Welcome to Ottawa

What's Up in Ottawa

Ottawa Pride ParadeSo, you’re probably wondering what there is to do in Ottawa when you’re not square dancing… Well the answer is: quite a lot!

Ottawa is Canada’s capital city and the seat of it’s government. It boasts a population of one million citizens and is known worldwide for its art and culture.

It also has a lively LGBTQ community that includes clubs and associations around the capital region.

From the monthly Ottawa Bears‘ brunches and regular bar nights to the Ottawa Senior Pride Network‘s workshops, bowling nights and dances.

Several sporting organizations such as the Rideau Speedeaus swim club, the Gay Ottawa Volleyball league and the Lesbian Outdoor Group make this community a very active and vibrant one.

Of course, we can’t forget the local gay square dance club, the Ottawa Date Squares!

How to get to Ottawa

There are several options for getting to Ottawa and we’ve taken the liberty of doing a bit of research to help you plan your vacation.

As you can well imagine travel options are very different in COVID times as the border between the US and Canada is currently closed to nonessential travel but we will base this section’s information on pre-COVID travel and on the assumption that by July of 2023 it will look much the same as before COVID.

Ottawa has daily flights to/from the following cities: Toronto, Detroit, Frankfurt, Washington (DC), London (England), Chicago, Philadelphia, Montreal, Vancouver, Newark (NJ).

If you live in any of these cities, getting to Ottawa is going to be very easy but even if you don’t, connections through Montréal or Toronto are a breeze. Both cities accept the NEXUS card, if you have one, to speed up customs clearing.

Ottawa is only 208 kilometers (129 miles) from Montréal and 450 kilometers (280 miles) from Toronto.

Via Rail LogoFancy a side-trip? You could fly into either of these cities, spend a few days there and either rent a car to drive to Ottawa or take the train. Via Rail offers multiple options every day.

Ottawa is within driving distance of many US cities. If you don’t mind a road trip and you’re from one of the following cities, you might consider driving here:

  • Chicago: 12 hours
  • Philadelphia: 6.5 hours
  • Washington: 9 hours
  • New York: 7 hours
  • Baltimore: 8 hours
  • Cleveland: 8 hours
  • Rehoboth Beach: 8.5 hours
  • Grand Rapids, MI: 9.5 hours
  • Boston: 7 hours

Parliament

Parliament is the seat of Canada’s government and there is a lot to see and learn about it including guided tours of its historic buildings as well as the nightly “Northern Lights” show.

Historic Sites

Canada’s capital features numerous historic sites, including the Rideau Canal which is breathtaking in summer and turns into the world’s longest skating rink in winter.

Museums

Ottawa hosts seven of Canada’s nine national museums as well as several other local museums that are well worth checking out during your visit.

Nightlife

While you’re in Ottawa, you should check out some of our LGBTQ bars like T’s Pub, The Lookout and Swizzles and visit the shops around the gay village (Bank and Somerset).

There are also tons of amazing shops and restaurants to explore in the Byward Market, literally steps from the host hotel.

Nature

Ottawa is filled with amazing green spaces to enjoy in the summer. You’d hardly think you’re in a world-class city at times. Hogs Back Falls and The Arboretum in town and Gatineau Park a short drive across the river will offer amazing vistas and tranquil nature settings to delight and amaze you.

Arts & Culture

Canada’s capital is home to some amazing art installations.

From historic statues and monuments to creative outdoor art installations, there is so much to see and do. Also don’t forget to visit the National Gallery of Canada to see the world-famous Maman giant spider and view some amazing paintings and sculptures.