LOCAL TOURS FOR MEDIA DELEGATES

#1: Fun and games

This tour is no longer offered.

 

#2: Neighbourhoods by bike and by foot

Enjoy some fresh air and exercise as you explore a couple of Ottawa’s diverse neighbourhoods. A 10-minute walk to Sparks Street will take you to Escape Bicycle Tours to meet your friendly cycle guide. Together you will pedal past interesting spots along the Rideau Canal pathways as you make your way to the upscale neighbourhood known as The Glebe. (NOTE: you’ll also spend some time in the Glebe—more specifically at Lansdowne—during Monday night’s reception.) You’ll have a chance to visit some of the independently owned businesses here on a short walking tour before returning by bike to your starting point. Next, you’ll head to the hip Wellington West neighbourhood. A 10-minute walk brings you to lunch with industry colleagues at the locally loved Hintonburg Public House. After lunch, you’ll depart on foot with a knowledgeable guide to explore the cool shops and hidden gems that make this area one of the trendiest neighbourhoods in Ottawa.

NOTE: Basic cycling ability is required (approximately 10km or 6.2 miles total) in the morning; a helmet will be provided. You will be walking in short bursts through the neighbourhoods.

 

#3: Art on foot

Discover Ottawa’s artsy side! Start the day with a 15-minute walk to the National Gallery of Canada, where you’ll enjoy a guided tour of the Canadian and Indigenous Galleries and a hands-on sketching activity. Along the way, you may see other media from Tour #5 (Indigenous Roots). Afterwards, you’ll meander through downtown Ottawa to see public art highlights and commemorative statues. You’ll meet industry colleagues over an al fresco lunch (weather permitting) before touring Âjagemô, the public gallery space of the Canada Council for the Arts. The walking tour continues as you make your way to the opened-in-April-2018 Ottawa Art Gallery to learn about Ottawa’s unique connection to Canadian art.

NOTE: Some photography restrictions apply within the National Gallery of Canada, to be explained during the tour. You will be walking quite a bit and spending time both indoors and outdoors.

 

 #4: Active outdoors

Get active in the region in the air, on land, and in the water! You’ll transfer to Gatineau Park, a 20-minute drive north of Ottawa in the province of Québec, and begin with a challenging ropes course and zipline experience through the treetops at Camp Fortune Aerial Park and Ziplines. Afterwards, you’ll transfer to meet industry colleagues for a boxed lunch overlooking the Ottawa River before departing on a whitewater rafting adventure within Ottawa’s city limits… complete with views of Parliament Hill and the downtown skyline! The engaging guides of Ottawa City Rafting bring the logging and voyageur history of the region alive, while you paddle and admire the natural beauty of the area. You’ll go through rapids—and even have a chance to body surf, if you choose. Prepare to get wet!

NOTE: An intermediate to advanced level of fitness is required. Maximum waist size for harnesses is 106 centimetres. You must wear closed-toe shoes. Pregnant women are not allowed to participate in this activity. While no experience is necessary for rafting, participants must be in good health and possess average swimming ability. Low cut and securely fastened shoes (no flipflops) that can get wet are required. We also recommend bringing a towel, and change of clothing which can be left in a secure area while on the raft. Hats and eyewear must be secured. Anything brought on the boat will get wet, and limited space exists in a communal dry bag.

 

#5: Indigenous roots

You’ll start your day with a two-hour walking tour through downtown Ottawa, with a difference: you’ll see things from a contemporary Indigenous perspective, thanks to your guide from Indigenous Walks. Next, you’ll stop at the National Gallery of Canada, where you might see participants of Tour #3 (Art on Foot). You’ll visit the Canadian and Indigenous Galleries—an outstanding collection showcasing Canadian and Indigenous art side-by-side, chronologically. A 15-minute walk across the Alexandra Bridge brings you to the city of Gatineau, Québec and the Canadian Museum of History, where industry colleagues will join you for a picnic lunch with participants from Tour #14 (Museum Crawl). You’ll take in a dance performance by Indigenous Experiences, learn about the Indigenous history of Canada, and see the world’s largest indoor collection of totem poles. What’s more, you’ll return to Ottawa by paddling a voyageur canoe with the rest of the group and a guide across the Ottawa River!

