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Where to shop in Ottawa – where to find the best shopping neighbouhoods

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When you’ve had your fill of Ottawa’s high culture, the city’s shopping centers, boutiques and outlets make for a retail paradise. No shortage of shops offer Canadian and Ontario-themed mementos of your visit, from handicrafts to local specialty foods. It’s no doubt that Ottawans take shopping seriously, as a bustling marketplace is one major centrepiece of the city. Elsewhere, distinct neighborhoods offer ample opportunity to chat with shopkeepers and soak up local history as you seek out bargains.<span style="text-decoration: underline;"></span>

Frank Bella

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Ottawa (Ontario)

ByWard Market

 

At ByWard Market, you can expect to find all things gastronomic, as well as assorted handicrafts and specialty items for the home or kitchen. The historic marketplace, itself a cathedral to the senses, is only the beginning: the blocks surrounding ByWard are themselves a continuation of the retail options. The numerous shops range from high-fashion boutiques to the craft galleries touting local artisans’ wares. In between, you can break up the shopping at numerous cafes, art galleries and restaurants. Weather permitting, outdoor vending is a major part of the market district, giving the whole area a festive feel.

 

Sparks Street

 

Historically Ottawa’s first retail district, Sparks Street runs downtown between Elgin and Lyon Streets. A fully pedestrian shopping district, the street sets a bevy of varied shops against the backdrop of grand architecture. The lively atmosphere makes it a fitting home for the annual Busker Festival and other varied street festivals. Shopping options range from well-known international brands to long-standing local businesses. Independent jewellers and boutiques are peppered around major department stores like Holt Renfrew in the 240 Sparks Shopping Center.

 

Rideau Centre

 

The foremost shopping center in Ottawa, Rideau Center boasts over 180 major shops right in downtown Ottawa. Perfect for the shopaholic or the souvenir hunter when the weather turns foul, the center offers apparel, accessories, electronics, beauty, and entertainment shops, as well as a range of eateries. Brands span the gamut from high-brow labels to discount outlets. If you’re looking for shops one-of-a-kind to Ottawa, this isn’t the place to look, but Rideau Centre is a top pick for reliable range and quality and downtown convenience.

 

Downtown Rideau District

 

Spanning either side of Rideau Street, east of the canal, the Downtown Rideau District has long played a role in Ottawa’s shopping scene, serving as home to some of the city’s first department stores in the late 19th century. In recent years, it’s been transformed into a hive of both shopping and culture as Ottawa’s Arts and Theatre District. Retail options include many locally owned businesses, though you can also find outlet shopping and better-known brands. Adding to the mix are many of Ottawa’s foremost theatres and plenty of restaurants touting pre-show meals.

 

Wellington West

 

Wellington West is one neighborhood worth exploring for the shopping, alone, though you shouldn’t be surprised if you end up sticking around for a meal. Well-known as a hotbed of Ottawa’s burgeoning culinary scene, Wellington West is also a great place to scoop up unusual finds, whether clothing or curiosities. Independent businesses predominate, and the vibe is neighbourly, with over 400 shops, restaurants and galleries tucked into a walkable radius. Eclectic styles predominate, with counterculture flair to many of the businesses, from bike shops to cafes. In the summer, Wellington West is also home to Parkdale Market.