The annual Canadian Tulip Festival is underway in Ottawa which has me reminiscing about our visit to the festival last year. Tulips were originally gifted to Canada by the Netherlands as a thank you for providing a safe haven to the Dutch Royal Family during World War II and in 1953 a festival was established to occur at the time that the flowers bloomed each spring. It has continued to expand each year and now features more than 1 million tulips in Canada's Capital Region.
The Canadian capital of Ottawa, Ontario is one of the most family-friendly destinations in the country. No matter the season, families will discover a city which boasts world-class museums and other attractions, encourages outdoor activity and is home to several outstanding festivals.
The Canadian Museum of Civilization has always been my favourite museum in Ottawa and we have visited it several times. The distinctive architecture and the lovely location on the banks of the Ottawa River are appealing, but what I truly love about the museum is that it's a natural history museum focused on Canadian history and culture providing an opportunity for my children to learn more about our country's past in a fun way. It also includes the amazing Canadian Children's Museum which introduces children to the idea that experiencing the world is a great adventure. I'm clearly not alone in loving this museum as it welcomes more than 1 million visitors a year, making it one of the most popular places to visit in the National Capital Region.
(UPDATE: The Canadian Museum of Civilization was renamed the Canadian Museum of History in 2013)
Emma and I recently stayed at The Lord Elgin Hotel on a weekend trip to Ottawa. That's not how the weekend had been planned, however, a couple of days beforehand what was supposed to be a family getaway to Ottawa morphed into a mom/daughter weekend. We had booked a 2 bedroom apartment at Minto Suites but Emma and I didn't need that much space so we decided to switch to a more centrally located hotel and chose the Lord Elgin in the heart of downtown Ottawa.
I don't think that I have ever visited the Canadian capital without going for a stroll around Parliament Hill - it's definitely one of my favourite things to do in Ottawa. On our recent weekend in the city, the first thing that Emma and I did after checking into our hotel and dropping our luggage was walk over to see the beautiful buildings and statues and enjoy the impressive views.
A fun thing to do in Ottawa is to stop by the National Arts Centre on Elgin Street to see the sculpture of legendary jazz pianist, Oscar Peterson. Canadian sculptor, Ruth Abernethy, created the bronze sculpture which includes a larger-than-life grand piano and the great pianist sitting on the bench alongside. The sculpture was unveiled by Queen Elizabeth in downtown Ottawa in June, 2010.
The recent long weekend that we spent in Ottawa was hot and humid - more like a midsummer day than the middle of May - which made it perfect weather for ice cream or gelato. Fortunately, we had a recommendation from one of the third grade teachers at Emma's school for the best gelato in Ottawa so we headed for Piccolo Grande in Byward Market after our visit to the National Gallery of Canada on Sunday morning.
This year the Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa, Ontario celebrated its 60th Anniversary (in 2012). Tulips were originally gifted to Canada by the Netherlands as a thank you for providing a safe haven to the Dutch Royal Family during World War II and as a symbol of the special friendship between the two countries.