Your Tour Director is your trip guru, problem-solver and local expert all in one. Ottawa native and Tour Director, Andrew, shares his top picks for making the most out of your student tour to our nation’s capital.
Your Tour Director’s Top Picks
Ottawa is a city that doesn’t hibernate when the snow starts to fall and the cold winds blow. In fact, winter is one of the most popular times to visit our nation’s capital and experience its many annual outdoor traditions and events such as Winterlude. So, put on a thick coat, give winter a big hug, and experience all the life and culture that Ottawa offers throughout the winter months!
1) Skating on the Canal
Not only is the Rideau Canal a UNESCO World Heritage site, it’s also the largest outdoor ice skating rink in the world! In winter months, Ottawa maintains 7.8km of ice surface on the Canal, which some locals use to skate to work and school. This is the centre of Ottawa’s outdoor winter experience, and a must-try for any visitor. Strap on some skates, sip some hot chocolate and enjoy a nice leisurely skate down the canal.
2) Eat some BeaverTails!
Don’t be fooled by the name—this warm and tasty fried pastry only borrows its shape from our aquatic rodent friends, and is known far and wide as a delicious staple in Ottawa (as well as a Canadian culinary icon since the first permanent BeaverTail shop was opened in Ottawa’s ByWard Market over 30 years ago!). Try the classic style with cinnamon and sugar, or mix things up and add different toppings.
Quick Travel Tip: If you’re interested in learning how to make your own BeaverTails, there are workshops led by a local chef available—and the taste testing is definitely the best part!
3) Crystal Garden
One of the most spectacular attractions at Winterlude—Ottawa’s largest annual winter festival—is definitely Crystal Garden, where each year, renowned artists create and display their awe-inspiring ice sculptures for all to see. It’s a wonderful opportunity to watch an ice sculptor at work as their creations slowly take shape and come to life before your eyes. Just don’t forget to take lots of photos of these masterpieces!
4) Snowflake Kingdom
Ice was made for slidin’, and that’s just what you’ll do at the Snowflake Kingdom, the world’s largest snow playground, held in Jacques-Cartier Park. Embrace the winter and spend the afternoon gliding down the man-made icy hills—it’s fun for all ages, so wear some warm pants and get ready for an unforgettable ride!
5) Dog Sledding
Imagine the rush you’ll feel while riding on a sled pulled by trained athletic dogs, as you all soar along a snow-covered trail. This northern adventure offers you a unique chance to try something different, and bring back a story to tell all your friends. Remember your hat and scarf, because the breeze will be whistling as you speed on by!
Learn more about EF’s student trips to Ottawa.
What are your favourite activities in Ottawa for the wintertime? Share them below!