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As many of you know, summer, surprisingly, is not our big family travel time. The kids go to a local day camp (which they love) and I work there as well. So instead of jet setting around the globe, I spend the summer chasing around a group of 4-year old boys! And I wouldn’t have it any other way! The one thing I don’t love about camp is that it does consume almost our whole summer.
We had about 10 days after camp, before school started to do some traveling. Last summer we did an epic California road trip, complete with stops in San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Buellton and Disneyland. Unfortunately, that trip didn’t end so well… but that didn’t stop us from wanting to travel again this August!
For this summer trip, I really wanted to go somewhere we have never been. I did want to spend some of these ten days at home, just enjoying Long Island, so we didn’t want to go somewhere too far, or expensive. So, after much consideration, we chose to drive up to Montreal for five days. This was such a great trip and I am so excited to share with you all the fun things to do in Montreal with Kids!
SPOILER: THERE ARE TONS OF GREAT THINGS TO DO IN MONTREAL WITH THE LITTLE ONES!
On this trip, Momma to Go partnered with Tourism Montreal for some complimentary and reduced priced admission tickets to some of these attractions. They also helped us plan our trip! Follow them on Instagram (I love their insta pics!), twitter and on Facebook. Use the hashtag #MTLMoments to share your Montreal pics!
Fun Things to do in Montreal with Kids
Montreal is a city in southern Canada, located in the French speaking province of Quebec. Montreal is exactly a six-and-a-half-hour drive from where we live on the South Shore of Long Island, and is a great road trip destination from the Northeast United States. You can also take the Amtrak or fly to Montreal. If you train or fly, you can always rent a car when you arrive in Montreal.
Our drive to Montreal was quick and easy. Click here to read all my tips for Driving into Canada.
Click here to get your ROAD TRIP PACKING LIST
We visited Montreal for five days at the end of August. This was a great time of year to visit as the weather was warm and sunny! Montreal is a city that hosts MANY festivals throughout the year, but sadly there were none happening during our visit!
One of the reasons we decided to visit Montreal with our kids was because I wanted them to have a cultural experience. I figured Montreal was a good starter abroad trip, in anticipation of someday soon heading to Europe! Here is a list of the things we did, broken up by geographical location. Some insight into places we ate, where we stayed and our exact Montreal family vacation itinerary to help you plan your trip to Montreal with kids.
Montreal with Kids: The Old Port (Vieux-Port)
If you are visiting Montreal (with or without kids) a trip to the Old Port is a MUST DO! We arrived in Montreal on a Monday afternoon, and this was our first stop. We then spent all of the next day here as well! Our Old Port itinerary included:
A Ride on the Grande Roue (or giant Ferris wheel). This was our first attraction in Montreal as we figured it would a good orientation, seeing the city from 60m high! This Ferris wheel is open year-round as the cars are climate controlled. The Grande Roue is the highest Ferris wheel in Canada! Your ride consists of three revolutions and from the top you can see both the city of Montreal, the Mont Royal and the river and islands to your east.
Voiles en Voiles Adventure park – A trip to this adventure park was the Montreal highlight for my kids (ages 7 and 9). Grown-ups can do it too! When you arrive, you receive a two-hour window to climb. Climbers are then fitted with a helmet and safety harnessing. They are given a brief orientation and then you are off to climb and explore!
The park looks overwhelming at first, but the ropes courses are broken into several smaller trails. Like a ski slope, the paths are designated green (easy), blue (medium) and black (hardest). I heard an adult say that the levels “Don’t get harder, they just get higher” although our seven year old, 44” tall daughter had trouble on the blue because was too short to hold the wire while walking the tight-rope. But a Voiles en Voiles staff member came out to help her cross.
While the kids are climbing, parents can sit in Adirondack chairs and watch. There is a small concession stand with food for purchase, but we brought our own water and snacks.
MTL Zipline – After a morning of climbing, my kids still craved more adventure. Hubby and I were ready to get in on the fun, so we bought a family pass to MTL Zipline. The kids had ziplined at camp, but I had never done it!
GET YOUR DISCOUNTED MTL ZIPLINE TICKETS HERE
The scariest part, for me at least, was walking up the really shaky, outdoor staircase. Once I got harnessed into the zipline (and realized it could hold me) I was excited to zip across the Old Port! Hubby was the last of our family to go, so I was able to get a video of him!
