Montréal is a city of history, traditions, winding cobblestone streets, European influence, and yes, it's a great city to try and learn (or perfect!) your French. It's a beautiful city in an even more beautiful location, and really has to be experienced first hand to truly comprehend how magical it is.
We at Family Days Out are huge fans of Montréal, so we're so excited to share with you our Montreal City Guide featuring our "Top 9 Family Attractions", which are just the tip of the iceberg in all the fun things to enjoy with kids and in the very vibrant and inspiring Montreal!
So have fun exploring our entire Montréal City Guide which we've carefully put together just for you, so you know just how to plan your amazing family day out in this iconic Canadian city! Oui Oui!
Main Image Credit: Alexandre Choquette - Tourisme Montréal
Image Credit: Freddy Arciniegas - Arcpixel - Tourisme Montréal
In our Montréal City Guide, we list our top 9 things to do with kids and the family perfect for that fun filled family day out, plus we share some really fun experiences and activities that will bring out the child in all!
We know budgets are often a consideration when travelling as a family and with kids, so also in this Montréal City Guide we share some great free admission things to do that won't break those bank accounts!
Getting around Montréal on public transport is really simple, so we offer some tips on how to see the city sights without a car. This Montréal City Guide also features some really fun facts about the city that might just surprise you!
If you want to explore a bit further out for the day, our Montréal City Guide lists an easy day trip for you, plus you'll discover some famous faces who were born right in Montreal.
So whether this is your first trip saying "Yes, take me to Montréal, I'm so excited!" or perhaps you have lived in the city your whole life but you never explored and wonder "What is there is to do near me in Montréal?", then keep reading because we have the top 9 things to do in Montréal with kids...and so much more!
Image Credit: Laurène Tinel - Tourisme Montréal
The area we know as Montréal today actually has a history dating back over 8,000 years. but it was the St. Lawrence Iroquoians who occupied the land at the time of the first European invasion, In fact, it was the St. Lawrence Iroquoians who in the 14th century established Hochelaga - a village at the foot of Mount Royal.
In 1535 a man named Jacques Cartier became the first European to set foot in the area, en route to his attempted navigation to find Asia.
Then, in 1642 French settlers (led by a man named Paul de Chomodey de Maisonnevue) arrived with the intention to build a fort and establish a mission that would bring Christianity to the native population already there. The city of Ville-Marie was founded on Montréal Island, and Maisonnevue became the city's first governor.
By 1685, the population of Ville-Marie had grown to 600 colonists, and fur trading became the most prominent industry (despite an earlier failed effort). In 1705, the name "Montréal" surpassed Ville-Marie, despite the term "Island of Montrael" being used earlier.
During the late 17th century, the beaver pelt became incredibly popular in Europe, and the 20,000 beaver pelts shipped annually led to Montreal beeing the fur trading capital.
In 1832, Montréal officially became a city, and by 1860 Montréal was the largest city in British North America.
The city was hit hard by the Great Depression in the 1920s, but by the mid-1930s the city was re-building its economy and skyscrapers began to appear and Montréal's international status was cemented with Expo 67 and the 1976 Summer Olympics.
Today, Montréal is an incredible place to visit, as it's a city that embraces the past but celebrates the future.
Image Credit: Eva Blue - Tourisme Montréal
Montréal has SO many fun and exciting attractions and experiences for the whole family, you certainly won't be short of things to do.
There is so much history in Montréal, if that is what you crave then iconic landmarks such as Basilique Notre-Dame De Montréal are perfect for you!
For the wildlife and nature lovers in the family, head on over to attractions such as Ecomuseum Zoo and the Montréal Insectarium, plus the marvellous Montréal Biodome where the wonders of the natural world come to life.
Love the outdoors? Check out some really fun places to spend the day as a family including Mount Royal Park!
The city also has a host of really fun attractions that were created JUST with kids in mind, such as the Montréal Science Centre!
Let's not forget about those attractions for art lovers, like the famous Musee D Art Contemporain De Montréal.
With so many fun things to do in Montréal with the family, you'll soon have that itinerary filling up! The biggest question now is, how much fun can you fit into one day!?
Image Credit: Eva Blue
Montréal is a really easy city to get around without a car, thanks to its public transit system and pedestrian-friendly streets!
