Places to Visit in Ottawa this Autumn

Written By: The Planet D

Ottawa is one of the best places in Canada to see the fall colours. Exploring Ottawa in autumn is a special time to visit the nation’s capital as there are plenty of places to visit in Ottawa that are specific to the changing of the season.

Ottawa is our favourite city in Ontario (yes, even before our hometown of Toronto, and we have had the pleasure of exploring it during every season. But there is something very special about taking a road trip to Ottawa in the fall. These are the top things to do and places to visit in Ottawa (and around the area) before the snow sets in.

Best Places to Visit in Ottawa in the Fall

Note: Some activities may be affected by covid-19. Check with each attraction for opening hours and activities. Things are constantly changing as Ontario moves into different stages of Covid so be sure to check before you go.

1. Take an e-Bike Tour with Escape Bicycle Tours

Ottawa in Autumn
E-biking is great for the whole family to enjoy together: Dad, mom, brother Jim and Janice

Make your way to Spark’s Street o Escape Bicycle Tours for the best bike tour you’ll ever have with Escape Bicycle Tours. It is the perfect way to see the highlights of Ottawa in a safe and relaxed environment. We took my family along for a ride and they were nervous about cycling on the road in city traffic, but once we got started they relaxed. Ottawa has fantastic cycling trails and the tour keeps you off the busy roads.

This two-hour tour takes you from downtown Ottawa to Gatineau in Quebec and out to Sussex Drive including the grounds of Rideau Hall. With e-bikes, you can pedal in comfort as it helps propel up hills. Get the iconic photo of the parliament buildings from the Canadian Museum of History and let your expert guide tell you of the history of Gatineau and Ottawa. After you are done, enjoy a coffee or beer at their outdoor cafe. This is fast becoming one of the best things to do in Ottawa! Book your bicycle tour here

2. Take a Helicopter Tour – Fall Colours from Above

Places to Visit in Ottawa | Helicopter Tour

Ottawa is surrounded by Canadian forests and beauty and the best way to see the fall colours in Ottawa is to get up in the air. We took a doors-off helicopter tour to photograph the nation’s capital during its most beautiful season.

Meeting our helicopter pilot at the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum where we flew over the colourful forests of Gatineau and the Ottawa River. It is also an amazing way to see the Parliament Buildings and downtown Ottawa.

3. Sleep with Wolves at Parc Omega

Places to visit in Ottawa | Parc Omega with the wolves

Parc Omega is one of the best places in Canada to see Canadian wildlife and the best thing you can do in the park is book a wolf lodge. We spent the night in a log cabin in the middle of the wolf sanctuary where a pack of wolves spent the night howling, running around, sleeping and playing in front of our private glass observation room.

The Wolves of Parc Omega is one of the places you have to visit in Ottawa

Pack a bottle of wine, snacks and dinner if you like as there is a complete kitchen in this luxurious cabin. We had a private platform where we could walk outside to view the wolves and bears in their huge natural reserve. Check Availability at the Wolf Cabins in Parc Omega

4. Escape Manor

things to do in ottawa in autum - escape manor
Would you dare to enter this locked room?

It was our first time taking part in an escape room and it was awesome. At first when we walked into our Asylum Escape Room, we didn’t know where to begin but once we settled in, we started working on the clues to unlock each puzzle. One thing we learned was to ask for help sooner than later.

We made a goal of asking for two clues but you can ask for as many as you like. It is so much fun and a real bonding experience when you overcome an obstacle together. The hosts were great at storytelling and after you finish up, make sure to have a cocktail in the eerie lounge. There are four different escape rooms at Escape Manor to test your escape artists’ skills. Book a room here.

5. Visit Mackenzie King’s Estate

Visit the Mackenzie King Estate

I cannot tell you how many times we have visited Ottawa, and never made it to Mackenzie King’s Estate. William Lyon Mackenzie was the Prime Minister of Canada for a whopping 21 1/2 years! His estate is incredibly beautiful in the autumn with the fall colours of Gatineau Park surrounding his country cottage and incredible Abbey Ruins.

The Mackenzie King Estate in Ottawa

It felt like we were on a royal estate in Europe as opposed to a place in Ontario. Go early in the morning to beat the crowds. In autumn, the tour busses are in full swing in Gatineau Park and people flock to the trails and this estate to see the extraordinary fall colours.

6. Hide in a Bunker

Tour the Diefenbunker in Ottawa

One of the coolest attractions in Ottawa is the Diefenbunker. Named after Canada’s 13th Prime Minister, John Diefenbaker, the Diefenbunker was designed during the Cold War. It was a place where high ranking officials would lead from should a nuclear attack occur in the 1950s.

Inside the Diefenbunker in Ottawa

It sounds like a sweet deal to have access to shelter in case of nuclear fallout, but after touring this creepy underground bunker, I’d rather take my chances outside.