Le Petit Navire – After our adventurous day (and dodging some passing rain storms) we decided to finish the afternoon with a St. Lawrence River boat tour. Recommended by Lillie from Around The World L, we booked an hour-long cruise with le Petit Navire.
These boat trips leave about every hour and there is a booth at the Old Port to purchase tickets. You board a few minutes before departure and there are beverages for sale on board. I had a white wine and hubby had a beer. There were waters and iced tea available as well.
The cruise took us south along the river, to the first loch. The guide (In English and French) pointed out the sights to see along the shore. We then headed north to where the river current gets really strong, passed the old port before turning around again and heading back to the dock. This boat tour was really relaxing and informative, and a good way to the sit and enjoy the city. The one-hour length was perfect for our kids, kept them interested but was not too long to sit and listen to the guide!
The Old Port also had a small playground, which we visited, as well as the opportunity to rent paddle boats or multi passenger peddle vehicles (which we did not have time for). There was a small strip of retail booths and the Montreal labyrinth, which was not open during our weekday visit.
As for food at the Old Port, we ate lunch from the various food trucks. Hubby had a smoked meat sandwich from one truck and I had a “grilled cheese” from the Euro food truck. The kids enjoyed frites and a frozen banana!
On the first night, we had an awesome happy hour at Scena. Beer for hubby (Sleeman’s seemed to be the popular offering in Montreal), Aperol Spritz for me, and a snack plate of chips, olives and nuts for us all to share. Here it was fun to sit outside and people watch!
I would definitely plan a full day to spend at the Old Port!
Montreal with Kids: Old City (Vieux-Montreal)
Notre Dame Cathedral – This was the one thing I wanted to do! I love visiting Churches and have been lucky to have visited the Notre Dame in Paris, along with so many beautiful chiesas in Italy like the Duomo in Milan. And honestly, the Notre Dame in Montreal might be THE most beautiful Church I have ever seen.
The outside looks a lot like a smaller version of a European Church – with the classic two spires. But the inside was incredible.
To get inside, you have to pay a small fee. It was $16 CAD for our family of four, and this was the only place in Montreal that we came across that was CASH-ONLY. Since we did not have Canadian cash (more on that later) we were able to pay with $16 USD, which was essentially over paying due to the exchange rate but there was the convenience factor.
You can take a tour of the Church, and mass is given each weekday at 7:30am and 12:15pm. I really wish I had done a tour, but the kids were getting antsy. I do wish I had taken a brochure upon ENTERING the cathedral (instead of when it was time to go) but we did a good job of walking around the entire Church checking out the beautiful frescos and carvings. Still kicking myself for not taking an art history class in college.
TAKE A WALKING TOUR OF OLD MONTREAL – DISCOUNTED PRICE HERE
Street Performers – At the top of my kids’ Montreal favorite things list was to see a street performer put on a show. We found him on the Place Jacques-Cartier on a Monday night around 7pm. He did all sorts of zany things – a magician, comedian and clown! He gave his show in both French and English and involved all the kids in the crowd – including mine!
Souvenir Shopping – Old Montreal was a great place to just walk around and souvenir shop! We got some hockey memorabilia, plushies for baby girl, and Canadian maple syrup to bring home for our family!
We ate two meals in Old Montreal, dinner the first night at La Terrazza, which honestly, I would skip and the second night at Les 3 Brasseurs, which we really liked. Les 3 Brasseurs actually had a kid’s menu, lots of vegetarian options, and plenty of beer on tap. A brasseurs is a brewer after all!
St Paul Street cuts through the heart of Old Montreal and its closed to vehicles. So it is a great place for a stroll, to grab a meal or a crepe or a sweet treat after dinner!
Walking around Montreal? Make sure you have a great travel day bag!
Montreal with Kids: Olympic Park
In 1976, Montreal was host to the Summer Olympic games – games made famous by Bruce Jenner’s decathlon win and Nadia Comaneci’s gymnastics 6.0 gold medal performance! The Montreal Olympic stadium is located North (and slightly west) of downtown.
To visit the Olympic Park area, we took the Metro from Place-des-Artes (green line) to Pie IX. The Montreal Metro was super easy to take, $3.25 CAD per ride, and you can buy tickets at the vending machine at the station. There were English directions and kids under 11 ride free in the summer, on weekends and during the Christmas holiday week.
