Quebec’s French-Canadian allure is integrated with countless immigrant populations that have made this a prosperous area with an energetic blend of people and cultures. Despite being a family travel writer that lives on the East Coast of the United States, I had never visited our friends to the North. Our family decided it was time to go and explore this stunning area with our children Anna Cecilia (8) and Luca (5). A mere ninety minute flight from our home city of Washington, D.C., we had to find out what marvelous Montréal and it’s Eastern Townships were all about.
We had two days in Montréal and decided to start our journey in the Vieux-Port area of this magical city. The kids were itching to try the first urban zipline circuit in Canada. MTL Zipline offered them a thrilling experience while discovering Montréal from a bird’s eye view.
After catching their breaths, they headed next door to Voiles en Voiles which provides outdoor activities in the 18th century world of Pirates and Royal Ships. They have 7 aerial adventure courses to choose from and even, climbed the wall of the Pirates’ Ship. After some play time, we took a walk in the Old Montréal and discovered the history of the city though their free mobile app Montréal en histoires-Cité Mémoire. The app allows visitors to explore the past through fifty points of interest and a dozen augmented realities. We used this throughout our visit and loved it!
No visit to Montréal is complete without seeing the Notre-Dame Basilica but now, there’s an even greater incentive to visit it. Experience AURA, the sound and light show inside the Notre-Dame Basilica. Allow yourself to be transported by AURA and discover an unexpected, stunning universe presented upon one of the most sublime canvases imaginable.
Aura Inside Notre Dame
After a busy day and a good night’s rest, we were ready for our next adventure. We really wanted to spend some time on the St. Lawrence River so we headed to the Old Port of Montréal and hopped on an AML Cruise and brunch on the river! It was a lovely way to enjoy the view and have a nice meal.
Especially when we visit a big city, it’s important to us to either take a tour or hire a guide so we can get a more personalized outlook on the location. In order to discover Montréal and its neighborhoods, we opted for a private city tour with Guidatour, where we learned about the city’s historical and cultural richness. Our guide, Frederic, had two children of his own and was wonderful at keeping our kids entertained and focused.
We wanted to end our first, short visit with a true bang so we took a seat in La Grande Roue de Montréal, a huge Ferris wheel, for an unforgettable experience. A panoramic view 60 meters high, with a breathtaking vista of the river, Old Montréal, downtown and the mountains! It was an ideal way to end a perfect stay.
Grand Roue Montreal
Where to Sleep in Montréal?
Hotel Bonaventure Located in the heart of downtown Montréal, this hotel is a true urban oasis. The hotel faces the lively streets of the city and is conveniently connected to the underground city, Central Station, Old Montréal, and major attractions. It’s ideal for families as it is a true Garden of Eden, surrounded by 2.5 acres of beautiful gardens.
Where to Eat in Montréal?
BEVO Bar Pizza. BEVO boasts amazing Italian cooking, and a lively ambiance. Traditional fare in a not so traditional setting, BEVO redefines the Italian eatery in Old Montréal.
Restaurant Holder In the spirit of the best European pubs and taverns where people gather to relax in a family friendly atmosphere, Restaurant Holder revisits the classic bistro menu in style, serving up generous helpings of Québecois cuisine.
But the fun didn’t stop in Montréal for us! We decided to hop in the car and head over to Quebec’s Eastern Townships. Breathtaking towns and villages, quaint shops and restaurants, farmer’s markets, spa stays, snow activities and wine routes. There really is something for everyone in Quebec’s Eastern Townships about one hour north of Montréal.Non Québecois might not be as familiar with the Eastern Townships but they are well worth a visit, especially if you want to explore a more rural, calmer part of Quebec.
We started our journey in Granby, the second largest city in the Eastern Townships. Granby welcomes many visitors, annually, as its zoo, is one of Canada’s most renowned.. However, the City of Granby has much more to offer, with its Festival International de la Chanson, the country’s biggest French-language singing competition; its numerous paved cycling trails; its many parks and fountains; and its vibrant cultural life.
The Granby Zoo is the largest zoo in Quebec. It has 1,500 animals representing 225 exotic species and 90 underwater species. Watch over twenty presentations from zoo keepers and educators and visit the Amazoo water park and fair rides in summer. In winter, admire the exotic animals outside: tigers, snow leopards, Japanese macaques, camels, yaks, llamas, alpacas and Andean condor.
KITI commentary: Check out this comprehensive guide to what zoos use for mental exercises and how to use similar activities with your dog from our friends at Dog Advisor. https://yourdogadvisor.com/zoo-mental-exercise/
When winter comes, the whole family loves getting out into nature and onto Yamaska’s sparkling snowshoeing and cross-country skiing trails. Enjoy Winter hiking and fatbiking, bikes that are equipped with oversized tires for ideal traction on snowy surfaces.
Where to Sleep?
The Le Saint-Christophe, Hôtel Boutique et Spa (St-Christophe) is super family friendly and offers numerous packages, including food packages. The hotel is located on the shores of Lake Boivin with direct access to the Route Verte cycling trail, and at walking distance to downtown Granby and Granby Zoo. Skating and sliding for free on the lake a few steps away, hiking and snowshoeing at Yamaska National Park. Campfire and marshmallows in the garden. Lodging and dinner free for kids!
Hotel St. Christophe
The town of Bromont focuses on activity and culture. At the base of the largest lit skiable area in North America, tourists are enchanted with the old village featuring gift shops, bistros, the Confiserie Bromont Café de Village (Museum of Chocolate), guided tours, art galleries, and antique shops.
This little town proves to be a paradise for sport enthusiasts: four golf courses, a bike trail connected to the Route verte, the Centre national de cyclisme where all types of cycling are possible, miles and miles of operational multipurpose trails, and the site of Olympic equestrian competitions. In Bromont, you’ll also enjoy beautiful rural scenes.
The Royal Bromont offers cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails for the winter season! More than 5-km of trails are accessible. Enjoy a cup of hot chocolate and marshmallows around a good fire after a day outdoors. And Bromont, Montagne d’expériences is the largest ski center in North America.
Bromont Montagne d’experiences
The Hôtel Château-Bromont is located at the base of Mount Bromont, where you can discover the charm of each season. This is a more modern hotel with a relaxing atmosphere, and a selection of wonderful 4-season activities! It’s super family friendly and has a spectacular restaurant, 4 Canards
Outdoor Hotub at Hotel Chateau Bromont
À la prochaine, Quebec!