A few years ago, an article was published touting Ottawa as “the city that fun forgot.” Since then, almost everyone who loves living in the National Capital Region has worked tirelessly to dispel that superlative and once and for all claim Ottawa as an exciting, diverse, and fun place to live.
As lifelong Ottawa residents, we’re passionate about our city, and we know that there’s so much more to Ottawa than just government.
Many people who are thinking about relocating to Ottawa ask us, “Is Ottawa really boring?” And to that, we answer with a resounding, no!
It’s the fourth largest city in Canada, and there’s almost too much going on to distill it into one article. But we will try! Let’s take a closer look at what makes Ottawa such a special place to live.
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Ottawa has an Exciting Culinary Scene
Sure, we may not have a Michelin Star restaurant here in Ottawa, like the first in Canada recently announced in Toronto, however, the city is home to positively world-class dining–and it’s only getting better every year. In addition to mainstays like Beckta, Town, and Gezellig, there’s a constantly evolving scene of new restaurants and popups creating the perfect venue for all kinds of foodies to have an excellent meal close to home.
Our chefs and restauranteurs are known nationally and internationally. For example, Chef Joe Thottungal of Thali and Coconut Lagoon fame is a renowned chef, cookbook author, community organizer, and recipient of numerous awards. Our local Art Is In Bakery was featured a couple of years ago on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives for their delicious O-Towners, and most recently, Chef Briana Kim of Alice won gold at the 2023 Canadian Culinary Championships.
Ottawa Gets Active
When out-of-towners picture Ottawa, they likely have an image of the Rideau Canal, Canada’s longest skating rink. But that’s only a small slice of the outdoor fun available in Ottawa.
If you’re looking for winter activities, the city is home to the Kichi Sibi Winter Trail, 16km of groomed multi-use trails popular for cross-country skiers, winter cycling, snowshoeing, and more. We’re also within an hour’s drive to many great downhill ski hills including Camp Fortune, Edelweiss, Vorlage, Calabogie Peaks, and Mount Pakenham.
In the summer, you can find daring folks surfing at Remic Rapids. There’s even a brief period of the spring when you can surf and ski on the same day, weather dependent of course! Not to mention all the canoeing, kayaking, and standup paddleboarding happening on the Rideau Canal and Ottawa River.
Ottawa is also connected by an extensive network of multi-use paths, perfect for getting around the city, biking, jogging, rollerblading, or roller skiing. And during the Summer, on weekends, parkways in the city and in Gatineau are closed to cars to allow active users to ride even greater distances. NCC Weekend Bikedays are enjoyed by thousands of residents each weekend.
What’s most notable about Ottawa is that the majority of these outdoor amenities including the use of the Kichi Sibi Trail and Weekend Bikedays are completely free and easily accessible.
Are you thinking about relocating to Ottawa? Here are some articles you should check out next:
- Everything to Know About Moving to Ottawa
- 5 Reasons You Should Relocate to Ottawa
- Ottawa: More than Meets the Eye
- Neighbourhood Spotlight: Little Italy
- The Glebe – Ottawa’s Historic On Foot Neighbourhood
Year-Long Festivals in Ottawa
If dining out or exercising is not your thing, perhaps you’d like to attend a festival. You’re in luck. Ottawa is plentiful with festivals and events all year long. For music lovers, there are festivals for all genres including jazz, blues, rock, pop, electronic, folk, grassroots, chamber, and more. There are also film festivals, Comic-Con, animation festivals, festivals for yoga, comedy festivals, and more.
Many Ottawa festivals raise money and awareness for charity including HOPE Volleyball, the Dragonboat Festival, and others. No matter what your interests are, there is a group and a festival in Ottawa for you.
Discover more Ottawa festivals in this blog post right here.
But What’s it Really Like to Live in Ottawa?
We’ve covered a few things that make Ottawa special, but what about actually living here? You likely won’t spend all your time going out for dinner or attending festivals every day. If you’re thinking about making the move to Ottawa, you’re probably wondering about a few other things.
Ottawa Has a Diverse Economy
Contrary to popular belief, not everyone who lives in Ottawa works for the Federal Government. Yes, the Government is a significant employer in the area, but by no means is it the only one. Did you know that Ottawa is home to the largest tech park in Canada? The Kanata North Tech Park is home to numerous big tech companies.
In addition, Ottawa is home to world-class healthcare research organizations including the Ottawa Hospital Heart Institute, CHEO, and more. Education is also a driving force in the Ottawa economy, and with several well-regarded colleges and universities, Ottawa often makes the shortlist for many academics looking to pursue a career in education.
Ottawa Home Prices are More Affordable
When you see news articles about the skyrocketing prices of homes, they often showcase examples of properties in the GTA. While the price of Ottawa real estate has gone up over the years, it is nowhere near the range that we see in Southern Ontario.
The Traffic in Ottawa is Not That Bad
If you’re used to spending two hours on the Don Valley Parkway or planning your entire day around a trip across the city, Ottawa’s traffic will feel like a dream. Yes, we have a rush hour here, and there are some roads that are known for getting congested during busy periods, but it’s nothing compared to what our friends in Toronto contend with.
Ottawa’s Reputation for Being Sleepy is Actually a Good Thing
You may hear some people say that Ottawa is “sleepy” and that it “shuts down at 6 p.m.” Of course, Orleans is not going to produce the same hustle and bustle as the Entertainment District in Toronto. While some say “sleepy” we actually hear “safe” and also “quiet” many Ottawa neighbourhoods have an incredible “small town” feel that you don’t usually see in a big city. There’s a sense of neighbourly affection and camaraderie amongst Ottawa residents that is difficult to describe until you experience it for yourself.
Is it a good idea to buy a home in Ottawa? Check out these posts next:
- Why Now is a Good Time for Buyers in Ottawa
- Should I Buy an Investment Property Now for My Kids in the Future?
- Should You Buy a Semi-Detached Home in Ottawa?
Are You Thinking About Moving to Ottawa?
Whether you’re moving for school, work, or just for a change of scenery, Ottawa is a diverse, safe, and exciting place to live. With small-town charm, big-city amenities, and a unique and diverse economy and population, we’re proud to call Ottawa home.