Six ways to fall in love with Ottawa on your next socially distanced visit
Counting down the days ‘til it’s safe to travel again? Here are six spots to bookmark for your next visit to Canada’s capital
One thing that has been made unequivocally clear over the past few months is that small businesses are what breathe life and character into our communities. Torontonians have developed a stronger appreciation for the local haunts not only in their own backyard, but also in the neighbouring towns and cities that make the province such a great road-tripping destination.
We hand-picked a few of our favourite places in and around Ottawa, which you can shop and enjoy virtually or bookmark for when it’s safe to travel again. Here, you’ll find spots to satisfy any craving, whether it’s a scary story, stiff cocktail or particularly tasty old cheddar.
For smooth craft brews: Kichesippi Beer Co.
The roots of Ottawa’s now-thriving craft beer scene can likely be traced back to this place, which has been brewing ales, stouts and lagers in the area for over a decade. Their latest location in Bells Corner has a tap room, retail store and a partially heated beer garden, where they serve up freshly made pizzas to go with beloved classics like the Warrior Woman American pale ale or Stony Monday IPA. It’s also located right next to the Great Trail, making it the perfect pit-stop on a socially distanced hike—and online sales are up and running for stocking up remotely. 2265 Robertson Road, kbeer.ca.
For sustainably made spirits: Dairy Distillery
Located in Almonte, just a short drive from Ottawa, this innovative state-of-the-art distillery turns leftover milk sugars from the dairy industry into a super-smooth, vodka-like spirit called Vodkow. With a production process that has half the carbon footprint of traditional distillers, Vodkow is a sustainable alternative to other spirits. It’s also triple-distilled, mixed with local spring water and filtered using activated carbon. They recently launched a lactose-free cream liquor, available online and at select LCBO locations, which would make a great addition to festive cocktails this season. 34 Industrial Drive, dairydistillery.com.
For mouth-watering cheese baskets: St-Albert Cheese
One of the oldest co-ops in Canada, with roots that trace back to 1894, St-Albert Cheese makes and sells some of the best cheddars in the world (their extra-old won first place at the British Empire Cheese Show in 2014). After a fire destroyed their building in 2013, they moved into a modern complex in St. Albert, with a restaurant, boutique and even a museum devoted to the company’s fascinating history. The place is the country’s largest maker of cheddar cheese curds, and poutine fans will swoon over the perfectly salty, pillow-soft bites. 150 St. Paul Street, fromagestalbert.com.
For personalized tours: À La Carte Shuttle and Tours
This small-group tour company offers a wide range of ways to explore everything Ottawa has to offer, whether you’re into unique culinary experiences, discovering underrated neighbourhoods or going on winter snowshoeing excursions. Their Hintonburg Unlocked tour doubles as a type of mobile escape room, where social bubbles are challenged to make their way from one secret location to the next by unlocking puzzles. Families craving a more personalized experience can start dreaming up their ideal custom tour, with their preferred mode of transport and favourite refreshing brew or cozy hot cider stop. Alacartetours.ca.
For spooky stories: Haunted Walk
Anyone interested in the darker stories and history behind some of Ottawa’s most notable landmarks can look into one of the city’s Haunted Walks. The company is Canada’s most popular walking company, and the award-winning, lantern-led nighttime tours are full of spine-tingling ghost stories that are guaranteed to be anything but dull. This winter, they’re offerings private tours with your bubble, as well as some spooky virtual campfires. Hauntedwalk.com.
For the sweetest raw honey: Gees Bees Honey Company
This eight-acre urban farm, founded by a couple who became accidental beekeepers after rescuing a colony that was living in a wall in their home, is devoted to making the purest local honey. The farm offers educational tours where visitors can see how the honey is made, taste the local varieties and learn about the importance of pollinators. Their signature raw wildflower honey is a must-try, with a subtle botanical flavour that’s perfect for naturally sweetening up everything from a cup of tea to a hot apple crumble. 538 River Road, geesbees.ca.