Why should visitors love Orléans? It’s funny… whenever we look at Ottawa Tourism, their Ottawa map seems to end at Vanier. We need to change that! So why should people come to Orléans? What does our community have to offer that is unique, memorable and will make visitors want to come back again?
Let’s start off with Petrie Island shall we? The Petrie Islands were formed by sand deposits at the end of the last ice age, about 12,000 years ago. Petrie not only offers a beautiful beach and a peaceful setting to relax with a good book but it is also home to the canoe club and Oziles Marina where you can rent paddle boats, canoes and kayaks and more!
Families also enjoy exploring the 7kms of trails looking for turtles and other wildlife as well as checking out the Friends of Petrie Island’s wildflower garden and aquariums. You will often find many photographers and artists capturing the gorgeous sunsets over the river. Although the area is busiest in the summer, Petrie Island is also a local favourite for ice fishing, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing in the winter months. Those who have visited Petrie know what a hidden gem it is!
Next, we should talk about the path that runs along the Ottawa river from Trim Road to Blair Road where all the locals enjoy walking, running and biking both along the river and in the wooded areas. This trail is also known as Ski Heritage East in the winter time and becomes a professionally groomed winter trail that accommodates skate and skiing, fat-biking, snowshoeing as well as walking. The trail, enjoyed by many, is easily accessible by foot, car or bus at one of nine trailhead entrances.
The Elizabeth Manley Skating rink is located in the Bob MacQuarrie Recreation Complex and has done a pretty good job at putting Orléans on the map. The arena is named after Elizabeth Manley who was a figure skater and used to train there. Manley won the Silver Medal in the women’s figure skating tournament held in 1988 in the winter Olympics.
One of the best kept secrets in Orléans are the Princess Louise Waterfalls. Tucked away on St-Joseph Boulevard across from Taylor Creek the impressive falls flow over several levels of sedimentary rocks. You can find a small network of trails which makes it possible to view Princess Louise Falls at its base and its summit from the pedestrian bridge.
A tour of the Heart of Orléans BIA district reveals its true culture. The Heart of Orléans district runs along St-Joseph Boulevard, parallel to Highway 174, from Prestone Drive west to Youville Drive with pockets at Centrum Boulevard, Place D’Orléans Drive and Jeanne d’Arc Boulevard.
Did you know that St-Joseph Boulevard was once called Ottawa Street and was Orléans’ original main street? It is still going strong today with a mix of both historic and new landmarks. Originally a Franco-Ontarian town, you can still see the French influence throughout Orléans. St-Joseph Boulevard was actually named after the Roman Catholic Church, Paroisse St-Joseph, which is still a beautiful landmark today.
You can take a historical stroll down St-Joseph Boulevard by checking out all the historical plaques that describe the past and present of a specific property. For example, in 1933 Hermas Saumur built an English cottage at 2828 St-Joseph Boulevard that is now where you’ll find Lawyers, Hebert & Roy! Where else can you educate your kids and get some good old fashioned exercise?
Orléans is also home to many award winning restaurants offering cuisines from all over the world. Do you feel like a little Vietnamese or maybe some Lebanese or Chinese? (Look at that rhyming!) You can also get your spice on with a little Thai or Indian or perhaps a little something from Turkey suits your fancy? Maybe you are taking French lessons and want to hone in on a little French cuisine. No matter what you’re in the mood for, we’ve got you covered. Most of our restaurants are family owned, with their fresh ingredients sourced from our local farmers and veggie producers. Many have been pillars of the community for a very long time. Some have even been here for over half a century! So you KNOW they have to be pretty darn good!
We should also talk about the friendly small business owners that line St-Joseph Boulevard ready to offer you an experience like no other. You are not a number here. We have specialty shops you won’t find anywhere else in the city, boutiques offering trendy fashion, services for your every need and even a chocolate factory! You’ve got nothing on us Charlie!
The largest shopping centre in Orléans is Place D’Orléans located on St-Joseph Boulevard and you guessed it.. Place D’Orléans Boulevard! It has approximately 132 stores, including a food court and even a gym!
We’ve got all your good vibes covered in Orléans as well with it’s very first microbrewery, Stray Dog Brewing Company. Take a tour of their taproom, learn how the liquid gold is created and enjoy an award winning craft beer! AND you guessed it… Dogs are also welcome here! Stray Dog has paved the way for 2 additional happening microbreweries in Orléans so it only makes sense to take a tour of Broadhead Brewing Company and Orléans Brewing Co. while you’re here!
If you are looking for some good, clean old fashioned fun, you are going to want to check out the retro themed Orléans Bowling Centre. Imagine the thrill of picking up a ball that is only slightly bigger than a softball, whipping it down the old wooden lanes and yelling STRIKE! This is actually called duckpin bowling and this is the only place you will find it!
Families can also be caught visiting the numerous parks across our community including Millennium Park located at 2010 Trim Road. Catch a game in one of the 15 soccer/football fields, play on the structures or cool off on the huge pirate themed splash pad known as the best splash pad in all of Ottawa!
You will definitely want to visit Orléans Town Centre which is known to the locals as Event Central when there is a special event going on. Centrum Boulevard is usually closed off and becomes home to all the large events such as Orléans Craft Beer Festival, Orléans Ribfest, Orleáns Poutine Fest and more! It is even where the famous Santa’s Parade of Lights lands at the end of the night! Speaking of the Parade of Lights, it just so happens, it is the second largest parade in all of Ottawa! So if you want to experience a large parade in a friendly community atmosphere, Orléans welcomes over ten thousand visitors to this event!
One of the largest and most culturally diverse destinations that makes Orléans its home is the Shenkman Arts Centre. Shenkman Arts Centre is a creative hub where artists and audiences meet to explore a diversity of arts through live performance, instruction, exhibits and special events. When you visit this iconic building, you experience the creativity that is the result of the two theatres, seven galleries and seventeen studios. Not to mention the numerous specialized spaces used for events and hands on learning.
There are so many things to see, do and explore in Orléans. So many that you may need a few days to cover it all. That’s ok. We can also take care of that! Orléans has not one, but two affordable hotels located near Orléans Town Centre. The Quality Inn was Orléans first hotel located on St-Joseph Boulevard and the Holiday Inn Express & Suites is conveniently tucked away behind the Shenkman Arts Centre on Brisebois Crescent. Both are in a great location and walking distance from those late night shows and events!
So the next time folks ask you if Orléans is a tourist destination, say YES! We check off all the boxes and passed with flying colors:
Hope to see you soon!