Montréal is a magnificent place to visit with your family. Its compact size and convenience cannot be beat, and because it is one of the most pedestrian-friendly cities in the world, you can easily get from one attraction to another worry free. For slightly longer trips, the city’s extensive subway (Métro) and bus system helps you navigate effortlessly à la Montréal!
Day 1 – DOWNTOWN
On the first day of your tour, take in some interesting attractions in downtown Montréal, all family-friendly and within walking distance of each other.
At the McGill University grounds, the Redpath Museum is a natural history museum chronicling evolution from the primordial to the present and featuring a permanent exhibit on the history and diversity of Québec, which include fossils, minerals, and zoological specimens. World culture exhibits focus on Egypt, Africa, and Oceania.
The McCord Museum is another great stop and one of the most important historical museums in Canada. Celebrating Montréal life past and present—its people, artisans, communities, and metropolitan area—the Museum offers stimulating exhibitions, educational and cultural activities, and innovative Internet projects.
For hockey fans, the Montréal Canadiens Hall of Fame and Bell Centre should not be missed. The Hall of Fame recounts through objects, pictures, and interactive screens, many of the historic moments of the Montréal Canadiens, the team that has enlivened crowds since its founding in 1909. The Bell Centre is where the Habs currently play their home games and where spirited rivalries continue to entertain the team’s followers. The public space just beside the Bell Centre has been defined as Centennial Plaza where, in addition to statues of four hockey legends, you can see the silver plates from every Stanley Cup the team has brought home and read more than 20,000 fan messages to their idols.
For your own battle of the blades, head to the Atrium at Le 1000 De La Gauchetière, a superb indoor ice rink offering visitors the chance to skate under a giant dome, regardless of what the weather is like outside, and at any time of the year! No skates? No problem. Equipment rental, including helmets, is available on-site for an enjoyable, safe, family activity.
Wienstein & Gavino’s Pasta Bar Factory is a good place to end the day and feed your hungry bellies. Its Italian-influenced menu showcases traditional dishes with a modern twist and enticing choices for everyone in your crew. Adults will also enjoy the extensive wine list. Bon appétit!
DAY 2 – OLD MONTRÉAL
Old Montréal is one of the areas that most people want to see when they arrive in the city, and amidst the historical buildings, cobblestone streets, and Old Port are numerous family activities, the abundance of which just might encourage you to extend your stay.
The Montréal Science Centre, which provides loads of cultural and educational activities for the entire clan. Your family will enjoy the exploration halls, multimedia challenges, games, interactive areas, and IMAX® TELUS theatre.
For a glimpse into the past through guided tours and theatrical presentations, the Sir George-Étienne-Cartier National Historic Site commemorates the life and work of Sir George-Étienne Cartier, a renowned politician and Father of Confederation.
If you need a break, head to Place Jacques-Cartier and the famed Jardin Nelson, a restaurant with an eclectic menu appropriate for all taste buds. The large terrace outside is a wonderful place to slow down and listen to the sound of live jazz at lunchtime or sunset.
One guaranteed fun-filled, family adventure is riding the majestic waves of the St. Lawrence River. Saute-Moutons offers jet boaters of all ages the opportunity to confront Lachine’s mighty and historic rapids. Powerful jet boats give you a fresh take on the St. Lawrence River, while speedboats take you on a wild journey with and against the currents.
DAY 3 – HOCHELAGA MAISONNEUVE
With expansive green spaces and a multitude of attractions surrounding the Olympic Park, the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve district, affectionately called “HoMa” by Montrealers, is filled with pleasant, family adventures. Spend the entire day here learning about the living creatures on our planet, seeing the city from a lofty perspective, and reaching new heights at a fantastic indoor climbing centre.
The Montréal Biodôme comprises four Ecosystems (Tropical Rainforest, Laurentian Maple Forest, Gulf of St. Lawrence, and Sub-Polar Regions) where over 4,800 animals from 230 different species and 750 plant types coexist. Experienced nature interpreters will accompany you on this journey through the Americas.
If you look up anywhere in the city, you won’t be able to miss seeing the Montréal Tower rising above the stadium built for the 1976 Summer Olympic Games. A funicular-type elevator in this, the tallest inclined tower in the world, brings you to three observation floors offering awe-inspiring views of the city.
Not far from the Biodôme is the Montréal Insectarium, home to some 160,000 living and naturalized insect specimens, an ant farm, bumblebee and honeybee hives, and many other spellbinding vivariums. Entomologists will educate you on the amazing diversity of creepy crawlies!
Just across the street from the Montréal Tower and Olympic Park is the Montréal Botanical Garden, which holds an extensive collection of 22,000 plant species and cultivars, 10 exhibition greenhouses, the Tree House, and some 30 thematic gardens (including the Chinese, Japanese, and First Nations gardens). One of the world's largest and finest, the complex has something interesting for everyone in your familial unit. During autumn, the Garden hosts the annual Magic of Lanterns event, which features over 700 superb traditional Chinese lanterns, as well as the Great Pumpkin Ball, which showcases hundreds of decorated pumpkins in a one-of-a-kind exhibition.
Next stop, climb every mountain! The Horizon Roc Climbing Centre, an indoor climbing complex, offers 12 m high cable bridges, a 25 metre zip line, and more than 2,600 square metres of unique features for enthusiasts of all ages and levels.
All this adventuring is bound to work up your appetite, so head back downtown, to Old Montréal, or to any of the city’s fine neighbourhoods to experience one of the excellent restaurants of Montréal’s very happening culinary scene.
DAY 4 – PARC JEAN DRAPEAU
Parc Jean-Drapeau has two islands to offer: Île Sainte-Hélène and Île Notre-Dame. Throughout the year, Montrealers come to the Parc by bike, car, subway (Métro Jean-Drapeau), boat, and on their rollerblades. Spending your last day here will give you the opportunity to relax on a beach, have a picnic, and check out some of the city’s most popular family attractions.
Once you exit the Jean-Drapeau Métro Station, you will see the large geodesic dome from the 1967 International and Universal Exposition (or Expo 67), which now houses the Biosphère, Environment Museum, a terrific venue for learning about some of the major environmental issues related to water, air, climatic changes, sustainable development, and responsible consumption for future generations.
When you are done at the Biosphère, take a short walk to the Stewart Museum, where you will be able to travel into historical times through a remarkable collection of maps, antique weapons, and instruments, dating from the beginning of the New World to the mid-19th century. The Stewart Museum also offers you a glimpse into the daily lives of the soldiers in the Compagnie franche de la Marine and the Olde 78th Fraser Highlanders, complete with interpreters in period costumes.
To cap off your trip, let loose at La Ronde (Member of the Six Flags Family), a mammoth amusement park offering more than 40 rides and attractions, dazzling shows, and other entertaining activities. During the summer, the amusement park produces a renowned international fireworks competition, and, during every weekend in October, it hosts the annual Halloween Fright Fest.
OTHER ITINERARY OPTIONS
During the wintertime, Montréal is home to an abundance of family attractions, from La Fête des Neiges de Montréal to ice skating, tubing, hiking, and tobogganing in Mount Royal Park.
Finally, please take some time to peruse these other activities in Montréal, one of the world’s great tourist destinations that understands and supports family lifestyles!