Ottawa can be a charming place to visit for anyone. Naturally though, a lot of the visitors in any given year come from south of the border, in the U.S. Indeed, it can be a little bit difficult to narrow things down too precisely to reflect recent history, but according to reports from 2017 some 14.3 million Americans visited Canada overall in that year, compared to 6.5 million from overseas countries.
Now, you need only browse this site for a short time to see that there’s plenty for tourists from anywhere to enjoy in Ottawa. But what might appeal specifically to some of those droves of American tourists? Of course every traveller is different, but here we’ve put together a checklist of attractions and activities we suspect might specifically appeal to Americans crossing the border.
Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica
There’s plenty of sightseeing to do in Ottawa, with everything from the National Gallery of Canada to the Rideau Canal making for a striking sight from the right angle. From an American perspective though, the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica might be the most unique visual attraction in town. The U.S. has its impressive cathedrals, but true to its namesake, this is the sort of building people are more used to seeing dotted around Europe. Its facade is incredibly striking, but the interior of the cathedral is arguably even more impressive.
NHL hockey is by no means unique to Canada. Most of the teams, as you may well know, are in the U.S. Even American hockey fans will often concede that this is in many respects a Canadian sport though, and you really can’t enjoy it to the fullest until you see a game in Canada. The Ottawa Senators don’t have quite the reputation of the Montréal Canadiens or Toronto Maple Leafs, but they still play regularly in front of fun, excited crowds.
Casino du Lac Leamy
Most of Canada’s publicity in the casino arena comes from the country’s ever-expanding network of online gaming opportunities. Regulated slot sites and readily available bonus offerings attract a great many players, both from Canada and among visitors who might not be used to such games being legal. There are brick-and-mortar casinos in the country as well though, and Ottawa’s Casino du Lac Leamy is one of the better ones. Americans, who typically only get to experience casinos in Las Vegas, New Jersey, or at select Native American properties, will enjoy a huge gaming area, attached restaurants, and a wonderful theatre, all in all comprising one of the best entertainment venues in town.
Rideau Canal Skating
Rideau Canal is effectively a river that runs through Ottawa, and as mentioned, it can be among the city’s more striking sights from the right angle. More unique, though, is the canal during winter, when it freezes over and welcomes crowds of people for outdoor skating. This isn’t something you never see in the U.S. In fact, even New York City has outdoor skating rinks when it’s cold enough. But the chance to simply skate up and down a canal running through a major city is a novel attraction for plenty of Americans, and ultimately it’s one of the most charming experiences in the city.
Copper Spirits & Sights
Copper Spirits & Sights is a bar located at the Hyatt Andaz in Ottawa’s Byward Market. It’s a high-end lounge located on the property’s 16th floor, and thus gives you some of the best views you’ll find of the city. That’s a treat for most any visitor, as it’s always nice to get a sense for what a city looks like from up high. Americans might enjoy this bar in particular though because it’s known as one of the best places in the city to get a Caesar. This is a sort of Canadian alternative to the Bloody Mary (which is far more popular in the states), and has been described as one of the foods (or drinks) only Ottawa does right.
Last but not least, many Americans are sure to appreciate the presence of ski hills in close proximity to Ottawa. Skiing, of course, is an option in many parts of the U.S., and there are areas in the Canadian Rockies that have far higher and more challenging slopes. However, there’s something pleasant that travellers will definitely appreciate about staying in a city like Ottawa and being able to drive just 15 or 20 minutes to a ski destination like Camp Fortune or Mont Cascades (both of which even happen to offer night skiing!).