Ottawa: Tiptoeing Through the Tulips

“You’re going where? Why?”

This was the reaction I kept getting when I told people I was heading to Ottawa, which is perhaps not unsurprising. And while Ottawa may seem like one of my more random travel choices for 2018, in fact, I had a clear reason for going. It all came about in May 2017, when I was scrolling through Instagram and caught a glimpse of photos from the Ottawa Tulip Festival. Immediately, I made a mental note: perhaps this was worth visiting. It certainly looked to be.

Flash forward a year, and I made it happen! In May, I made my way to Ottawa, just an hour’s plane ride from New York. I was ready to see some tulips and, happily, I was treated to an absolute bounty of them. In fact, one thing I hadn’t realized was that the Tulip Festival really takes over the entire city; there isn’t any one spot for the festival, but rather a series of mini tulip festivals all over town.

While tulips abound throughout Ottawa, the greatest concentration seemed to be at Commissioner’s Park, so that’s where I went first. I thought I had arrived bright and early, so you can imagine my surprise when I rolled up in my Uber only to find that the place was crawling with visitors. I was a bit bummed out by the massive crowds, but the tulips were still lovely to see regardless. The entire park is filled with them, and as you walk by each flower bed, you see a ton of different varieties (along with lots of non-tulips too). It’s pretty cool!

While I don’t think anything could ever compare to the magnitude of tulips at the Keukenhof in the Netherlands, the Ottawa Tulip Festival certainly provides a more accessible version here in North America. If you’re a flower lover, it’s definitely worth checking out.


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