Ottawa, Ontario is the capital city of Canada, the home of the British style Parliament Buildings, and also the home of the world’s largest skating rink. This rink is even recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the world's largest naturally frozen ice rink. The head of research at Guinness states that while there are other large areas of water used for skating, the services provided at the Rideau Canal Skateway make this rink unique.
This skating rink is the Rideau Canal, which extends from the locks between the castle-like Chateau Laurier hotel and the Parliament Buildings downtown, to the locks at the other end at Carleton University. At about 4.7 miles long, this rink is equivalent to about 90 Olympic rinks.
Built by Irish workers in the 1850s, the Rideau Canal was built to give an alternate route between Montreal and Kingston in case of American threats on the St. Lawrence River. Today this canal provides idyllic scenery for boaters in the summer, and in the winter, once the ice is at least 12 inches thick, it becomes a skating attraction for nearly one million visitors. Many workers enjoy the opportunity for fresh air and exercise by skating to work. The rink is free to use, and is lined with snack stands, souvenir shops and skate rental and change huts.
What Else Can You Do?Credit: http://www.canadascapital.gc.ca/celebrate/winterlude/skating-rideau-canal
Depending on the weather, the Skateway is usually open at the end of December until early March. Be sure to consider including Winterlude if you are planning a visit. This is an annual family winter festival held in early February in the capital. Take part in the many activities at this time, including the Winterlude Triathlon, an annual bed, the Great Canadian Beaver Cup Pond Hockey Classic, skating demonstrations, concerts and live music, an igloo building workshop, ice sculptures and art exhibitions. Many of these events take place at various locations throughout the city so you will have a chance to explore sites like Confederation Park, the Festival Plaza at City Hall, and Jacque Cartier Park.
You can take time during your visit to Ottawa to view Parliament Hill, the National Arts Centre, the National Art Gallery, and any of the many national museums in the capital.
And you will have to eat at least one Beaver Tail, an original Canadian delicacy. Actually it is a very tasty flat fried donut that you can cover with your favorite topping.
How to Get There
Ottawa is located in Eastern Ontario, about an hour away from the United States border, 5 hours from Toronto and 2 hours from Montreal. It is serviced by an international airport, has excellent highways and as well as rail and bus service.