Travelling to race is one of the best parts of running. When a runner signs up for a marathon, they’re looking for more than a good course and a well run event–they want an exciting new city as well. The Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend is May 25-26, and the city has something for runners of every stripe.

Ottawa has evolved. What was previously known as a relatively sleepy mid-size city has turned into a spot with a great food scene, many local breweries, and fun night life. If you’re still considering where you should head for your spring marathon, or have already booked Ottawa, here are some ways to enjoy the new-and-improved Ottawa pre- and post-race. 

Restaurants and snacks

Suzy Q Doughnuts takes sweets seriously. The Ottawa bakery has several staple flavours, along with a rotating list of unconventional offerings. Head to Suzy Q for a post- (or pre-) race treat. They also do great coffee, and everyone knows runners love coffee. 

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Some classics. Which are your favourites?

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Pure Kitchen is a trendy new vegan spot that’s great for omnivores and vegetarians alike. The restaurant has multiple Ottawa locations, with a newly-opened spot on Elgin street right near the heart of race weekend. Grab something healthy pre-race to make sure you get to the start line fueled up. 

Mad Radish is an ideal spot for a nourishing meal or snack. Choose between soups, bowls, smoothies and juices to get you fueled for your big race. They serve up great gluten-free and vegan options, while still using animal proteins for the meat eaters among us. With three locations in Ottawa on Slater Street, Albert Street and Bank Street, they are a great and easily accessible spot for your pre- or post-race meal. 

The Whalesbone on Elgin or Bank are both great options for a celebratory dinner. Be sure to book in advance, as they can fill up. The cozy seafood spot serves everything from fresh oysters to perfectly done steak. 

Art-Is-In Bakery is another great stop for breakfast or lunch. The bakery and cafe serves breakfast and lunch seven days a week and dinner on weeknights until 9:45 p.m. The bakery is located on City Centre Ave., just a few minutes west of downtown. 

Brothers Beer Bistro is likely a post-race spot, but if you take a more relaxed approach to athleticism, then this could be a great pre-race spot as well. The Byward Market spot does a late-night menu on top of dinner and weekend brunch. The cocktails and craft beers are top-notch, and food certainly isn’t an afterthought. 

Places to run

Gatineau Park is a great spot for your last workout or a shakeout run. Head across the bridge to the province of Quebec to check out the trails and roads to run on. If someone in your cheer squad is a cyclist, encourage them to bring their bike. The park has some of the best riding in the area, and the roads are closed to cars on Sundays. 

Parliament buildings and Rideau Canal

The Rideau Canal has lovely paved running paths on either side of the water. Start your run at the newly renovated Rideau Centre and work your way south towards the Glebe (Bank Street), which features brand new shops and lots of food options, including a Whole Foods at the Shops at Lansdowne Park

Rockcliffe Park is another great running spot. See some of the most beautiful homes in Ottawa, accompanied by scenery of the Ottawa River. Also, you can run by the homes of the Governor General and Prime Minister. You might even be able to catch the P.M. out, after all he is a big fan of running

Shopping and Attractions 

As mentioned above, the Rideau Centre has had a facelift. The downtown mall is steps away from the Parliament Buildings and features everything from luxury stores to more affordable options. Don’t like malls? Just beyond Rideau Street is the Byward Market, where you can find hundreds of small stores, restaurants and bars.

If the arts are more your thing, consider heading over to the National Arts Centre. Just steps from downtown, the NAC is a great place to catch live music, plays and theatre. There’s also a great cafe overlooking the canal. 

In town with your kids? Head across the bridge to Quebec to check out the Museum of History. The kids’ museum is one of the best in the country and also features an IMAX theatre on site. It’ll keep the kids busy and you off your feet pre-race.