most notable and glamourous updates was her addition of trendy fixtures, like golden sink taps. But, if you’re not looking to hire a designer for your home project, a little facelift for your sink is still within reach!  Try painting your sink fixtures, including taps and piping, gold with this easy DIY.

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5.Decorative Bowls

Last on the list is a DIY guide to beautiful trinkets! Luckily, the Great Glebe Garage Sale takes place this weekend, in downtown Ottawa, where you’ll be sure to find some trinkets that need a little TLC. Get yourself a set of small white bowls and use this helpful DIY tutorial to craft stunning bowls, with an artisan flare.

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Ottawa springs into festivals and events!



Ottawa, we have arrived.The sun is shining, the air is warm and that pesky white substance we refer to as snow is no longer lining our streets, or—more importantly—in our driveways. Spring is here! And, in typical Ottawa fashion, the city has come out of hibernation, filling patios, planting gardens and readying itself for the warmest months of the year. We know you’re in need of very little encouragement to start embracing the outdoors and stock up on your supply of Vitamin D, but we wanted to add to the Spring Fever by listing some of the events we are most looking forward to.

See you in the open air, Ottawans:


The National Capital Region will welcome TimeRaiser back for its 7th edition, and this time, it is being held in the stunning Horticulture building at Lansdowne. On Thursday, April 28, join hundreds of art lovers and bid on the work of up and coming Canadian artists in a silent auction. The catch? Instead of bidding with money, prepare to bid with your time! If you’re the lucky winner, your time is donated to the charity of your choice and you’ll go home with a beautiful piece of artwork. There is a growing culture of supporting the arts in Ottawa, and TimeRaiser is a great example of how our community repeatedly comes together to support each other.

We love this event! Get your tickets ($20 each) here: 

Hintonburg Happening

Discover one of Ottawa’s liveliest neighbourhoods at the Hintonburg Happening festival, taking place from May 6- May 14. The festival celebrates local artists, designers, musicians & businesses to showcase the unique character of the Hintonburg neighbourhood. Over 20 local businesses have banded together to put on unique events like a “beard competition” at Mint Hair Studio, a pottery workshop at LOAM Clay Studio, an inside look at the art of the cocktail at Carben Food + Drink and much, much more!

Canadian Tulip Festival

One of the most popular and renowned events of the year in Ottawa, the Canadian Tulip Festival is hailed as the largest tulip festival in the world and allows locals and tourists alike the opportunity to waltz through a garden of colourful tulips in bloom. This year, the festival takes place between May 12 – May 23, allowing festivalgoers access to outdoor events, art displays, live performances and a licensed area to savor the tastes of international beer, wine, and cuisine. As part of the festival’s custom, fireworks will light up the night sky on

May 12 and May 23rd from 9 – 9:30 p.m!

Spring Bikes & Biergarten

Relish the opportunity to sample one of Ottawa’s newest craft breweries, Bicycle Brewery, at Spring Bikes & Biergarten on May 14th. To welcome the warm weather the brewery has invited local musicians and food trucks to entertain and feed guests while they partake in carnival games and sip lots and lots of local, craft beer. Couldn’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon! Stay tuned to their event page for location announcement and

more details

City of Om Yoga Festival

New to Ottawa this year, City of Om 2016 will take at Ottawa’s Lansdowne Park on Saturday, June 4. This full-day festival invites yogis to take indoor & outdoor classes accompanied by live music, local artisans and food vendors. A 5K run along the canal is also in the day’s itinerary. The yoga life is all about balance and this community-driven event wraps up with an after party at the new Pure Kitchen location on Elgin St. that promises not to disappoint!

Ottawa springs into festivals and events!

What to do on Valentine’s Day in Ottawa


Ottawa is a romantic city. With a vibrant culinary scene, a lively artistic culture and a beautiful natural landscape as its backdrop, Ottawa is the perfect city to host you and your valentine.If you’re still looking for plans this weekend, look no further than the many activities that Ottawa will be offering couples, singles and everyone in between.

Brookstreet Hotel Getaway

As much as you might like to treat your sweetheart to a 7-night stay in Hawaii, that’s not always in the budget. Enter the beauty of the staycation and Ottawa’s own Brookstreet Hotel for a romantic night for two. Luxury accommodations, an on-site spa and an indoor salt water pool will allow you and your Valentine to relax before you sit down to Brookstreet’s fantastic Valentine’s Day 7-course meal. Head over to the hotel’s jazz lounge for a nightcap where live music will set the mood for the rest of the evening.

