Rainbow Ottawa

Canada's capital and a natural playground

Gay Neighbourhood

  • Ottawa is an open, welcoming place - you'll feel that right away, all over the city. But everything has a centre, and in Ottawa the centre of gay and lesbian life is right downtown.
  • Bank & Somerset: This intersection is the hub of Ottawa's growing gaybourhood. With shops and bars it's the home base for local institutions serving the GLBT community both by day and by night

Events

  • Capital Pride Festival - mid August
  • Orchestras in the Park - July
  • Mr Leather Ottawa - November

Best Known For

  • Being the Canada's capital and the legislative birthplace of same-sex marriage (and other important rights) in Canada
  • Vibrant cultural scene
  • Beautiful summer and winter natural setting > Relaxed and welcoming urban vibe

Three Must Dos

  • Visit Parliament Hill, the seat of Canada's federal government and the site of Canada's first-ever public march for gay and lesbian rights on August 28, 1971.
  • Explore the Rideau Canal, Ontario's first UNESCO World Heritage Site. 
  • Hang out in the eclectic ByWard Market - a local farmers' market and shopping district by day, chic dining, outdoor cafés and lively clubs by night.

More Local Info

  • Capital Xtra is Ottawa's monthly gay and lesbian publication. Try to get the print version as it has better detailed listings than the online version.
  • Ottawa Tourism has excellent general information, particularly about the many local attractions.

Tips

  • Ottawa's Museum Passport gives access to 9 national museums over a 7-day period for only $35 per person.
  • Just say "Oui"! As Canada's capital city, most of Ottawa's attractions provide service in both official languages - English and French

What else do you want to know about Ottawa?

How To Get There

 

By Plane

All flights arrive at Macdonald-Cartier International Airport (airport code YOW). Ottawa has service to an ever-growing number of North American and international cities.

While many of Ottawa's attractions are within walking distance of the downtown area, consider renting a car to get to some of the interesting sights and museums a bit further afield or if you want to explore the natural beauty outside the city. Major rental companies are located in the airport terminal.

Taxi and limo ranks are just outside the arrivals area and taxis into downtown Ottawa will be approximately $25 for a taxi, more for a limo. The YOW Airporter bus offers shuttle service between the airport and most downtown hotels for a one-way fare of around $14. OC Transpo, the local transit system, has relatively quick service (about 25 minutes, depending on traffic) to the Rideau Centre in downtown Ottawa for a fare of $3.

 

By Train

VIA trains from Toronto and Montreal arrive at Ottawa Station, a short commute from downtown Ottawa. Bus service is available from the station though a taxi downtown will cost not more that $10.

 

By Car

Montréal is just two hours east while Toronto is four and a half hours southwest of Ottawa

 

Where To Stay

Gay and Lesbian options

  • Radclyffe House - lesbian-owned B&B with a literary theme. (160 Waverley)
  • Rideau Inn - located in a lovely area just east the downtown core. (177 Frank)

 

Gay Friendly Options

Ottawa has a wide selection of friendly hotels in the downtown core that are within walking distance of, both, many attractions and gay nightlife. The ConXFavourite hotels are also tag approved.

 

ARC The Hotel - [RHV Favourite] As Ottawa Pride official hotel we are located in the heart of Nations Capital, blocks from the newly appointed Village. We feature 112 uniquely styled guest rooms incl. 2 Executive suites, 7 Luxury suites that feature Roman style bathtubs. 

 

Bostonian Executive Suites Hotel - Steps from heart of Ottawa's gay village, the Bostonian is within walking distance to Parliament Hill, National Arts Centre, the Rideau Canal and the gay bars along Somerset. The hotel has both studio and one-bedroom suites. (341 Maclaren)

 

Cartier Place Suite Hotel - [RHV Favourite] This downtown pet-friendly hotel features spacious suites, with fully equipped kitchens, separate bedrooms and private balconies. Other features: indoor pool, whirlpool, sauna, fitness room, banquet facilities and the Café Mezzaluna Restaurant.

 

Delta Ottawa City Centre - [RHV Favourite] Located in the heart of downtown Ottawa's business and entertainment districts

 

 

Fairmont Chateau Laurier - [RHV Favourite] Located next door to the Parliament Buildings, this landmark hotel features a health club, great restaurants and a lounge where you can enjoy high tea with a distinctly Canadian twist. It's a great location for exploring museums and the nearby ByWard Market neighbourhood. (1 Rideau)

 

Lord Elgin Hotel - near the Parliament Buildings, small but comfortable rooms. (100 Elgin)

 

Minto Suite Hotel - an apartment hotel with large, full-size units and perfect for a longer stay. (185 Lyon)  

 

Novotel Ottawa - [RHV Favourite] Novotel Ottawa is located in the heart of the nation's capital, one block from the Byward Market, a 5-minute walk to Parliament Hill, Rideau Canal, and all major museums. Whether your stay is for business or leisure, it will surely be a memorable one.

 

Ottawa Marriott - Visit many nearby Ottawa attractions including the trendy ByWard Market, Rideau Canal, the National Gallery and Museum of Civilization, all within a short stroll from the welcoming hospitality of the Marriott. (100 Kent)

 

Westin Ottawa - a deluxe hotel downtown connected to Ottawa's major shopping centre and steps to the ByWard Market. (11 Colonel By Drive).

