Welcome to part one of our Women’s World Cup series! For the first time ever, Canada is hosting the event, and it’s been nothing but high intensity since the first kick. The sweat, the strain, the deft dodges, the confident punts—it doesn’t get grander than this. Because the games are taking place in the biggest cities in the country, we’re here to highlight the top things to do in Ottawa, Quebec, and Vancouver during the Women’s World Cup.
Part 1: Ottawa
Ottawa isn’t just the fourth-largest city in the country; it’s also the nation’s capital. Founded in 1826, the town is generously steeped in history, art, and culture. Once the roars of the crowds at TD Place soften for the night, make your way through town. Here are the top sites to see in Ottawa during your trip to the Women’s World Cup.
It’s easy to understand why Parliament Hill sits atop most majortravel lists about Ottawa. As the home of the country’s legislative body, Parliament Hill is the locale of hefty debates, revolutionary progress, and exquisite beauty. The hill overlooks the Ottawa River and is dotted with Gothic-style buildings and manicured grounds. If you’re visiting during the day, enjoy the free walking tour, and head up Peace Tower for unbeatable views of the city below. After the Women’s World Cup quarter finals conclude, stick around a few extra days for the Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill. The night sky is inked with brilliant fireworks as sizzling food aromas and live music waft through the air.
It’s not a soccer match without celebratory frothy brews, right? The best place for nightlife in Ottawa is ByWard Market district. Here, you can find just about any type of vibe you’re looking for. Rooting for Team Brazil? Caliente Latin Club is the best spot for salsa dancing and free dance lessons on Friday nights. Cheering for Ireland? Heart & Crown is an Irish pub, amplified. There are five distinct bars under one roof and three stages that host live music. Deliriously supporting Canada? Go to Zaphod Beeblebrox, which offers a diverse mix of rock, pop, electric, and indie beats. Because you’re at the market anyway, remember to pick up some snacks for the next day’s match.
Canadian Museum of History
Sports have been an intricate part of human history from the beginning. Learn about our past at the Canadian Museum of History. Roughly 1.2 million visitors walk through the doors each year, making it the country’s most visited museum. The exhibits focus on Canadian and world history, with aspects of archaeology, ethnology, and cultural studies on display. When you find yourself cheering for your favourite soccer team like a maniac, you can rest assured that it’s just human nature at play.
National Gallery of Canada
You might say that a good soccer goal is a work of art, so after the game, make time for some truly remarkable pieces of creativity. The National Gallery of Canada is one of the most renowned art museums in the country, and is free on Thursday nights, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Spy works from Alex Colville, Mary Pratt, and Janet Cardiff, to name a few. Featuring paintings, photography, and sculpture, it’s more red paint than red cards.
After watching people run all day, it’s easy to feel a little cooped up in the stands. Break free at Gatineau Park. As the largest park grounds in Ottawa, it offers plenty of space to roam. One of the main attractions is the shoreline. There are a number of beaches open to the public each summer. Take a swim at O’Brien, Blanchet, Breton, Parent, Smith, or La Peche beaches, to name a few. Stretch your legs, then get back to watching the pros do the same.
The soccer ball spins, the goalie wiggles her fingers, and the net sits hollow, waiting for that championship kick. It’s the Women’s World Cup 2015 at its best. Make a date with Ottawa for all the festivities.
Which activities would you recommend checking out in Ottawa?