From exploring the ByWard Market to skating along the world’s largest outdoor skating rink, there’s no shortage of things to do in Canada’s capital city. Now a new campaign sheds light on dozens more lesser-known attractions just waiting to be explored.
To entice travellers to the city, Ottawa Tourism has granted special museum status to dozens of restaurants, attractions and concert venues through its Unofficial Museum campaign. All year, residents and tourists can (re)discover 76 “unofficial museums” while gaining a deeper understanding of the capital.
The campaign takes a creative approach to deciding what makes a museum — and there’s definitely a museum to suit every taste and interest. From the Unofficial Museum of It’s Not What You Think to the Unofficial Museum of Oats and Scotch, it’s a guide to seeing Ottawa through new eyes. All you need is an open mind and the willingness to explore.
The Unofficial Museum of Taking a Good Selfie
In a city with so much natural beauty, a good selfie is an easy “get”. But amidst the hundreds of photos from Parliament Hill, Nepean Point and Gatineau Park lies an overlooked Instagrammable spot. The Parliament Hill Escarpment Stairway, which connects the Hill with the Ottawa River, was built to provide tourists and residents a place to stroll along the Ottawa River. The staircase can be found behind Parliament Hill, west of Centre Block. Bring your camera and sneakers — there are 286 steps to climb.
The Unofficial Museum of Croffles
Move over BeaverTails, there’s a new pastry in town: the croffle. This combination of croissant and waffle is a buttery, flaky pastry waiting to be devoured. First Bite Treats is where you can experience Ottawa’s first-ever croffle. Signature menu items like the biscoff croffle, oreo croffle or strawberry croffle make the perfect after-dinner dessert or mid-day snack. Located in the ByWard Market, First Bite Treats is one of the many unofficial culinary museums around town.
The Unofficial of Good Stink
Welcome to The House of Cheese in the ByWard Market, which has been serving up cheeses from all over the world since 1975. The House of Cheese also sells specialty food (think, picnic) items like breads, maple syrup and imported chocolate. For $30, you can even delight a friend with one of the store’s assorted gift baskets.
The Unofficial Museum of The Longest Day
Celebrate the Summer Solstice during this June 21-26 festival at Mādahòkì Farm. The Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival celebrates Indigenous culture and heritage through multi-disciplinary arts, bringing together Indigenous performers, educators, students, community members and artists. It’s also free and family-friendly. Although the festival only lasts for one week, Mādahòkì Farm is home to a year-round Indigenous Marketplace with products made by Indigenous artisans.
The Unofficial Museum of Being Willingly Confined
Looking to star in your own adventure or something to do on a rainy day? Check out Ottawa’s top rated escape rooms at Escape Manor. Escape rooms can hold two to 12 people and take 45 to 60 minutes. There are three locations around the city — one of which is home to the world’s largest escape room — and a host of themes to choose from. There is even an option to test out an escape room online and an Escape Manor designed for kids.