Olympic Tower – We visited the Olympic Tower (Tour Olympique) and took the funicular to the top. The Tower leans at a 45 degree angle, and is the tallest leaning building in the world. The observation at the top puts you 165m above Montreal. The views are incredible! The observation deck also serves as a mini-museum about Montreal and the ‘76 games.
Montreal Botanical Garden (Jardin Botanique) – The Montreal Botanical Garden is located adjacent to the Olympic Park. The Botanic Garden was something I really wanted to visit, but the kids (and hubby) were skeptical. But, they ended up having such a great time here as well. We walked through the rose garden, then visited the Insectarium, which is included with your garden admission.
We all loved the Insectarium, which was a museum of live and displayed insects. We then walked through the shade garden and to the playground adjacent to the Insectarium. We ate lunch at the outdoor café – which is open seasonally and was very European in its offerings (pre-made sandwiches, pastries, yogurts).
What we all really loved, and spent a long time exploring was the habitat exhibit. This exhibit spanned quite an area, and displayed nests, cocoons and other natural shelters that animals create! My kids are still talking about this!
From the Jardin Botanique, you can walk down the pedestrian path to the Tour Olympique. Exit the garden by the Insectarium and follow the red path. It’s about a five to ten minute walk.
MONTREAL PRO-TIP: Buy your Olympic Tower ticket as a Botanical Garden add-on, you will save a few bucks by doing so!
Rio Tinto Planetarium & Biodome (along with the Garden and Insectarium collectively known as the Space for Life) – On our visit we ran out of time to visit the Planetarium, and I honestly regret it – we really needed more than 4 days in Montreal to do everything we wanted to do! The Planetarium is located right across from the Olympic Tower, and you can buy a two-park pass when you visit the Garden. Unfortunately, at the time of our visit the Biodome was closed for major renovation. It plans to reopen in 2019.
MONTREAL PRO-TIP: Many, if not all of the attractions we visited had a family rate. This helped us save a few dollars at each attraction!
Montreal with Kids: Mont-Royal
On our last full day in Montreal, we wanted to visit the Mont Royal, which came highly recommended by many friends. The Mont Royal is basically a park built around the large hill for which Montreal was named. The cross at the top, La Croix, is the highest point in Montreal.
From our hotel, the AC Marriott Downtown, we had the option to take the subway and then a bus to the Mont Royal (approximately 45-minute ride), or to call an Uber (20-minute ride). At the time of our visit, this was the only ride share service available in Montreal.
The Uber dropped us off at the Belvedere Lookout, which is almost at the top. You could also drive to Mont Royal and park in one of the free lots. At the lookout, we had beautiful views of the city. We then hiked up to the cross, following the marked path.
After some time, and photos at the top, we decided to hike down, following the signs for the Maison Smith (having google maps available was helpful to navigate the park). This was an easy stroll along a paved path. There were plenty of families walking and lots of folks on bikes. It took us about 20-25 minutes to get to the bottom of the hill. Keep walking down the path past the Maison, down to the lake. Here you will find a playground, a place to rent boats (which was not open on the day of our visit), a grassy knoll where lots of people were picnicking, and a café.
The kids spent some time at the playground and then we were able to call an Uber to come get us, using the café as a pick-up location. In the end, I was glad we took an Uber so we could hike down and didn’t have to go back up to get our car! If my little one was older, I would consider parking at the bottom, and going up and then back down. That would make a great day of hiking!
Montreal with Kids: Many Museums
Montreal is chock full of interesting museums! The one we did have time to visit was the Montreal Archeology Museum (Pointe-a-Calliere Museum). This museum is located on what was the exact place where Montreal was founded by French settlers in 1624. Part of the colonial city is actually preserved! It was incredible to see!
Not knowing much about the settlement of Montreal, or this part of Canada, I learned so much here! As did the kids! They loved walking through the ancient sewer tunnel, and seeing a part of the colonial/Native burial ground.
Additionally, at the time of our visit, there was an awesome pirate exhibit – the kids LOVED exploring this, as well as a small exhibit on Ancient Egypt.
Contemporary Art Museum – Our hotel was located a few blocks from this art museum. We walked past here several times but did not have time to visit.
