So if you haven’t heard yet, Canada is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year and it’s quite a big deal! Across the country celebrations have been happening since the beginning of the year. The most anticipated of them being Canada Day, which happened July 1st! But if you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last few months and are just hearing about this now, don’t worry there is still time to enjoy the celebrations!
However, there is one slight problem with all this commotion going on. It’s bringing on an influx of tourists and hiking up the accommodations prices. Don’t despair, if you have budget in mind, continue reading because this is for you!
Budget is always my biggest concern when traveling. It’s simple; I want to travel as much as I can, for as long as I can! That’s why I love finding cheap things to do in order to help balance out the activities cost from my daily budget. Here are some awesome ideas of free things to do on your next trip to Ottawa!
A trip to Ottawa is never complete without the totally embarrassing tourist selfie in front of the Parliament of Canada. A gothic revival style building, the Parliament building sits atop the hill, in front of the Ottawa River.
Free guided tours are offered year round and are a duration of 20 to 50 minutes. The tour will take you around Center Block, the main building of the Parliament of Canada. Depending on the day’s parliamentary activities, you can normally see the Senate, House of Commons and the Library. Last but not least, make sure to take the elevator up the Peace Tower to get an awesome 360 view of the city!
During specified summer months you can come watch the Northern Lights show in evenings. A light projection on the facade of the Center Block depicting stories typically about Canada's history. Bring the kids to this event, they will love it!!
Nestled between the Parliament of Canada and the Chateau Laurier in Centretown Ottawa, The Locks of the Rideau Canal are a designated World Heritage Site. Eight flights of lock impressively open up to the Ottawa River to let boats onto the canal.
You can walk across the locks (be careful!) and enjoy stunning views of the Parliament, Chateau Laurier, Major’s hill Park and the city of Gatineau across the river. Walking and biking trails also line the riverside, with rest areas to observe the Canada geese dipping their toes in the water. You will also find here the Bytown Museum, the oldest building in Ottawa, dating from 1827!
Major’s Hill Park
Major’s Hill Park is a great rest area when you’ve been doing a lot of walking around, visiting sites and enjoying what the city has to bring. With plenty of space to throw a Frisbee or football around, people enjoy coming here to hangout, have a picnic or simply rest.
Interpretation signs are located along the path explaining the history of the park. Make sure you have your camera with you because you will find the best views of Parliament Hill along the west side of the park!
This district located to the east of Major’s Hill Park is home to hundreds of shops and restaurants for all tastes. Walking around here, summer like winter, you will find great energy.
Local artisan stalls set up here to sell anything from crafts to maple syrup. You will also often find buskers and street performers of all kinds. Make sure you stop to the Beavertail shack and try one of our specialties before you go!
Some of the Ottawa museums open their doors free of charge on some evenings. The Canadian Museum of History, the Canadian War Museum, the Canadian Museum of Nature, the National Gallery of Canada and the Aviation and Space Museum all await your visit!
Check out their website for details on exact dates and times as they are different for each site.
Movie in the park
Watching a movie in the park is a great way to end your downtown tour of Ottawa! Fridays and SaturdaysChildren and adults gather at Dundonald Park (located at 512 Somerset, between Bay Street and Lyon Street).
The movies are hosted by different organizations, and a donation is appreciated in its support. The park is wheelchair accessible and children friendly, so bring all your friends!
Located right off Bank Street, Lansdowne is easily accessible from any downtown area, whether you’re coming by car, bus or foot. Come for the Ottawa Farmers’ Market on Sundays (year-round) to have a look at the local creations and maybe buy some local food for a bite to eat!
Plenty of shops and restaurants to fit everyone’s tastes, if you don’t find what you’re looking for, venture out into the posh Glebe area for cutesy little shops and great restaurants. A park for children is also on site, as well as the football stadium for the RedBlacks!
Last but not least, Lansdowne hosts multiple festival and events throughout the year for the community. Check out their website to see what’s happening while you’re here!
Bank Street murals
Take a walk down Bank Street to enjoy a multitude of murals along the way. Walking from downtown to Old Ottawa South, or vice versa, you will be able to witness the incredible talent of these artists standing tall on buildings along the way!
Bank Street is also lined with loads of cute little shops and restaurants perfect for some window-shopping or to grab a bite and drink.
Do you have any suggestions that could be added to this list? What else do you enjoy doing for free in downtown Ottawa?
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