Outdoor Adventures

This Valentine’s Day, all couples that love the outdoors are in luck. Ottawans can take a short drive to find themselves at the gorgeous Gatineau Park where snowshoeing and other winter activities are abundant. Trailhead offers inexpensive snowshoe rentals ($25.00 for adults) where you can trek through 20 kilometres of trails with varying levels of difficulty. Head out in the afternoon to catch sunset and then warm up at the nearby Black Sheep Inn for some live music.

Restaurant Crawl

We aren’t suggesting a pub crawl this Valentine’s day—instead, get a chance to experience some of Ottawa finest restaurants, by creating a “restaurant crawl”. Ottawa is home to so many exquisite eateries and—as an added bonus—many neighbourhoods have clusters of them within walking distance. While reservations may be hard to come by at your favourite restaurant for Valentine’s Day (at this point, anyway), restaurants rarely take reservations at the bar. So, if you’re willing to sidle up to the wood, then you’re in luck! Pick your favourite area of town and walk from place to place, having a drink and some light fare at the bar.

Opposites ARTtract

For those you approach Valentine’s Day with an open canvas, Monet: A Bridge to Modernity is on at the National Gallery of Canada until Feb. 15. This substitute for the oh-so-typical wining and dining will allow you and your date to get inspired by the works of one of the world’s most iconic painters. A glass of champagne at one of the ByWard Market’s many restaurants would be the perfect end to this artsy alternative.

Dare to Dance

Winterlude ends with a bang at the Aberdeen Pavilion on Sunday with “The Heat is On”.
Promising to be the biggest dance floor in town, DJs will tantalize couples and singles alike with groovin’ beats that are sure to bring the house down. Snacks, drinks and a reasonable $10 entrance fee makes this option great for those who love any excuse to put on their dancing shoes.

Holiday for the Haters

Not everyone is paired up, and for those who are particularly prickly about being solo on
Valentine’s Day, join the good folks at Hintonburg Public House or Union 613 for their respective Anti-Valentine’s Day parties. HPH is promising a suitable venue to drown your sorrows with $4 shots of Jameson’s Whiskey, while Union 613 will be offering bottomless supplies of craft beers. Who knows, your eyes may even lock on another naysayer’s and the rest could be history.

What to do on Valentine’s Day in Ottawa

Ottawa: What’s in Store for Women

ladies who lunch

We’ve already discussed how the face of Ottawa is changing. Whether it be in the emerging food scene or the millions of dollars invested in infrastructure to overhaul the landscape of Canada’s capital—Ottawa is “on the move” in a big way.

While these upgrades affect all citizens—youth, seniors, suburbanites or city slickers—today, we are going to pay particular attention on how a shift in Ottawa’s culture means added entertainment and adventure for one half of the population: women.

The National Arts Centre Renovation

For almost half a decade ladies (and gentlemen!) have flocked to the National Arts Centre (NAC) to take in live performances from some of the world’s most talented artists. Work has already commenced on a project that will completely revitalize the city’s centre stage. With the NAC’s $110.5 million facelift, and the neighbouring Arts Court also undergoing renovation, there is no doubt that these state-of-the-art facilities will become an even bigger attraction for women, their daughters and the community at large.

The Boutique Fitness Boom

In May of last year, profiled a new trend in fitness with this provocative headline: Thanks to Boutique Fitness, Working Out is the New Going Out. Over the last few years, Ottawa has quickly raced to stay in step with this corporeal craze. Boutique fitness concepts have popped up all over the city: from Yoga studios to CrossFit boxes, Barre Fitness to Boot Camp, spinning to circuits. What’s particularly enticing about this style of work out for women is that these hip, new gyms promote being social and belonging to a community. Working out is no longer an obligation. It’s a lifestyle, a second family and a fashion statement.

EY Centre Attractions

Don’t get us wrong, Ernst & Young (EY) Centre is gearing up to host the Ottawa Boat & SportsMEN Show later this month. The 5-year-old centre definitely holds its fair share of events that appeal to men and women of all ages. But with Eastern Ontario’s largest and best-equipped event space finding a home in Ottawa, women-tailored events are also abuzz in the Nation’s Capital. This past Fall’s headlining events included: Ottawa Fall National Women’s Show, the Ottawa Wedding Show and the Ottawa Fall Home Show.

Ladies Who Lunch (and do other things)

At work beneath the events and upgrades, the shows and the social, there is a growing community of women supporting women in this city. Ladies Who Lunch (LWL), a business networking event for women, has become much larger than that. Through its Facebook page of over 10,000 members, women post inspiring stories, calls to action, messages of support and place attention on important causes in a forum that is safe, encouraging and welcoming. LWL is just one example. Equal Voice, and its NCR chapter, rallies around its members to empower more women to pay attention to the under-representation of women in the Canadian political sphere.