Montreal Science Center – This museum is located near the Old Port. We had planned to visit on our second day, but did a few other things then it was too late! I did find it surprising that most museums in Montreal closed at 6pm (and some at 5:00) so it is definitely best to be out exploring early in the day!
Biosphere – Located on the Ile de Saint Helen, which we did not visit but is accessible via Metro or ferry. On our ride into town, we could see the Biosphere. This was the US pavilion for the 1967 World’s Fair, and its now turned into environmental museum. The Biosphere Museum is definitely on the short list for our next visit!
Montreal with Kids: Where to Stay
For this four-night trip, we stayed at the AC Hotel by Marriott downtown. We are Marriott rewards members and were able to use points to pay for one of the nights of our stay. We wanted to stay downtown in a hotel that allowed us to walk places.
We loved the location of this property. We were able to easily walk to the Old City/Old Port, and were within a few blocks of two Metro lines (the orange and green). We parked our car in the on-site garage and left it there for the length of our trip. Parking was reasonable at $28 CAD/day.
The AC brand is Marriott’s boutique line of hotels, meant to compete with the Kimpton’s. We figured since it was an urban escape, we wanted a cosmopolitan, downtown feel to our accommodations. But with parking and a pool!
The rooms at the AC Marriott were really nice, although we thought the minimalist décor was a little too minimal. We booked a room with two queen beds, so clearly for four people, but there were only two drawers to unpack into! And no clock, which I thought was strange.
I did love the Nespresso maker. We had one of these in our Marriott in Santa Cruz and it’s such a great addition to a hotel stay, and something you might see in my upcoming holiday gift guide! My kids (and us grown-ups) really loved the 12th floor indoor pool and hot tub. This was a nice oasis after logging many miles walking around the city!
Montreal Family Vacation Itinerary
We spent four nights in Montreal, and here is our 4-day Montreal Itinerary:
NOTE: If you are spending 3-ish days sightseeing, consider the Montreal Attraction Pass.This ticket (LESS THAN $100 USD!) will get you admission to 23 (TWENTY-THREE) attractions AND UNLIMITED Bus/Metro trips all in a 72-hour period.
Day 1 – We arrived at hotel around 2pm. We checked in and unpacked. We walked to the Old Port, stopping along the Rue de la Commune for an ice cream at la Cremiere. We rode the Grande Roue then had drinks and happy hour at Scena, right in the Old Port. We then walked into the Old City. We spent about 30-45 minutes being entertained by the street performer before grabbing dinner in the Old City. We then Uber’d back to the hotel.
Day 2 – Slept in and swam at the hotel in the morning. We then walked over to the Adventure Park at the Old Port and we were given our time to climb from 11:45am until 1:45pm. The kids used every minute on the ropes course! We then had a late lunch from the Old Port food trucks before taking a ride on the Montreal Zipline. After that, the kids played on the Old Port playground for a half an hour. We then took our 5pm boat tour. That ended at 6:00 and we then made our way to 3 Brassieres for dinner. At the end of the day, we took an Uber back to our hotel.
Day 3 – This day we got an earlier start, having a quick breakfast at Tim Horton’s before taking the Metro to the Botanical Garden. We spent about 3 hours in total exploring the Garden, Insectarium and having lunch at the café. We then walked over to the Olympic Tower, taking the funicular to the top. We spent about 45 minutes on the observation deck. The funiculars run about every 10 minutes. After walking around the Olympic stadium area, we took the Metro back to our hotel. We stopped at the hotel bar for some happy hour drinks and snacks. After that, we had some more time at the hotel pool and a quick dinner before bed.
Day 4 – We started our final day with a walk to the Notre Dame and a tour of the Cathedral. We then took an Uber to the top of Mont Royal and hiked down. We spent about 2 hours total at the Mont Royal park. We then took an Uber back towards the Old City and had a nice Spanish lunch at Pyrenees before heading to the Archeology Museum. We ended the night with a vegetarian dinner at Lola Rosa and one last swim in the hotel pool!
There is really so much to do in Montreal with kids. I highly recommend a visit to this friendly, international city! Have you been to Montreal? What were your must-do Montreal activities?
BUY YOUR MONTREAL ATTRACTION PASS – TOO GOOD A DEAL TO PASS UP!
GET THE BOOK I USED TO HELP ME PLAN THIS TRIP