Montreal is a blast in the winter, when snow blankets the city in splendor, but the springtime is when Quebec’s cultural capital truly blooms. Everywhere you go, you’ll see families – both native Montréaliens and out-of-towners – frolicking under the first rays of spring sunshine, enjoying urban sports, sidewalk cafes and parks. Here are ten don’t miss spring experiences for families visiting Montreal.
- Discover Montreal by bicycle. Explore the history, neighborhoods and architecture with a guided biking tour. Montreal on Wheels offers over 150 bikes to rent for adults and children, including comfort-hybrids, cruisers, tandems and child trailers. Bike along one of many citywide trails on your own or choose from a wide array of family-friendly tours.
- Get up close and personal with bugs. The Insectarium, located in the Espace pour la vie (Space for Life) in the Olympic Park, is the place to be for anyone even remotely interested in the creepy-crawlies that inhabit our world. You’ll meet insects from near and far – from scorpions to centipedes. Consider taking a behind the scenes tour: you’ll have the chance to see how the insects are bred and fed, and maybe even have the opportunity to snuggle with a spider or munch on a bug.
- Take the funicular elevator up to the top of the Olympic Tower. The Montreal Olympic Tower, the tallest inclined tower in the world, offers a spectacular view of this city-island, and can be easily reached via its funicular-type elevator. Bring your swimsuit: the year-round sports centre at the base of the tower features seven swimming pools.
- Step back into time at the Pointe-à-Callière Montréal Museum of Archeology and History. Travel to the heart of Montreal’s history via an underground route covering six centuries of history and help Romeo, the nosy, storytelling rat, find selected objects among the Museum’s archaeological remains in the exceptional Where Montréal Was Born exhibition. Be sure to catch the multimedia 3-screen show that showcases Montreal history from the first native settlements to present day.
- Visit with more than 120 world (wax) celebrities at the Musée Grévin. Opening in April 2013, this 4,000-square-metre wax museum, the Canadian cousin of the famed Parisian location, will occupy two floors in the downtown Montreal Eaton Centre (705 Sainte-Catherine St.). This is your chance to meet not only famous French Canadians (Celine Dion! Guy Lafleur!) but also an international mob of waxy celebrities, including Brad Pit and Lady Gaga.
- Enjoy a world-famous bagel breakfast. Since 1957, St-Viateur Bagel (263 St-Viateur Ouest) has been baking batch after batch of their famous hand-rolled bagels. Baked in wood-burning ovens and thinner than their New York-style cousins, Montreal bagels are a don’t-miss treat. The bakery is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so even early birds or night owls will find bagels fresh out of the oven.
- Ride the coasters at La Ronde amusement park. This second largest amusement park in Canada, operated by Six Flags, is located on the eastern tip of Saint Helen’s Island. Take a ride on the ten roller coasters, including Le Monstre, a 40-metre (131 ft) high wooden double-tracked roller coaster which currently holds the record for highest double-tracked roller coaster in the world.
- Raft the Rapids of the St. Lawrence River. Rafting Montreal (Tel. 1-800-324-RAFT) offers 2-hour guided rafting trips down the calmer Lachine Rapids, near downtown Montreal, on the St. Lawrence River. Suitable for families with children ages 6 and older, you’re guaranteed an exhilarating and unforgettable urban adventure as you paddle the rapids. Wetsuits are provided.
- Shop for a lunch picnic a la Montreal at at the Jean-Talon Market. The Jean-Talon indoor farmer’s market (7070 Avenue Henri Julien) is a treat for the senses: Peruse the 300+ vendors and choose all the fresh and local ingredients you’ll need for a delectable lunch: Fresh cheese curds, warm baguettes, ham and cheese filled croissants, fresh fruits and veggies – all ready-to-eat.
- Take a naturalist-led hike up to the top of Mont Royal. Les amis de la montagne (1260 Chemin Remembrance; Tel. 514-843-8240 offers naturalist-led hikes up to the peak of Mont Royal. As you climb to the peak you’ll learn more about the critters that call this stunning urban park home. Bring your camera: you’ll want to capture the beautiful stunning city skyline views from atop..
Where to Stay
The Marriot Chateau Champlain (1 Place du Canada; 1-800-200-5909) is centrally located, comfortable, and features a nice indoor pool as well as in-hotel dining options (including an onsite Starbucks), making it a great option for families. There are also a number of family friendly bed and breakfasts in Montreal: visit bedandbreakfast.com/montreal-quebec for a listing of available guest houses.
Image Source: Flickr