Before you chose the University of Ottawa, you probably did a bit of research about the city, or even visited. You’ve probably heard about Ottawa’s wide range of museums and historic sites, and of course, Parliament Hill. (If you haven’t, I’m sorry, our public education has clearly failed you.) All these places are worth checking out— notably on Thursdays after 5, when museums are free—but there’s also much more to this city than what you can find in a guidebook.
This is your new home away from home, and it’s a home worth getting to know. It’s far too easy to get trapped in the campus bubble in first year, with the occasional field visit to Hull and the Rideau Centre food court. Don’t let this be the only part of the city you see, I beg of you. Take some time in September, before midterms and your caffeine-fuelled hermit state kick in, to stroll around some of Ottawa’s most wonderful neighbourhoods.
Sandy Hill, sometimes known as the student ghetto, is notoriously home to many a student,and likely where most of you will find subpar apartments in your second year.It’s also home to many of our foreign embassies,such as the imposing structure of the Russian embassy, and historic sites, such as Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s home. While walking home from a house party, take note of the many beautiful old buildings in the area, as this is where most diplomat ssettled down in the late 1800s. Just think,one day you could be Russia’s neighbour! Sandy Hill is also home to one of the most beautiful parks in the city: Strathcona Park. Bordering the Rideau River,it’s a perfect place to run, play some Frisbee,or relax under the trees with your readings. Located where Laurier Avenue turns into CharlotteStreet, Strathcona Park offers a quick escape into nature. Just be careful of the geese.
In the ByWard Market,you will find many necessities you won’t hear about on your welcome tour. These include, but are not limited to: Zak’s Diner, the best place for a 3 a.m. meal or milkshake; Zaphod’s, the best place for PBR on tap; and more local fruits and vegetables than you can shake a stick at. From the Market, you can walk up the stairs to Major’s Hill Park, between the Chateau Laurier and the National Art Gallery, for an amazing view of the river. While during the day on the weekends the Market is packed with tourists, at night the streets are crawling with university students going in and out of any one of the bars in the area. The Market has a bar for whatever music you’re into, be it good or country. It doesn’t really matter where you go out, because everyone ends up at the same place anyway: Smoke’s Poutinerie, where you will regularly see someone throwing up their recently purchased meal in the early hours of the morning.
Bar, bar, sex, burgers. For some, this accurately bencompasses their university experience. It is also what you will find on the west side of the Rideau Canal, in Centretown. Want to go to a gay sex shop next to a nut-free cupcakerie called Thimblecakes? You’ll find it in Centretown. Want some organic foods and holistic remedies? Try Herb & Spice and their wellness centre. Want to dance your pants off to some songs you bumped and grinded to in middle school? Try Shameless night at Babylon Nightclub on Bank Street, or retro night next door at Barrymore’s. Also on Bank Street, you’ll find comic book shops, record stores, yoga studios, and coffee shops. A few blocks east on Elgin Street, you’ll find patio, after patio, after patio, and then some really delicious tacos. If you’re longing for an urban atmosphere, Centretown is where you want to be. It can be a little raunchy, a little smelly, and a lot of fun.
A bit deeper into Centretown, easily accessible on the No. 2 bus, you will find Chinatown. If you want mediocre service, reasonable prices, and hefty servings of delicious food, you’re in the right place. Home to Pho, Dim sum, Korean BBQ, and all-youcan- eat-sushi, you’ll be glad you took a break from the cafeteria. In addition to hundreds of different noodle variations, you’ll find some cafés that will blow the cup sleeves off your Starbucks pumpkin spice latte. Umi Café and Raw Sugar are both small, independent coffee shops host to low-key musical acts and board games. The bus ride out to Chinatown is also an experience in itself, even if only for an Instagram picture under the beautiful arch.
Just south of Centretown, under the highway overpass, you will find yourself in likely the loveliest pocket of the city: the Glebe. Home to dozens of independent shops and restaurants, the Glebe prides itself on being unique. While most attractions are out of a student’s price range, the Glebe is also home to Ottawa’s most original pizza joint, ZaZaZa Pizza, as well as the city’s most well-known burger restaurant, The Works. Both are worth busting out a pretty sized penny for, and afterwards you can take a walk through the parks and the residential area to see some of the most beautiful homes in Ottawa. The Glebe is also where you’ll find the revamped stadium, TD Place, which hosts Fury soccer, Redblacks football, 67’s hockey, and this year’s Panda Game. If sports aren’t your thing, sit down for a coffee at one of the area’s many wicked coffee shops, or grab a bagel at Kettleman’s across the street from the stadium.Tweet us you favourite places in Ottawa with #FulcrumBestOfOttawa