West Island

© Arboretum Morgan - Arboretum Morgan© Ville de Montréal - Cap-Saint-Jacques Nature Park© Ville de Montréal - Cap-Saint-Jacques Nature Park
© Société du Patrimoine de l'Ouest de l'Île - West Island Heritage Bicycle Trail

© Arboretum Morgan - Arboretum Morgan

If you’re looking for a change of pace, why not “Go West”? Just a 20-minute drive along Lakeshore Road reveals a whole new side of Montréal, with pastoral landscapes, country homes, artisanal boutiques and charming little cafés.

Or, hit the road on two wheels and explore the Heritage Route, a 70-km (44-mile) bicycle path that winds through countrysides dotted with beautiful little villages, each with its own wealth of history to discover.

On the island of Montréal, parks are plentiful and often quite vast. The 280-hectare (700-acre), Cap-Saint-Jacques Nature Park is a stunning example. Season after season, this natural playground welcomes swimmers to its rustic beach and hikers, cyclists and skiers to its many nature paths. Kids will love the ecological farm, which is open year-round.

Hiking enthusiasts may prefer the Bois-de-L’Île-Bizard Nature Park. From the Welcome Centre, visitors head out to explore the extensive network of trails through lush vegetation, the half-kilometre (quarter-mile) boardwalk through the marshes and maybe even go for a dip at the beach on Lake-of-Two-Mountains. The park is also a treat for birdwatchers, so be sure to pack your binoculars.

A pleasure-boater’s paradise, the picturesque town of Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue is located at the western tip of the island where two lakes meet. The marina boardwalk is lined with a lively and eclectic array of outdoor terraces, restaurants and boutiques. Drop by to shop, eat, stroll or just soak up the rays and watch the boats go by.

Just a few minutes inland is the majestic 245-hectare (600-acre) Morgan Arboretum. This forested reserve offers access to 20 kilometres (12 miles) of ecology trails and canopied paths perfect for observing birds and other wildlife. In winter, this natural woodland is a favourite spot for cross-country skiers and snowshoers.