If Canada’s sesquicentennial anniversary wasn’t enough to prompt you to explore more of our own country, perhaps Montréal’s 375th will be. The city’s events and attractions are more bustling than ever. Autumn is a great time to visit Montréal with the kids—there’s no shortage of indoor activities if Québec’s winter comes a little early this year. Here are 7 family-fun things to do in Montréal this fall.
Oh, and don’t worry if you’re not a French speaker—everyone is bilingual.
7 family-fun things to do in Montréal
Fear not: Montréal is easy to navigate with its super-intuitive subway system. Pick up a Métro (underground rail) map at most hotels or any station; there’s no need to know your norths from wests, because you’re always going to head in the direction of the last stop noted at either end of your line. Switch lines where the circles are indicated. It’s that simple.
The best part? Kids under 12 ride free on Fridays after 4 p.m. and all weekend.
1. Stay in a great hotel
In my books, the hallmarks of a family-friendly hotel are walkability, proximity to transit and room categories that satisfy different family budgets and needs. The InterContinental Montreal is all of this and more.
Whether you stay in a classic room with a couple of beds to share or upgrade to a suite so you and your partner have separate sleeping quarters, you’ll still be able to take advantage of the hotel’s wonderful customer service, indoor pool, its short walk to Old Montréal or underground access to the subway on days where the weather just won’t co-operate.
2. Eat the yummiest breakfasts ever
Foodies won’t have to look far to satisfy their taste buds in Montréal. But, be forewarned: the best restaurants will require reservations for dinner. If you didn’t plan ahead, there’s good news—breakfast in Montréal will wow you.
Both Restaurant L’Avenue and Régine Café offer some of the best breakfast dishes we’ve had anywhere. The only downside is that because neither accepts reservations, you either need to arrive before their doors open or be prepared to wait in line. Do it. They’ll blow your mind.
At L’Avenue, try the carrot cake pancake and any platter with the eight-hour beer-braised ham. And even if you don’t have to go to the washroom, go to the washroom! It’s black-lit and really cool.
Régine’s pastry tower—alongside some kid-friendly hot chocolates with house-made toasted marshmallows, bowls of lattés or the incredible spicy hot chocolate—is enough for a family of four to get the day off on the right foot. But serious food-lovers shouldn’t stop there; order the waffle (gaufré) to experience a little bit of heaven in your mouth.
Pro tip: Not far from Restaurant L’Avenue and the Mont Royal Métro, you’ll find Point G, where you can buy the best macarons outside of France.
3. Dive in an Olympic pool
If you’ve never been in an Olympic-sized pool, get thee to The Sports Centre at Parc Olympique, where the 1976 Summer Olympics were held. There’s public swimming on Fridays and Saturdays and you can either frolic in the toddler zone, splash in the shallow end, lane swim like a pro or head down to the diving pool. (Hint: the water is much warmer in the dive pool!)
The public can use the one- and three-metre diving boards, and—if you’re lucky—the local dive club will be practising right beside you.
4. Get on the Wheel
The new Montréal Observation Wheel (La Grande roue de Montréal) is especially fun if you have kids who refuse to go on open-air ferris wheels. Enclosed pods, similar to but smaller than those on the London Eye, comfortably seat up to eight people and take guests on a 60-metre-high adventure all year round showing off panoramic views of the Old Port of Montreal, the St. Lawrence River and remnants of Expo ’67.
5. Check out Space For Life
There are four major components that make up the Space For Life complex: the Biodôme, Insectarium, Botanical Gardens and Planetarium. They’re not connected to each other, though, so there’s a fair bit of outdoor walking involved if you plan to do them all in one day.
If the cost of a multiticket for your whole family is a bit daunting, our kids liked the Biodôme and Planetarium best, and tickets are available separately. Plan your visit around the Planetarium’s movie times, which are must-sees and included with your ticket, and note that there are only two showings per day in English.
6. Go up the Tower
If you’ve taken a ride in the CN Tower elevator, you won’t find the Montréal Tower quite as thrilling, but you will be able to say you’ve experienced the tallest inclined tower in the world. The incline rises at 45 degrees, which makes this two-minute funicular ride to the top the only one in the world that operates on a curved structure. Bonus: there’s a free photo booth on the observation deck.
7. Catch a sporting event
We visited during the World Gymnastics Championships and scored last-minute, day-of tickets, so don’t let “sold out” deter you. From the Canadiens to Alouettes, Montréal is home to heaps of sports teams and you can always ask your hotel concierge for assistance if you didn’t get tickets ahead of time.
Disclosure: Consideration may have been provided by brands mentioned in this post.