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Eco in the City highlights fabulous and fashionable environmentally friendly hotels, restaurants, shops, and must-dos in cities across North America and the world.
It’s that time of year again in the Ottawa region. Tulips are blooming, and the city’s parks and streets are full of life and animation.
Ottawa, Ontario, a city of extensive canals and beautiful city parks, is always busy with runners, cyclists and outdoor enthusiasts, no matter the time of the year (its winter festival is one of the largest in the world). Maybe it’s the new cycling paths, renovations to national museums, or summer festivals that have people feeling optimistic. Either way, with a population closing in on one million, this is a city on the move. Whatever the reason, Ottawa is always a great destination.
REST YOUR HEAD
When in Ottawa, stay at one of the city’s many bed and breakfasts. Not only are they situated in some of the city’s best neighbourhoods (The Glebe, Byward Market, University of Ottawa), they are often close to new neighbourhood restaurants, unique shops, quaint parks and hidden gems.
Bella Notte B&B, for example, uses green products for cleaning, serves fresh, local fare for breakfast, and is just a short walk away from the University of Carlton and the Byward Market area (and pretty much anything else you’d like to see while in Ottawa). It offers large, comfortable rooms and breakfast entertainment—the homeowner wows on the baby grand piano.
REFUEL & NOURISH
Sweetgrass Aboriginal Bistro in the Byward Market prides itself on a seasonal menu, featuring comfort food in a fine dining setting. Its dishes are a tribute to the ancient hunting and gathering traditions of North America’s diverse First Nations People. An indigenous spice rub is the perfect match for locally raised Elk. Bison bone marrow, smoked trout, and grilled tatonka (buffalo) round off this season’s main courses. Finish with something really different like “mom’s” traditional Indian bundin, a Cree desert made with dark steamed cake, raisins and cranberries.
Murray Street restaurant is all about straightforward, uncomplicated, regional fare, including a charcuterie bar, cheese platters, terrines and slow-cooked foods like pulled pork and baked beans. It is a great stop for lunch or dinner. Murray Street’s partner, Murray’s Market is just one minute around the corner and boasts extensive take-out and in-house fare, making it a great place to prep for a relaxing picnic.
One million tulips equal one beautiful city each spring. To take in the city’s annual Tulip Festival (May each year), start at Dows Lake near the University of Carlton and travel along the city’s extensive canal system. Along the way, you will see flowers beds filled with over 50 varieties of tulips.
Ottawa is a great walking city, especially around Parliament Hill and the National Gallery, but the best way to experience the Tulip Festival, and many other parts of the city, is on two wheels. Thankfully, Bixi, a Montreal-based bike rental system, opened in Ottawa this year (as well as in Melbourne, Minneapolis, Washington, New York City, London and Toronto). In Ottawa, 100 bikes and 10 bike stations (mostly located in the capital’s cultural centre), allow visitors and city residents to move across the city with ease, for relatively low cost (~C$10/hour). All you need is a credit card, and off you go.
For decades, the area across the Ottawa River was known as Hull, Quebec, but, in recent years, the city has taken on the name of its famous park, Gatineau. Locals still refer to their beloved city as Hull, but Gatineau is the name you’ll see on signs and in brochures on the other side of the river. One of the best features of Gatineau is its proximity and connectivity to Gatineau Park. Just east of Boulevard Saint Joseph on Boulevard Alexandre-Tache, you’ll find one of several city trails that will lead you into the heart of the park. There are very few cities of this size that house a park as big and beautiful as Gatineau Park.
A new urban development is coming to life near the new war museum (LeBreton Flats Development at Booth and Albert Streets). This large parcel of land, located close to downtown, will offer new housing, parks, office space and retail, all in an eco-friendly setting. It will be one of the largest green, LEED-certified neighbourhoods the country. A clean and progressive green community in the nation’s capital.
Lastly, the 75-year old Parkdale Market is a food lovers must. Here, fresh and local wins out over imported and frozen every time. The old art-deco movie theatre building near the market has been refashioned into a church and is well worth exploring, too.