Dowtown with the family

© Atrium Le 1000 - Atrium Le 1000© McCord Museum - McCord Museum© Tourisme Montréal, Pierre-Luc Dufour - Chez Cora (Downtown)
© Tourisme Montréal, Stéphan Poulin - Place Montréal Trust - Underground

© Atrium Le 1000 - Atrium Le 1000

October 21, 2011 — Montréal’s downtown never has any downtime! A constant hive of activity, it is frequented by students, professionals, residents and tourists at any and all hours of the day and night, largely because of the overall feeling of safety that pervades the area. In addition to housing international headquarters, top-notch university campuses, apartment and office buildings, Montréal’s downtown is also known for its arts, culture and entertainment offering: art galleries, museums, movie theatres, and performance halls are just some of the possibilities. Since a single day just wouldn’t do this area justice, we have put together a 3-day itinerary to show you – and your family -- the very heart of Montréal.

Day 1

Chez Cora on Stanley Street has the reputation for incredible and abundant breakfasts served warm with hospitality. It’s a great way to start your day!

Tummy now full, take Sherbrooke Street until you reach the McCord Museum of Canadian History, whose some 1,375,000 artefacts, images and manuscripts bear witness to the cultural and historical development of Montréal, Québec, and Canada.

At noon, head over to m:brgr on Drummond Street, a build-your-own gourmet burger bar that serves up delicious with a conscience: a portion of their sales go to support local children’s charities.

Your mission: to annihilate the enemy with the help of your trusty laser pistol in a labyrinth of hallways stretched over five floors. Laser Quest on Sainte-Catherine Street West will suit you up for a laser battle you won’t soon forget!

Still in a hallway, but minus the gear and the laser lights: the 33-kilometre Underground Pedestrian Networkthat winds beneath Montréal downtown is an attraction in its own right. Home to fine restaurants, exquisite boutiques and contemporary artwork, the Underground Network is full of shopping, gourmet and entertainment possibilities.

Follow the signs to the exit of Montréal’s renowned commercial artery, the celebrated rue Sainte-Catherine, whose 15 kilometres stretch from east to west across the city. As you exit at McGill College Avenue, whether you are a vegetarian or not, it is definitely worth it to stop at Le Commensalfor a deliciously healthy meal. The restaurant offers a marvellous vantage of the downtown in all its glory, as well as a buffet featuring a wide selection of delectable dishes.

Day 2

There’s nothing like the breakfast magic of Ben & Florentine on Mansfield Street – including generous omelettes, pancakes, smoothies, French toast, waffles – to get your day off on the right foot!

To brush up on your ethnology and natural history, there’s no place like McGill University’s Redpath Museum, home to large collections of ancient and modern organisms, minerals and world culture artefacts.

Everyone knows that Montréal is a hockey town where you’ll be hard-pressed not to cross paths with a Habs fan! The Montréal Canadiens (or the Habs, short for Les Habitants, the original name of the team) has roused crowds and warmed the hearts of Quebecers since 1909; it’s only fitting that they have their own Hall of Fame, complete with objects, pictures, and interactive screens, in their home, the Bell Centre. Get to know the team, its spirited history and rivalries in pursuit of Lord Stanley’s Cup, and even “chat” with players themselves through virtual Q&A sessions in this interactive shrine to the home team.  

From there, it’s just a short walk up to René-Lévesque Boulevard and a quick jaunt east to University Street where you’ll find BofingerAmerican BBQ Smokehouse, a casual, down-home eatery that serves up Southern-style comfort food with Québec flavour in naturally smoked meat and homemade sauces.

Day 3

Coffee, tea, fine pastries, gourmet omelettes and more await you at Nocochi on MacKay, where the artful décor is only surpassed by the artful cuisine! What’s more, Nocochi offers a selection of wheat flour-free, egg- and milk-free pastries for those with food allergies or sensitivities.

From Nocochi, it’s only a hop, skip, and a jump to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, but you may want to simply stroll and take in all the heritage architecture along the way.

You can’t miss the stone façade of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, one of the first museums in North America to amass an encyclopedic collection worthy of the name. With over 33,000 objects including paintings, sculptures, works on paper, prints and drawings, photographs and decorative art objects from Antiquity to today, you will be fascinated by the diverse collections ranging from Ancient Cultures, European Art, Canadian Art, Inuit and Amerindian Art, Contemporary Art and Decorative Arts. Be sure to stop at the museum boutique on your way out – it is full of original treasures, gifts and souvenirs.

Now it is on to Crescent Street, just cornering the museum, for some fresh, homemade pasta at Wienstein & Gavino's. Or, if pasta doesn’t tempt you, their gourmet pizza, antipasti, salads or grilled specialties undoubtedly will!

Rain or shine, sweltering heat or frigid cold, the Atrium le 1000 is open to skaters year-round. This 10,000 ft2 indoor skating rink welcomes skaters of all ages and abilities. No skates? No problem! Skate rental, lockers and restaurants are located on site to keep your visit gliding happily along!

If you feel like something different for supper tonight, then Brisket – just steps away from the rink on the Beaver Hall side – will definitely fit the bill, with its succulent smoked meat, juicy sausages, pig knuckles and irresistible pub atmosphere. Bon appétit!