Kid-Friendly Travel: Montreal, Canada – Our 36-hour trip to Montreal over Christmas break. Things to do, see, and eat in Montreal.Two years ago, I had a pretty bad ski accident. (I swear, my helmet saved my life. Wear one!) It scared me, and I am skittish about skiing right now. I am not ruling it out for good, but I just wasn’t ready to try again. I have skied my whole life, and I love it, and I want our kids to ski. We were going to take the kids back to Jay Peak over Christmas break, but I chickened out. I didn’t want to ski, and Wes didn’t want to go unless I skied. I was perfectly happy to hang out and read books and go to the spa while everyone else was on the slopes, but I didn’t win this one.
We realized the kid’s passports had expired, so we took a chance and had them renewed and if they came back in time, we would go to Canada, and if they didn’t we would go somewhere in New England. We got them back with about 4 days to spare and decided to make a last minute trip to Montreal and Quebec City.
It is an easy drive from where we live and a place we have always wanted to explore. Our daughter is Canadian (she was born in Nova Scotia) and she has wanted to visit her home country since she was so little when we moved.
We stayed at the Renaissance Montreal Downtown. It was a perfect location. Walking distance to lots of sights, shopping, and restaurants. Directly across the street is an entrance to the Underground City and the Bell Centre.
It was really cold, so we bundled up and made lots of chocolat chaud stops along the way. It was really fun to be able to use all of the French that I took in high school and college. Quebec is a French speaking province and most people will speak french when you interact with them.
I think that it is polite to make an effort to speak the native language, and it seems to be appreciated. I fumbled my way through it, and actually loved it. We found that most people in hospitality speak English as well. My kids were blown away when I could converse in another language. (Badly, my French is terrible, but I tried my best.)
A must visit is the Notre Dame Basilica. This building is awe-inspiring. The architecture, breathtaking.
We did not take a formal tour, but we spent time walking around and lit candles for loved ones.
There is a great food in Montreal. We took a short Uber ride to the Mile End area to get some bagels. The Mile End area has great restaurants and is artsy and cute. St-Viateur is open 24 hours a day and you can watch them bake the bagels while you wait to order.
These bagels are incredible. Different than a New Jersey, doughy bagel, they are crisp on the outside and are less chewy. The rosemary sea salt was my favorite.
We got 6 and sampled the different flavors.
We ventured to Old Montreal and walked around. We didn’t have a plan when we came here, and I have found that my kids really love to just walk around and explore. We stop into shops and eat local delicacies. It was really cold, so we would explore, come in and warm up, and then head back out again. It was also the week after Christmas, so everything was still decorated and beautiful.
They love to do museums and attractions, but they also really like to just see what a place looks like. We thought that this would be a good trip to see how they like to travel and what they liked to do before we move to Germany this summer. Different country, non-English speaking, and a new culture. Surprisingly, they love cities and they can be entertained by just observing and walking around. This was a great place to get their feet wet.
We went to the 360° Observation Deck at the Au Sommet Place Ville Marie. It was across the street from the hotel and I couldn’t pass up the photography opportunity. The view was breathtaking. It was a clear night and you could see for miles. We thoroughly enjoyed our short stay in Montreal. We would love to visit again and see more of what the city has to offer.
Some tips for visiting Montreal:
Check the real time status of the border crossing. We didn’t do this, and went to the busiest border crossing and waited for 2 hours. We could have gone to another one that was not out of the way and gone right through.
Use your concierge at the hotel. We got in much later than expected and the kids were tired and hungry. The concierge pointed us to a great kid-friendly restaurant that everyone loved and even bought us dessert. He also gave us some great tips for things to do and see. We went with no plans whatsoever and did zero research beforehand and left feeling like we saw a lot and got a good feel for this city. We wouldn’t have been able to do that without his help.
It was cold, so make sure to bundle up. Hats and gloves are necessary when you visit in the winter. And if I say that, you know it’s serious. I will do just about anything to not wear a coat.
Embrace the local foods. We sampled smoked meat, poutine, and lots of bagels. The food in Montreal is great, and I would love to visit again just to go on a food tour.