You had to have a certain temperament to be able to spend months underground. They even had a medical room to lock people up should they lose it while underground. Crazy! It’s a fascinating tour and one of the most unique things to do in Ottawa. Get more information on Canada’s Cold War Museum – The Deifenbunker

7. Take a Beer Tour

Places to see in Ottawa | Brew Tour

Ottawa has a thriving microbrew culture and a fun thing to do is to book a beer tour to check out the breweries around town. We booked the Brew Donkey Y-East End Express Tour who picked us up at the Bier Market downtown and whisked us off to four separate breweries. The tours are fantastic, funny and informative and you get to taste a lot of beer during the trip. Don’t worry, they supply eco-friendly water bottles and pretzels to keep you hydrated as you hop from brewpub to brewpub.

All while getting the chance to experience Ottawa’s local scene. Book your Brew Donkey Beer Tour here.

8. Flora Hall Brewing

ottawa in autumn

If you aren’t up for a beer tour, check out a local brewery instead. Flora Hall Brewing is a local craft brewery set in an old garage. The inviting atmosphere is open-concept letting you people watch as you eat. The menu is very unique for a brew pub with choices like a Burrata salad, falafels, and beet hummus on the menu.

There’s a great mix for meat lovers and vegetarians alike. This is a great place to spend an evening sampling local beers and enjoying some evening cheer. You can check the menu and make reservations here

9. The Rideau Canal

Things to do in Ottawa cycle the Rideau Canal

The Rideau Canal is Ottawa’s premiere attraction cutting through the city. In the winter it is open for ice skating and in the summer it is perfect for SUP or taking a canal cruise. In the fall, we suggest hiring a city bike and cycling along the canal.

You can rent a bike and then take it from downtown to the Dows Lake Pavilion on this 6.5 kilometre leisurely route. (one-way). We took a Le Boat Tour up the Rideau Canal to watch the fall colours and it was incredible. We’ll be sharing that experience with you soon. Visit the Le Boat website for rental options and triops.

10. Haunted Walks

Laurier House is a one of the great places to visit in Ottawa
Take a Haunted Walk in Laurier House in Ottawa

Ottawa is famous for its haunted walks and you can go on one year-round. The classic haunted walk will take you along the Rideau Canal, Byward Museum and other haunted places in Ottawa. Visit Haunted Walks for more tours.

Currently, Laurier House tours are closed due to COVID but it was definitely our favourite haunted tour in Ottawa. When we went to the Haunting at Laurier House and our entire group left the grounds screaming. It was the besthaunted walk I have ever been on. Laurier House was home to two of Canada’s Prime Ministers, Sir Wilfred Laurier, and William Lyon Mackenzie King.

Laurier died in the house in 1919 and King had a particular interest in the spirit world. He held seances there on a regular basis. We had no idea what to expect, but once we entered the mansion, no cameras or video was allowed, and let me just say, it made a believer out of me! Book your haunting (When it opens again) at Laurier House Now

11. Pumpkinferno

Places to see in Ottawa | Pumkinferno

It’s Canada’s premier Halloween event. Pumpkinferno has takes place at Upper Canada Village each season. Located 30 minutes outside of Ottawa, Pumkinferno is an amazing light show of scenes created entirely from pumpkins. Young talented artists spend the entire summer carving intricate scenes from the moon landing to rock legends offering visitors a beautiful path to walk through.

Pumpkinferno Display at Upper Canada Village

I was blown away with Pumkinferno thinking it would only be interesting to kids, but adults will love this too. You can book dinner at Willards Hotel prior to opening giving you access to the historic grounds 2 hours before the doors open. Visit Upper Canada Village for more information on Pumpkinferno

12. Hike Pink Lake

Sunrise at Pink Lake Ottawa

The Pink Lake Hike in Gatineau is a beautiful hike on a boardwalk all around the lake offering beautiful views of the fall colours and reflections of the lake. It is a popular hike, so be sure to arrive early to beat the crowds.

13. Sunrise at Meech Lake

Places to see in Ottawa | Meech Lake

Meech Lake is one of the few places you can actually get to for sunrise in Gatineau Park. The gates are closed to the park until 8 am to help with over-tourism, but Meech Lake doesn’t need gate access. It is a beautiful scene as the mist comes off the water while the sun rises over the colourful scene.

14. Explore the ByWard Market

Places you have to visit in Ottawa The Byward Market

No trip to Ottawa would be complete without visiting the ByWard Market. This historic market is Ottawa’s number one tourist attraction and is one of Canada’s oldest markets. Established in 1826 by Lt-Col. John By the ByWard Market is a great place to pick up seasonal vegetables, grab a bite and pick up a Canadian souvenir like Maple Syrup.