The metro (or subway) system is clean, safe and fast, and is a great option. It's also a relatively simple option, as there are just four lines connecting the downtown centre to major tourist sites, as well as the bus stops and train stations.
The metro operates daily from 5:30am to 1am(1:30am on Saturdays), and you only have to wait an average of eight minutes between trains (three minutes during rush hour)
Walking is also a great option in Montréal. Montrealers love to walk, and it's one of the best ways to see the city and its lively neighbourhoods - both day and night! Walking really allows you to take in the amazing architecture and public art, and just take in the atmosphere.
When the weather isn’t inviting, you can still get around by walking through the Underground Pedestrian Network. This practical network offers 33km of walkways with 2,000 shops, restaurants and services, connecting to performance venues, theatres and cinemas, hotels, attractions and museums!
You can also opt to hop on a BIXI public bike as there are over 750 kilometres of bike paths in the city, or as Montréal is an island, you can enjoy the magical (and practical) experience of getting there by water taxi! These run between the Old Port of Montréal and Parc Jean-Drapeau, Longueuil, and other points of interest along the St. Lawrence River.
There are a number of iconic Canadian foods, but one in particular - with its origins in Quebec - is something that is a must-try for anyone wanting the full, authentic Canadian experience. Yes, we're talking about Poutine!
Poutine was invented in the late 1950s, however numerous claims to its true origin mean we don't know for sure who invented it, we just know it was invented in Quebec and has become a culinary symbol of Canada!
Haven't heard of poutine before? Well, it's easy to remember as it's simply fries topped with cheese curd and gravy! It's an acquired taste, but there's no middle ground. If you like it, then you'll LOVE it! It's one of the most quintessential Canadian dishes, so make sure you make time to try it on your Montréal family day out!
Image Credit: Alison Slattery
Our Top 9 Fun Things To Do With The Kids In Montréal
1Basilique Notre-Dame De Montréal
Located in the historic district of the city, the Basilique Notre-Dame De Montréal is one of the most iconic structures in Montréal, with one of the most impressive interiors in the entire world, considered a masterpiece in Gothic Revivial architecture - making it a must-do for anyone in Montréal!
Most of the construction took place between 1824 and 1829, and upon its completion it was the largest church in the whole of North America for over 50 years! Make sure you take your camere when you visit - Basilique Notre-Dame De Montréal is so incredibly impressive you'll be wanting to capture its beauty for a very long time!
Image Credit: Moment Factory
Located in Olympic Park (the building was once the 1976 Olympic velodrome!), the amazing Montréal Biodome is where the whole family can walk through replicas of of five incredible ecosystems found in the Americas, with a host of plants and animals waiting to be discovered!
In one amazing family day out, you can explore the lush and humid Tropical Rainforest, before heading to discover the heart of marine life in the Gulf of St, Lawrence! The Montréal Biodome even had Subantarctic Islands ready for you to uncover! An amazing nature-based family day out in Montréal!
Image Credit: Canadian Tourism Commission
The Montréal Insectarium is actually the LARGEST insect museum in the entire of North America, AND one of the largest in the WORLD - excited to visit? This iconic natural history museum is home to insects from all corners of the globe, and is an amazing way for kids to get up close with these amazing species.
Kids can observe the fascinating leafcutter ants hard at work, they can listen to the song of the cicadas, and even try to distinguish the leaf insects from the leaves in their vivarium! So much fun and educational fun at this Montréal favourite.
Image Credit: Eva Blue - Tourisme Montréal
Covering just over 11 hectares on the Island of Montréal, Ecomuseum Zoo showcases Quebec's charming wildlife all in a natural and enchanting setting - making it a wonderful day out for the family who want to walk on the wild side!
Kids can come face to face with the adorable Red Fox, and marvel at the beauty of Birds of Prey such as the Snowy Owl. The family can watch River Otters play, and even see up close the impressive Gray Wolf! All wildlife at Ecomuseum Zoo have been injured, orphaned or born under human care so they can't be released back into the wild, so kids can also enjoy an education on conservation and learn how Ecomuseum Zoo are looking after these incredible creatures!
Image Credit: Ecomuseum Zoo
Science IS fun and it's very apparant at the Montréal Science Centre where kids can play, invent, explore and create - all in the name of science! This popular Montréal attraction is filled with interactive hands-on exhibits that allow kids to explore the natural world, the Universe, the human body, and so much more.
