As the largest French-speaking city in North America, Montreal stands out as a unique and historic metropolitan area. Its French-Canadian charm is mixed with many immigrant cultures that have made this city in Quebec a lively mix of people, food and attractions. This list of 10 fantastique things to do in Montreal with kids is sure to keep any family happy on holiday.
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- 1. Visit Notre-Dame Basilica.
- 2. Zip and climb above the Old Port.
- 3. Learn about Montreal's history.
- 4. Get schooled in science.
- 5. Meet the animals at the Biodome.
- 6. See the stars at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium.
- 7. Attend a festival.
- 8. Ride a bike up Mont Royal.
- 9. Take the Cité Mémoire self-guided tour.
- 10. Thrill the kids at La Ronde amusement park.
- Where to eat in Montreal with kids
- Where to stay in Montreal with kids
- Getting to Montreal with kids
- Make the most of Montreal with kids
1. Visit Notre-Dame Basilica.
First up, take a guided tour of the towering Notre-Dame Basilica. This 1.5-hour Old Montreal Walking Tour includes the Notre-Dame Basilica and surrounding area. Or if traveling with young children, just pop in to view the unique stained glass windows and impressive altar. This 19th century cathedral was built in English Gothic Revival style, on the site of the former chapel founded in the 1600s. The interior and statuary are made from wood imported from France. Interestingly, the cathedral’s stained glass panes feature the history of the founding of Montreal, rather than the usual biblical scenes of saints and miracles.
2. Zip and climb above the Old Port.
If you’re family is feeling adventurous, take a ride on the MTL Zipline in the Old Port. Catch a bird’s eye view of the city on the first urban zip-line circuit in Canada. The Voiles en Voiles amusement park and ropes course is located just next to the MTL Zipline tower. Challenge any fear of heights on a pirate ship-shaped adventure course. It includes seven aerial routes, 32 feet high, and connecting two huge sailing ships.
3. Learn about Montreal's history.
The Pointe-à-Callière is the birthplace of Montreal and home to the Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History. This fabulous museum offers loads of hands-on opportunities for curious historians and anthropologists. Don’t miss the 30-minute multi-media show illustrating the 375-year history of the city through videos and animation.
4. Get schooled in science.
A visit to the Montreal Science Centre in the Old Port presents another interactive, kid-friendly environment. In the Fabrik – Creativity Factory, kids aged 6+ use their hands and minds to craft Derby cars, parachutes, catapults, floating vessels and whatever their imaginations can dream up. For smaller children (aged 4-7), there's Clic! The Zone for Curious Young Minds where children can build a house, design a roller coaster, create forms and patterns, and mix colors. Among other permanent and traveling exhibits, the IMAX Telus Theatre features films that fascinate all ages.
5. Meet the animals at the Biodome.
Take the Metro from Old Montreal to the site of the 1976 Summer Olympic Games. At the Olympic Stadium complex, the Montreal Biodome showcases an indoor encapsulation of our natural world. There are several biospheres to walk through, including rain forest, the Laurentians Mountains, a polar area and the St. Lawrence River. View more than 4,000 types of animals and plants, including lynx, beaver, penguins and many other types of birds. The Biodome is a manageable size, not so big that little ones tire quickly, and not so small that big ones get bored.
6. See the stars at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium.
Next door to the Biodome is the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium, a fabulous place to visit in Montreal with kids. The planetarium has two unique theaters for introducing space enthusiasts to the wonders of astronomy and our solar system. Film goers can lie back on bean bag chairs or sit in comfortable seats to watch the universe unfold around them. The shows differ seasonally, and are offered in both English and French.
7. Attend a festival.
Montreal is known as festival city, particularly in summer. From food and art fairs to music, sports and comedy festivals (and beyond!), there's something to please your family. Check out Tourisme Montreal’s Festival page for information about what’s happening when, and to purchase tickets.
8. Ride a bike up Mont Royal.
If you have older children (12 years+), rent Bixi bikes and take a serene ride along the Lachine Canal. There are Bixi bike stations throughout Old Montreal, and you pay a small fee to rent the bicycles for an hour or an entire day. Bike up the road to McGill University and Mont Royal, the mini-mountain with lovely green spaces, Mount Joseph Oratory, Beaver Lake and impressive views of the city. For a guided bicycle tour of Montreal, check out Montreal on Wheels.
