Top Family Days out in Montreal
Tips and Guides, Family Travel, Canada,
It’s always a good time to visit with your family as there are plenty of wonderful things to see and do, no matter the time of year. From museums to zoos, and amusement parks to ice rinks, Montreal, Canada is replete with fun days out for the whole family. To help you narrow down your numerous options, however, we have put together this guide on the top family days out in Montreal.
Tips and advice from Tourisme Montreal
Image credit: Tourisme Montréal
To start things off, we thought we would bring you some pearls of wisdom from the premium tourist authority in Montreal. has the very goal of helping travellers plan their trip to Montreal and as such know a thing or two about what makes for a great family day out in the area:
“Planning a trip for the whole family is not for the faint of heart, but Montréal makes family travel a bit less stressful. How? Well, it starts with options. In this city, there’s something for everyone. Both tots and teens will love the playful atmosphere of Montréal, found in the street performers at the Just For Laughs Festival or the animals at the Biodôme. The more mature members of the family will appreciate the sophisticated elements of the city, discovered in archaeological museums and fine art galleries. What makes Montréal great for families is that most attractions are walking distance from one another, or involve a short hop on the city’s easy-to-navigate subway system. This means less worry and hurry, and more grins and wins.”
Image credit: Tourisme Montréal
More specifically, Tourisme Montreal have some great suggestions for family days out, starting with a visit to which, they explain, has everything for a family.
“Filled with history, charm and unique architecture, Old Montréal is an absolute must for strolls and exploration with the family. Walk its cobblestone streets, and you’ll discover everything from cool spots for a bite to historical sites, museums and loads of activities geared toward good old-fashioned family fun.
“What to do: Voiles en Voiles, MTL Zipline, Montreal Science Center, Hangar 16 Maze, Montreal Observation Wheel, Pointe-à-Callière Museum, New Observation Wheel (the biggest one in Canada!)”
Next up they suggest heading to Hochelaga-Maisonneuve for a family adventure: “HoMa for short, Hochelaga-Maisonneuve is a neighbourhood that has adventure at its core. Site of the Games of the XXI Olympiad, the sprawling Space for Life complex, the beautiful Parc Maisonneuve and the Saputo Stadium, featuring soccer matches, HoMa is a wonderful place for families to enjoy sports, nature, culture… and the unexpected.
“What to do: Montreal Space For Life Museums: Planetarium, Insectarium and Botanical Garden, Montreal Tower.”
Image credit: Tourisme Montréal
For some outdoor fun, Tourisme Montreal advise that families head to : “Welcome to Montréal’s oasis: two huge recreational islands (Île Sainte-Hélène and Île Notre-Dame) just a handful of subway stops from central Montréal, offering the perfect green getaway from the bustling city for tourists and locals alike. From musical festivals to an aquatic complex to a beach and fields as far as the eye can see, it’s all here for family fun time.”
Finally, Tourisme Montreal spoke to us about the joys of visiting with the family: “With its full range of outdoor and indoor activities, many of which are walking distance to one another, Montréal is a great city for kids. Downtown, you’ll find enough action to keep them busy for hours. And when those little feet get tired, the metro, our terrific subway system, will help you and the tiny tots get back to your accommodations in a flash.”
“What to do: Au Sommet Place Ville-Marie, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Barbie Expo, Quartier des Spectacles, Grevin wax Museum, Atrium le 1000.”
Before we breakdown some more fantastic days out in Montreal (including some briefly mentioned above), Tourisme Montreal offer us one final tip for families who are visiting this Canadian city. They suggest that families acquire their that gives visitors free access for two children (12 and under) with one paying adult at top family entertainment favourites. The All-Access Family Pass is valid for seven days upon first use.
Space for Life
Image credit: Espace pour la vie (A. Sarrazin)
A great opens up families to a whole bevy of wonderful things to see and do, and one of them is certainly paying a visit to the many great attractions at . Home to the Montreal Insectarium, Botanical Garden and Planetarium, there is a sheer plethora of exciting things to see and do for families at Space for Life.
Space for Life were happy to tell us about what’s on offer, first highlighting the ’s 21st season of , which begins on February 22nd and lasts to April 29th 2018:
“There will be thousands of them flitting around the Main Exhibition Greenhouse and displaying their incredible shimmering colours. They’ll delicately alight on flowers and even on visitors’ heads. You’re bound to be captivated by their charms and you’ll doubtless want to do something to protect them – especially monarchs, which are a known threatened species. You can find some inspiration at this year’s Butterflies Go Free event! Learn how to set up an inviting environment for butterflies, in the city or out in the country, and how to create a monarch oasis with the educational tools available in the Main Exhibition Greenhouse. You may have the pleasure of sharing a small part of your habitat with them!”