Keep an eye out for the temporary exhibits that constantly change, so you can always find something new to go back to! Kids might be discovering the fossils of dinosaurs one minute, and what caused the Big Bang the next! Kids, are you ready to play the day away at Montréal Science Centre? You might just be surprised at what you learn!
Image Credit: Montréal Science Centre, Luc Lavergne
Get ready to explore the wonders of our Solar System and Universe at the popular Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium! Here the exhibits will answer all your questions about the stars, the planets, the Big Bang and more - all designed in a way to clearly explain these amazing facts to children!
Keep an eye out for their calendar so you can see their movie schedule where you can sit back in the theatre and get transported to other worlds through the screen, and also keep on top of special events they host throughout the year!
Image Credit: Space for Life (Daniel Choinière)
The Musee D Art Contemporain De Montréal - or MAC, the Museum of Contemporary Art - is where the whole family can be surrounded by creativity, and be inspired. The museum's collection is filled with around 8,000 works of art, including works by local Quebec artists as well as artists from all around the world. The collection is a living reflection of its time filled with transformative encounters and perspectives on current societal issues.
The museum also rotates exhibits of specific artists and themes, so make sure you keep an eye on what is coming up so you can plan your day around it! Since 1964, families from all corners of the globe have visited this iconic Montréal museum - are you ready to be join its history?
Image Credit: Eva Blue - Tourisme Montréal
Part of Six Flags, La Ronde Amusement Park is Quebec's largest theme park and is just filled with thrills and spills to entertain kids of all ages! There are rides that will spin you, rides where you can fly, and rides that might just test your bravery!
Have you ever been catapulted to give you a skydiving experience, or looped the loop at 7-stories high? At La Ronde Amusement Park it's all there waiting for you! In addition, the park is filled with plenty of shops and restaurants, as well as special events throughout the year so you can really test your limit on how much fun you can cram into one day!
Image Credit: Tourisme Montréal
With a number of locations across Montréal (Kirkland and Anjou are on Montréal Island), iSaute is the pefect way for active kids to spend the day! iSaute is filled with activities for kids to bounce, dunk, flip and play all of that extra energy they have used up. There are wall to wall trampolines, as well as trampoline basketball, and even battle beams where kids can see who comes out victorious against their friends!
iSaute also has a climbing wall, as well as a ninja course to test those skills, and Friday & Saturday night "club" fun as the lights go down and the blacklights kick into action! Great fun for kids of all ages, all skills and all exprience levels!
Image Credit: iSaute
William Shatner is an American actor with a career having spanned seven decades, and most known for his iconic role as Captain Kirk in the Star Trek franchise. His debut as Captain James T. Kirk was in 1965.
He has also starred in numerous other blockbusters such as "Miss Congeniality" and "Loaded Weapon"
Image Credit: Public Domain
Mario Lemieux is a Canadian former professional ice hockey player, considered one of the greatest of all time, playing across 17 seasons of the NHL for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
More reecently following his battle with cancer, he created the Mario Lemieux Foundation offering support for other cancer patients.
Image Credit: Tony McCune
5 Fun Montréal Facts
Impress your friends with your amazing Montréal knowledge!
- Montréal is one of the top 5 largest French speaking cities in the world!
- In 1875, the world's first indoor ice hockey game was played in Montreal, at the famous Victoria Skating Rink. It was organized by a university student, and two nine-member teams used a wooden puck to battle out the iconic match!
- The Mount Royal Cross is, and always will be, the tallest structure in Montréal. No building can ever surpass it in height!
- It was in Montréal at the iconic Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel that John Lennon and wife Yoko Ono famously stayed in bed for 6 days and wrote the anti-war song "Give Peace a Chance" back in 1969.
- The hugely popular video game "Assassin's Creed" was created in Montréal! It was all thanks to a company called Ubisoft.
Top 5 FREE Things To Do With Kids In Montréal
Mount Royal Park
Mount Royal Park is a green jewel in Montréal, and a favourite spot for families who want to relax, enjoy the sun and enjoy some outdoor activities! Across winter you can enjoy activities including snowshoeing, tubing and skating, then in summer take to the grass and enjoy barbecues, biking and concerts!
The park was inaugurated in 1876, and today spans 200 hectares filled with astonishing biodiversity and natural beauty. There are also cafes in three locations across the park, as well as two gift shops where you can pick up original gifts and souvenirs perfect to take home!
