If you’re visiting Montreal with kids and wonder what to do with them, don’t worry. You’ve chosen a good destination that should keep kids of many ages occupied.
My family of three just spent five days in Montreal and it exceeded our expectations. Before I get started on the activities and destinations, let’s cover a few quick things:
- Montreal has a great public transit system. The Metro is easy to navigate and reasonably priced. I’d recommend starting off with a three-day pass for each member of the family.
- It will help if your kid is a good walker. Mine is 8 and marched all over the city pretty well. A few complaints on the second day, but then motored along for the remainder. We put in well more than 5 miles daily on foot.
- I recommend staying near Mount Royal, if possible. You won’t be far from the Metro lines and you might find it a little quieter than being right in the middle of everything.
- The Metro is the easiest way to get to St. Helen’s Island, where you’ll find the Biosphere and La Ronde, both of which I talk about more later in this post. You can also walk over a few bridges to get there or even take a ferry.
- Pro Tip: Check for any events when you plan to travel. Events like a Formula 1 race can drive prices up and really clog the streets.
- You don’t need to speak French to visit Montreal, and none of the locals will get mad at you for not speaking French. The city’s friendliness is underrated.
OK, onto the activities.
What To Do With A Kid In Montreal
Here are some standout activities you should put on your list if you’re visiting Montreal with kids. I’ll include some prices in Canadian dollars.
1. Voiles En Voiles
Along the west bank of the St. Lawrence River, you’ll find Voiles En Voiles. It has a pirate-themed roped course for all ages. And I do mean all ages — my wife loved it as much as my daughter did. The easier courses are barely elevated from the ground, which makes a perfect start for kids who have never been on a ropes course.
Younger kids — or those who just want to ease into the whole ropes course thing — can also check out a huge, interconnected series of bouncy houses. One of them was literally the first-ever butcher shop-themed bouncy house I’ve seen. There’s also an archery range where kids can try shooting foam-tipped arrows.
I suggest that summer visitors get there early before lightning storms might move in, which happened to us.
There are separate prices for the bouncy houses/carousel/archery (aka the Ground Park) and the Aerial Park. Or you can get both starting at $39 for kids 3-5 years old or $65 for people 6 and older.
2. Happy Cat Cafe/Cafe Chat L’Heureux
My daughter likes to say she’s part cat. So it only made sense that she have a visit with her feline brethren. The Happy Cat Cafe — Cafe Chat L’Heureux, if you prefer French — has some nice bits to nibble on, from deserts to salads.
While you’re at it, the cafe’s feline residents might stroll over to greet you. Or they might frolic on the many obstacles. Or they might cuddle up on your neighbor’s chair and totally ignore you.
Either way, it’s a pleasant place to hang for awhile, have a snack and watch some kitties.
3. Montreal Insectarium
I seriously want to pin a medal on the people behind the Montreal Insectarium. It is one of the most visually and conceptually striking museums I’ve ever seen. I don’t want to give too much away because surprise will be a huge part of the fun for a first-time visitor.
Let’s just say you’ll have some great encounters with live bugs — and you’ll get a chance to see through their eyes. There’s also this hive-shaped inner room with some amazing specimens.
You can buy individual tickets to the Insectarium. But you’ll save some money by getting a passport that’s good for 5 different museums, including the ones I mentioned below. $145 is good for up to 2 adults and 3 kids (5-17).
4. Biodome Montreal
In essence, Biodome Montreal is an indoor zoo with a series of different biomes represented. The arctic section even has a tunnel of actual ice.
It’s an incredible use of space where you’ll find jungles, forests and plenty of aquatic areas. Adults might be left a little frustrated because younger people will want to plunge headlong through it all, while the parents might want to take their time reading some of the exhibits.
But hey, that’s being a parent in a nutshell. Even at warp speed, you’ll still have plenty to see. My favorite bits were probably the jellyfish and the bat exhibit.
5. Biosphere Montreal
All of Montreal is an island surrounded by rivers. But then there’s a smaller island on the St. Lawrence River. That’s where you’ll find the Biosphere Montreal.
