Montreal in the hot months feels like the reason the sun exists – the city shines like a mirage full or music festivals, lively parks and revelers everywhere you turn. You don’t have to ask us twice to stay out of doors, and with these great activities, even the kids will agree. No TV show in the world compares to the fun to be had in the great outdoors…
The gorgeous 245 hectare natural park that is the Morgan Arboretum kicks the party off on May 10 with a hopping evening: Frog Songs: The Symphony of Spring invites you and yours to break out your flashlights and discover the amazing nocturnal life of amphibians from 7 to 9 pm. Join Chris Cloutier as he takes you down to a local swamp in search of our cold-blooded friends. On Saturday, May 18, from 8 am to noon, the arboretum sings spring’s praises with The Birds of Spring, in honour of the peak of the spring migration. The trees are alive with birds all over this beautiful park, and this excursion will introduce you to dozens of species.
Speaking of birds, the Parc des Rapides is a gorgeous natural site at the foot of the Lachine rapids, on the St. Lawrence River, with a tremendously diverse ecological zone. Since 1937 it’s acted as a migratory bird refuge – what’s special is that now’s the time to spot the nests housing the next generation of birdies. The park is home to 225 species of birds, 66 species of fish and 250 types of plants! Plus it’s free to visit.
May 13 kicks off the season of water fun at H2O Adventures, where you can rent any of 50 watercraft, from kayaks to pedal boats to canoes or electric motorboats. Take the kids for a fast ride along the Lachine Canal, or go more mellow and teach them how to canoe like our ancestors did – it’s a good way to give them a history lesson without them even knowing it.
While you’re in that neck of the woods, bike or stroll along the Lachine Canal to the Musée Plein Air de Lachine, an amazing, monumental sculpture garden that’s among the largest open air museums in Canada. The 50 works on view include some by André Fournelle, Michel Goulet, David Moore and Bill Vazan – and for once, this is a museum where kids are allowed to touch the art!
Take the fam sky high with Air Saint-Laurent, Montreal’s own seaplane service from Île Sainte-Hélène, at the foot of the Jacques-Cartier Bridge. Explore the city by helicopter, or aboard their famous Beaver, a seaplane that will take you over the Olympic Stadium, downtown, green spaces and parks galore before landing you back down, amazed.
The Botanical Gardens is natural bliss incarnate, and during the 1000 Days for the Planet, kids get to learn about the planet’s biodiversity every week from Tuesday to Sunday in an exhibition that mashes together science and art. Make sure you keep time to stroll through the picturesque gardens – from the Chinese garden to the rose bushes, it’s all blooming beautiful right now.
And for the simplest, quickest, quintessentially Montreal-est free fun in the sun, go use the swings on President Kennedy and St-Urbain, right in the Quartier des Spectacles. They’ll sing to you.
Morgan Arboretum, 150 chemin des Pins, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, (514) 398-7811
Parc des Rapides, corner 6th Avenue and LaSalle Boulevard, (514) 367-6351
H2O Adventures, 2985B St-Patrick, (514) 842-1306
Musée Plein Air de Lachine, Parc René-Lévesque, Lachine, (514) 634-3478
Air Saint-Laurent, departure points depends on the adventure, (514) 447-7950
Botanical Gardens, 4101 Sherbrooke East, (514) 872-1400