Image Credit: Sid Che
Enjoy the activities at Parc Jean-Drapeau
Another favourite of the locals is the unique Parc Jean-Drapeau. This idyllica spot is renowned for its diverse cultural and sports programming, and is the perfect place for families to enjoy a nature (and adventure!) filled getaway, just 5 minutes from downtown Montréal.
The park offers a number of activities (its worth noting some do have a small fee), however with rock climing, aquatic fun, free events, hiking trails, beautiful public art to inspire you, ice-skating and plenty of picnic spots just to name a few, it's a wonderful way to spend the way as there are so many options for all interests and ages!
Image Credit: Parc Jean-Drapeau, André Pichette
Explore Jean-Talon Market
Jean-Talon Market is located right in the heart of Little Italy, and is one of the oldest public markets in Montréal (and one of the largest in all of North America!). The market was inaugurated in 1933, and originally called the Marché du Nord. Today, it's the most famous market in the city.
The market has a beautiful, village-like feel, where generations of both merchants and customers have grown up. Here you'll find some amazing local vendors, but also a diversity in the small shopkeepers (butchers, bakers, fishmongers, grocers) and its restaurateurs. It might be best that you visit on a empty stomach!
Image Credit: Tourisme Montréal
Stroll Old Montréal
Old Montréal offers unbeatable glimpse into city's many lives throughout its extensive history, through some of the city's most historic attractions. It's like walking back in time! Old Montréal is a district of contrasts, from centuries old cathedrals to the most modern of museums and more, all found after exploring along the charming cobblestone streets.
Old Montréal also has some great riverside pathways perfect for strolling (and even more amazing at sunset!). Nearly 400 years of history completely changes at night, with all the lights come on and show you a completely different side to the city.
Image Credit: Lorraine Deslauriers
Get lost in the Grande Bibliothèque
Did you know that in Montréal some of the libraries are so much more than just books? From admiring the impressive architecture, to enjoying some of the free programming, the libraries are worth a visit on their own - and the Grande Bibliothèque is the biggest, and most impressive, of them all.
Not only does this iconic library have over 3.5 million works of literature that can be read on the spot, or borrowed) but the interior is filled with spaces perfect for reading, researching, listening to lectures and even art viewing, and the library even has exhibition spaces throughout. Don't miss the free programming they offer for the whole family too, because it is endless!
Image Credit: BAnQ, Bernard Fougères
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What do you get when you mix a UNESCO Heritage listed Old Town brimming with winding cobblestone streets, with some of the best museums in the country, all set along the banks of the gorgeous St. Lawrence River? Québec City, that's what - AND our choice for a fun day trip from Montreal!
Québec City is around a three hour drive from Montreal, or there is a train that runs the connection in about the same time if you want to have a break from being at the wheel. It's one of the most beautiful and charming cities you could visit, with it's own incredibly rich culture engrained in everything you see, hear and experience - and plenty of fun things to enjoy as a family!
Image Credit: Ville de Québec
Prior to the founding of Québec City as we know it back in 1608 (by a French explorer named Samuel de Champlain), the land was occupied for thousands of years by Indigenous Peoples, before a French explorer named Jacques Cartier set foot and mapped the region in 1534 (although Cartier still wasn't the first European to arrive - archaeological evidence suggests Nordic Vikings had made their way across 1000 years earlier!)
However, it's de Champlains visit that officially founded the city, and was besieged five times until the city was finally conquered by the British 150 years later, in 1759.
Québec City was the capital of New France, then the capital of British North America, and today the city is the heart of French culture on the North American continent, with a beautiful location right on the St. Lawrence River. In fact, the name "Québec" was derived from an Algonquin indigenous word, which means “where the river narrows.”
It's a city unlike any other, with a stunningly dramatic cliff-top location, fortification walls, charming, winding narrow streets and 400 years of rich history oozing from everwhere you look.
Its location was incredibly valuable for those early explorers, as from the cliffs of Québec, it was possible for cannons to fire right across the river and (hopefully!) prevent enemy ships from heading out further west. The great cliff of Québec alsp makes the site a natural fortress.
Over the centuries, the French, the British and then the Americans all fought to control this very strategic location.
Today, Québec City continues to be an amazing destination for families, and we can't wait to hear how you enjoy it!
Here’s our top 4 Québec City things to see and do:
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