Ottawa and Montreal

Jul 10th, 2012, 12:50 PM
Original Poster
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Ottawa and Montreal

My husband and I are considering a trip to Ottawa and Montreal in August or September with our one year old son. What are some must-see/must-do activities in either city? Does anyone have any hotel and restaurant recommendations (or, just as importantly, places to avoid)?

We have about a week of travel time, and would be driving from our home in Western NY (about 5 hours from Ottawa and 6 from Montreal). Does one city deserve more time than the other?

Thanks in advance!
Danielle811 is offline  
Jul 10th, 2012, 05:13 PM
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We've been to Ottawa once and Montreal many times. Ottawa is a very pleasant, scenic city with the best museums in Canada. The downtown is clean, safe and somewhat sterile. Byward market is the city's liveliest area, with lots of cafes, shops and restaurants. The must do's that I can recall are the museums, the changing of the guard, and the great bicycling trails. We stayed at a very nice b&b in the Sandy Hill neighborhood.
Montreal is considerably larger, a melting pot of many cultures but with a strong French influence. The biggest attraction for us to Montreal is the French and international culture found in the dining, shopping and just strolling and biking the city. In the warm seasons there is always some kind of festival going on. Notre Dame, the Botanical Gardens, the Old City and waterfront, and the Plateau area cafe/restaurant scene are the things not to be missed. As for places to stay, Old Montreal is the most picturesque and tourisy, the downtown is the business and shopping mecca where the big chain hotels are. The Plateu is sprinkled with fun, inexpensive b&b's. Montreal is a fairly safe city, but the one area I might want to avoid for lodging is the St. Catherine area between St. Laurent & St. Denis as it's a bit seedy. However, above St. Catherine, both St. Denis and St. Laurent are two of the most interesting streets in Montreal.
In my opinion, Montreal would deserve more time than Ottawa, but they are both wonderful places. I think Ottawa & Montreal are more than an hour apart.
zootsi is offline  
Jul 11th, 2012, 07:36 AM
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Zootsi summarized what would also be my recommendations very nicely. We visit Ottawa quite frequently and yes, the Museums and the Byward Market are top attractions. We particularly enjoy the Canadian Museum of Nature, the Museum of Civilation and the National Gallery. The Canadian Parliament Buildings are quite stunning with their Neo-Gothic architecture and setting on a high Bluff overlooking the Ottawa River. Tours are popular but may not be appealing with a one year old. For a change of pace, the relatively short drive across the river into Quebec to visit huge Gatineau Park is very pleasant - there are wonderful scenic outlooks on the high bluffs at the "top" of the park as well as picnic areas and nature trails. The adjacent Village of Wakefield with its historic covered bridge and scattering of cafes and small shops can also be a pleasant diversion.

We always stay in one of the many Suite hotels which are spacious (which we appreciate) and many are located in the downtown area allowing us to leave our car in the garage and walk to most of the attractions. Albert at Bay, Minto Suites, Residence Inn are a few examples.

Montreal we visit every 2 or 3 years. In addition to the attractions mentioned by Zootsi, our grandkids really enjoyed the Biodome with us a few years ago (adjacent to the very nice Botanical Gardens) although they were a little older than your one year old. On a separate visit without kids we enjoyed the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Old Montreal is charming and bustling. Montreal dining is fabulous.
mat54 is offline  
Jul 12th, 2012, 05:39 AM
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Marking so I remember to come back when I have more time.
johnnyomalley is offline  
Jul 13th, 2012, 01:32 PM
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Traveling with a one-year-old may influence your activity options but Ottawa has many wonderful things to see and do. If you are wanting a real Canadian experience then try to go before the Changing of the Guard is over. As well as the above mentioned Gallery and Museums, there is a Science and Technology Museum that caters to children though one is still a little young. There are trains to climb on and other fun stuff.

As well, there are two boat tours available: The Rideau Canal which is a UNESCO attraction, and another on the Ottawa River. Both have tickets available at confederation Square in the city centre.

The canal has lovely paths along both sides and you could rent bikes (and I think a child's pull along)there as well (under the bridge by the conference centre)

The Byward Market is my favourite place to wander around, from Sussex with its galleries to the farmers markets in the middle and lots of shops, restaurants and patios.

