Here’s what I noticed about Ottawa in December: It’s colder than Toronto. But Torontonian’s aren’t known for their hardy winter endurance. We were, after all, the laughing stock of the nation, after one particularly bad snowstorm. The then-Mayor, called in the army to help dig the city out, and the rest of the country laughed. Out loud. To our faces. But cold is cold, and Ottawa is colder than Toronto. It just is.
That doesn’t mean Ottawa, Canada’s capital, should be avoided in the winter season.
Ottawa, a city with a population of just over 880,00 people, is filled with history, museums, exhibits, architectural gems, restaurants, spas, skating, shopping and fun-filled activities to keep you returning time after time. Year-round.
Sure, it may be chilly, but with so much to do and fewer crowds to contend with, winter is a perfect time for a getaway to the nation’s capital.
Here are five reasons to visit Ottawa right now:
Christmas Lights Across Canada
The 31st edition of Christmas Lights Across Canada was launched on December 2, 2015, with the official illumination ceremony on Parliament Hill. Thousands gathered, as they do each year, for this annual ceremony. Every year, as part of Christmas Lights Across Canada, each province and territory decorates its capital city and holds its own lighting ceremony, contributing to the nationwide effort. Lights Across Canada illuminates the Capital until January 7, 2016.
Le Nordik Nature Spa
Located in Chelsea, Québec, an easy 15-20 minute drive from Ottawa’s city-center, Le Nordik Nature Spa is North America’s largest spa. It offers 45,000 square feet of relaxing interior space and more than 100,000 square feet outside. Our orientation to the property, which is surrounded by trees and rocks, included the recommended spa routine: 15-20 minutes of heat in one of several outdoor saunas or hot pools (which we did), followed by 30 seconds in a cold plunge pool (which we didn't). Repeat and relax in a nearby warm cabin. There’s an infinity pool with panoramic views over the city and the salt-water floating pool is a must.
Take a Short Course at Le Cordon Bleu
Learn to cook like a pro! Make pasta, sauces, chocolate creations or bake. If you’ve had one too many knife accidents in the kitchen, the demo on proper knife skills is for you. Do it all at the world’s leading cooking institution. Ottawa, is where you’ll find Canada's only Le Cordon Bleu satellite school. Choose from a demonstration, which lasts approximately two hours, or a combination of demo and hands-on practice. The latter is approximately four hours. Be sure to take along containers to bring your goodies home. There will be plenty of them. I seriously can’t think of anything more ‘homey’ to do on a cold winter day, than to surround the senses with warm deliciousness. If it was good enough for Julia Child…
Learn About Vikings
Challenge your assumptions about ancient Scandinavians. Vikings, redefines what we know about this mythical period in Scandinavia. It features more than 500 ancient artifacts on loan from the Swedish History Museum. Many of the pieces on display have rarely been displayed outside Scandinavia. Vikings is at the Canadian History Museum, and runs until April 17, 2016.
Discover Amazing Women
Through artifacts, images, audiovisual material, oral history and text, World War Women, at the Canadian War Museum, delves into the personal stories of the women associated with these materials. It is organized in stand-alone thematic zones, each devoted to an element of the wars that particularly involved and affected women. The contributions made by women to the Canadian war efforts were crucial, and their experiences forged a new understanding of women’s capabilities both within themselves and within society. It’s touching, moving and deeply personal. Don’t miss it. World War Women is on now and runs until April 3, 2016
(photos courtesy of Ottawa Tourist, Le Cordon Bleu)