A little bit of France at our doorstep: Montreal! Great restaurants and sweet bagels, history and fun at every turn, hiking and biking opportunities, Cirque du Soleil – all this awaits you and your children.
WHO ENJOYS THIS CITY?
There is literally something for everyone here whether you enjoy cultural activities, museums, nature, sports, shopping, or fine dining. Love animals? Head to the Granby Zoo and feed baby goats. (In summer there is also a water park.) Like the off-beat? Learn about maple sugar farming at a typical shack, many with hay rides. Kids under 10 will love Recreatheque which has a maze, mini train ride, roller coaster, mini golf, bumper cars, rollerblade rink and arcade.
WHAT IS THERE TO SEE AND DO?
Aside from the obvious churches and museums, try something really different like hiking or biking along the Lachine Canal (no longer used for transportation but does offer a boat tour) or at the old port (which has a ferry and is great for photographs). Watch a hockey game at Bell Centre or visit the Montreal Canadiens Hall of Fame. The Biodome teaches you the ecosystems of the Americas.
WHY GO AT ALL?
The Olympic Park is worth a visit (get a bird’s eye view from the Tower) and the Botanical Gardens are filled with flowers (for Mom) and an Insectarium (for the kids). Science buffs enjoy the Centre des Sciences de Montreal and the shows at the Planetarium. Many venues offer ice skating year round as well as other sports opportunities. And of course there’s always a chance to practice a little French and help your family make cross-cultural connections.
WHERE ARE THE MOST UNUSUAL SITES?
Start with the Mc Cord Museum (free family Sundays) for dress-up activities and artifacts from 1887. The National Film Board of Canada’s Cine Robotheque can create a custom screening program of age-specific films for free. Or try a unique walking tour like “Ghost Walks” for a different view of this city.
WHEN TO GO
Festivals are held all year round but the winter Snow Festival (la Fete des Neiges) is playtime personified. Most occur during the summer, including a world famous jazz festival and an international fireworks competition.
HOW TO HAVE A SWEET EXPERIENCE
Try “Juliette et Chocolat” for the hot chocolate of a lifetime or sample a sweet bagel ( Montreal’s claim to fame) in one of several bagel shops. An ice cream break at Le Glacier Biboquet (seven locations) is always welcome. And at the end of a long day of sightseeing and fun, chill out at Kids Butterfly Yoga Studio (a mommy-and-me class) or catch the Sound and Light Show at Notre-Dame Basilica.
Take some time to savor Old Montreal, especially the cobble-stone streets around Place Jacques-Cartier, and you’ll feel like you’re in Europe. Most of all, have fun and make some memories.