Imagine Disney’s Epcot stripped of its exterior, along with a crazy history including a major fire. In all honesty, the Biosphere exhibits aren’t super kid-friendly — a bit artsy and esoteric. But honestly, I enjoyed the views so much that I didn’t really care. Plus the island is home to more than a few roaming muskrats.
6. La Ronde
This Six Flags-owned theme park is good fun. There’s an entry fee that covers all the rides, but kids will have to meet height requirements for certain rides. There’s a good number of coasters, plus bumper cars and all the swinging sort of rides that can invoke nausea in most people older than 18.
And hey! La Ronde actually charges reasonable prices for food and drink at its many concession stands!
La Ronde isn’t a huge theme park, but there’s still a lot to do. Get there early to make the most of your admission fee, which starts at $35.99.
7. Mount Royal Park
Mount Royal Park is a prominent spot and includes the highest point of the island. It’s an absolutely great place to spend your first afternoon in the city. There are many shady paths, plus numerous restrooms, cafes, playgrounds and picnic areas. We walked right from our hotel.
8. The Montreal Underground City
If you want to roam along way underground or need to shelter somewhere interesting during a rainstorm, the Montreal Underground City is the place. It’s not necessarily easy to tell where to access it. It was a challenge for us to enter it from the south. Some of the portions were a bit drab, but it got fancy as we headed south.
If you’re hungry for food or shopping, you’ll want to spend some time here. If left there on my own, I probably would’ve spent as much time as possible trying to cover all the miles possible underground.
Bonus Fun: Various Pedestrian-Only Streets
We wound up stumbling onto a number of streets that are closed to vehicle traffic. It is so relaxing to walk along with your family and not worry about drivers.
There’s no shortage of places to eat along these pedestrian-only streets. There’s also shopping and activities (one business was apparently an adult store, which required some delicate explanation to my daughter about why she couldn’t spin the wheel for a prize — which is even more difficult when you’re stifling laughter.)
St. Laurent Boulevard near The Happy Cat was one of these pedestrian-friendly areas. We found others near the Mount Royal Metro stop on the Orange Line near the Beaudry stop on the Green Line.
During our marches to and from Metro lines and attractions, we stopped at a number of playgrounds. It was a good way to break the marches up and let our daughter connect with some kids her own age. Always a good move when traveling. And in Montreal, you’re never far from a good playground.
Where We Stayed
We stayed at Le Penfield Par Nomade — I’m still not sure whether to call it a hotel. You get your code, get to your room and you rarely ever see the staff. There’s no morning horde of people clamoring for a free breakfast, very little noise, no pool … and I honestly didn’t miss any of that.
The rooms are pretty stylish and include a small refrigerator.
Here’s a small warning: It’s an older building, so you may notice a few creepy-crawlies about. We had some ants in our room. This doesn’t bother me, but I don’t want anybody saying “HE DIDN’T WARN US ABOUT THE ANTS!” I’d stay here again on a future visit, no hesitation.
Good to know: Accommodations in Montreal are pretty expensive. Be prepared to spend more than $250 per night. Rates might be even higher if there’s a big even in the city.
Food In Montreal
You’ve gotta try poutine, and that’s all there is to it. Pretty much every decent restaurant should have a good poutine. If you’ve never heard of it before, poutine is fries covered in cheese curds and gravy. You’ll find an endless array of twists on that formula — get your steps in so you can try a bunch of them!
Montreal is also stuffed to the gills with Asian cuisine. My favorite by far was Maixiang Dumplings, where I stuffed myself full of three different kinds of dumplings. The server was also friendly and justifiably proud of the dumplings. I kind of love it when hospitality workers have a genuine enthusiasm for what they do.
I visited a number of coffee shops … I also dropped Google reviews for each:
The Bottom Line: Visiting Montreal With Kids Is A Smart Move
In between every destination, you’ll be able to make pitstops at various playgrounds to let the kids have some “them time.”
You’ll particularly love Montreal in the summer if you’re a parched desert dweller like me staring down the barrel of months of 100-degree-plus heat.
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