There is the ceremonial changing of the guards - an entire parade with a marching band which starts at the Cartier Square Drill Hall and finishes at Parliament Hill. For the artistic there is the national arts centre (www.nac-cna.ca/en) along with various other galleries and museums, which are all worth visiting.
The adventurous can try white water rafting (www.riverrunrafting.com), the haunted walk of Ottawa (www.hauntedwalk.com) and Rideau Canal, the world's longest ice skating rink (www.canadascapital.gc.ca/skateway). Feeling Peckish? If you're on a budget, but want a good meal with great service, try Zak's diner (613-241-2401; www.zaksdiner.com). It's a quirky little establishment and has been voted as having the best milkshakes in Ottawa. You can even add a shot of vodka, Baileys or rum to your shake. Or, spoil yourself with delicious ethical seafood at The Whalesbone Oyster House (www.thewhalesbone.com). For a romantic Italian meal, Castlegarth at White Lake is a must (www.castlegarth.ca/; 613-623-3472). It boasts stunning scenery, homegrown organic food and a warm, cosy atmosphere. For vegan food try ZenKitchen (www.zenkitchen.ca). You could also try Canada's national dish, poutine (french fries, gravy and cheese curds), which is sold in most places, or Ottawa's speciality, Beaver Tail - a doughy, deep-fried sweet pastry. Where can we stay? If you're game for somewhere unusual, try Ottawa's very own Jail Hostel.
It closed down nearly 40 years ago because of the inhumane treatment of prisoners, but was active for 110 years, opening a year later as a hostel. The slogan for the hostel is aptly "a great place to hang", a pun on the three hangings that took place in the jail. The gallows are still intact and fully functional. For family holidays try the Comfort Inn (comfortinnkanata.com), which includes free breakfast, parking, morning paper, high-speed internet and passes to the nearby leisure centre and wave pool. If you want luxury, try Brookstreet hotel (www.brookstreet.ca/) which has a championship golf course, a spa with 11 treatment rooms, a great restaurant, fitness studio with whirlpools and outdoor and indoor pools.
How do we get there? For the latest deals on flights from Heathrow to Ottawa visit www.cheapflights.co.uk/flights What can we take home? An obvious souvenir would be maple syrup. Novelty T-shirts and gifts can be found at Crazy Moose clothing (60 George St; 613-562-4079).
Best time to visit? The beauty of Ottawa is that it has distinctly different seasons but, to see it at its best, visit in late summer/early autumn when the maple leaves are starting to turn red.
* The Parliament Buildings
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|Publication:||South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)|
|Date:||Oct 1, 2011|
|Next Article:||Steaming ahead; It's full steam ahead for the annual Vintage Engine and Steam Fair at the Rhondda Heritage Park this weekend, reports Alison Young.|