We just got back from a road trip to Montreal and had such a fabulous time exploring the city. The weather was wonderful and we were able to enjoy so many outdoor activities, as well as take in the beautiful churches and interesting museums. If you’re thinking about a summer getaway to Montreal, take a look at 15 of my favorite ways to enjoy this family-friendly city.
1. Learn the History of Montreal in 20 Minutes. Head to Point-a-Calliere for a fabulous 20-minute multimedia presentation called Yours Truly, Montreal, which showcases the history of the city. Be sure to pick up an activity sheet for kids before you explore the exhibits on archaeology and pirates.
2. Check Out Public Art Sculptures. Head to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in downtown Montreal to explore a variety of fun public art sculptures outside the three museum buildings. If you can, stop by on a weekend when the museum offers plenty of free workshops and tours just for families.
3. Take in the View from Kondiaronk Lookout. Make the short drive to Mount Royal Park, then enjoy a ten-minute walk to the Kondiaronk Lookout for panoramic views of Montreal. If you like, keep walking along a 1.3 mile loop for more views, including a view of the Mount Royal Cross.
4. See Hundreds of Animals at the Biodome. If your kids love animals, then head to the Biodome where you’ll experience four different ecosystems, while seeing all different types of animals that live in these ecosystems, from sloths to puffins to parrots. Be sure to stay for the Symphony of Life show.
5. See a Fireworks Show. Through August 2, enjoy free weekly (sometimes twice-weekly) fireworks shows as part of the Montreal International Fireworks Competition. You’ll pay a fee if you want to watch the show from La Ronde, but we found a great spot at the Old Port and saw the show for free.
6. Stand in Awe of Marie Queen of the World Cathedral. In downtown Montreal, pop in Marie Queen of the World Cathedral. Inspired by St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the Pope is rumored to stay here when he is in Montreal. The architecture and artwork inside is truly something to be seen.
7. Get Up-Close with Insects. A trip to the Insectarium is a must, though I did learn that I do not want to go to Indonesia or Peru (they are home to some huge beetles). We loved seeing and reading about various insects, spiders and butterflies. There are a lot of fun, hands-on activities just outside the Insectarium, too.
8. Taste-Test Canadian Maple Syrup. You can’t leave Montreal without sampling maple syrup from Canada. Head to Canadian Maple Delights in Old Montreal to sample five different types of maple syrup. Before you leave, head down to the basement to explore the free maple history museum.
9. Explore the Chinese Garden. The Montreal Botanical Garden is located on the same grounds as the Insectarium, so it’s worth it to visit both (also, one ticket gets you into both attractions). My favorite garden was the Chinese Garden. The plants, structures and water features are just beautiful.
10. Wander About Old Montreal. Taking a walk through Old Montreal is a must for the cobblestone streets and outdoor cafes. You’ll also find street artisans and vendors. Don’t leave the area without popping in City Hall (they also offer free tours) and Bonsecours Market.
11. Take in the Wood Carvings at Notre-Dame Basilica. Truly, everything about Notre-Dame Basilica is just amazing. The intricate wood carvings behind the altar, in particular, are incredible. Take a seat in one of the pews and just gaze at all of the work that went into creation of this church.
12. Take a Nature Walk at the Biosphere. The Biosphere is a fantastic hands-on museum dedicated to raising awareness about our environment. They offer daily nature walks with a naturalist, as well as hands-on activities, like an Eco Lab, in which kids use microscopes, conduct experiments and make observations about air and water pollution.
13. Enjoy a Sightseeing Cruise. Take a 60- or 90-minute cruise from Jacques Cartier Pier to see and learn about Montreal from the water. We went with Le Bateau Mouche and very much enjoyed our guide and the scenery. Get on board early to grab one of the comfy chairs on the stern of the boat.
14. Conduct Experiments from A-to-Z. My kids loved the Montreal Science Centre, especially Science 26, which has 26 hands-on stations that teach kids about friction, pulleys, sound waves and more. Clic! The Zone for Curious Young Minds is a fun area for younger kids (ages 4 to 7).
15. Learn About Counterfeit Money. Just across the way from Notre-Dame, you’ll find the Bank of Montreal, which has a small, free museum. Kids will enjoy exploring the different types of money, as well as examining counterfeit money and historical pieces.
Photo Credit: Richard Taylor (Montreal City Hall)
Disclaimer: My family and I were provided with complimentary passes to the Biodome, Insectarium, Montreal Botanical Garden, Planetarium and Point-a-Calliere by Tourisme Montreal. However, all views expressed here are my own.