Montreal offers families an urban city center with a French flair. Where Quebec City offers old-world appeal and North American history. Montreal is modern city with expansive museums and urban parks to explore. Read on for what to do in Montreal with kids.
What to do in Montreal with Kids
Parc du Mont-Royal
Parc du Mont-Royal offers a must for families looking to ramble and explore. Named in 1535 by Jacques Cartier, Parc du Mont-Royal is in the center of the city.
Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, landscape architect of the Biltmore Estate and Central Park, it features hike and bike trails, a sculpture garden, playgrounds and the popular overlook Mount Royal Chalet, orBelvedere Kondiaronk.
Plan ahead and take a picnic lunch or dinner. Large city parks are a great place for kids to unwind and I like to include them in my road trip itineraries.
Find parking along Chemin Remembrance. Free.
St. John’s Oratory
Some come to explore the church building though we want to see the views of the city. Climb to the top of the stairs and enjoy the view, especially at night.
Commissioned in 1904 St. John’s Oratory is a Roman Catholic Church. St. John’s boasts the third-largest dome in the world and is a National Historic Site of Canada.
Located at 3800 Queen Mary Rd. find parking at the base of the church hill. Free
Space for Life
A must for families, the Space for Life is a museum district. Spend at least a day exploring or more if you really enjoy gardens. It was the original site of the 1976 Summer Olympics though completely redeveloped.
Located at 4101 Sherbrooke and parking is available at 4581 Sherbrooke Est. Parking is $12 and my Toyota RAV 4 with a soft-sided roof carrier was considered an over-sized vehicle.
In a bright space, marvel at the humongous bugs of every color with your kids. Some are mounted and some are live specimens.
See a display of live carpenter ants as they work day-in and day-out cutting and carrying leaves. The ants aren’t encased within a protective glass display like they would be in the U.S. Instead the ant display features a moat, so close you could touch the ants.
Located at 4581 Sherbrooke Est.
Note: The Montreal Insectarium is closed for renovation until 2021.
Montreal Botanical Garden
Located next to the Insectarium, is the Montreal Botanical Garden. As one of the world’s best botanical gardens, it’s also a great destination for families.
I found unique playscapes and snack stands sprinkled throughout. Another family-friendly bonus, kids can run around and explore, even taking off their shoes in the grass. I just don’t tell my kids it’s a botanical garden and tell them we’re visiting a park.
To garden-lovers, it’s nirvana.The Montreal Botanical Garden features 185 acres of cultivated themed gardens, including a Japanese Garden, Alpine Garden, Toxic Plants Garden, Rose Garden, Chinese Garden and the list goes on.
Need a break, then visit the Botanical Garden Restaurant. Find fresh French-inspired sandwiches and salads that taste as fabulous as they look.
Buy a combo ticket for the Insectarium and the Botanical Garden. Adults tickets for $20.50CAN and youth tickets (5 to 17) for $10.25CAN with kids under 5 for free.
Open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Located at 4101 Sherbrooke Est.
Planetarium Rìo Tinto Alcan
Explore the night sky at the Planetarium. Several shows shown throughout the day.
Must buy a separate ticket for the planetarium. Adults tickets for $20.50CAN and youth tickets (5 to 17) for $10.25CAN with kids under 5 for free.
Open every day except Monday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and open until 8 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Located at 4801 avenue Perre De Coubertin.
As the original 1976 Olympic velodome, the BioDome reopened in 1992. Now explore a collection of four different American eco-systems located indoors.
Travel from the tropical rain forest to a Laurentian maple forest, complete with living plants and animals, like an indoor zoo. Then visit the Gulf of St. Lawrence before exploring the sub-Arctic Islands.
Each exhibit replicates the light, temperature, plants, birds and animals–both land and water. Again the human visitors are minimally separated from the inhabitants. Kids and adults alike are mesmerized.
Note: The BioDome is closed for renovations and will reopen in 2020.
Old Port Area
Another key area to explore is the pedestrian-friendly Old Port of Montreal. Find the waterfront parks along with street performers and notable architecture.
Located along the shores of the St. Lawrence River that’s been used for transportation and trading since 1611.
Walk along the Rue de la Commune park along the water.
Walk up this pedestrian way for people watching. Find food carts and street performers.
Located in-between Rue Sainte Vincent and Rue Gosford. Free
Rue Saint Amable
Located just off Place Jacques-Cartier, find an alley with artists and artisans for a unique souvenir.
Montreal Science Center
Stroll special exhibitions ranging from animation to archeology. Add an IMAX film to the visit.
Open every day during the summer from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Located at 2 de la Commune St. West.
Adult admission is $20CAN, teen admission (13 to 17) is $15CAN and kids 4 to 12 is $10CAN.
Visit the Gothic Revival basilica in the heart of the Old Port area of Montreal. A Catholic church first opened in 1682 but lost its luster and was demolished. The present church opened in 1830 and was elevated to a basilica by Pope John Paul II.
Adult admission for $6CAN and for youth (7 to 17) admission for $4 and kids under 6 and under are free. Take a guided tour, offered every 20 minutes and included in the admission.
Open every day, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Located at 110 Notre Dame Street West.
Montreal International Fireworks Competition
Montreal hosts the largest and most prestigious fireworks competition in the world. Launched over La Ronde, the amusement park, spectators along both sides of the St. Lawrence River watch the bi-weekly shows.
Each show lasts 30 minutes and is accompanied by music, broadcast on a local radio station. Watch the shows each Saturday and some Wednesdays from late June until the first week of August.
What to Eat in Montreal with Kids
Take the opportunity to sample some local Canadian delicacies.
Crêpes—Sample crêpes, both savory and sweet, for a French-inspired treat. A paper-thin pancake, crêpes are filled with kid favorites, like ham and cheese or bananas and chocolate.
Poutine–The national dish of Canada and originated in the 1950s. Starts with a dish of French fries covered with brown gravy and topped with cheese curds. It’s really a stick-to-your-bones dish.
Beavertails–First served in Ottawa in 1978, sample fried dough pastry with a choice of toppings, like whipped cream, bananas or chocolate hazelnut.
Tim Horton’s–Canada’s version of Dunkin’ Donuts. I stop and grab a cup every single trip to Canada.
Where to Stay in Montreal
Downtown Montreal features urban hotels that cater to luxury travelers. And one hotel is an icon of the city.
During my latest visit to Montreal, I stayed at the Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth Hotel. Originally opened in 1958, it was completely renovated in 2017. Ideally located above the Montreal Central Station, find VIA, Canada’s rail system, steps from the hotel.
Notably John Lennon and Yoko Ono held their Bed-In in 1969 in room 1742. And this is where Give Peace a Chancewas recorded.
Find Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth at 900 Boulevard René-Lévesque Quest in downtown Montreal.
Other Sites to Explore in Canada
During our road trip through the Canadian Maritimes, we explored the following.
Montreal is a popular departure port for cruises, like Regent Seven Seas Fall Color Cruise. I departed Montreal in October 2017 and enjoyed a day of exploring.
I recommend the following guides for your trip.
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