I have lived in Ottawa all my life, but there are many parts of it that lie undiscovered. On occasion, I decide to be a tourist in my own city and go exploring, usually downtown.
One of my favourite places in Ottawa in the lookout near the National Gallery. If you walk past the gallery and up a path, there is a statue of Champlain and a beautiful view. You can see the bridges into Quebec and the Museum of Civilization across the river. As you turn, you can see the Canadian War Museum in the distance, the Parliament Buildings and Major's Hill Park, the National Gallery, the American Embassy, the Chateau Laurier, and the Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica. I often bring friends here to share the view, but it's a nice spot to go on your own as well. I love to go sit beneath the statue and think about the projects I'm working on, or sketch out my ideas.
Other great views can be found nearby as well. Walk around the back of Parliament Hill to the library to see a better view of the National Gallery, or across the river to the Museum of Civilization for another perspective.
A short walk from the point is the Byward Market. This area attracts many tourists, but also local shoppers. In the summer, stalls selling fruits, vegetables, flowers, clothing, jewelry, maple syrup, and etc can be found lining the streets. There's a Beaver Tail hut there too, in case you want to try this delicacy but aren't in town when the canal is open for skating. If you're in the mood for ice cream, the Piccolo Grande gelato shop is an old favourite of mine. For a real meal, Clarence street has a huge variety of restaurants, but the area is full of places to eat. On Dalhousie there are some interesting stores like Milk and the Workshop.
For a recent studio project I spent some time exploring the courtyards along Sussex. They are lovely places to get away from the busy market streets. The York/Clarendon courtyard includes the back patios of a few more restaurants. On a recent trip downtown with a friend, we stopped for lunch at Planet Coffee here and had some great sandwiches.
If you are coming to Ottawa, exploring the downtown area is a must. There are galleries, museums, restaurants, places to shop, and beautiful views.