Ottawa: Winter thrills
By Jessie Pascoe
Special to amNewYork
Winters frost often sparks a vacation down south. Try a new path this season by embracing winters wonders in a city that comes alive below freezing.
Only an hour-and-a-half flight from New York, Canadas capital city of Ottawa offers an international setting with a local charm.Winter festivities
The first three weeks of February bring Winterlude to Ottawa.
Must-do activities include a skate on the Rideau Canal a UNESCO heritage site and one of the worlds largest skating rinks, where rentals are readily available.
Head over to Confederation Park to gawk at the innovative ice sculptures competing in the International Ice-Carving Competition or cross the Ottawa River to Quebecs Gatineaus, where Canadas largest cross-country ski competition takes place across hectares (acres for you non-metrics) of trails.
Shop til you drop
East of the government and business district, the ByWard Market is akin to SoHo. The market is a nexus of various vendors and markets selling everything from local produce to souvenirs and trinkets.
For local designs and vintage finds, head over to Dalhousie Street, where a slew of shops have sprung up in recent years. Favorites include secondhand store Young Janes (203 Dalhousie St., 613-794-6452) and the sophisticated Victoire (246 Dalhousie St., 613-321-1590).
One of the oldest Canadian cultural institutions, the National Gallery of Canada, houses an impressive array of Canadian and non-Canadian art. Located east of the Parliament buildings, you cant miss it: Louise Bourgeois giant bronze spider perches over the entrance yard (380 Sussex Drive, 613-990-1985).
For smaller cultural fixes, Arts Court housed in a former court house offers contemporary takes on performing, visual and media arts and houses The Ottawa Art Gallery and its impressive Firestone Collection of modern Canadian art (2 Daly Ave., 613-564-7240).
Stay in style
Named for one of Canadas most prominent Prime Ministers, Wilfred Laurier, Chateau Laurier offers more than 400 guest rooms.
It is also known for numerous dining facilities, such as Zoes Lounge named after Lauriers wife renowned for its elegant, if not pricey, afternoon teas and cocktail hour (1 Rideau St., 613-241-1414).
Dine and drink
Stay warm during Winterlude by sampling a beavertail, a flattened fried dough sold at the omnipresent beavertail huts. Served with a variety of toppings the Killaloe Sunrise, with cinnamon, sugar and lemon juice, is a local favorite beavertails are as common a sight as the maple leaf flag.
After shopping at Dalhousie Street, swing by upscale Sweetgrass Bistro, a native Canadian restaurant offering a menu heavy with game. Sample it all with their Potlatch Platter, which features marinated venison sausage, red deer terrine, duck pate, smoked salmon, wild boar ham and cheeses (108 Murray St., 613-562-3683).
For a cheap pint, try Manx Pub, a popular University of Ottawa student hangout with plush red velvet booths and powerful hangover-busting brunch deals (370 Elgin St., 613-231-2070).