Putting together an itinerary for seeing all the best sights this vacation? Perhaps you've got a few hours to kill between business meetings, and want to know the best stuff to see. Either way, our 10Best list should have you covered. While there are always great things to experience, there are typically things you wish you would have passed on as well. Haunted Walks Inc. located in the Downtown area is among our top picks for sightseeing in Ottawa.
9 Central Experimental Farm
Home of the Canada Agriculture Museum, the Central Experimental Farm is located southwest of downtown. Families adore visiting the farm, whether it's to tour the exquisite gardens and greenhouses or visit the farm itself, which is home to all types of cows, pigs, sheep, goats and horses. The expanse along the Rideau Canal and overlooking Dows Lake is a favorite "stomping ground" of local walkers, joggers and cyclists. The nearby Agriculture Museum, housed in an early 20th century barn, contains a variety exhibits, including several pieces of old farm machinery. (613-230-3276, 613-991-3044)
8 Residence of the Prime Minister
Following the government's purchase of this stone mansion in 1943, it became the official residence of the Prime Minister. Although the home is closed to the public, its majestic beauty is well worth a drive by.
7 Confederation Square National War Memorial
Dedicated in 1939, the National War Memorial of Ottawa was originally erected to honor the lives of 60,000 Canadian soldiers who died during the first World War and has since been known to commemorate all Canadian soldiers who have died in war. Also known as The Response, the statue stands 21 meters tall and pictures 22 bronze figures storming through a gateway to represent "The Response" of thousands of soldiers who answered the call to serve. In 2000, a Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was unveiled at the face of the monument and is usually garnered with flowers from those who pay their respects. Every November 11 makes this monument very special as the date is recognized as Remembrance Day in honor of those who have fallen in their sacrifice for ensuring freedom.
6 Ottawa River Parkway
Head west on Wellington Street, past the Parliament Hill area, and the road turns into the Ottawa River Parkway, a scenic drive that follows along the banks of the Ottawa. Be sure you take your camera with you, as there are several pull-off areas that offer dramatic views of the river and surrounding countryside. If you're a cycling enthusiast, the Parkway offers an ideal afternoon ride.
5 Royal Canadian Mint
Take a tour of the Royal Canadian Mint to see the fascinating coin-making process. The Mint not only makes coins for Canada, it actually produces coins for countries around the world. Along with currency, the mint makes medals, collector coins (which are individually inspected to assure quality!), and jewelry. (613-993-8990)
4 Papanack Park Zoo
Well-known for their success with breeding snow leopards and for having the third largest collection of lemurs in North America, this family-owned-and-operated zoo's other claim to fame is as the source of many of the animals on the popular Kratt Brothers public television show, Zooboomafoo. Aside from snow leopards and lemurs, some of the critters you can see here include white lions, wolves, llamas, hyenas, Siberian tigers, black bears, hedgehogs and cougars. (613-673-7275)
3 Lady Dive Tours
Take a fun narrated tour on an amphibious vehicle, the Lady Dive Amphibus. First, the tour passes some of the capital city's most historic landmarks; then it drives right into the water for a look at the city from a different vantage point. The company also operates hop on-hop off double-decker bus and trolley tours. (613-524-2221, 613-223-6211)
2 Haunted Walks Inc.
Scare yourself silly on one of these fun walking tours! There are four different ones available: Ghosts and the Gallows, Crime & Punishment Jail Tours (at the old Carleton County Jail, now the HI — Ottawa Jail Hostel), The Original Haunted Walk and The Naughty Ottawa Pub Walk. Haunted stops might include Bytown Museum, the Fairmont Château Laurier and Friday's Roast Beef House. Tours last around 90 minutes, and both English and French tours are offered. (613-232-0344)
1 Fairmont Château Laurier
As is the case with most of Canada's grand hotels, the Fairmont Chateau Laurier was constructed during the country's railroading heyday. It was commissioned by Charles Melville Hays with the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway (who, incidentally, perished in the Titanic disaster before the hotel opened). Today, the historic property is a lovely alternative to the big, rather anonymous tower hotels. All the modern conveniences have been added (high-speed Internet, coffeemakers, min-bars, cordless phones and the like), and the on-site restaurant is a winner. Event space for 800. 429 rooms and suites. (613-241-1414)