05/20/2013 08:45 EDT | Updated 05/20/2013 08:48 EDT

How To Spend A Weekend In Ottawa

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Canada Day in Ottawa, Canada.

A weekend in our Nation’s capital is a study in contrasts: There’s the grandeur and history of Parliament Hill, the bustling energy of the Byward Market and the quirky, laid-back vibe of the Glebe. To make the most of your Ottawa excursion, it’s a good idea to sample a bit from each of the city’s personas.

How To Spend A Weekend In Ottawa

Take the scenic route in a Driving Discovery from Ottawa to Toronto

1. Chateau Laurier

Even if you don’t choose to stay at the gothic castle that is Chateau Laurier (though you won’t regret it if you do), start your weekend off with a Friday afternoon High Tea at Zoe’s Lounge in the hotel. It’s a lovely room, with sparkly chandeliers and comfy upholstered chairs, and you’ll feed on nibbles like dainty maple pastries, finger sandwiches and Moet Chandon (or tea, of course).

2. Byward Market

Head to the Byward Market. It’s boisterous and action-packed, particularly in July and August when all of Canada (and some of the rest of the world) heads to Ottawa for summer vacay. While prices aren’t bargain-basement, there are plenty of unique, hand-crafted items to peruse.

3. Parliament Hill

Hit Parliament Hill and take the indoor guided tour for a dose of Canadian history in stunning surroundings. Then saunter over to the Glebe to check out the gorgeous old homes, funky shops and cozy coffee shops.

4. Raw Sugar Café

Pay a visit to the Raw Sugar Café, a laid-back eatery with delectable treats, veggie-friendly eats, mismatched chairs and local art on the walls. (They also feature live music, board game and movie nights, so it makes a chill nightspot too.)

5. National Gallery

Pay a visit to the National Gallery or the Musee de la Civilisation across the bridge in Hull. Families should opt for the Musee, as it has probably the best kids’ museum in the country, with intensely interactive experiences like shopping in a North African bazaar or loading a cargo ship.