Ottawa & Outaouais
by Laura Gelder | 11 April 2019
Ottawa and Outaouais sound so good together don’t they? They’ve often been mentioned together in the past too, but as a city - and incidentally the capital of Canada - in English-speaking Ontario, and a French-speaking region of Quebec, they were separate when it came to tourism marketing.
That was until last year when the tourism chiefs on both sides of the Ottawa River realised that international visitors don’t really recognise provincial borders.
Jantine Van Kregten, Ottawa Tourism’s Director of Communications, and Melisa Vazquez, Media Relations for Tourisme Outaouais, were in London this week meeting the trade and they had a simple goal – to extend visitor stays in their area.
And if people knew all the options available, "they would" - both women told me. The main take away is that the two destinations offer a mix of urban life and nature, but it’s too simplistic to say that Ottawa is the urban and Outaouais the nature.
It’s certainly true that Canada’s capital oozes with museums and cultural attractions, covering art, history, nature, war, science, aviation and much more, plus the opportunity to see Canada’s version of the changing of the guard on Parliament Hill in summer.
Like any great city, Ottawa is also home to a huge variety of restaurants, a thriving craft beer scene and buzzing nightlife amongst its unique neighbourhoods. These include the oldest area of the city ByWard Market, which has played host to artisans, farmers and craft workers for 200 years; Little Italy; Chinatown; and the hip Wellington West.
But Ottawa also has great parks and river walks, a fantastic network of biking, hiking and cross-country ski trails and many outfitters offering the chance to paddle on the river. In winter, visitors can skate through the city on the Rideau Canal.
Right opposite Ottawa, Outaouais' Gatineau has its own city sights, including The Canadian Museum of History which looks across to Parliament Hill and has the world's largest collection of totem poles. The city was once nicknamed Little Chicago as it hosted a thirsty Al Capone during prohibition and visitors can learn some of the history at brewpub Les Brasseurs du Temps.
Minutes from downtown, Gatineau Park has 90,000 acres of green (or white) space which its residents use for camping, rock climbing, hiking, kayaking, fishing and snow shoeing or cross country skiing.
Further out of town, Parc Omega gives visitors the chance to get up close to wildlife like bison, elk and wild boars on a self-drive safari. There's even the chance to stay in its unique onsite cabins which are visited by wild wolves that can be safely viewed through large glass windows. Later this year more will be built and visitors will be able to wake up next to bears too.
For those into pampering more than wildlife there is Nordik Spa-Nature - the largest spa in North America. It has nine outdoor baths, nine saunas, three restaurants and an infinity pool with stunning views. For the ultimate indulgence, Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello is considered the world's largest log cabin - although a very luxurious version - and has its own golf course, spa and over 50 resort activities on offer, from curling to biking.
With all this and much more for visitors it's easy to see why Ottawa and Outaouais make a perfect pair and agents can fit this into a classic itinerary flying into Toronto and out of Montreal.
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