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Great Ottawa patios

19 Mar

Unbelievably, summer has sprung early in Ottawa. Not just timid spring but full-on, t-shirt-wearing, outdoor-dining summer! The next few days will be solidly in the 20s Celsius (that’s 70s Fahrenheit) so we thought we’d celebrate with a list of some of Ottawa’s greatest patios (NOTE: we can’t guarantee they’ll all be open this week but clip and save for future reference!).

BYWARD MARKET NEIGHBOURHOOD

This is patio central. If there’s a stretch of sidewalk available in front of a restaurant, there will be a patio. Some favourites?

Romantic: The back patio at Murray Street Kitchen Wine Charcuterie is a slice of heaven. It’s sheltered from the street with interesting art and it becomes progressively shadier as the summer progresses (grapevines gradually fill in the overhangs). The Black Thorn Café on Clarence Street has a front patio that’s nice, but walk into the cobblestone courtyard and you’ll find their spacious back patio overlooks a sprightly fountain (in summer), some greenspace and the tin façade of a house mounted on the imposing stone walls of the Sussex Drive buildings.

Social: Still romantic but a bit more social are the four restaurants that share the Clarendon Courtyard behind the shops on Sussex Drive between George Street and York Street. Fine dining awaits at the hip Social, the musically diverse Black Tomato, the inventive Courtyard Restaurant and the old-school Italian Mamma Grazzi’s Kitchen.

The Cornerstone's location means it gets lots of sun!

Sunniest: The Cornerstone Bar & Grill is on the southeast corner of Clarence Street and William Street and gets tons of sun. Likewise, the Earl of Sussex patio (Sussex Drive at Murray Street) benefits from a particularly sun-filled location. You can chase the sun through about 5 different outdoor locations at the Heart & Crown pub — the Irish Village complex has an interior courtyard, sidewalk locations on Clarence and Parent and upper and lower decks overlooking Murray Street.

Best People-Watching: The Aulde Dubliner and Pour House at George Street and the William Street Mall give you a great look at the action in the neighbourhood — the Pour House in particular as it’s on the second floor (use it to gauge how long the lineup is at the nearby BeaverTails stand!). At the same corner, you can indulge in pizzas and pastas from The Grand Pizzeria and Bar while watching the world walk by. Meanwhile, Luxe Bistro at the corner of York Street and ByWard Market Square — and the Empire Grill at Clarence and Parent — are both prime people-watching spots, too.

Rooftops: You’ll love the music at the Hard Rock Café on York Street and the views from the roof of Stella Osteria on Clarence Street are impressive, too!

OTHER NEIGHBOURHOODS

Elgin Street is another great nightlife area, and the patio at D’Arcy McGee’s won’t disappoint, with its million-dollar views of the National War Memorial, Fairmont Château Laurier, National Arts Centre and more. Speaking of the National Arts Centre, their Le Café dining room overlooks the Rideau Canal — perfect for a summer’s evening!

Chinatown is not known for its patios, which makes ZenKitchen‘s that much more enticing.

On Preston Street (Ottawa’s Little Italy), you can whet your whistle at another branch of the Heart & Crown or at Pub Italia — yes, an Italian-themed pub!

The New Edinburgh neighbourhood boosts a huge rooftop at the aptly-named New Edinburgh Pub or you could explore some locally brewed beers at the Clocktower Brew Pub (note: the beers are brewed at the location in the Glebe neighbourhood, which also sports a patio).

Speaking of brewpubs, you could also check out the newly opened Mill Street Brewpub just west of downtown near the Canadian War Museum or venture over to the wonderful Brasseurs du temps in Gatineau, Québec.

Wherever you go, you’ll find a welcoming patio! Share your favourites below in the Comments.

Beautiful Winterlude fireworks!

6 Feb

Check out the brilliant display of fireworks at the opening ceremonies for the annual Winterlude festival in Ottawa and Canada’s capital region! The video was shot on Friday, February 3, 2012, from just outside the Canadian Museum of Civilization, looking at the Alexandra Bridge, the glass towers of the National Gallery of Canada, the castle-like Fairmont Château Laurier, and the Gothic spires of the Canadian Parliament Buildings.

Enjoy! Winterlude continues until February 20, 2012.

Ottawa Tourism and Roots Canada – a great partnership and a great contest!

16 Jan

Put on your Roots gear and head to the Rideau Canal Skateway in Ottawa!

Ottawa Tourism and Roots Canada have paired up to encourage Canadians to explore the joys of winter. Visitors to Roots outlets across Canada can enter the Let’s Go Outside! contest until February 14, 2012 and have a chance to win a 4-night trip to Ottawa! You can also enter the contest online.

The prize package includes:

The partnership was launched at a media event in early January 2012 at the Roots flagship store at 100 Bloor Street West in Toronto, with assistance from Savvy Company (who sourced Savour Ottawa cheeses and Ontario wines), Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa (who provided delicious macarons for dessert and some door prizes) and Ontario Tourism. Thanks to all who attended!

