Ottawa-Area Dopers: Getting from train station to hotel?

I am looking at taking a trip to Ottawa this year, but I want to travel by train and can’t figure out how to reasonably get from the Via Rail station (200 Tremblay Road) to my hotel (considering one at 180 Maclaren Street or another at 157 Clarence Street).

It looks like Ottawa is a “walkable” city for tourists, with many of the markets, parliament buildings and museums not too far from a few hotels, but the Via station looks like it’s really out of the way. Do any Ottawa-area dopers have any tips about how one might get from the Via station to a hotel without incurring an oversized taxi bill? I’m too old and creaky for hostels and backpacks, but still traveling on a budget and am also a bit unnerved by reckless taxi drivers weaving in and out of big-city traffic.

While were on the subject, any tips / hints / brilliant secrets a visitor to Ottawa might benefit from hearing?

The bus system is easily navigable for tourists. The train station is right on the rapid-transit line, and you can take it downtown quickly and easily. The transit website has a planner where you can put in your starting address and destination and it’ll tell you the correct buses to take. Don’t hesitate to ask people, either–almost everyone taking the bus in Ottawa will gladly help a tourist figure out where they’re supposed to be.

+1 on the buses. You’d probably have to make one connection to get to your hotel, but if it’s not at a really weird time of day, that shouldn’t be a problem.

If I were you, I’d cab it to and from the via rail station, and then hoof it the rest of the route. Tremblay to downtown is 25 bucks at best; I hate being on the OC with a backpack, much less luggage. When are you coming? If you’re off Elgin (I.e., McLaren), or on Clarence street, you can pretty much see all of the downtown core, three museums, an art gallery, and parliament/Rideau Hall without much difficulty. Of course, admittedly I’m a big walker, but there’s always the bus if your feet start to fail you!

Also, re: cabbies weaving and out of traffic, Ottawa is most certainly NOT New York or Toronto or Montreal. While I won’t extol the virtues of cab drivers, most have them have been pretty good in my experience!

This is what I was thinking as I read through the thread. I’ve taken the train to Ottawa many times, and cabbed it from the station to my downtown hotel. I remember that the cab fare was not outrageous; and once in the downtown, I could walk everywhere I needed to.

The cabbies in Ottawa are pretty good, and I never found them to be the suicidal types you find in Toronto and Montreal; and they know the train arrival times, so there will be plenty when your train pulls in. Plus, if you’re “too old and creaky for hostels and backpacks,” as you say, and if you’ve got luggage, the door-to-door service on your schedule (not the transit system’s) may be worth the cost.

I agree with the cab suggestion. the buses are good, but if you’ve got luggage and you’re a bit creaky, why not a cab?

One little known tourist attraction is the reconstructed rooms in the East Block of Parliament - they’ve resconstructed the offices of Prime Minister Macdonald, the first PM, and George Cartier, one of his strongest supporters, as well as the Cabinet room (note that the table in the Cabinet room is not the original one; the original one, where the terms of Confederation were hammered out in Quebec City, is in the Legislative Library in Regina, and we’re not giving it back! :slight_smile: )

Are you a government junkie? Try going to the Supreme Court for a hearing, and make sure to take in Question Period in the Commons. There’s also Laurier House, which is a bit of a shrine to Prime Ministers Laurier and King, with a bit of a nod to PM Pearson tossed in.

Agreed. Question Period is fun. I’ll add that on that trip, you should make sure to explore the Centre Block: the Memorial Chapel in the Peace Tower (see the names inscribed in beautiful calligraphy in the Books of Remembrance), the carved stone of the buildings, and the library.

Aside to Northern Piper: Drop me a line if you can; my practice has changed, and I want to tell you about it.

Man, I’ve lived in Ottawa my whole life and never done that! Don’t I feel like a terrible local. :frowning:

Don’t worry about it. I lived in Toronto for years, and I don’t believe I made it to the ROM or the AGO more than twice in thirty years. The last time I was at the Island was 1977, and I never saw the Legislature in session at Queen’s Park.

I miss it all. “Don’t it always seem as though you don’t know what you got till it’s gone.” Get out and enjoy your city!

So it sounds like most others concur with my advice, that a cab is probably worth it if you have luggage. Its a pretty short ride into downtown from the train station, so it shouldn’t be too costly, and our cabbies are pretty good on the whole. Alternatively, PM me with arrival time and I will see if I am available.

But more importantly, when are you in town and do I smell an OttaDopeFest?

I thought you meant the “real” Ottawa.
Ottawa, Illinois.

That sounds like a great idea!

Well, it looks like we’ve got an overwhelming vote for taking a cab. Okay, I’ll go with that.

The only reason I hadn’t considered it is that, just a few weeks ago, I took a 15-minute cab ride from one business to another in the same smallish town (York Region) and it cost $28, so I assumed the cost of a taxi in Ottawa would be prohibitive.

Anyway, thanks for the info, as well as all the other advice. I’m quite intrigued at the idea of visiting the Supreme Court! As for “when”, I’m still debating ---- am leaning towards mid-May or mid-August, for no particular reason.

As I recall, the Tulip Festival takes place in May, and you should hit it if you go in mid-May. I’ve been to Ottawa during the Tulip Festival, and it is quite something to see–in addition to the tulips that the Netherlands sends for the Canadian government grounds, all kinds of businesses, and even the foreign embassies get into the act–last time I was in Ottawa at that time, the US Embassy put on a display of tulips that rivalled any in the city. It’s great time of year to go to Ottawa–the tulips provide a lot of colour, the people are glad to see the end of winter and are out and about in outdoor markets and sidewalk cafes, and the weather is usually fine.

But whenever you go, have fun and keep us posted as to how your trip is going!

I finally got to tour Parliament last fall: The library is amazingly beautiful, and the Memorial Chamber is solemnly beautiful. The docent in the Chamber showed us the WWI book in the center (sorry, centre) of the room, and then the books around the perimeter for all of the later wars, including the one they are currently entering names into from Afghanistan. Of course, the docent pointed out, the WWI book was supposed to be the last one.

After looking at the WWI book, I slipped off of the dais steps and fell full-length on the floor. I was terribly embarrassed. Not for falling – there is no rail at the edge of the steps – but for making a spectacle of myself in such a sacred place.

I think you’ll find the cost of cabs in Ottawa just as expensive. The driving is fine though, it’s not really a big city.

If you arrive on a weekend I would be more than happy to offer my service as your chauffeur to the hotel.

May is OK. The tulip festival is a good suggestion, however May can still be cold. My opening day of golf in the second week of May last year was canceled, due to SNOW.

August is a good month, however July is better. Canada day in Ottawa is fantastic, and then the bluesfest happens for the next two weeks.

If you are flexible, come for the first part of July.