A TALE OF TWO CAPITALS
Washington to Ottawa
Historically, the two cities of London and Paris have been linked for hundreds of years and have captivated travelers to Europe.
In considering these cities – we often wondered why a similar two city tour of North America’s iconic capitals of Washington and Ottawa was not offered. The history between the United States and Canada is storied, and along with the influence of a multiplicity of cultures and evolution of democracy that is the envy of the world, we have created an “up close and personal” tour of the “Tale of Two Cities”.
The base tour is 10 days – 4 full days in each capital; a travel day between the cities and a day permitted for travel to and from Washington and Ottawa. The tour may be shortened or lengthened depending upon your group’s time available and budget.
Tour Highlights in a Nutshell | The White House and Parliament | The Two Supreme Courts | Arlington Cemetery and the National Cemetery & War Memorial/W.W. II Museum | The Smithsonian and the National Galleries | The Kennedy Centre and the National Arts Centre | The National Mints | Ghost Tours; River Cruises; Cycling Tours; Extensions to Virginia and Quebec (options)
• hotels will be selected for their location and comfort. Breakfast & Dinner will be included daily.
• professional tour guide throughout.
• airport transfers
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Day 1: Washington
Arlington National Cemetery
This beautiful DC attraction is one of many national cemeteries though perhaps the most famous. Favorite sights within include the burial site for President Kennedy with its eternal flame, the Memorial Amphitheater, and the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Wear your walking shoes for this experience!
Iwo Jima Memorial
Modeled after an iconic photograph from World War II, this statue is much larger than life, and pays tribute not just to the soldiers represented but to all the military men and women, past and present, in the United States Marine Corps.
Though not as familiar as the Lincoln and Jefferson counterparts, the FDR Memorial is one of the most beautiful presidential tributes in DC. Four rooms are dedicated to FDR’s four terms in office. It includes several poses of the President, a 1930s breadline, and refreshing fountains throughout. Of course, President Roosevelt’s famous freedoms and other words are inscribed within.
This breathtaking estate belonged to George Washington and tells the story of his amazing resourcefulness and open hospitality. There’s a lot to learn in the Mt. Vernon mansion, outbuildings, farm, and gardens.
Day 2: Washington
Museum of American History
This is one of the Smithsonian’s amazing offerings, filled with artifacts from American history, including politics, architecture, pop culture, and innovation. The Star Spangled Banner is a favorite exhibit as well as the fashion from America’s First Wives.
Library of Congress
This beautiful showcase of literature and education is always inspiring. A guide is recommended as you tour the halls and famous spaces within.
Air & Space Museum
This highly popular Smithsonian museum is expansive both to accommodate the crowds and its super-sized artifacts. The exhibits here showcase more air and spacecraft than any other museum, some you can even walk inside.
Museum of Natural History
It’s always a favorite museum when you can explore the wonders of the earth, including its many amazing creatures past and present. From the largest-known reptiles to things that creep and the beautiful butterfly, you’ll love every colorful exhibit within.
Day 3: Washington
This magnificent building offers a self-guided experience through its great entrance with the busts of all the chief justices and other exhibits. You can view court proceedings when in session or lectures on alternate days.
Let us personalize this tour by arranging a meeting with your group’s member of congress. The magnificent spaces within, National Statuary, and historic chambers are breathtaking either way, but a personal touch can make them unforgettable.
You’ll also never forget the first time you view the most important documents in American History. The Declaration of Independence and US Constitution are just two of these, resting beneath the famous rotunda in their original form.
Enjoy the energy and variety in DC’s Union Station for a change of pace and the chance to shop and dine.
Day 4: Washington
We know this is the tour you want! You must plan this one in advance and understand security measures can change your plans last minute. We’ll do our best, though, and offer the White House Visitors Center as an alternative should your reservations change. Both offer insight into the famous residence and its famous families. You’ll get a nice photo op either way as well.
National Holocaust Museum
This beautiful museum tells the story of one of the most tragic eras in human history. Daniel’s Story is the exhibit that does so in a format approved for younger visitors. This journey through one boy’s diary is an overview every visitor will enjoy. The in-depth exhibits beyond take you through many stages of Nazi Germany. The literature, videos, and artifacts detail the events and move you to respond.
The most prominent of the presidential memorials stands taller than any other DC structure, is a recognizable landmark all around the Capital – all to symbolize the historical prominence of our first US President.
Possibly even more recognizable than the Washington Monument, groups are always anxious to see this memorial in person. The temple-like structure inspires reflection, both for its beauty and because of the powerful words inscribed.
Vietnam and Korean War Memorials
Groups may be surprised to find the many parts and the variety of unique details in each of these memorials. A guide can enhance the experience at the monuments and memorials, their knowledge and trivia making it even more memorable.
Remember that all our tours are fully customized, and consider this a starting point for your 4-day Washington DC tour.
This 4-day Capital itinerary will take you to the must-see Ottawa attractions, landmarks and sights, with stops in between for delicious food, and entertainment.
Day 1 – Ottawa, The Royal Treatment
9:00 AM: Take the awe-inspiring walk into the marbled Grand Entrance Hall of the Supreme Court of Canada. If the time is right, you may be able to sit in on a hearing.
9:45 AM: Changing the Guard Ceremony is held each morning on Parliament Hill in Ottawa from late June through late August.