9. Take the Cité Mémoire self-guided tour.
Before you arrive in Montreal, pull out your smartphone to download the Cité Mémoire app. Bring along your earbuds to be treated to an incredible multi-media application that immerses the user in the city’s 375-year history. The app guides visitors on 60 or 90-minute tours of Old Montreal, bringing an understanding of the city's history and present-day culture to life in a unique way. The self-guided tour isn't too far or difficult, so it's a great activity in Montreal with kids.
10. Thrill the kids at La Ronde amusement park.
After a few days of city exploration and educational fun in Montreal with kids, thrill them with a visit to La Ronde amusement park. Part of the Six Flags family, La Ronde is located on Île Sainte-Hélène, a small island near downtown Montreal. Dare devils have plenty of options, from the Slingshot, which catapults riders 245 feet in the air to the Vampire, a roller coaster that reaches speeds up to 50 miles per hour…in reverse! More timid park goers can stick to more mellow options like bumper cars and a Ferris wheel. There are plenty of kiddie rides for little ones, too.
Where to eat in Montreal with kids
Montreal is home to two renowned culinary sensations: poutine and smoked meat sandwiches. Both are kid-pleasing finger foods. There are many places for poutine in the city, but if you're searching for one of the best, check out La Banquise. If you've never enjoyed poutine, try the classic to start. Then, if your stomach allows, venture into the more adventurous toppings and flavors.
The huge smoked meat sandwiches at Schwartz’s Deli are simple but delicious – rye bread, yellow mustard and a massive helping of savory smoked meat. The big portion sizes mean sharing is more than acceptable.
We can't forget the amazing Montreal-style bagels. There are many bagel spots in the city, but you won't regret a stop at Fairmount Bagel Bakery. Pack a half-dozen for the drive or flight home.
For more refined fare, choose lunch or dinner in the charming, flower-filled garden of the Jardin Nelson restaurant in Old Montreal. The extensive bistro menu features sweet and savory crepes, a memorable duck leg confit salad for the grown-ups, as well as kid favorites like pizza, pasta, and sandwiches.
For a date night dinner, hire a sitter and make a reservation at Helena. This popular dining spot features the more elegant side of Portuguese cuisine. Choose from a variety of savory tapas for sharing that feature locally sourced products from Quebec producers. Or pick individual house specialities like shrimp with rice or beef brisket with Portuguese spices. Either way, finish the meal with the irresistible pasteis de nata (egg tarts).
Where to stay in Montreal with kids
A stay at Le Place d’Arts Hotel and Suites puts your family just a few steps from Old Montreal, and attractions like the Notre Dame Basilica and Port area. This chic, urban oasis has a Kids in the City concierge team that can tailor your holiday to meet the needs of smaller guests. The hotel is located in a 19th century Neo-classical building with all the modern comforts (spa, restaurants, bar, spacious rooms). And, it's just one block from the Metro station. Enjoy a continental breakfast and café au lait in the charming on-site brasserie, Suite 701. Kids will love the pain au chocolat (chocolate croissants) and cereal selection. Read more about this hotel on TripAdvisor.
Getting to Montreal with kids
Fly into Pierre Elliot Trudeau Airport (YUL) and catch a cab into Old Montreal. You will not need a car during your stay, as most of the destinations are within easy walking distance of the hotel, or easily accessible via Metro.
Make the most of Montreal with kids
To make the most of your visit, buy the Montreal Attraction Pass. It provides access to 23 attractions including the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium and Biodome, plus unlimited public transportation.
Want to learn more about visiting Montreal with kids? Consider purchasing Fodor's Montreal & Quebec City. It receives 4.5 stars on Amazon and features full-color maps and all sorts of tips for Montreal's best sites, hotels and restaurants.
Do you have any questions about visiting Montreal with kids? Let us know in the comments below!
A Note from The Curious Travel Mama: Tourism Montreal hosted my recent visit to Montreal. As always, my opinions are my own. Travel Mamas receives a small commission from sales and clicks to affiliate links in this story at no additional charge to consumers. Thank you for helping to keep TravelMamas.com a free resource for readers like you.