Last summer, my kids and I traveled to Quebec City. While we loved our time spent in one of North America’s oldest and most charming cities, we also had tons of fun adventures in the great province of Quebec. If you’re looking for great food, amazing cultural and educational experiences in the great outdoors, head to Quebec City and then hit the road on this four day, family friendly itinerary.
Leave Quebec City early in the morning and take Autoroute 175 to the stunning region of Saguenay. Your first stop is the Village Vacances Petit-Saguenay (99 chemin St-Etienne, Petit-Saguenay). This mini vacation village consists of rustic chalets overlooking the magnificent Saguenay River fjord. It’s as close as you’ll come to camping the Canadian wilderness without having to worry about those pesky black bears and moose. The village offers a full line up of activities for children, teenagers, and families; we chose to kayak the fjord in search of Beluga whales. Beluga whales breed in the cold waters at of the river, making it a popular site for sea kayaking; my five-year-old daughter squeezed between my son and I and we were all touched by the beauty of the belugas bobbing their heads up for breaths of air. The village offers dining room is open and serves buffets for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, though you can also prepare dinner in your fully-equipped chalet kitchen. End your evening with a campfire and look up towards the magically starry sky.
If you’re looking for less rustic accommodations, head over to the Auberge les Deux Pignons (117 rue Dumas, Petit-Saguenay), a small, family-run six room auberge where the rooms are cozy and comfy and the in-house dining simply exceptionnelle: their rotating daily menu features the best local fruits, vegetables and game, all prepared in-house.
Drive back in time from Petit-Saguenay to the Site de la Nouvelle-France (370 Vieux-Chemin, Saint-Felix-d’Otis). This historical renactment village will take you back in time to 17th Century Quebec. Colorful historical figures will introduce you to the world of New France through the eyes of both native Hurons and colonists. Enjoy lunch at the onsite Le Dixseptième restaurant, where you’ll find local, home-style cuisine as well as some 17th century favorites.
After lunch, drive to the beautiful grand baie, where you’ll find the Musee du Fjord (3346, boulevard de la Grande-Baie Sud La Baie), an interactive science museum that focuses on the flora and fauna of the fjord region. Upon arrival, arrange for one of the guided tours of the bay’s tidal pools: my kids had a blast donning wading boots and grabbing colorful shovels to dig and discover the many marine animals that call the bay home.
Just across from the Musee du Fjord you’ll find the Savonnerie Olivier Saguenay (3291 boulevard de la Grande-Baie Sud), where you can learn about the history and process of olive-oil soap making. The lovely, colorful soaps, many of which are scented scented with local natural fragrances, make perfect souvenirs.
Spend the night at the Auberge des Battures (6295 boulevard de la Grande Baie Sud), a four-star country-style hotel. Request a room with a panoramic view over the Baie des Ha!Ha! and eat dinner at the in-house restaurant, which offers gourmet cuisine highlighting local produce.
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at the auberge, then set off to the Baie-Sainte-Catherine, for a whale watching cruise. The Gulf of St. Lawrence: the best whale watching site in the world thanks to an abundance of food (krill) for the majestic marine mammals. Croisières AML offers 3 hour cruises from May – November, with departure times throughout the day. Bring your binoculars and your camera and get ready for an amazing whale watching adventure.
Spend the afternoon, evening and night at the landmark Hotel Tadoussac (165 Rue du Bord de l’Eau, Tadoussac). The hotel overlooks Tadoussac Bay and the St. Lawrence River: enjoy an afternoon of swimming and tennis or take a scenic hike and wander the sand dunes.
Travel back to Quebec city through the lovely Charlevoix region, home of picturesque small towns, agritourism, and beautiful national parks (Parc national des Grands-Jardins and Parc national des Hautes-Gorges- de-la-Rivière-Malbaie). Stop for lunch in Baie-St-Paul, a quaint, artistic village where you’ll find unique boutiques and art galleries. Save room for desert at Chocolaterie Cynthia (66A rue Saint-Jean-Baptiste, Baie-Saint-Paul) , where delightfully handcrafted chocolates and ice cream await.