As Ottawa continues to expand, grow and change, women—and the quintessential question of “What Women Want”—are at the forefront of the city’s altering landscape.

Ottawa: What’s in Store for Women

9 things to do nine days before Christmas

Although Mother Nature has graced Ottawa with an unseasonably warm December, there are still many ways to get in the holiday spirit in the capital. From live performances, to Christmas villages, light shows and craft sales; there are a multitude of activities for people of all ages to enjoy. Ensure your spot on Santa’s nice list by embracing the spirit of the season. Here are some suggestions:

Stanley’s Christmas Village

For anyone who thinks Elf is the greatest Christmas movie going, Stanley’s Christmas Village is the place for you. Every holiday season Stanley’s Olde Maple Lane Farm is transformed into an elf village that oversees the sorting of mail, production of toys and chimney tracking in the Ottawa area.

Kids (and adults!) can see where lumps of coal are made, or visit the wrapping warehouse. The park is open weekends through to December 20th by reservations only. Click here  to save your spot!

Christmas tea

Warm beverages are synonymous with the holidays and what better way to get in the spirit of the season than by taking in a Christmas-themed high tea at Billings Estate National Historic Site. A cup of tea will hit the spot while carolers dressed in Victorian garb will transport you to a time when Ebenezer Scrooge strolled the streets. Tea is served Friday, Saturday and Sunday (until Dec. 20) from 3 pm to 8 pm.

Reservations can be made here

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Ian’s Christmas Adventure Park & Tree Farm

Trimming the tree is an important part of many families’ holiday traditions. But, selecting the perfect pine can be just as much fun. If you’re looking for the real deal, check out Ian’s Christmas Adventure Park & Tree Farm . Harvest your own fresh tree, pet the reindeer, enjoy a sleigh ride, cozy up with free hot chocolate or even visit Claus’ Country Cabin at Ho Ho Lake! It’s the best place to experience some Christmas magic this side of the North Pole.

The park is open through to December 24th, Mon-Fri: 1 pm – 10 pm, Sat-Sun: 9 am –10 pm.

Alight at Night

Upper Canada Village’s premier event of the year is a worthy reason to take a drive outside the city. Take advantage of warmer-than-usual temperatures by strolling through the display of close to one million lights. Heritage buildings, trees and fences spring to life on your way to Saint Nick’s Merry Mansion to meet the big man in red. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience that comes ‘round but once a year! For this spectacular display, visit Alight at Night from 5-9 pm from Dec 17 – Dec 24th, or Dec. 26 – Jan. 2.

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Carriage ride

For all you romantics out there, a horse-drawn carriage ride through Ottawa’s downtown could be the perfect early Christmas gift for your sweetheart. Snuggle up under a warm blanket and take in some of the city’s sights while buskers croon carols as you cruise around the Byward market. You can find the carriages parked at various points within the market for the spontaneous, or for

click here  to make a reservation.

Taffy Lane

Any one who lives in the east end of Ottawa knows there’s one thing you must do during the holiday season: visit Taffy Lane

Located just off Orleans Blvd., the namesake’s main drag, residents of Taffy Lane pull out all the stops to give their neighbours a feast for the eyes. Cars crawl down the street every evening taking in beautifully ornamented homes, dazzling with the most elaborate decorations. With the mild weather in tow, it’s a perfect year to stroll the lane on foot, perhaps with a cup of cocoa in hand! Most homes leave their decorations up until New Year’s Day.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra at CTC

There is a whole host of amazing Christmas choir performances planned around the city this year. From small venues, like local churches, to performances on the NAC stage, there’s no shortage of talent to take in around the holidays. One of the main events is that the revered Trans-Siberian Orchestra is playing two concerts entitled “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve”, on Tuesday, Dec. 22 at 4 and 8 p.m. You can bet they will play their famed version of “Carol of the Bells”—a holiday favourite! Tickets are sold here .

Visit the NGC’s magnificent tree

Standing nearly 12 meters tall and six meters wide and adorned with 12,0000 bulbs, the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) is housing a beautiful Christmas tree worthy of a visit and a photo-op. With many holiday activities taking place at the museum during the festive season, you can maximize admission by visiting this holiday landmark. For more information click here

Parliament Hill Light Show

Christmas Lights across Canada has landed at Parliament Hill and our trusted sources say the show is more spectacular than ever. The illuminated Centre Block sparkles every evening from 4:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. and the magical lightscapes multimedia show takes place from 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. until January 7. Spectators will see Canada’s parliament become the backdrop for a Canadian fairytale, accompanied by an original soundtrack. This is a wonderful opportunity, for tourists and locals alike, to take in the beauty of Canada while savouring the magic of Christmastime.

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9 things to do nine days before Christmas