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Must Visit Attractions in Ottawa

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Originally Laflèche Cave, Aventure Laflèche is North America's largest aerial park and boasts all kinds of attractions. From the Aerial Park to snowshoe hiking to their famous Laflèche cavern, there's hardly a dull moment. With only a half-hour drive's away from Ottawa, the wilderness has never been more accessible. Rates vary, reservations required. See website for more details.

Fresh flowers often grace the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, an unnamed Canadian victim of the First World War. Towering above are 22 figures frozen in bronze as they rush forward into battle. Nurses, pilots, soldiers and sailors all represent tales of self-sacrifice and courage. Though prominently located in the busy downtown core, National War Memorial becomes the center of attention every November 11 at 11a, when the country marks Remembrance Day in honor of the men and women who paid the ultimate price for freedom.

This museum was established in May 2005, to commemorate the men and women of Canada's armed forces. The museum's mandate is to advance the study of Canada's military history, including the effects of war and conflict on the nation and its citizens. Within its walls are a number of artifacts and exhibits portraying Canada's military history from its earliest days along with Vimy House, the Museum's collections and research facility.

Parliament Hill is the political heart of Canada. Situated on a bluff overlooking the Ottawa River, it is actually a collection of three turn-of-the-century Gothic structures known as the East Block, Centre Block and West Block. The West Block and East Block contain the offices of Members of Parliament. The House of Commons and the Senate are located in the Centre Block, with its soaring Peace Tower.

The Peace Tower dominates Parliament Hill, soaring over 90 meters (300 feet) high above Ottawa, while the Canadian flag unfurls gently over its topmost turret. A fine monument symbolic of the country's storied past, as well as a concrete tribute to lives lost in World War I, this Gothic Revival structure is iconic. It is within the tower's confines that the Memorial Chamber is housed, and at its cynosure is an impressive stone altar that holds the Book of Remembrance. The book features the names of the nearly 118,000 who succumbed to the war in an effort to serve the country. At the heart of the Peace Tower is a 53-bell carillon. The largest bell weighs over 10,000 kilograms (ten tons), while the smallest is only four kilograms (8.8 pounds)heavy. Etched onto the facade of the tower on all four sides, the fabled Peace Tower clock is yet another historic highlight, a friendly token gifted by the United Kingdom to Canada on the 60th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation.

Built between 1839 and 1885, this neo-Gothic cathedral situated on Sussex Drive on the edge of the Byward Market is one of the oldest surviving churches in Ottawa. Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica's twin spires and gilded Madonna are easily identifiable from nearby Parliament Hill and the surrounding area. The interior of Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica is brightly painted and decorated with carved features, exquisite stained glass windows and hundreds of statues of various religious figures. The church is open daily for guided tours and prayer.

Built between 1827 and 1832 without the aid of powered machinery, the Rideau Canal is one of Ottawa's oldest landmarks. The canal runs from the Ottawa River near Parliament Hill to Hog's Back Falls on the south end of the city. During the summer months, a wide range of vessels, including tour boats, glide along the waterway. Come winter, the canal is transformed into the "World's Longest Skating Rink" and is a hub of activity during Ottawa's Winterlude festival.

Arguably one of the most beautiful structures in the nation's capital, the National Gallery of Canada is a striking mesh of fused glass and granite that is home to an impressive art collection. The entrance of the gallery is dominated by Louis Bourgeois' Maman, a gigantic arachnid sculpture that shelters its 26 marble eggs from prying eyes. Once inside the building, visitors proceed along a long, glass concourse with a vaulted ceiling that leads to the Great Hall. From the hall, visitors can access the gallery's many rooms, each associated with an artistic style or period. Home to nearly 40,000 works of art and an astounding collection of Canadian creations, the National Gallery of Canada is acknowledged as one of the most eminent institutions of fine art in the world. Some of the gallery's most soul-stirring and evocative pieces of art include the religious artwork of New France, the Group of Seven paintings, Inuit sculptures, and Andy Warhol's masterpieces, as well as paintings by Vincent van Gogh, Rembrandt, and Claude Monet.

This unique shopping and restaurant district covers nearly 12 square blocks and offers something for everyone. You'll find trendy stores selling the latest in designer fashions, jewelry and artwork, as well as a variety of excellent restaurants. In the evening, the market is a buzz of activity as party-goers hop from nightclub to nightclub. To experience the true roots of ByWard Market, visit during the weekend when local farmers and artisans ply their wares near the Byward Market Building. The market is closed on Christmas and New Year's Day but is otherwise open during the summer and fall.

Royal Canadian Mint has been producing Canadian coinage since 1908. Although coins in circulation are now struck at the mint in Winnipeg, Manitoba, special commemorative coins, tokens and medallions are still created here. Take the popular and extremely interesting guided tour, offered alternately in French and English. Though the boutique is open from 9a to 6p, guided tours are only available from 10a to 5p.

The Bank Street Promenade is a hub of activity in the heart of downtown Ottawa. The main shopping, dining and entertainment district of the city, Bank Street Promenade hosts some of the best retail stores, local events and nightlife you'll find in town. From an evening of entertainment at the historic Barrymores Music Hall to a great seafood dinner at The Whalesbone, there is plenty to keep you busy as you explore this lively street. Both independent retailers and high street fashion stores are found along the promenade, so indulge in some window shopping or pick up gifts and souvenirs of your visit.

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