Image credit: Planétarium de Saint-Étienne
Next up is the ’s new for families: “Better dwelling on our planet also means getting to know your neighbourhood! That’s what the new double feature at the Planétarium Rio Tinto Alcan is about, this time specifically for ages 4 to 8. The Blind Man with Starry Eyes will appeal to their senses, while Aboard SSE-4801 will give them a better understanding of where their ‘home’ is located in our Solar System.”
The Blind Man with Starry Eyes is a 23 minute multimedia film starting on February 27, with a synopsis which reads: “An ambitious tyrant asks a wise old man in his kingdom how he can become even more powerful and expand his empire. His only answer is to ‘count the stars.’ Will the tyrant follow the wise man’s advice? What will he learn? This touching, poetic tale will introduce children to the mysteries of the Universe.”
Aboard SSE-4801 is a 30 minute multimedia show, also starting on February 27, described by Space for Life in the following way: “Sitting comfortably in an imaginary spaceship, children will blast off with one of our science educators in search of their ‘cosmic address’ in our Solar System. It’s a thrilling interplanetary adventure, full of surprises!”
Montreal Science Centre
For families in love with both science and sci-fi, the will prove to be a day out you won’t want to miss. Located in Montreal’s Old Port, the Science Centre is home to a wonderful array of fascinating exhibitions that make learning about science incredibly good fun (past exhibitions have included favourites such as Star Wars and Indiana Jones).
Montreal Science Centre helps to inform and entertain the families that visit them, combining the use of games, interactive areas, multimedia events, and even an IMAX theatre where audiences can watch spectacular films that explore the big wide world of science.
To help families learn more about what’s in store for them, Montreal Science Centre spoke to us about their exhibitions and why families should make sure to add them to their Montreal checklist:
“Let’s start with the practical: the Montreal Science Centre is 200 meters away from the Montreal cruise terminal. Talk about convenience! Families will really enjoy an outing at the Science Centre because we have six permanent, hands-on exhibitions including Fabrik – a workshop space with creative challenges. There’s also our temporary main exhibitions, which are always very popular with our visitors. Until April, we have Indigenous Ingenuity: an exhibition focusing on the innovations of the First Peoples. Starting in May 2018, we will welcome DreamWorks Animation: the exhibition will present the fascinating journey from sketch to animation. Kung Fu Panda and Shrek in the same place? What’s not to love? If you’re in a hurry, we also have the IMAX TELUS Theatre, which presents movies lasting around 45 minutes on a giant IMAX screen with the latest laser technology.
“Visiting us means combining family fun with a learning experience and usually, kids don’t even realize about the second part until it’s too late. So join us, we’re open every day!”
The circus is always in town with , a circus hall that puts on a plethora of fabulous shows and exciting events at the centre of the Cité des arts du cirque. Their 360 degree hall is certainly impressive and is home to a bevy of unique and unusual shows that are bound to entertain during your family visit. TOHU spoke to us about all that they have to offer:
“Come to TOHU and embrace the extraordinary! Its 360-degree circular hall is in the purest circus tradition and is a perfect place to accommodate unusual shows and original creations. All year long at TOHU and in July on the streets of Montréal with its festival MONTRÉAL COMPLÈTEMENT CiRQUE, you will be introduced to a wide range of circus disciplines and the best on the world stage of contemporary circus.
“TOHU is also the reception pavilion of the new Frederic-Back park, which offers strange new landscapes to the eye with every step. The pathway leads over the old Miron quarry, converted into a landfill, then transformed into the second largest park in Montréal, and can now be toured on foot or by bike. Don’t miss TOHU’s outside activities and guided visits.
“Year after year, TOHU welcomes exhibitions whose themes relate to one of the three elements of its mission (CIRCUS-EARTH-HUMAN). Local and international artists, some of them exhibiting for the first time, are given access to this privileged venue. Every exhibition is free and can be seen every day from 9 to 5.”
Mount Royal Park
Image credit: Les amis de la montagne
While there are many wonderful indoor activities for families in Montreal, there are also some truly fantastic days out to be had outdoors, including at Mount Royal Park which is west of Downtown Montreal. For a chance to experience Montreal’s beautiful nature, great views, and a host of activities on hand, you and your family will do well to plan a day within its borders.
, the non-profit that preserves Mount Royal, spoke to us about what makes the park such an appealing prospect for family days out: “For starters, Mount Royal Park is a beautiful 200-hectare expanse of woodlands, meadows and wetlands where families get together to play, discover, picnic or explore at their own pace. Easily accessible from downtown Montréal and other centrally located neighbourhoods, this great urban park showcases nature at its very best, with meandering forest trails, hundred-year-old oaks, sweeping glades, and wooded areas rife with wildlife. It’s a great place for kids and their parents to reconnect with the great outdoors, no matter the weather or the season.”