10:30 AM: Visit Parliament Hill — Canada’s seat of government. Book group tours in advance (remember that the activities of Parliament sometimes have an effect on tours). Jump into the elevator and land on the observation deck of Peace Tower for a bird’s-eye view of Ottawa. And don’t forget to capture the fantastic stonework — including over 370 gargoyles, grotesques and friezes — on the Peace Tower.
12:30 PM: Stop for lunch at D’Arcy McGee’s Irish Pub where they offer fresh takes on traditional Irish fare. Good food, friendly service, and during the day – a perfect historical stop for students!
1:30 PM: After lunch stop at Rideau Hall, the residence and workplace of the Governor General of Canada. In the spring and summer the gardens are spectacular.
4:00 PM : Youth/family-friendly option: Test your knowledge of Ottawa on a scavenger hunt with UrbanQuest. You can run it as a race against your friends, a tour of the city, a new way to have dinner on the town, or just a fun way to spend an evening.
8:00 PM: Jazz, blues, and folk are just a few of Ottawa’s fantastic music festivals in the summer months. Classical music fans will love the world-renowned Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival (see the Calendar of Events for dates). For something more eclectic, the RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest has something for everyone, featuring blues, rock, urban, pop, and electro.
Or, if you need a winter sports fix, you could go see Ottawa’s National Hockey League (NHL) team, the Ottawa Senators , the hottest ticket in town!
Youth/family-friendly option: In the summer months, head back to Parliament Hill after dark for Mosaika, the free nightly Sound and Light Show performance. (early July to early September; July show starts at 10 p.m., August-Sept show starts at 9:30 p.m.)
Day 2 – Ottawa, Touring The Capital
9:00 AM: The Canadian War Museum is a must for a ‘Capital’ tour. Plan to spend a few hours as you explore the six different galleries and special exhibits suitable for all ages.
12:30 PM: Head back downtown and have lunch at the Empire Grill in the ByWard Market neighbourhood. You won’t be able to resist popping into the one-of-a-kind shops and stalls in the market, so schedule a good two hours for the lunch break.
2:30 PM: For groups travelling in the summer months, Aboriginal Experiences (groups only) is the world’s only urban-based Aboriginal cultural attraction and a worthwhile visit. Located minutes from downtown on Victoria Island, Aboriginal Experiences recreates the traditions, food, and dancing of First Nations Peoples from across North America.
Alternatively, head east to the Canada Aviation and Space Museum and marvel at more than 130 aircraft on display — a collection that rivals many in the world. While there, take a ride in a historic biplane or helicopter for a fantastic view of the city.
5:30 PM: Patterned after the great steak houses of North America, Prime 360 – The Ultimate Steakhouse, is one of Ottawa's best choices for steak and seafood.
8:00 PM: After dinner explore the spooky side of Ottawa with Haunted Walks of Ottawa. Locals and newcomers alike are fascinated by these glimpses into the dark history and haunting past of Canada’s Capital.
Day 3 – Ottawa, Rolling On The River
9:00 AM: No ‘Capital’ tour is complete without a trip to the town of Carp (30 minutes west of Ottawa) to visit Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum, a fascinating relic of the Cold War.
12:30 PM: On the way back downtown, stop for the best Tex-Mex food in town at the Lone Star Texas Grill (Kanata).
2:00 PM: Explore the Ottawa River aboard a Capital Cruises boat tour, an ideal way to sightsee on the water. You will see the natural beauty of the region that captured the imagination of the first European explorer Samuel de Champlain (400 years ago). Operating from May to October.
3:30 PM: Wrap up your ‘Capital’ tour with a visit to Laurier House, the former home of two of Canada’s former prime ministers: Sir Wilfrid Laurier and William Lyon Mackenzie King.
6:00 PM: Youth/family-friendly option: The Fish Market Restaurant and its upstairs neighbour Coasters Seafood Grill offer a variety of surf-and-turf options in a casual, friendly atmosphere.
8:00 PM: The National Arts Centre, a National Historic Site of Canada and home to Canada’s National Orchestra, always has something wonderful to see, whether your choice is theatre, music, or dance.
Day 4 – Ottawa, Explore
10:00 AM: You can’t leave town without a tour through the largest visual arts museum in Canada, the National Gallery of Canada. Its giant bronze spider, Maman, greets you on the plaza entranceway providing a taste of what to expect inside. The Gallery boasts the world’s most comprehensive collection of Canadian (including Inuit) art, plus permanent exhibits include major works from European, American, and Canadian masters among many others.
1:00 PM: Pick a delicious dish from the Blue Cactus Bar & Grill in the ByWard Market Neighbourhood.
3:00 PM: Spend the afternoon at the Mackenzie King Estate in Gatineau Park. Roam the romantic gardens and picturesque ruins, or take one of the many trails through the woods before stopping for tea at the Mackenzie King Tearoom. (Travel time approx. 20 min)
6:30 PM: For dinner, Youth/family-friendly option: Always popular with a younger crowd, stop at Fatboys Southern Smokehouse for dinner. Great food and southern charm make for a fun evening.
8:00 PM: An opportunity to complete this fabulous two capital tour with a special cultural performance that isn’t to be missed!
Prices will be quoted in CAD.
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