Escape to southwestern Ontario, with a flight from Ottawa to Windsor.
If you’re looking for places to visit in Windsor, look to the city’s past. Having lived as an automotive hub and a rum running port, the best things to do in Windsor have a history.
Between the Duff Baby House and the Francois Baby House, Windsor’s historic houses are as picturesque as they are informative. Both these historical homes house exhibits as part of Windsor’s Community Museum. Spread throughout the city, the museum’s collection cover Windsor’s history from Hiram Walker and to Henry Ford, and beyond.
Beyond the bounds of the museums, you can stroll through history on the grounds of Willistead Manor. Closer to the water, Coventry Gardens are always a spectacular sight. Aside from lush greenery made possible by the warmest climate of any Ontario city, this fountain brightens up the park with light shows on its 70 foot spray.
See where nature meets culture at the Windsor Sculpture Park. This outdoor museum runs along Windsor’s waterfront, with a view as impressive as its exhibits. For indoor art, visit the Art Gallery of Windsor. Curating an extensive collection in a modern building, this gallery makes for the perfect follow-up to the sculpture garden.
After a day at the galleries, spend the night enjoying Windsor’s entertainment. At Phog Lounge, independent musicians make this acclaimed venue an underground hit. If you want a hint of glamour, Caesars Windsor dazzles with big name performers in an upscale casino setting.
As if Windsor’s attractions aren’t excitement enough, the city has easy access to Detroit via Ambassador Bridge. Pack your passport and pay a visit to the city’s northern neighbour to make the most of the night on your trip from Ottawa to Windsor.
If you’re coming from Ottawa, Walkerville is the perfect stop to get a taste of Windsor’s history.
Formerly a company town, Walkerville’s founding father is Hiram Walker. In the 19th-century, workers in Walker’s distilleries made their homes in the neighbourhood’s row houses. Today, a walk through Olde Walkerville will take you past these charming historic houses.
Canadian Club Whisky courses through Walkerville’s history, as the economic lifeblood of the neighbourhood. Besides his name, this whisky is one of the greatest gifts Hiram Walker gave to Walkerville. Today, the Canadian Club Brand Centre carries on his legacy in tasting tours.
Walkerville was the centre of Windsor’s prohibition history. While in the Brand Centre, you can walk through rooms in which The Purple Gang, including its most notorious ally, Al Capone, did business. See where Windsor became one of Canada’s rum-running capitals, supplying Canadian Club to thirsty Americans in the 1920’s.
Chase your whisky with a beer from the Walkerville Brewery. Another one of Hiram Walker’s beverage endeavours, this brewery carries on his craft in one of his original buildings. Take a tour, have a pint, and raise a glass to Walkerville’s delicious history.
With a walk along the Detroit River, you can see Windsor’s main rum-running route. Having given up its criminal past, this river is now more famous for its view than its booze. Biking paths have replaced smuggling paths, making the waterfront a great outdoor-end to your day in Walkerville.
When you’re visiting Riverside, the best place to start is, well, the riverside. Overlooking the Detroit River, Coventry Garden’s view is almost enough to distract from this park’s amazing features. From the floating Peace Fountain, to the fishing pier, you won’t have any trouble finding ways to unwind in Coventry Gardens.
Beyond the 70-foot sprays and light displays of the Peace Fountain, you’ll find one of Riverside’s best attractions just around the riverbend. Peche Island is only accessible by boat, but well worth the journey. Here, you’ll find the ghostly ruins of Windsor whisky magnate Hiram Walker’s unfinished summer home, scattered along the island’s wooded walking trails.
If you prefer to stay on the mainland, take the scenic route through Little River Corridor. This park offers access between Forest Glade and Riverside Drive, making it an easy way to enjoy some green space on your way to explore more of Windsor’s Riverside neighbourhood.
When all that walking has got you hungry, Lauzon Road is home to many of Riverside’s restaurants. You’ll find plenty of pizza places in Riverside, which is no surprise given that it’s one of Windsor’s favourite meals.
After fueling up, get ready for some retail therapy at the Tecumseh Mall. More than 60 stores are housed in this mall, so you’ll have lots of options to shop from.
In the evening, watch the Windsor Spitfires on their home ice at the WFCU Centre. Feel the hometown pride and cheer with Windsor as the Spitfires fire up the crowd and take to the ice.
Whether you spend the day walking through Hiram Walker’s island retreat, or treating yourself to something from the Tecumseh Mall, a visit to Riverside is the perfect addition to any trip from Ottawa to Windsor.
Fly direct from Ottawa MacDonald-Cartier Airport (YOW) to Windsor International Airport (YQG), with a stop in Toronto. Ottawa to Windsor flight time is 2 hours on average. Connection times vary. The distance from Ottawa to Windsor is around 680 km / 420 mi.
Enjoy complimentary drinks and snacks along the way.