Image credit: Les amis de la montagne
And regarding the specifics of what families can see and do, Mount Royal Park highlighted to us the following: “Whether covered in lush greens, bright autumn colours or a fresh layer of snow, Mount Royal has something for all tastes in all seasons.
“Les amis de la montagne offers an array of seasonal services and activities in Mount Royal Park. In the winter you can enjoy a family guided evening, snowshoe excursions or cross-country ski lessons, all equipment is provided! You can also skate on the refrigerated skating rink, and then head indoors for a hot chocolate and a bite to eat in the Beaver Lake Pavilion then follow up with some tobogganing or snow tubing on the nearby hill overlooking Beaver Lake. An outdoor equipment rental desk provides snowshoes, cross-country skis and other accessories for adventurous souls wishing to explore the kilometres of trails criss-crossing the mountain.
“In the summer, you can paddle a rowboat or rent a remote-controlled sailboat across Beaver Lake, join a guided tour or a longer discovery walk to learn more about the flora, fauna and history of our ‘little mountain’.”
Place des Arts
Image credit: Caroline Bergeron
Finding entertainment when in Montreal with your family is easy and one of the best places to do so is at , a truly impressive performing arts venue that puts on a huge variety of shows every year. Place des Arts presents performances across the spectrum and has a particularly attractive line-up aimed at families.
We spoke to Place des Arts to find out just what potential audiences can look forward to: “As the largest performing arts venue in Canada, Place des Arts welcomes over 900,000 spectators and hosts more than 1,000 performances every year. From large-scale productions to more intimate shows, Place des Arts offers an extraordinarily varied range of programming, including a significant number of events dedicated to families.
“Introducing young audiences to the performing arts and raising their awareness of artistic offerings are priorities for Place des Arts, notably through the presentation of affordable shows in the Place des Arts Junior series.
Image credit: Philippe Larocque
“Located in the heart of the Quartier des Spectacles, Place des Arts also features a large indoor public area, a digital screen mosaic, and an exhibition room — all of which feature a program of free activities geared to a wide audience all year long. As a gathering place used for Montreal’s biggest events, Place des Arts’ outdoor esplanade is brought to life by several cultural activities and major festivals, from the FrancoFolies de Montréal and the Festival international de Jazz de Montréal in the summer, to the Grand Marché de Noël de Montréal and Montréal en lumière, one of the city’s largest winter festivals. Many of these events are focused on families, devoting a segment of their activities specifically to family audiences.
“Place des Arts is also home to such major arts organizations as the Opéra de Montréal, Duceppe, and Les Grands Ballets — indeed, the Ballet’s Nutcracker is a family holiday classic that has been presented at Place des Arts for the past 50 years.”
For more information and the full programme of shows and activities available at Place des Arts, please visit their .
For the opportunity to take in some history during your Montreal adventure, a family day out to is absolutely recommended. Named as one of the 10001 historic sites you must see before you die by UNESCO, this history rich location and museum contains 500 years of history for visitors to enjoy. We were delighted to hear from Château Ramezay regarding what families should look forward to at his top attraction:
“Visiting the Château Ramezay – Historic site and museum of Montréal is like taking a time machine back to New France and through the history of Montréal. With its guides dressed as common folks of that period and the building itself dating to 1705, the Château offers a full experience as to what it was like to live in that time. For newcomers in Montréal, the museum is the perfect place to start to learn more about the city’s history and culture.
“During spring break and the holidays, various activities like a bread-making workshop makes this museum a perfect day out for the whole family.
“The Salle de Nantes alone should be enough to convince anyone of visiting the Château. This historic room will make every kid feel like princes and princesses. Their parents will appreciate the amazing chandeliers and woodworks that garnish this luxurious room. The rest of the museum is also a sight to behold. Since the building dates back to the 18th century, history is everywhere. Even down in the vaults where you can spy on the everyday life of servants that lived in the Château long before our time, through our multimedia circuit.
“For car enthusiasts, you can even find Quebec’s first registered car!
“When the weather permits it, the Governor’s Garden is also something you will not want to miss out on. Built as a witness to the style and content of gardens cultivated by Montréal’s nobility in the 18th century, the Governor’s Garden grows species that are genetically very close to those grown in Ramezay’s day. The garden is in the formal French style and is divided into three equal-sized sections: a kitchen garden, an orchard, and a pleasure garden. Surrounding these sections, at the foot of the long walls, is a fourth section consisting of herbs and medicinal plants informally distributed. A ram’s-head fountain is part of the garden and serves as a reminder of the importance of wells in the gardens of yore, for they were the only handy source of water for the gardener.”
A family holiday to remember
As mentioned at the start, this is just a glimpse at the many fun and exciting family days out available in Montreal. A holiday to this part of Canada will never be a dull one with something new and different to try around each corner. So brush up on your French and get planning that Montreal holiday you’ve always wanted.