With a landscape of iconic landmarks within pristine natural surroundings, Ottawa is arguably one of Canada’s most photogenic cities. Add vibrant fall colours to the mix and, voila, a surefire recipe for stunning photographs. Whether you’re doing it for the ’Gram or your private collection, make the most of the season by ticking “key photo ops” off your autumn bucket list while enjoying everything Canada’s capital has to offer.
1. Foliage Shot
See the deciduous trees of Gatineau Park in all their colourful splendour during Fall Rhapsody. No car? No problem! On weekends throughout the season, free shuttles run to and from ByWard Market. For the perfect shot, head to Pink Lake where, on a still day, it acts as a massive mirror reflecting the surrounding lush forest. Don’t forget your hiking shoes: The 1.9-kilometre King Mountain Trail offers stunning views of the Ottawa Valley below and even downtown Ottawa all the way to the Parliament Buildings.
2. The Spooky Selfie
It is said that Ottawa is home to a plethora of paranormal activity, with hot spots like Carleton County Jail and the Fairmont Château Laurier. Feeling brave? Book a tour on The Haunted Walk to explore these sites and revel in hair-raising ghost stories.
Another spooky-fun hub is Saunders Farm, a 100-acre property in Ottawa’s countryside. At the turn of the 20th century when Dr. William Saunders was director of an experimental farm, it was rumoured that things took a turn for the gruesome. His legacy lives on during Haunting Season with spine-tingling attractions like “The Coven,” a “Barn of Terror” and “The Shambles.” If you have little ones in tow, there are also many G-rated scares to be had. Say cheese!
3. Pumpkin Pic
The air is crisp. The sun has set. You’re strolling through an 1860s village aglow with no less than 7,000 hand-carved gourds arranged in astounding, often life-size displays. This is the remarkable scene you’ll find each fall at Upper Canada Village’s award-winning Pumpkinferno, a.k.a. the perfect spot for a pumpkin photo.
If you prefer a more bucolic ambiance, the ByWard Market is Canada’s largest farmers’ market and always has plenty of pumpkins on display, only part of a cornucopia of fall harvest produce. Bonus: The Market is home to the original BeaverTails stand, an essential Ottawa treat.
4. Sweeping Vistas
From ziplining among the trees at Camp Fortune to riding a vintage biplane ride departing from the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, Ottawa is a hotbed of outdoor adventure that gives you both a unique vantage point and an exhilarating adrenaline rush.
Paddling the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is another enjoyable way to score a unique perspective on the city. Rentals (canoe, kayak or other watercraft) are available at Dows Lake Pavilion until Thanksgiving weekend. Be sure to check out Dominion Arboretum along the way: Its 2,000 varieties of flora and fauna make for stunning fall photography.
5. Coffee + Craft Beer
Ottawa’s coffee game is strong with, for starters, charming spots like Red Door Provisions (come for fancy bevies like beetroot or honey-lavender lattes, leave with a jar of small-batch jam) and The Ministry of Coffee (one of the city’s original third-wave joints serving especially Insta-worthy homemade scones) topping must-visit lists.
If craft beer is what your palate—and feed!— craves, Brew Donkey runs an array of tours showcasing some of the city’s top microbreweries like Beau’s, Big Rig and Kichesippi Beer Co. Several different tours are available—including the Halloween-inspired “All About the Boo’z”—so be sure to book early.