You may be surprised to learn that Ottawa, Ontario is a Foodie’s dream come true.
Canada’s Capital has long been known for the Parliament Buildings and the changing of the guard, but cutting-edge restaurants and food shops have been quietly popping up all over the city.
If you go to Ottawa; be sure to check out historic ByWard Market; where old meets new in a vibrant and bustling setting. The market is full of tasty treats, souvenirs, jewelry and fresh produce. Here you’ll find the freshest and most unique eats, including specialty Canadian cheeses and maple-infused chocolate, among a variety of other delights scattered throughout more than 600 eclectic shops, boutiques and restaurants.
ByWard Market, which is located just east of Parliament Hill (on George, York, ByWard and William Streets) is officially known as Marché d’Ottawa Markets and is the largest market of its kind in Canada. Set amidst 19th Century buildings and cobblestone courtyards; this outdoor market has a wonderful ambiance which makes tourists and residents feel right at home.
The market itself has a long and storied history. It was established by Lt-Col. John By in 1826. The legendary builder of the Rideau Canal, which runs through Ottawa and connects to Lake Ontario and the Saint Lawrence River at Kingston, Colonel By himself laid out the street plan of the Market, designating George Street and York Street to be extra wide to accommodate the creation of a public market and gathering place. And sure enough, his vision has since become a reality attracting crowds of locals and visitors alike all year round.
That’s right it’s an outdoor market that’s open all year round…. even in the dead of winter. In fact, the weather and the outdoor vendors combine to create the uniqueness of the ByWard Market experience. So, unlike some other outdoor markets; you’ll find ByWard Market vendors outside no matter the weather for 363 days a year (the marker is closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day)!
Byward has a host of food you can try…from Pizza to French to Asian. But if you love yummy hot fried pastries, (and who doesn’t) you’ll need to try BeaverTails. Delighting dessert lovers since 1978, this bakery sells deliciously addictive whole-wheat Canadian pastries that are hand-stretched to resemble the tail of a beaver and served piping hot with your choice of delectable toppings.
The City of Ottawa has been managing the outdoor market since its beginning. This was one of the first services offered by the municipality, providing a much-needed connection between rural and urban life that remains today.
Typically, agri-food vendors are open May to November at 7 a.m. and remain open until 5:30 p.m. Bad weather will rarely disrupt the market. Art and craft vendors usually operate May to October and start at 9 a.m. and sometimes stay open until 8 or 9 p.m.
This market is so big, that most visitors find that one day here just isn’t enough. You can easily spend a couple of days or more just strolling along the streets and taking it all in. There’s also plenty of hotels near Byward Market that’ll meet any budget.
Remember Ottawa is a big city with big city traffic and parking issues. So, if you’re RV’ing; parking and getting around near Byward Market in your coach is going to be tough but not impossible. Your best bet is to leave your RV at one of the many campgrounds near Ottawa and come into town with your tag/tow vehicle or public transit.
Once you’re in the city though, getting to and from the market is easy. You can ride share, drive, bike, walk or use public transportation. With over 3,100 parking spaces available within the ByWard Market, and over 8,000 in the surrounding area, you’re sure to find a spot and time frame that works, making getting here a snap.
Paying for on-street parking is even easier with the help from PayByPhone.com.
Toronto to Ottawa is an easy 4½ hour drive via the 401; while Montreal to Ottawa via the Trans-Canada Highway is about 2 hours. Ogdensburg New York is the closest U.S. border crossing to Ottawa; it’s about an hour away on Provincial Roads 416 and 417.