Let's talk about biking in Ottawa!
I'm so excited to bring you this interview with my fellow Ottawa resident and travel lover Maria, founder of Escape Bicycle Tours and Rentals.
As many of you know, I'm an anti-adventurist. And sometimes I even get a bit nervous about bike tours, though years of experience have taught me that once I get going, I love them. In case you need a little extra encouragement like me or you just want to see all the incredible opportunities that exist for biking in Ottawa, this special interview is for you!
What makes Ottawa a great city to explore on bike?
Name any of Ottawa’s landmarks or your favorite spot in the city and I will take you there safely on bike!
Ottawa has the perfect mix of nature and urban atmosphere. Ottawa is not only a very flat city, which makes it easy to cycle around, the city has also been investing in cycling infrastructure for the last 10 years. In fact, Ottawa is becoming one of the leading cycling cities in Canada.
Several new bridges have been built to improve connectivity, new bike paths have been developed, the city has adopted special cycling signals in different parts of the city and is implementing several intersections in the Dutch style, i.e. with cyclists away from motorized traffic. Combined with the NCC pathways and the Gatineau Park, the region offers hundreds of kilometers of safe cycling away from traffic. Through biking in Ottawa, it is entirely possible to see many of the important sites such as Parliament Hill, the Museum of History, the War Museum, the Ottawa River, the Rideau Canal and Rideau Hall without ever having to share the road with traffic.
These investments pay off: Ottawa sees cycling tourism from as far as Germany, the Netherlands and even someone from Uruguay. Our company has seen the increased demand that this year, we have launched and will offer Ottawa’s first ever multi-day bike tour packages for cycling tourism.
Memorable meals and cozy adventures top our list of the best Ottawa staycation activities for couples.
If you were going to celebrate a special wedding anniversary, where would you go?
If you answered that you'd stay at home, you're exactly on our wavelength! We knew that an Ottawa staycation was the perfect way to celebrate our August wedding anniversary - and not just because international travel opportunities are limited at the moment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Planning a cozy couple's staycation meant that we could spend more time exploring, less time driving, and we could easily work all activities around our existing schedule. It would also allow us to tackle our neglected summer adventure bucket list, soak in the last of the August sunshine before autumn rolls in, and brush up on our local knowledge (which always seems to be lacking when we host out-of-town visitors).
Despite a nearly endless list of things we could possibly see and do in Ottawa, it didn't take long to decide on a plan that was very "us". We'd be exploring all things cozy, mixing and matching some old favourites with some very new experiences. This is what made our romantic Ottawa staycation itinerary perfect for us.
With Ottawa's newest savings passport, there's never been a better time to discover local businesses.
Ottawa's newest local savings passport is turning things around for travel-crazy locals eager to get a taste of summer vacation fun - as well as for small businesses eager to rebound from COVID-19.
We're definitely among those who are craving travel like never before but we know that, undoubtedly, the best thing for us, our community, and the destinations we hope to visit one day, is to stay close to home. That means it's staycation time! We've been trying to support different local businesses every week and, as long term readers can probably guess, food takes a starring role for us. #MyOttawaPass is helping us discover new spots, reconnect with old favourites, and save a bit along the way.
Anyone can access #MyOttawaPass for FREE. You can find the simple sign up form here, as well as a list of all the participating businesses. Hotels, spas, retail stores, tour operators, cafes, restaurants, and specialty food shops are all participating in this virtual program.
With the pass ready on our phones, we headed out to explore two special spots.
We have 21 suggestions for Ottawa travellers to discover the city's cozy side, one microadventure at a time.
I am not adventurous. Nope, not one bit. Sure, I talk a good game and occasionally do things which other people might consider a bit daunting, like walking across Victoria Falls Bridge or kayaking in the Saguenay Fjord, but I think we all know the truth. Deep down, I'll always be the girl who caused a commotion in the Athens Meat Market and braced for an attack from non-existent wild pigs in Hawaii. I'm scared of adventure and (...I like to think...) adventure is a bit scared of me. However, a conversation with a friend has completely re-framed things for me. I've been introduced to the world of microadventures!
The phrase microadventure has been popularized by Alastair Humphreys in his book Microadventures: Local Discoveries for Great Escapes. The book describes a microadventure as something "close to home, cheap, simple, short and 100% guaranteed to refresh your life. A microadventure takes the spirit of a big adventure and squeezes it into a day or even a few hours."