NOTE: Wednesday night’s reception will take place at the Canadian Museum of History but this tour will showcase exhibitions beyond the public spaces of the museum that you will see that night.

 

#6: Gardens and blooms

Ottawa is in bloom! Explore some of the most beautiful gardens and greenspaces in Ottawa. Your day begins as you board the Garden Promenade tour bus to Rideau Hall, the home and workplace of the Governor General of Canada, for a tour of the extensive grounds, including the famous rose garden and trees planted by visiting dignitaries (you’ll have a look inside the building, too!). Grab a boxed lunch and get on board Le Boat, along with industry colleagues. Now in its second summer of operation in North America, Le Boat offers luxury rental boats along the Rideau Canal system. You’ll float along the Rideau Canal to Dows Lake, site of the Canadian Tulip Festival, which has taken place each May since 1953, while learning more about the story of the tulips. You’ll then transfer to the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum to explore the grounds and the wide variety of plant species at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden and Dominion Arboretum.

 

#7: Canadian politics and geography 101

Brush up on the basics of Canadian politics and geography! Did you know that Centre Block on Parliament Hill (home to Canada’s House of Commons and Senate) is closed for 10 years of renovations? As of February 1, 2019, new temporary spaces opened for free tours and now’s your chance to check them out! Your day begins with a walk across the street to tour the temporary home of the Senate of Canada, originally Ottawa’s central train station and an architectural gem. From here, a guided walk through downtown Ottawa follows, highlighting political hangouts and spots of interest, including the site of the assassination of Father of Confederation D’Arcy McGee in 1868. Next, you will tour the temporary House of Commons in the impressive West Block on Parliament Hill. You’ll transfer to a gourmet hot dog lunch with industry colleagues at Tavern on the Falls, an outdoor patio overlooking Rideau Falls, where the Rideau River empties into the Ottawa River. The adjacent building at 50 Sussex Drive is the Royal Canadian Geographical Society headquarters, where you’ll spend the afternoon exploring the building and learning about the unique geography of Canada and Ottawa.

 

#8: Local flavours

Explore Ottawa’s food scene and learn about the local producers and farmers that contribute to its vibrancy. Your day begins with a 10-minute walk to the lively ByWard Market neighbourhood where you’ll sample Ottawa-area and Italian charcuterie in the family-owned local gem La Bottega Nicastro. You’ll continue with a two-hour culinary walking tour of this vibrant neighbourhood with C’est Bon Cooking. Industry colleagues will pick you up on the way to transfer to the Just Food Farm for a delicious local lunch. Here, you’ll learn about this Ottawa not-for-profit organization, located on a 150-acre farm, that supports agricultural initiatives across the city.

 

#9: Bites and beer

Food and beer collide in this day tour across Ottawa! Start your day with a three-hour culinary walking tour (with samples!) of the lively ByWard Market neighbourhood with C’est Bon Cooking. Just before lunch, you’ll have your first sample of local craft beer at tiny, quirky Waller Street Brewing. Meet industry colleagues at Lowertown Brewing Company for a few more samples, and grab your boxed lunch to eat on the decorated bus of Brew Donkey, a popular craft brewery tour company. An afternoon of fun and beer tasting awaits at two additional great craft breweries across Ottawa.

 

#10: Roots of the Cold War

Your exploration of Cold War intrigue in Canada begins with a transfer to the Canadian War Museum, where you will hear the story of Igor Gouzenko, whose actions in Ottawa 74 years ago contributed to the start of the Cold War. You’ll drive by his apartment building on your way to Laurier House, a National Historic Site that was home to two Canadian prime ministers, including William Lyon Mackenzie King (who was Prime Minister through World War II and the beginning of the Cold War). Lunch on its expansive covered porch will be shared with industry colleagues, then it’s a 30-minute transfer to one of the eeriest spots in Canada’s Capital Region: the Diefenbunker, Canada’s Cold War Museum. One floor of the 100,000-square-foot (9,200-square-metre) underground bunker is also home to the world’s largest escape room experience, offered by Escape Manor.

 

#11: Ottawa two ways

Explore two sides of Ottawa! Begin with a transfer to the quirky Wellington West neighbourhood and learn about its intense sense of community. Specialty shops—including Ottawa’s first zero-waste grocery store—hip restaurants, and other hidden gems await. Transfer back downtown to meet industry colleagues for lunch at Ottawa’s first food hall, Queen Street Fare (opened in December 2018). A 10-minute after-lunch walk brings you to the well-known Rideau Canal, Ontario’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site. Join visitors to Ottawa on one of the most popular ways to see and learn about the Rideau Canal: a 90-minute electric-powered Rideau Canal Cruise.