15. C’est Bon Food tour

food tours in ottawa places to visit |

The Byward Market is also the meeting point for the C’est Bon Food tour that takes you around Ottawa’s downtown and market area to sample the best food and drinks in Ottawa. It’s an excellent way to have a more intimate tour of the ByWard Market and to explore more hidden gems in downtown Ottawa.

You’ll sample everything Canadian from maple butter, to maple tea, maple cupcakes, maple bacon donuts, and maple ribs! You’ll also get to sample locally run businesses like The Tea Store and Fatboys Southern SmokeHouse. Visit C’est Bon to book your own food tour

16. Explore Ottawa’s History at the ByTown Museum

Visit the Bytown Museum in Ottawa

The ByTown Museum is a little known museum in Ottawa located on the Rideau Canal across from the Fairmont Chateau Laurier. It only costs $2 to go in, and it traces the history of Ottawa known then as Bytown. Take a journey through time and be sure to walk to the back to check out the vault. It’s three-foot thick stone walls were used to keep the worker’s pay and gun powder secure! Planning a trip to Ottawa? Read our recommendations for the best museums to visit in Ottawa

17. Watch the Sun Set from the Andaz Hotel

Sunset from the Andaz Hotel in Ottawa

I think we have this place on every article we write about Ottawa, but having a pre-dinner cocktail on the rooftop of the Andaz Hotel is awesome. It has the best view of Ottawa for sunset and the menu is filled with signature cocktails. Be sure to order the Charcuterie Board for your appetizer, it’s delicious.

18. Visit Canada’s Busiest Museum

Visit the Canadian Museum of History in Ottawa

The Canadian Museum of History is a fantastic museum in Ottawa to learn about the history of Canada. It’s not just boring facts though, there are plenty of interactive and beautiful displays. It also houses the largest collection of totem poles east of British Columbia. It truly is an incredible museum. I can’t believe it took us about a dozen trips to Ottawa to finally go inside. Read: 15 Awesome Ottawa Museums – What Not to Miss and Why

19. Relax at Nordik Spa Nature

Visit the Nordic Spa is something you have to do when in Ottawa

After all these adventures in Ottawa, a great places to unwind and relax is at the Nordick Spa Nature. Located 20 minutes outside of the city, this is an amazing spa with plunge pools, saunas, steam rooms and massage.

You can spend the day relaxing in its infinity pool looking at the fall colours surrounding you in this forest escape. Be sure to pay extra for the Kalla Treatment, it’s worth every penny. Read more about Nordik Spa Nature here.

And these are our recommendations for the best places to visit in Ottawa in Autumn.

Government Tours

Currently, the Government buildings are closed to the public in Ottawa, but when things get back to normal, we should be able to enter again soon.

20. Tour of the House of Commons West Block – Closed

Visit the new House of Commons in Ottawa

The House of Commons is closed for renovations for a few years, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t tour it. Parliament has opened up a temporary outdoor square that has been glassed in. I had been on a tour of the original house of commons and I found this to be a far more pleasant setting. They have moved everything meticulously over to its temporary home, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they stayed here!

  • Be sure to arrive early for security checks. No large bags allowed

21. Tour the Senate – Closed

Visit the new Senate Building in Ottawa

The old Ottawa train station has been closed for a decade and finally reopened to the Senate last year. It was our first time touring the senate and it is worth the visit just to see the historic train station from inside. By the time you tour parliament and the senate you’ll have a full understanding of the Canadian government while getting a glimpse at some of the country’s most historic architecture.

Watch our video of the very best things to do in Ottawa

places to visit in ottawa | video

Read more about Ottawa Places to Visit at

Where to Stay in Ottawa

Lord Elgin – Beautiful historic hotel located downtown. Walking distance to everything including  Rideau Canal, Confederation Park, and Parliament Hill.

Andaz – Good location for Byward Market It’s walking distance to many restaurants and bars. Rooftop lounge overlooking the city. Gym, two restaurants

Fairmont Chateau Laurier – Good for activities near the canal and Parliament buildings. Located next to the locks and near Parliament. Our number one pick  – Pool, gym, three restaurants.

The Westin Ottawa has a fantastic view of the city. It is located on the Rideau Canal and is connected to the Rideau Centre.

Check Out More Ottawa Travel Tips to Help with Planning

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places to visit in Ottawa in Autumn

Our trip to Ottawa is in partnership with Tourism Ottawa. All opinions are our own. Visit their website for more information on travel to Ottawa.

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About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

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4 thoughts on “Places to Visit in Ottawa this Autumn”

  1. First off, the photos look astoundingly surreal and out of this world! It’s like the sceneries were only captured to be viewed on a movie screen! The beautiful art of nature plus great photography equals these masterpieces! Thank you for sharing this beautiful place with us even though it’s only through virtual but you made us inspired and motivated to work our asses off to even just visit this place!