It is possible to have a kick-ass one-day vacation
YOU’RE BROKE, YOU’RE swamped with midterms, or your boss won’t give you time off. Whatever the reason, you’re stuck in Ottawa this reading week while your friends traipse around the world and, needless to say, you’re pissed. You could sit alone in your room, blogging angrily or throwing darts at a map, or you could shrug it off and plan an amazing one-day long “vacation” in Ottawa, Kingston, or Montreal.
Travellers flock to our beautiful city every year to marvel at the stately Parliament Buildings, stroll along the Rideau Canal, and peruse the wares of the ByWard Market. Tourists drop a lot of cash to visit Ottawa, so take advantage of the fact that all you’ll need to get around are your own two feet.
Get to know your friendly neighbourhood federal government by touring the Parliament Buildings. Free guided walks of the buildings and grounds are offered in French and English, so don’t pass this opportunity up. Be sure to go to the top of the Peace Tower to enjoy the best view of the city.
Some say Ottawa lacks culture, but prove those people wrong by taking in a play at the Ottawa Little Theatre or the National Arts Centre. Tour one of the city’s many art galleries, like the La Petite Mort gallery or the National Gallery of Canada, or take in an educational moment at the Canadian Museum of Nature or the Canadian War Museum. Ottawa has one of the highest concentrations of museums and art galleries of all Canadian cities, so you’ll be sure to find something that tickles your fancy.
Love shopping? Head to Sparks Street, the ByWard Market, Bank Street, or any of Ottawa’s malls. Your wallet won’t thank you, but your wardrobe will.
End your day with a scare by going on a Haunted Walk tour. Costumed guides will lead you by lantern light through Ottawa’s most haunted places, including the Ottawa Jail Hostel.
Kingston may not be the first city that comes to mind when you think of an ideal day-trip destination, but hear us out. There’s more to the city than prisoners and the famous Queen’s University homecomings—we promise.
If you use your student discount, a roundtrip Greyhound bus ticket will only set you back $40. If you’re feeling bad about ditching schoolwork for the day, assuage your guilt by reading a textbook during the two-hour trip.
One of your first stops upon arriving in Kingston should be a 1000 Islands boat cruise. Patrons can eat, drink, and listen to music while touring the small cottage islands of the St. Lawrence river. Not interested in lounging on a boat but still want to be on the water? Head to AHOY Rentals and go kayaking or canoeing.
If you prefer your feet firmly on the ground, spend the afternoon strolling along the popular Princess Street and dine at one of the many restaurants in the city’s downtown core. If you’re alone, pull out your textbook—according to Statistics Canada, Kingston has the most PhD-holders per capita of any Canadian city, so looking engrossed in a book may help you entice an attractive and available intellectual.
The city is perhaps best known for Kingston Penitentiary, which houses some of Canada’s most notorious criminals. Fans of crime novels and TV shows should check out the Correctional Service of Canada Museum, located across the street from the infamous prison.
There’s no shortage of tourist attractions in the city of Montreal, so prepare yourself for a jam-packed day. Your roundtrip bus ticket will cost approximately $45 and will be worth every penny.
Spend the morning exploring Old Montreal, the most historic and arguably the most beautiful area of the city. Lovers of architecture and history will enjoy the Gothic-revival-styled Notre Dame Basilica and Montreal City Hall, while those looking to spend money will be pleased to discover that there are countless shops and cafés along the cobblestone streets.
Later, head to the Montreal Biodome to get up close and personal with the animals and wildlife of the four different ecosystems found in North America.
Montreal boasts dozens of museums, art galleries, and theatres, so to avoid becoming overwhelmed by your options, do some research before arriving in the city. Some particular places to keep in mind are the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, and Gallery X.
If you’ve budgeted your time wisely, you should be able to hit one of the famous bars or strip clubs on Ste-Catherine Street before catching the last bus home to Ottawa.
You may not be able to go far and you may only have one day, but if you’ve got $40 and a sense of adventure, you can have a great “vacation” this reading week.