Ottawa, Canada’s capital city, has 497 miles of dazzling cycling paths and lanes within the region that connect to a bounty of farmers’ markets, coffeehouses, creative cocktail bars, and can’t-miss restaurants. Set off on a striking sensory journey along its gorgeous bike paths to explore the culinary hot-spots of this urban oasis via bicycle.
Cycle the City
Begin your tour in Centretown on the scenic Rideau Canal path, following along this waterway that weaves throughout Ottawa while bound for a scenic cycle around Dows Lake. Continue to the Preston Street bike path en route to breakfast at Art-Is-In Bakery. Next, it’s onward to eclectic Hintonburg for a coffee fix and to-die-for doughnuts at The Ministry of Coffee and Social Affairs and SuzyQ Doughnuts. Take a post-treat detour to check out artist John Felice Ceprano’s balanced rock sculptures in the Ottawa River, then link up with the stunning riverside bike path.
Work up your appetite as you follow the Ottawa River pathway, crossing the Portage Bridge into Old Hull in Québec. Glide along the Voyageurs Pathway, taking in spectacular views of Canada’s Supreme Court and Parliament buildings, then return to Ottawa over the Alexandra Bridge and enter Major’s Hill Park to take in the lush greenery. Hit the trail once again, bound for an afternoon in the ByWard Market district—Ottawa’s hub for food, entertainment, and shopping—including a visit to the Château Lafayette and dinner at OZ Kafe. Round out your route by passing through Confederation Square and the Plaza Bridge en route to Riviera, the final destination on this lively tour of Ottawa.
Fresh Baked Breakfast
Art-Is-In Bakery is an edgy, character-rich gastro-bakery serving up pastries with a serious pedigree. This buzzy all-day establishment attracts loyal locals thanks to its modern atmosphere and devilishly delicious baked goods. Must-try orders include the bakery’s Kronut—a croissant and doughnut hybrid—and Dynamite baguette, available in varieties like cheddar and jalapeño and rosemary and roasted garlic. Each one of their homemade breads, sweet treats, and twist-on-a-classic dishes are dreamed up by classically trained pastry chef and co-owner Kevin Mathieson.
Art-Is-In Bakery: 250 City Centre Ave., Ottawa; 613.695.1226 x 801, artisinbakery.com
Ottawa runs on fuel provided by indie coffee shops like The Ministry of Coffee and Social Affairs, where Nutella-infused lattes and iced coffee are must-sips. Just down the street, swing by SuzyQ Doughnuts, where the proprietor uses a traditional (and top secret) Finnish recipe for “Sugar Munkki” as the base for unique creations like Maple Bacon, Bloop (Blueberry Vanilla Fruit Loop), and Mango Lassi doughnuts, for which regulars line up en masse.
The Ministry of Coffee and Social Affairs: 1013 Wellington St. W, Ottawa; 613.695.9002, theministryofcoffee.wixsite.com/ministry
SuzyQ Doughnuts: 969 Wellington St. W, Ottawa; 613.724.2451, suzyq.ca
Keeping It Local
Bike through the ByWard Market district to hear one of Canada’s most bilingual cities in action. Bustling shops, street performers, open-air produce stalls, and the central Market Square are home to over 600 unique vendors. Visit artisan cheese purveyors, butchers, and fishmongers to sample local Ottawa ingredients, or head to La Bottega Nicastro for a made-to-order sandwich on their fresh herbed focaccia, served up from their bustling back counter.
ByWard Market: 55 ByWard Market Square, Ottawa; 613.562.3325, byward-market.com
La Bottega Nicastro: 64 George St., Ottawa; 613.789.7575, labottega.ca
Have a Laugh and a Lager
Later, mix and mingle with a crush of locals at Saturday afternoon’s legendary foot-stomping, guitar-playing Lucky Ron Show featuring classic country tunes and lots of audience participation at the lively Château Lafayette. Ottawa’s oldest tavern and beloved original dive bar has been in action since 1849 and is an absolute institution. While many locals order a quart of Labatt 50 as they take part in this authentic cultural event, nowadays “The Laff” also offers several local craft beer options.
Château Lafayette: 42 York St., Ottawa; 613.241.4747, thelaff.ca
Dine Like an Insider
Come dinnertime, wander down the cobblestone courtyard that leads to OZ Kafe for a contemporary and “veg-forward” dining experience. Industry insiders come for their signature offerings like Heirloom Tomato Salad and Brined Nagano Pork Rib Chop and stay for the late-night sets delivered by a rotating roster of resident DJs in beautifully restored stone-and-wood rooms.
OZ Kafe: 10 York St., Ottawa; 613.234.0907, ozkafe.com
A Spirited Experience
Wind down the day just a block from Confederation Square at Riviera. Here, their house cocktails—including the Smoky Old Fashioned—truly raise the bar and come crafted to order by master mixologist Stephen Flood. Tucked away on the charming Sparks Street pedestrian mall, the restaurant is housed in a former bank, inheriting its soaring 30-foot ceilings and setting the backdrop for its distinctly refined atmosphere.
Riviera: 62 Sparks St., Ottawa; 613.233.6262, dineriviera.com
All you need is two wheels and an appetite to explore Ottawa’s exciting food scene. Ready to roll? Plan your trip here.