I recently took a points and miles trip to Ottawa. My flight was on Air Miles and my hotel was on IHG points. My next challenge was finding free or cheap sightseeing options. I then discovered that Doors Open Ottawa was coming up. It turned out to be a terrific experience. If you’re looking for an interesting getaway next June 3-4, 2017, I highly recommend it.
Doors Open Ottawa has been happening for 15 years and it’s one of the largest such events in North America. Many of the same establishments participate every year but there are usually a few new ones as well. This year there were over a hundred to choose from. Many are open both days but there are some that welcome visitors on either the Saturday or Sunday only so you need to carefully plan your itinerary. The list of participants also includes some sites or museums that are normally open to the public for an admission fee, but are free for Doors Open. Here is the full 2016 list.
It’s important to note that some buildings require pre-registration. This year they included the French Embassy, the U.S. Embassy and the Diefenbunker. As I was using public transit I opted out of seeing the Diefenbunker located outside the city and I forgot the date for registering for the French Embassy, but I was able to register and receive an invitation for a tour of the U.S. Embassy.
Some of the visits are self-guided but others involve a guided tour of the premises. The tours included information about both the building and the activities that take place inside. Over the two days, I visited these:
Lester B. Pearson Building – Global Affairs Canada
National Research Council
Earnscliffe – British High Commissioner’s Official Residence
Billings Estate Artefact Collection Storage
Le Cordon Bleu, Ottawa Culinary Arts Institute – Munross House
Laurier House National Historic Site
Perhaps Ottawa’s Doors Open event has set the bar quite high but I’m keen to check out another city’s version. Some of these are over for 2016 and others are yet to come, but here are a few to keep in mind for a future trip: