storefronts along bank street in centretown ottawa

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Spotlight on Centretown, Ottawa

(Image credit: Ottawa Life Magazine)

Centretown is one of the few neighbourhoods in the Nation’s Capital you can truly live, work and play in. According to an Ottawa Neighbourhood Study, this area is bounded by the Ottawa River to the north, the Queensway to the south, Queen Elizabeth Drive and the Rideau Canal to the east, and Bronson Avenue to the west, so it’s just a short walk, bus or bike to some of Ottawa’s greatest recreation and attractions. (Don’t believe us? Check out our James & Gilmour property’s walk, bus and bike score!)

This unique neighbourhood really has it all – a blend of residential homes, apartments and commercial buildings, some of the best restaurants in the area, lively bars, great shopping, dog parks, and fitness studios. The canal is close by, and you’re just a hop, skip and a jump to Parliament Hill and some of the other trendy neighbourhoods in the city, like the Byward Market, the Glebe and Hintonburg, to name a few. Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

Things to do

There’s so much to see and do in a neighbourhood that is truly at the “centre” of it all. Here are our top 10 must-dos:

1. Take a stroll down Bank Street. Here you’ll find a surplus of great restaurants, bars and boutique shops, along with the necessities such as organic groceries, an LCBO and Shoppers Drug Mart. Check out the Bank Street BIA’s website for the low-down on all the best spots to hit, along with info on upcoming news and events.

2. Speaking of streets, we also love Elgin – a fun little strip known for its bars and restaurants. For some ideas, check out this guide on where to eat, drink and shop on Elgin.

3. There’s nothing like a good festival, and this area is home to plenty – Glowfair and the Ottawa Jazz Fest, to name a few!

4. Take in a movie at Dundonald Park every weekend in the summer – a great initiative created by the community, for the community!

5. Run, walk or bike along the Rideau Canal in the summer (or lace up your skates in the winter – don’t forget to grab a hot chocolate and a Beavertail!)

6. Walk, bus or bike down to Lansdowne Park to catch an Ottawa Redblacks, Ottawa 67’s or Ottawa Fury game at TD Place. (tip: buses down Bank Street are free on game days)

7. Watch the game, some live music, or better yet, take part in karaoke night at the infamous James Street Pub (also known for their epic patio in the summer).

8. Take your furry friend to the nearest dog-friendly park – there are plenty to choose from. Our favourites? Jack Purcell and the Tech Wall Dog Park. Both are completely fenced in so you can let Rover run free (safely!).

9. Explore Chinatown. Ok, we’re cheating a little bit with this one because technically Chinatown is just outside of Centretown, but it’s worth the walk for authentic food (and the photo opp).

10. And finally, check out the Museum of Nature for one of its many exciting exhibits and events, including the ever-so popular Nature Nocturne – not to be missed!

Where to eat and drink

It’s tough to narrow down the best places to eat and drink with so many great ones to choose from. Here are a few we love:

For coffee or tea: 

Morning Owl (139 Bank St.)
• World of Tea (220 Bank St.)
• Second Cup (290 Bank St.)
• Bridgehead (366 Bank St.)
• Kava (410 Bank St.)
• Starbucks (455 Bank St.)
• Arlington Five (5 Arlington Ave.)

For brunch:

Eggspectation (171 Bank St.)
• Atomic Rooster (303 Bank St.)
• Bramasole Diner (428 Bank St.)
• Wilf & Ada’s (510 Bank St.)
• Backdrop (160 Metcalfe St.)
• The Scone Witch (150 Elgin St.)
• Manx Pub (370 Elgin St.)
• Elgin Street Diner (374 Elgin St.)

For a quick lunch:

Lunch (121 Bank St.)
• Paradise Poke (134 Bank St.)
 Sansotei Ramen (153 Bank St.)
• Bread & Sons (195 Bank St.)
• The Whalesbone Oyster House (430 Bank St.)
• Mad Radish (116 Albert St & 859 Bank St.)
• Angry Dragonz Food Truck (Gloucester & Lyon St.)
• Grounded Kitchen (100 Gloucester St.)
• Pure Kitchen (340 Elgin St.)
• El Camino’s Taco Window (380 Elgin St.)

For dinner and drinks:

The Royal Oak (318 Bank St.)
• The Buzz Kitchen & Cocktail (374 Bank St.)
• James Street Pub (390 Bank St.)
• Fauna (425 Bank St.)
• The Berryman Pub (478 Bank St.)
• Union 613 (315 Somerset St W.)
• Prohibition Public House (337 Somerset St W.)
• Beerocracy (340 Somerset St W.)
• Fairouz (343 Somerset St W.)
• North & Navy (226 Nepean St.)
• The Whalesbone (231 Elgin St.)
• Town (296 Elgin St.)
• The Captain’s Boil (354 Elgin St.)
• The Lieutenant’s Pump (361 Elgin St.)
• Charlotte (340b Elgin St.)
 El Camino (380 Elgin St.)
• Datsun (380 Elgin St.)

For groceries:

Independent (296 Bank St.)
• Herb & Spice (375 Bank St.)
• Whole Foods Market (951 Bank St.)
• Sobeys (193 Metcalfe St.)
• Loblaws (64 Isabella St.)
• The Red Apron (564 Gladstone Ave.)
• Seed to Sausage (729 Gladstone Ave.)

Shop ‘til you drop

Prefer a little retail therapy? You won’t need to go far. Here’s a list of some of the best nearby shopping:

• Rideau Centre – just a short walk away for all of your shopping needs.
• ByWard Market – a hub of outdoor farmers’ market stalls, specialty food shops and other hip spots filled with crafts and clothes by local artists and designers.
• Bank Street – right in the heart of Centretown is a wide variety of shops featuring everything you could possibly need and more - from pet, sports and art supplies, to books, jewellery and vinyl, it’s all here.
• Sparks Street – head north on Bank to discover this open-air pedestrian street with tons of shops to explore.
• The Glebe/Lansdowne – head south down Bank and you’ll find boutique shops of all kind.

Get your fitness on

Maybe you’d rather sweat it out above all. Here are some topnotch fitness spots in the area:

AP Fitness (195 Bank St.)
• Spin City (203 Bank St.)
• Pure Yoga (359 Bank St.)
• Trueform Health & Fitness (384 Bank St.)
• Wheelhouse (455 Bank St.)
• Bodies by Phil (255 Albert St.)
• Rama Lotus (342 Gladstone Ave.)
• SpinCo (123 Slater St.)
• Greco (132 Sparks St.)
• Pilates Space (340 Maclaren St.)
• Elgin Fitness (200 Cooper St.)