Hang on a second. That sounds like what I do. That sounds like what I do ALL. THE. TIME. I like things that are cheap, simple, short, and refreshing (aka COZY things!). Could it be that I've been an adventurer - and a trendy adventurer at that! - all along? Since the spirit of Humphrey's microadventures focus on this close to home, here are my favourite microadventures to recommend to Ottawa travellers.
In Perth, Ontario, restaurants don't just take the cake. They also make the pie!
The community of Perth, Ontario is just a short, one hour drive from my home in Ottawa but it's in a class all of its own when it comes to food. The handsome, historic town of 6,000 boasts a long list of restaurants, bakeries, pubs, and cafes tucked into the fetching limestone buildings of its downtown core. Always one to eagerly form neighborly bonds, I set out to Perth with two friends, a pair of stretchy pants, and a cooler in the trunk of the car to keep any perishable purchases preserved. While many foodie quests begin with savory appetizers and conclude with dessert, this trip would be happening in reverse. At the very top of my list was a visit to the Perth Pie Co's new headquarters, a delicious pilgrimage I'll be making again and again. If you're in search of Perth, Ontario, restaurants, I hope you'll follow in my footsteps for at least part of your quest, as my experience was absolutely delicious!
I'm playing detective and discovering new things to do in and around Ottawa.
When the cat is away, the mouse will play... or something like that! This week, Ryan is traveling to warmer shores to do something I would never be brave enough for (okay, he's on a cruise - but that's a boat and we all know that boats top my list of travel enemies. So the bravery comment stands). Regardless, it's good motivation for me to plan my own amazing staycation. And it's even better that it's happening during Ottawa's festive Winterlude season.
Ottawa is a wonderful winter travel destination and it's the perfect place for a February vacation or staycation. But, I must admit, skating and other outdoor activities aren't always my strong suit. But that's not going to stop me from having a memorable time in my hometown! You don't have to strap on some skates to join in my staycation plan. Here's what's making me love Ottawa lately.
PS Canadian readers, we have a special giveaway for you at the end!
The Jigsaw Escape Room in Ottawa's Byward Market was my latest test of nerve!
Let's hear it for all the wimpy travelers! I'm an anti-adventurist, through and through. I'm not bold nor daring. I can't handle the wild side of life and things that are seemingly innocuous to the average traveler, say, like visiting a butcher shop or taking a fast boat ride, carry the same heart pounding intensity for me as, say, naked bungee jumping does for all the other travel writers. This is important background information for, as a true anti-adventurist, I would normally never find myself in such an unpredictable and devil-may-care situation as visiting an Escape Room, but I was under the influence. The influence of two nefarious friends that is, Sandy from Canadian Blog House and Ann from Kickass Living. With these devious women acting as a corrupting influence, I threw caution to the wind and entered an Escape Room for the first time.
Here's how to mix business with pleasure in Canada's capital city.
Millions of people travel to Ottawa each year on business. Politics, law, high tech, conferences, universities - some trips last just a few hours, while others go on for a week or more. But even if you're on a tight schedule, Ottawa offers plenty of attractions and amenities for business travelers to enjoy. So whether you have a day or even just an hour to spare, make sure to visit some of the city's best attractions before you leave - and check out our insider tips that will have you getting around town like a true local!
Canada's most ambitious landscape art project takes several heartwarming turns in Gatineau.
A prairie buffalo looks up from his meal of tender grass shoots, looking calm and serene despite the heat of the day and the thickness of his woolly coat. He's perfectly at ease and utterly unperturbed by the proximity of a nearby polar bear, whose sleek, silvery-white fur glistens in the sun. An enormous, stately inuksuk stands between them and presides over their affairs.
Anywhere else, this would be a most curious trio but in downtown Gatineau, Quebec, they couldn't be more at home, for the buffalo, the polar bear, and the inuksuk are made entirely of plants, the latest spectacle from Montreal's innovative landscape art company, Mosaicultures. And in their most ambitious project yet, "MosaiCanada", Gatineau's waterfront Jacques Cartier Park is transformed into "a beautiful historical bouquet" for Canada's 150th anniversary.
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