I've only been in Canada's capital city of Ottawa for 2 days, it's true – but in those 2 days I've seen quite a bit and gotten a feel for the city. Despite it being cold enough to make all my extremeties go numb after 5 minutes, there are plenty of things I'm already loving about Ottawa.
I would recommend taking a last minute vacation here like I did if it's possible for you. This city is full of so many things to do — and so many things to love.
5 things to love about Ottawa
1. Ottawa is walkable
I'm staying at the Courtyard by Marriott downtown, right in the heart of the Byward Market neighborhood. Staying downtown means that I'm within walking distance of most of the city's major sites, from its museums, to the Rideau Canal, to Parliament Hill. This is the kind of city I love — one where I can just pick a direction and walk, and always find something interesting.
2. Ottawa is bilingual
I've never really spent much time in a city that appears to be truly bilingual. Almost everyone speaks both English and French, which I guess I knew but was still surprised by. And, really, is there anything cuter than a little kid speaking French? (The answer is no.)
3. Ottawa is full of great restaurants
Before coming here, I definitely did not consider Ottawa a foodie's paradise. But you know what? It kind of is. There are restaurants and cafes everywhere, and many of them participate in the “Savour Ottawa” program. This initiative works to bring together local farmers and producers with local chefs and consumers, which I think is fantastic. There are also great pubs and bakeries here — and of course the famous Beavertail stands!
4. Ottawa has so many bookstores
This may seem like an odd addition to this list, but as I've been walking around downtown a lot (and especially in the Byward Market area), I've been noticing a huge number of bookstores here. This is a big contrast to where I'm from, where we're lucky to have one Barnes and Noble per city. Canadians must be much more interested in reading than we Ohioans are!
5. Ottawa is not overwhelming
I realize Ottawa has nowhere near the population of some other world capitals, but I've been struck by how much Ottawa DOESN'T feel like a huge, overwhelming city. The traffic isn't scary, people have generally been very friendly, the streets are clean, and it's very easy to find your way around. I'm a country girl at heart, and so don't generally love big cities. But Ottawa is doing a pretty good job of making me love it so far.
I can't wait to see what else this city has in store for me!
READ NEXT: 5 MORE Things to Love About Ottawa
Have you been to Ottawa? If so, what do you like (or dislike) about the city?
*Disclaimer: My stay is being graciously taken care of by Ottawa Tourism. As always, though, all opinions are my own.