Ice skating at Rideau Hall

10 Jan

When y0u think of ice skating in Ottawa, you probably think of the famous Rideau Canal Skateway, snaking 7.8 km (4.8 miles) through downtown, or maybe you’re already dreaming of skating on the Rink of Dreams, that will open later this month in front of City Hall. Or maybe you learned to skate or play shinny (hockey) on one of the 247 (yes, 247!) outdoor rinks in City of Ottawa parks.

But were you aware of the historic outdoor rink at Rideau Hall, the home and workplace of every one of Canada’s Governors General since Confederation? (The Governor General is Queen Elizabeth II’s representative in Canada.)

Built in 1872 by Lord Dufferin (Governor General at the time), the rink offers free public skating on Saturdays and Sundays from January 6 to March 11, 2012 as long as the weather cooperates! Groups of 20 people or more can also reserve certain times throughout the week and that’s just what a group of Ottawa Tourism staff and friends did recently. See the video below!

Chris Robinson Travel Show features Ottawa Dec. 24

21 Dec

If you’re in the Toronto area, tune in to NewsTalk 1010 from 10:00 to 11:00am on Saturday, December 24 for the Chris Robinson Travel Show‘s feature on Ottawa.

You’ll learn more about the plans for Winterlude and other winter celebrations, post-Christmas shopping options, relaxing at Holtz Spa, staying at the Fairmont Château Laurier, dining at Le Cordon Bleu Bistro @ Signatures, visiting the National Gallery of Canada and the Canada Aviation & Space Museum and more!

To whet your appetite, check out the video at the bottom of Chris Robinson’s homepage: http://www.chrisrobinsontravelshow.ca/

 

New Year’s Eve in Ottawa

13 Dec

Are you spending New Year’s Eve in Ottawa this year? Check below for some options to ring in 2012 in style!

Enjoy dinner at Le Café within the National Arts Centre before catching the Blue Man Group this New Year's Eve!

At the National Arts Centre, you can spend New Year’s Eve with the Blue Man Group, followed by a post-show party in the lobby. Tickets range from $55 to $135 before taxes and charges. To really splurge, sign up for the pre-show dinner at Le Café. It’s a 3-course meal with coffee, tea, and live music for $69.95 per person (plus tax and gratuity).  NOTE: Dinner tickets are only available upon purchase of show tickets.

Across the Rideau Canal from the National Arts Centre, you can celebrate the arrival of 2012 at the sexy Ottawa Convention Centre. Called Dancing in the Stars, tickets are $159 per person and include a 4-course gourment dinner with wine, champagne toast at midnight, the soul funk disco sounds of the Hammerhead and two trips available to be won.

The brand new CE Centre near the Ottawa International Airport is marking New Year’s Eve with a gala event called Timeless 2012. $50 for the party, $125 for gourmet dinner and party.

If you really want to maximize the glitz factor, consider dinner and a show at the Casino du Lac-Leamy where you can groove to the funky beats of rhythm ‘n’ blues at the Esquire Show Bar revue. Starting at 8pm, tickets are $211.22 per person (which includes tax but not service and gratuities) .

In Ottawa’s Little Italy neighbourhood — also known as Preston Street — the Sala San Marco is dishing up a gourmet, black-tie optional evening for its guests. Tickets are $150 for adults, $95 for children 12 and under. The event has sold out for the last two years and features a 40-foot midnight buffet table, party favours, a photo booth and a 12-piece band!

In the Kanata neighbourhood, you can welcome in 2012 at the contemporary Brookstreet, with a five-course dining experience with live music, from $99.95 per person.

If you just want to dance your way into the new year, consider Zaphod Beeblebrox in the ByWard Market neighbourhood. A $10 cover fee gets you in to hear some great music and maybe try a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster to celebrate!

Winterlude is just around the corner!

6 Dec

Ottawans love to skate on the frozen Rideau Canal Skateway each winter.

The snow has started to fall in Ottawa and thoughts are turning to Christmas, the holidays and the whole winter season!

This winter marks the 42nd season of organized ice skating on the frozen Rideau Canal Skateway. The Canal snakes 7.8 km (4.8 miles) through downtown Ottawa— kids skate to school, people skate to work! It’s the equivalent in size to 90 Olympic-sized ice rinks, giving it the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest naturally frozen skating rink.

It takes several consecutive days of -15° Celsius (-5° Fahrenheit) or colder temperatures to ensure that the ice is at least a foot thick. That’s when the National Capital Commission deems it safe enough to open to the public — usually in late December or early January.

Skating on the Rideau Canal is the centrepiece activity of Winterlude, the capital region’s annual celebration of all things winter. The event takes place February 3 to 20, 2012.

Most activities are held on the weekends— learn-to-skate clinics, a hockey tournament, a winter triathlon, children’s entertainment—but the ice sculptures, skating on the Rideau Canal and the Snowflake Kingdom children’s snow playground are offered during the week as well (except Tuesday and Wednesday for Snowflake Kingdom). Best of all, most activities are free!

Foodies will love Taste of Winterlude, which runs from January 26 through February 20. Some of the capital’s best local restaurants create unique culinary events—wine and food pairings, chef demonstrations, walkabout winter feasts and more.

Book your visit to Ottawa with the Winterlude Rendezvous for Two package or the Winterlude Family Getaway! And don’t forget, participating Ottawa-area hotels are offering Third Night Free for travel until March 31, 2012.