Where To Eat

Dining in Canada's Capital ranges from five-diamond to more relaxed, casual fare - with a new Savour Ottawa program that's all about locally produced and prepared food and menus. Here's a sampling of some of the many gay-friendly options.

  • Ahora - a popular, casual, gay-owned Mexican restaurant in the ByWard Market. (307 Dalhousie)
  • Bridgehead - a fair-trade, organic coffeeshop in the gay neighbourhood. (366 Bank)
  • The Buzz - a New York style bistro atmosphere perfect for intimate dining or wine & martini lounging. Every Friday, Beats on Bank is a sexy evening of cocktails and house music. Also popular for Sunday brunch. (374 Bank)
  • East India Company - good quality food close to bars and other nightlife. (210 Somerset West)
  • Empire Grill - nicely grilled meat and fish in the heart of the ByWard Market. (47 Clarence)
  • Kinki - sushi and modern Asian fare in the ByWard Market. (41 York)
  • Metropolitain Brasserie - French bistro/brasserie with a strong emphasis on fish and seafood. (700 Sussex)
  • Stella Osteria - modern Italian in a coolly elegant setting. A strong wine list, particularly from (no surprise here) Italy. (81 Clarence)
  • Shanghai - gay-friendly Chinatown restaurant offers a fusion of Cantonese, Szechwan and Asian fare. Thursday evenings are DJ nights. (651 Somerset West)

Where To Meet Locals

While there are no bars specifically for lesbians, women are welcome everywhere as Ottawa is the kind of easy-going town where queers of all sorts happily socialize together. Check out Capital Xtra for up to date info.

  • Centretown Pub/Cell-Block/Silhouette - known as CP by the locals, the friendly pub is on the main floor while the cruisey denim/leatherish dance floor is on the second floor. Attracts an somewhat older crowd. (340 Somerset West)
  • The Lookout - a great pub in the ByWard Market with a mixed crowd. Thursday is men's night, Friday is women's night and drag queens host on Saturday. (41 York)
  • Swizzles - billed as a "bias free bar", the crowd is a mix of gay men and lesbians. Best know for karoake on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays and go-go boys on Wednesdays and Saturdays. (246B Queen)

"Cruising"

Gay Men

  • Breathless - adult community centre and private club that caters to alternative lifestyles such as poly-relationships, BDSM and swinging. Activities range from discussion group and cuddle nights to play parties and BDSM nights. (318 Lisgar)
  • Club Ottawa - bathhouse with steam room, sauna, showers, videos and gloryholes. There's also a monthly blackout night. (1069 Wellington)
  • Steamworks for Men - Includes a sauna, whirlpool, steam room and gloryholes. (487 Lewis)

Things To Do

Parliament Hill -

Take one of the daily free tours of Parliament Hill, Canada's seat of government. Or from late June to the end of August, you can catch the colourful Changing the Guard ceremony each morning at 10am, and each night from early July to early September there's a free Sound & Light Show, where images are projected onto the Parliament Buildings.

 

Canadian Government and History -

As Canada's capital, Ottawa is chock full of interesting and historic buildings to visit. Drop by the Supreme Court, Rideau Hall, home of the Governor General, or the Royal Canadian Mint. Bike along Sussex Drive past many impressive embassies and the home of the Prime Minister.

 

Museums and Galleries -

Ottawa showcases the best in Canadian and world culture. The National Gallery of Canada, Canadian Museum of Civilization, Canadian War Museum and other national museums devoted to science, nature aviation, agriculture and more offer endless opportunities or exploration and discovery.

 

Festivals -

The city hosts world-class festivals throughout the year including the Canadian Tulip Festival, the TD Canada Trust Ottawa International Jazz Festival, the Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest and the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival, the world’s largest.

 

Winter Fun -

During winter, tens of thousands take to the Rideau Canal Skateway, which turns into the world's largest skating rink, stretching almost 8km (about 5 miles) through downtown. During the annual Winterlude festival, the Canal is the centre of a region-wide celebration of the season taking place over the first three weekends in February. For cross-county and downhill ski enthusiasts many, trails and slopes are just minutes from downtown.

 

Grab a Bike -

In warmer months, over 175km (or 109 miles) of paved recreational paths welcome cyclists, in-line skaters and joggers across the region. On Sunday mornings from May through September several streets are closed to cars for Sunday Bikedays.

 

Shopping -

Start at Rideau Centre and the ByWard Market downtown, head to the antique district down Bank Street or the outdoors stores and specialty shops along Richmond Road in Westboro. For some queer shopping visit After Stonewall, the city's gay bookstore or Mother Tongue Books for feminist, lesbian and queer reading. Venus Envy is an education-oriented women’s sex shop while Wilde's is a men-oriented adult shop with peepshows on the second floor.

 

Capital Pride Festival -

Capital Pride, Ottawa's big queer event, is a week-long event featuring music, theatre, dances, exhibitions, workshops which climaxes with the annual Pride Parade on the final Sunday.