Elgin Street is also lively in the evenings with restaurants and bars but usually not rowdy.

Ottawa is a very safe and has a compact centre so easy to walk around. I would not describe it as sterile but it is clean with many beautiful historic buildings. The area of the hotels mentioned is where most government building are so quiet in the evenings but not touristy but well within walking distance (5 blocks). If you can afford it I would stay at The Weston which is ideal and much more central. There is also a Novatel and Holiday Inn, with one block from the centre but I cannot speak to the quality of them.
MsLizzy is offline  
Jul 13th, 2012, 01:45 PM
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BTW - Montreal is 2.5 hrs drive from Ottawa.

Matt54: I love Wakefield though a good hour from Ottawa.

FYI - Have you stopped in Old Chelsea on the way there? Both are in Quebec. There are a couple of amazing restaurants there. Les Fougere and D'orlee du Bois.

Perth, (pop. 5000) an hour in the other direction (west) which has been voted prettiest town in many magazines. The surrounding area, Lanark County is well worth a daytrip out of Ottawa.
MsLizzy is offline  
Jul 16th, 2012, 07:34 AM
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Your one-year old son will enjoy the Children's Museum which is part of the Canadian Museum of Civilization across the river in Gatineau. Lots of hands-on activities for kids there.

But do take the time to visit the rest of the Museum, especially the First Nations' Hall and the Canada Hall.
laverendrye is offline  
Jul 16th, 2012, 04:18 PM
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If you have a car and GPS, you could venture towards Laval and go to centre de la nature and funtropolis
Maria_Giraldi is offline  
Jul 19th, 2012, 07:33 PM
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IMO - Ottawa is more kid friendly esp. for a one yr old.

Parliament Hill
Sound and light show every night
Carillon concert every day at 11:00am
Changing of the Guard daily (June -Aug)@10:00
Meet a Mountie

Behind Centre block on the west side is the Cats of Parliament Hill, cat sanctuary. The original occupants were the official mousers in Parliament until they were "fired" in the 60's. There is construction but there is a pathway and signage to the cat condos. If you have trouble, ask one of the Mounties.

Speaking of Mounties - the Musical Ride is not in town but you can go out to the RCMP stables and meet the horses. It's East of downtown, very close to the Aviation Museum,which has a fabulous main hall with planes suspended from the ceiling.

Not downtown but close to, there is the Agriculture Museum located on the Experimental Farm. It's a working farm in city. The animal Barns and tractors are very popular with the kids. There is also the Ice cream Festival on Aug 11th

Close to Experimental Farm is Dows Lake, there is a pathway that runs along the canal from Dows Lake to the locks. It's a nice stroll.

If you're interested in Farmers Markets - The Ottawa Farmers Market is on Sundays at Brewers Park, near Carleton University.

A bit west of downtown the War Museum, one of the halls has all sorts of jeeps and trucks and tanks.

Also heading west from downtown is Chinatown (along Somerset) There is a new Chinese arch that was a gift from China. It's stunning. Lots of good places to eat.

Where to stay. I would go with one of the Suites hotels downtown.

Food recommendations - not knowing your budget or tastes, it's hard to offer any constructive suggestions - You can check out (Anne DeBriesy used to be the restaurant reviewer for the Ottawa Citizen) or - you can search restaurants by "tag" Or Urbanspoon for
restaurant reviews.

One place that is on the don't miss it list is Art-is-in Bakery. Near Chinatown/War museum. Fabulous crossiants/pastries/breads/sandwiches

Or post some details about what you are looking for and I'll try to point you in the right direction.
johnnyomalley is offline  
Jul 19th, 2012, 07:43 PM
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oops forgot there is also the National Gallery - there is a big Van Gogh exhibit on now.

La Terrasse at the Chateau Laurier is a nice place for drinks and a light meal.The terrasse overlooks the Rideau Canal
johnnyomalley is offline  
Jul 20th, 2012, 07:39 AM
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»»You can check out (Anne DeBriesy used to be the restaurant reviewer for the Ottawa Citizen)««

As Mr O'Malley's proof reader, that would be Anne DesBrisay’s Capital Dining,
ron is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2012, 05:20 AM
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Thanks Ron, I'd give you a raise for job performance, but you know budget cuts....
johnnyomalley is offline  
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