Alta Vista’s boundaries can be broadly described as: Smyth Road in the north, St. Laurent Boulevard in the east, Walkley Road and Heron Road in the south, and Bank Street and Riverside Drive in the west. However, the name is ambiguous, as there are several sub-neighbourhoods in this area, as well as a core Alta Vista area, (which could be defined as south of Pleasant Park Road, north of Heron Road, and west of the eastern greenspace corridor), centered on Alta Vista Drive.
Alta Vista Drive is a major street running through the neighbourhood, and shares its name. Both are named for their relative height, as the neighbourhood is generally higher than most of the city. Alta Vista is a highly residential neighbourhood with a strong community, several schools, churches, and community centres. It also has a vast amount of greenspace and parks.
The General Campus of the Ottawa Hospital, and The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario are located just on the north side of Smyth Road, in Riverview, while the Riverside Campus of the Ottawa Hospital is located at Smyth and Riverside Drive. There are two shopping malls in and around Alta Vista: the Billings Bridge Plaza Shopping Centre at Bank Street and Riverside and the Elmvale Shopping Centre at St. Laurent and Smyth.