Ottawa, Ontario is much more than free museums (some days), the National Art Gallery and Parliament. Besides, who wants to visit Canada’s capital and relive their eighth grade class trip? Nobody. Ottawa has a booming music scene, delicious cuisine and some great boutique shopping. With festivals like Bluesfest (not really a blues fest), Ribfest (really is a ribs fest) and Ottawa Fringe, summer is a prime time to visit the city. But, don’t get festival fever—there is so much to do in these few precious weeks left with our favourite season.
From attending free salsa classes at City Hall, glamping in a national park and shopping in one of Canada’s most historic markets, there are countless options in and around the 613. To help you decide, FLARE has pulled together this list of ten—er, eleven (surprise bonus!)—things to do in Ottawa that will shake up your summer.
So, what are you waiting for? Go out and explore. Though don’t forget to tweet @FLAREfashion your #SummerintheCity photos for a chance to have them featured in our end of summer photo roundup.
To enjoy the taste of France, look no further than Métropolitain Brasserie on Sussex. The perfect stop after a show at the National Art Centre, or salsa dancing at City Hall, Métropolitain offers an authentic Parisian-style dining experience. Start with the pan-seared Quebec foie gras before moving on to the duck confit, served with sweet potato fries, curry mayo and peach chutney.
Address: 700 Sussex Drive, Ottawa
Every Wednesday evening (at 5 p.m.), during July and August, there are free salsa classes being offered at City Hall. Created by Latin dance academies, Azucar! and Salsa Force, the classes are meant to engage Ottawans with Latin dance while promoting physical activity. So why sit on a patio getting bloated when you can work up a sweat in free salsa classes?
Address: 110 Laurier Avenue West, Ottawa
3) Shops of Sussex
Serving Ottawa its dose of handpicked mid-range goods for seven years now, Trustfund is known for stocking the closets of style-minded girls across the nation’s capital. The store’s collection includes Marc by Marc Jacobs, Paige and Hudson—just to name a few. A few doors down, Schad offers shoppers picks from more than thirty designers including G-Star, Mackage and Zadig et Voltaire.
Select a piece from the fine millinery available at Frou Frou then step into a beader’s paradise, The Sassy Bead Company. Nestled on a side street in the ByWard Market, this shop is stocked (from floor to ceiling) with beads displayed on just about every surface possible. Grab a beading tray from the front counter and start putting together your next accessory.
Address: 11 William Street, Ottawa
5) Fernando Cellini
Founded by two of the city’s leading stylists, the salon offers guests an array of services from chic cuts to men’s grooming to colour work. The go-to hair salon for Ottawa’s premier modeling agency, AMTI, Fernando Cellini has styled some of the city’s finest over the years. Renowned for its team of skilled colourists, this is the salon to visit when looking for the best dye-job in town.
Address: 31 Murray Street, Ottawa
6) Holtz Spa
Hidden above the Chapters/Indigo at the corner of Sussex and Rideau is the Holtz Spa. Drop by for a French manicure ($55) and pedicure ($85), or splurge and indulge in the Holtz Supreme Day at the Spa package for $385. The package includes an essential oil treatment, massage, mani/pedi and a hot stone foot massage. As part of the pampering, Holtz also caters in lunch from Sante Restaurant to serve in its Orchid Lounge.
Address: 45 Rideau Street, Ottawa
7) Chez Lucien
Chez Lucien’s charming saloon-like setting has won itself a place among Ottawa’s most popular restaurants. Found on the edge of the ByWard Market at the corner of Dalhousie, this is one restaurant everyone should experience, even though it might be hard to find a table. With an assortment of craft beers and delicious appetizers on the menu, start with the escargot à la garlic butter (or brie in a philo pastry) before moving on to the L’hambourgeoisie (Bourgeois) burger.
Address: 137 Murray Street, Ottawa
8) Shops of The Market
Just minutes from Chez Lucien are some of Ottawa’s best-kept secrets: The boutiques that line Dalhousie and fill the Market. Drop by Milk, near the Beavertails hut, and experience a true Ottawa boutique. Run by two sisters, Mais and Inaas Kiryakos, Milk has been selling accessories and apparel to style savants across Ottawa since 2005. After leaving Milk, walk over to Victoire on Dalhousie and see why this boutique has been reshaping Dalhousie’s fashion landscape for nearly a decade.
Most people have heard of it, but fewer have dared to actually try it. That’s right, glamping. (Or for those of you still unsure, glamour-camping.) Surprisingly, this trendy evolution of camping has been offered by Canada’s national parks for six years now—some since before glamping even took to popular culture. So go on and book a Huttopia tent, or a yurt, at Quebec’s Parc national de Plaisance (just 45 minutes east of Ottawa). Don’t forget to pack those Louboutin flats: The lowlands are filled with ponds and marshes, so stilettos might not be the best option.
Address: 1001 Chemin des Presqu’îles, Plaisance, Quebec
10) Le Nordik
While en route back to Ottawa from a weekend of glamping in one of Canada’s national parks, it is essential that one stops at Le Nordik. Touted as the largest outdoor spa in North America, Le Nordik spans numerous acres in the small Quebec town of Chelsea. Only a short ten minute drive from downtown Ottawa, the property has seven outdoor baths, seven saunas, an infinity pool, a restaurant and lounge. During summer the spa holds Lounge Thursday each month, offering guests the opportunity to experience nordic baths, a live DJ, relaxation and more (for only $54).
Address: 16 Chemin Nordik, Chelsea, Quebec
BONUS: 11) Ottawa Fashion Week
Yes, this list was only supposed to include 10 items…but what would summer in Ottawa be without a little fashion week madness? For the first time since it was created years ago, Ottawa Fashion Week will be crossing the river to present the collections at Casino Lac Leamy in Gatineau, Quebec. Just minutes away from downtown, OFW is the perfect opportunity to catch a glimpse of emerging Ottawa designers.
Address: September 13-15, 1 Boulevard du Casino, Gatineau, Quebec