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Exploring Ottawa’s Untapped Treasures – 10 Hidden Gems to Discover in the Capital City

Published: February 28, 2023
Last updated: March 3, 2023

Rideau falls, just off Sussex looks amazing all lit up. Source

Ottawa is one of the world’s most beautiful capitals and home to some of Canada’s top attractions. But what do the locals like to keep secret? If you are looking for something special that only a few know about, here are ten hidden gems in the capital city that you will have to explore!

From historical treasures to unheard-of scenic views, these unique locations will help you discover the lesser known side of Ottawa. Let’s ride into the hidden gems of Ottawa to explore some of its best-kept secrets.

Ottawa’s Tulip Festival can commonly be seen in May and early June. Source

1-3: Gardens of Ottawa

Known for a vibrant seasonal tulip display in May, Ottawa’s gardens demonstrate this city’s natural beauty. These picturesque gardens are truly breathtaking, from the World’s Largest Tulip Festival across (1) Major’s Hill Park to the stunning vistas of the nearby (2) Dominion Arboretum

While most people go to the Candian Museum of History for its amazing exhibitions or beautiful views, they may not know that there is a (3) hidden zen garden tucked away between the third and second lookouts. Check it out! It makes you feel like you are in a world of calm in the middle of the city. To learn more about Ottawa’s fabulous gardens check out Gardens Ottawa’s page

While exploring this calming zen garden, take a small walk to the bottom of the nearby Alexandra Bridge where you can rent a bike, paddleboard, kayak, or canoe and finish the day with a relaxing ride or paddle.

The Pinhey Sand Dunes are conserved with the help from several volunteers. Source

4: Ottawa’s Dessert

Only a few of us have experienced walking upon an oasis, but the (4) Pinhey Sand Dunes are just as cool! In 10 minutes, you can hike this 0.8-kilometer trail through a thick forest and stumble upon a miniature desert. Formed 10,000 years ago, this field of sand dunes will reach summertime surface temperatures of 60°C to 72°C. In an Ottawa climate known for reaching -40°C, this anomaly is one that few know about and many should visit.

You are able to walk straight up to the Princess Louise Falls. Source

5-7: Stunning Waterfalls

Ottawa, the capital of Canada, has no shortage of beautiful waterfalls that captivate local attention. Grab a camera and explore the breathtaking scenic wonder of the (5) Rideau Falls (the first picture in the blog) and (6) Hog’s Back Falls that lace the inner city. But for a proper photo opportunity, take the drive and a short walk to (7) Princess Louise Falls. This waterfall descends from a small creek with its water flowing over smooth sheet rock; it’s one photo opportunity no one should miss.​​

Ruins of both the former British and Canadian Parliament Buildings can be found across the property. Source

8: Parliament Building Ruins

If you’re still getting familiar with Canadian history, William Mackenzie King was the country’s longest-serving and highest-rated prime minister. Take a trip back in time and visit the former leader’s summer property, which he took 50 years to perfect! (8) The Mackenzie King Estate is beautiful, but the ruins of Canada’s first parliament building (the one that burned down) that scatter his property make it a sight to see. Located in the center of Gatineau Park, you might be curious about what to do there. This blog will help you plan the rest of your action-packed adventure.

Kettlemans is an Ottawa-based chain that is soon looking to expand across the nation. Source

9-10: Food and Unlimited Drink Choices

You can’t say you have visited Ottawa without genuinely experiencing the many culinary options! Some of the best-hidden gems for restaurants are the most minor joints on the streets, where you would never look. One of our favourites is the hand-rolled Montreal bagels that are baked in a wood oven at (9) Kettlemans, gluten-free and vegan options, or if you’re looking for the best-smoked meat in town, Kettlemans is a favourite of every local. This is one of the many stops at Escape’s Bike and Food Tour across Ottawa. You might need a drink to wash that down, and (10) Pub Italia is the right place to help. Try not to get too distracted by the pasta. Pub Italia has over 300 beers in their beer bible for you to choose from for that drink!

The best way to go and see some of those hidden gems is by bike. If you like to rent a bike in Ottawa, come and see us at Escape Tours and Rentals.

No matter what adventure you choose, Ottawa will have you covered. With several centuries’ worth of history, this city is heavily underrated and yet to be fully brought to light. New untold gems are found daily, and we hope to keep you posted on the latest and best experiences Ottawa offers!

Written by: Grant Kowalsky

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