Do you have a summer bucket list? For me, it’s more of an intention than an actual list: this summer, I want to slow down and make memories with my loved ones – not just with my husband and kids, but with my parents and sister too!
So when my parents said that they wanted to take their grandchildren (both my kids and my sister’s kids) on a mini-trip to Montreal, I immediately said yes and volunteered to research kid-friendly activities in Montreal. Since this was a grandparents/grandkids holiday – I joked that I was only there to chaperone and make sure that everybody stayed out of trouble!
Here is a breakdown of what we did – we kept our schedule simple and allowed ample time for rest – as we wanted to enjoy a relaxed pace while discovering a new city. Click through to read about our favourite kid-friendly activities for a family trip to Montreal!
My parents love train journeys (they eventually want us to go on a cross-country train ride together) so we took the VIA rail to Montreal from Toronto Union Station. The nice thing about taking the train on a multi-generational trip is that you DON’T have to rent a big van, and you can chat and look at the scenery instead of worrying about being stuck in traffic. With a CAA discount, the adults paid around $245 for our roundtrip tickets, while the kids’ tickets were $30 roundtrip through the VIA rail’s KIDS @ $15 SUMMER 2018 promotion (valid for kids aged 2-11). As we were travelling in a large group, we we were assigned seats facing each other with tables in between – the kids loved it – they pretended they were on the Hogwarts Express. They chatted, snacked, listened to audiobooks, played on their tablets and looked out the window. The five and a half hours just flew by!
Since we didn’t take a car, we used the subway to get around Montreal. Part of me thought we would end up relying on taxis or Ubers, but the metro system was clean, safe and easy to navigate. It’s pretty much impossible to take the wrong train as everything is colour-coded and the endpoints are clearly marked. Kids under 12 travel free on the metro, so we only needed to buy adult passes for our visit.
WHERE WE STAYED:
We booked 2 rooms at Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth. The location of this hotel is amazing – it’s located directly above the train station. We loved coming off the train from Toronto and then taking escalators straight up to the lobby of our hotel!
It’s also conveniently located for the subway, shopping and is about 2 blocks away from the tourism information center. By the way, despite being right in the center of everything, the rooms and the lobby are very peaceful and quiet – so it was the perfect place to relax and get energized for our activities.
Staying at the hotel was such a luxurious treat! We booked two rooms, a 1-bedroom suite (featuring a king bed in one room, and a sofa-bed in the other) and a room with 2 queen beds. Here is a pic of the king bed room – it was very bright and modern, and the bed was unbelievably comfortable. I’ve shared a complete room tour in the video at the end of this post.
Here is the adjoining living room with the sofa bed. It had lots of seating area, and worked out perfectly for our multi-generational group. Two of the kids slept in this room at night, and during the day, it was where we ate some of our meals. With such a large group of kids, we kept breakfasts and dinner simple – often picking up muffins, sandwiches and even Happy Meals from the station downstairs.
The kids also enjoyed spending time at the indoor pool. It stayed open until 10 pm at night, and was a great place to unwind after a hot summer day.
WHAT WE DID:
L’ESPACE POUR LA VIE
L’Espace Pour La Vie is a site that encompasses the Botanical Gardens, Planetarium and Biodome. The Biodome is currently closed until 2019, so we focused our visit on the Planetarium. The kids LOVED it – there were many interactive activities and fascinating displays – you could easily spend half a day here. We watched a double feature at the Milky Way Theater (Cosmic Collisions and EXO). The reclining seats and domed screen made us feel like we were traveling through space – it was both relaxing and thrilling at the same time! Definitely a memorable experience for the whole family. If you’re taking the metro here, you’ll want to get on the green line to PIE-IX station.
Built in 1967 for the World Exhibition, La Ronde is the second largest amusement park in Canada. It is currently owned by Six Flags and is a great place to spend the day with your kids! My parents brought me to La Ronde when I was ten, so coming back here with them – while bringing along my own kids, felt very special.
The rides are colour-coded according to height requirements, so you can easily pick the ones that work for your kids. There were so many fun options – we mainly chose the pink, green and orange rides. Our favourites were the Toboggan Nordique (pictured below) and the Minirail, which is a train on an elevated track, that gives you a tour of the whole park.
You’re not allowed to bring your own food into La Ronde (unless you have food allergies), but there are a multitude of dining options. There were a lot of healthy choices – many different salads, as well as kids’ favourites such as Pizza Pizza, McDonald’s and Subway. I ordered the chicken shawarma from Amir – it was delicious and filling – along with fresh lemonade from Citron Presse. If you’re taking the metro here, you’ll want to get on the yellow line to Jean Drapeau station. Wait for the 767 bus outside the station and it will drop you off in front of La Ronde.
HOP ON HOP OFF TOUR
I always love going on city tours – because it gives you a basic familiarity with a city – and then you can pick and choose which areas you want to come back to, and focus on. We picked the Grayline Red Loop tour, which takes you to ten different places, from the Old Ports of Montreal up to St. Joseph’s Oratory and Mont Royal. The hop-on hop-off tickets are valid for 2 days, from 10 am to 4 pm. If you’re travelling in a large group, like we were, it is a cost effective way to see all the sights without having to rely on taxis or Ubers.
The Barbie Expo is a dream come true for any Barbie lover. It’s located on the upper floor of a shopping mall and has display cases filled with beautifully dressed Barbies. Some were dressed by designers (such as Kate Spade and Chanel) while others wore movie costumes (we loved the Audrey Barbies in My Fair Lady and Breakfast at Tiffany’s outfits). They also had life-size Barbie boxes you could stand inside for cute photo opps!
I hope you enjoyed reading about our Montreal adventures! We had three full days – but we definitely didn’t cover EVERYTHING and can’t wait to visit again and explore some more! If you’re planning a trip, check out the Montreal Tourism website here.
Watch my Youtube video below for some footage from our trip.
Have you been to Montreal? What was your favourite spot?
DISCLAIMER: I received some perks in the form of media rates and gifted tickets from Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth, L’Espace Pour La Vie and La Ronde. As always, all opinions are my own.