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Ottawa Hot Attractions

Hot Attraction: Delving into Natural Disasters at the Museum of Nature

“Nature Unleashed” at the Canadian Museum of Nature gives visitors an inside look at natural disasters.

The Canadian Museum of Nature presents “Nature Unleashed: Inside Natural Disasters,” a vivid and dynamic exhibit that brings the reality of natural disasters to life. The exhibit explores the science behind tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes and volcanoes, and shines a light on the impact they have on human lives and the resilient and powerful stories of those who survived them. The displays are highly immersive and interactive: visitors can create a virtual volcano, trigger an earthquake, stand inside a roaring tornado, and see real geological specimens and remains of past disasters. On now until May 5.

Canadian Museum of Nature, 240 McLeod St., 613-566-4700, www.nature.ca

Hot Attraction: Going Underground at the Diefenbunker

The Diefenbunker’s Situation Room.

The once-secret Diefenbunker was built in 1959 to protect select members of the government in the event of a nuclear attack. Nicknamed after John Diefenbaker (who was prime minister at the time the facility was created), the bunker was transformed into a Cold War Museum in 1998 and deemed a National Historic Site of Canada. With daily guided tours, visitors are taken four storeys underground to visit the prime minister’s suite, the war cabinet room, the CBC radio studio, the Bank of Canada vault, the emergency government situation centre, and more. Don’t miss Cold War Cinema, where Cold War-themed films are screened deep in the bunker. See our listing for more details.

3911 Carp Rd., Carp, 613-839-0007, www.diefenbunker.ca

Hot Attraction: Upper Canada Village

Costumed interpreters at Upper Canada Village

A trip to Upper Canada Village will take you back to a simpler time. A full-scale recreation of an 1860s village, the site offers daily programs including tradesmen demonstrations of forging iron and crafting furniture, the spinning of wool in a log cabin, horse-drawn wagon rides, and costumed interpreters covering the grounds. Check out the Fall Fair Weekend (Sept. 15 and 16) for a recreation of an 1860s fall fair, complete with musical and magic shows, livestock, seasonal vegetables and flowers, and fine art displays. Or stop by the World of Glass Weekend (Sept. 22 and 23), which showcases restored stained glass window pieces and offers special presentations with experts. From Oct. 5 to 31, the village presents “Pumpkinfernno,” a spellbinding outdoor exhibit that showcases thousands of creative, intricate, hand-carved pumpkins.

See website for directions and admission info.

Morrisburg, 613-543-3704, www.uppercanadavillage.com

Hot Attraction: Heritage Ottawa Walking Tours

Heritage Ottawa Walking Tours explores the neighbourhood of Sandy Hill on Oct. 21.

Heritage Ottawa Walking Tours take visitors through historic local neighbourhoods with a series of guided tours. The fall season offers a host of interesting excursions, starting on Sept. 9 with the village of Cumberland, the history of which can be traced back to the earliest days of settlement in the Ottawa Valley. The tours continue every Saturday through autumn (except Sept. 30) and conclude on Oct. 21 with the historic neighbourhood of Sandy Hill, which has been home to four Canadian prime ministers.  Join knowledgeable guides, some of whom are residents of their assigned areas, as they pound the pavement and enjoy the season’s crisp air.

613-230-8841, www.heritageottawa.org

Hot Attraction: 1812 at the Canadian War Museum

A coat belonging to Major General Sir Isaac Brock. The hole left by the American musket ball that killed Isaac Brock is clearly visible on the chest of his coat.

The War of 1812 was one of the most significant events in Canadian history, its outcome instrumental in creating the Canada we know today. The Canadian War Museum commemorates the 200th anniversary of the conflict with an appropriately substantial exhibition, simply titled “1812.” Visitors can learn the history behind the war through the perspectives of its four central participants: Canada, the United States, Great Britain and Native Americans.

Canadian War Museum, 1 Vimy Place, 819-776-7000, www.warmuseum.ca

Hot Attraction: Decoding Art

The Terry Fox Statue, which stands on Wellington St. across from Parliament Hill.

Have you ever wondered what gave Terry Fox the idea to run across Canada? Or why Peacekeepers wear blue helmets and berets? If you have a smart phone, the answers are right at your fingertips. The National Capital Commission’s award-winning Decoding Art program gives a new dimension to national monuments and public art in Ottawa. Multimedia clips explain the history and significance behind some of the city’s most visited memorials. To access the clips, just download a QR code reader (offered free by many providers) and scan the QR codes from the Decoding Art signage near the monuments.

Hot Attractions: Parliament Hill


Mosaika lights up Parliament Hill. Photo © NCC.

Parliament Hill is one of Ottawa’s most celebrated attractions at any time of year, but during the summer months, there are even more reasons to visit. Every morning at 10am, a proud Canadian traditions unfolds: Changing the Guard sees the Ceremonial Guard of the Canadian Forces engage in a stirring military drill, with accompaniment from one of the nation’s top military marching bands. When the sun goes down, Centre Block becomes the backdrop for Mosaika, a free multimedia show that explores Canada’s culture and history through bilingual audio clips and stunning visual projections. Tie those in with a guided tour, and you can truly say you’ve experienced The Hill.

Hot Attraction: Mysteries of the Maya


A ceramic bowl depicting a bird from the Late Classic Period (600-900 CE).
Photo ©CONACULTA.-INAH.-MEX. Jorge Vertiz 2011

The mysteries behind the enigmatic Maya civilization are uncovered in “Maya: Secrets of their Ancient World,” a captivating exhibition at the Canadian Museum of Civilization. Through nearly 250 stunning artefacts, visitors can learn about the temples, cities, languages, life cycles and beliefs of the Classic and Post-Classic Mayas — and uncover the truth behind the 2012 end-of-days legend. May 18 to Oct. 28. 

Canadian Museum of Civilization, 100, rue Laurier, Gatineau, 819-776-7000. www.civilization.ca.

Hot Attraction: Ride Off Into the Sunset

The RCMP Musical Ride Canadian Sunset Ceremonies run from June 26 to 30.

You know the image of the Mounties: bright red coats and broad-brimmed Stetson hats, bringing law and order to the country. Well, did you know that these men and women also partake in a tradition that dates back as far as 1887? The RCMP Musical Ride Canadian Sunset Ceremonies consists of police officers who execute a variety of cavalry drills choreographed to music. Check out this truly Canadian sight when they perform in Ottawa from June 26 to 30 before heading out on a cross-country tour. You can also explore the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Musical Ride Centre where the horses are stabled.