 

#12: Recharge and relax

Enjoy a day focused on wellness and self-care! You’ll start with a 10-minute walk to the hip and modern Andaz Ottawa ByWard Market hotel. There, you’ll participate in a yoga session on their 16th floor outdoor rooftop lounge, complete with scenic views of the city, then partake in a kombucha experience with Culture Kombucha, Ottawa’s small batch kombuchery. Next, you’ll transfer 15 minutes north of Ottawa to peaceful Gatineau Park in Québec for some forest-bathing before you meet up with industry colleagues for lunch at the convivial Chelsea Pub. You’ll spend the rest of the afternoon at the relaxing Nordik Spa-Nature, the largest spa in North America. The spa encourages visitors to follow the Scandinavian tradition of the thermal cycle (hot-cold-rest) for optimal relaxation in a natural outdoor setting featuring waterfalls, an infinity pool, saunas, hammocks, plunge pools, and more.

NOTE: Bring your water bottle, bathing suit, sandals, and sunscreen to enjoy this scenic experience. Photography is prohibited. Lockers, robes, and towels will be provided.

 

#13.  Canadian wildlife and nature (media-only tour)

First, you’ll travel an hour northeast of Ottawa to Omega Park in Montebello, Québec to get up close and personal with Canadian wildlife such as elk, deer, boars, and bison! You’ll drive and walk through an expansive natural area and admire (in complete safety) wolves and bears as they roam large natural enclosures. Following a casual boxed lunch, you will return to downtown Ottawa and visit the impressive Canadian Museum of Nature, housed in a castle-like building dating to 1910. You may see some of the participants of Tour #14 (Museum Crawl) as they will be visiting the museum as well. Learn about the flora and fauna of all of Canada through a guided tour of the museum’s exhibitions including dinosaur fossils, a 19-metre (65-foot) skeleton of a blue whale, the opened-in-2017 Arctic Gallery (complete with real ice), and more!

 

#14.  Museum crawl (media-only tour)

There are 7 national museums in Ottawa… and this tour will introduce you to 4 of them, with quick vehicle transfers between each one. First, the interactive Canada Science and Technology Museum, which reopened its doors in November 2017 after a massive refresh. Then, the uplifting Canada Aviation and Space Museum, with its impressive collection of military and civilian aircraft. Onwards to the Canadian Museum of History, the most-visited cultural attraction in Canada and home to the Canadian Children’s Museum, the magnificent First Peoples Hall, and the Canadian History Hall (which reopened after a refresh on July 1, 2017). You’ll enjoy a quick picnic lunch with Tour #5 (Indigenous Roots) before heading to the Canadian Museum of Nature for a guided introduction to Canada’s flora and fauna. You may even meet participants from Tour #13 (Canadian Wildlife and Nature) while there.

NOTE: Wednesday night’s reception will take place at the Canadian Museum of History but this tour will showcase exhibitions beyond the public spaces of the museum that you will see that night.

 

#15.  Family-friendly Ottawa-Gatineau (media-only tour)

 This tour is no longer offered. 

 

#16.  A taste of Ottawa en français (media-only tour)

Not everyone who speaks French in Canada lives in the province of Québec! Immerse yourself in the joie de vivre of Franco-Ontarian culture and meet interesting people along the way. Did you know that 16% of Ottawa’s population speaks French as a first language and 37% identify as bilingual? You’ll start with a 10-minute walk to the bustling ByWard Market neighbourhood, the cradle of Franco-Ontarian culture in Ottawa. Then transfer to Vanier, a traditionally francophone neighbourhood, and home to the Vanier Museopark, a museum surrounded by an urban sugarbush (where maple syrup is produced each spring) that also produces syrup for the Governor General of Canada. Then it’s a 40-minute drive to the 125-year-old St. Albert Cheese Factory (the best poutine in Ottawa is made with their squeaky fresh cheese curds!) where you’ll have lunch and enjoy a tour. The tour wraps up with a visit to a nearby craft brewery, Brasserie Étienne-Brûlé.