Visit Montreal & its surroundings

This month’s chosen city is…Montreal! Plan your trip 🙂Montreal and its surroundings make for a great weekend trip in itself or if you are on your way to Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine or the northern NY state.
It  is also great to combine a visit to Montreal with Toronto and the Niagara falls for a longer break, or with Boston and Cape Cod in the summer. We chose the first option, a trip to Montreal City combined with college visits during the Thanksgiving break. We really loved this brief two-day escape from the US.
The Quebec region has a lot to offer, including great activities just a couple of hours away from Montreal. During the winter you can also plan to a two-day sky trip to in Mont Tremblant. 
The food offering is also amazing in Montreal. There is a wide choice of restaurants, very similar to the ones you find in Europe. And good news: they are cheaper than in New York.Besides this information, gathered during my weekend trip with my husband and kids, I talked with several of our travelers and even to some locals to compile a list of ideas of great things to do in the region. And please don’t hesitate to share your own ideas with us. Enjoy!

When to go?

While summer or winter trips are two radically different experiences, both have advantages. There is really something for each season and, whatever the time of the year, you will enjoy the astonishing beauty of the region. Just bear in mind that the winter can be extremely cold in Montreal, so much so that it can make it very difficult to visit and enjoy the city. We suggest avoiding the coldest months, between December and the end of February.

How to get there?

By car:
  • 6 hours drive. Don’t forget your passports…you will cross border. Plan to wait a little bit at the border.
By plane:
  • Many direct flights from both from la Guardia and JFK airport.

Activity ideas?

In Montreal
    • River surfing: Surf lesson on the St Laurent river near the old port of Montreal. Also possibilities to do kayak and paddle boarding. 20 minutes from the city center.
    • The nordic spa Strom on the Iles des soeurs. Pamper yourself and the whole family. They organize family brunches on Sundays Let your children discover the benefits of relaxation. 
    • Don’t miss the Plateau Mont-Royal eclectic area: scout the colorful murals and explore small designer and interior shops. Check out the blog section of this Montreal based travel writer.
    • Centre Phi located in old Montréal: the multifunctional Phi Centre buzzes with activity and interconnectivity. Our spaces include an art gallery, cinema, theatre, performance space, production facilities and more — all housed within an acoustically-pristine environment.
    • Montreal museum of fine arts.
Between 1-2 hours from Montreal
    • L’Orpailleur: wine tasting in the Quebec region. Yes it is possible 🙂 Discover this beautiful region and an amazing winery recommended by Isabelle, a true “quebecoise”. Plan a nice dinner there and savor some great wines.
    • Lavande: located in Fitch Bay, near Magog, Bleu Lavande is the largest lavender farm in Canada and the second largest in North America. Picnic on site, visit the interpretation centre to learn about lavender, the distillery and the boutique. Follow the guides for an extraordinary visit!
    • Parc Omega: Oméga Parc counts over 15 species of animals within several different environments such as the forest, the meadow, the mountain, the lakes and boreal region. Be prepared to take some amazing animal pictures!
Between 2-3 hours from Montreal
    • Visit to Foresta Lumina: a multi media magical  night time experience for kids along he Coaticook’s Canyon. Seven beautiful manuscripts introduce the cast of fictional characters presented through sophisticated lighting, mapped media and original sound tracks. Foresta Lumina invites you in a variety of theatrical effects that create a moody but magical setting.
    • Astrolab and Mont Megantic region :  visit their multimedia exhibits and the observatory. They also propose lodging facilities at the peak of Mont Megantic. Perfect to watch the stars at night.

Where to stay

    • We opted for an Airbnb rental. Many offers at a lower price than the many hotels of the city. 
    • We didn’t stay there but would have if there were availabilities during our stay: Le petit hôtel Montreal
Maurice Region (2 h north of Montreal) 
    • Hotel Sacacomie: Located in the heart of  a forest in Eastern Canada, Hotel Sacacomie offers an exceptional nature experience. The breathtaking scenery, the majestic lake, the panoply of seasonal activities, the gastronomy with local accents and the Spa will help you to live an unforgettable experience! A lot of our travel community has been here and we have never heard any bad review from this unique place!
    • Le Baluchon, St-Paulin: An Eco resort is composed of 1000 acres of nature, including 200 acres of agricultural land. It also has 40 km of forest trails for hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, dog-sledding, mountain biking and offers gastronomic cuisine.
Mont Megantic region:  sleep under the stars in one the original lodging facilities on top of the Mont Megantic from rustic camping to summit huts.
Montebello (parc Omega) : Don’t miss the opportunity to stay at Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello. Escape from the ordinary and experience a delightful retreat at Fairmont Le Château Montebello, the world’s largest log cabin. Nestled in the heart of the scenic Montebello village, surrounded by nature, the hotel is famed for its rustic yet luxurious accommodations, excellent service and refined gastronomy. 

Where to eat?

We have compiled a great restaurant list for Montreal! Bon appétit!
    • Monarque: great food, contemporary decor and cozy atmosphere! Be prepared for a more gastronomic dinner.
    • A great rooftop in Montreal with good food: les enfants terribles located @place Ville Marie.
    • Our new “coup de coeur” goes to this Japanese restaurant located in Plateau Mont Royal: Ichigo Ichie Izakaya Amazing Japanese food. 
    • Bistro Boris, very close to McGill University, gluten free restaurant
    • Lola Rosa, a vegetarian restaurant that will also please your kids. They have 4 locations, one close to McGill on Milton Avenue.
    • L’Entrecôte St Jean (single choice menu: Entrecôte, fries & salad)
    •  Les 3 brasseurs (family friendly)
    • Graziella (italian gastronomy for a romantic dinner)
    • Bouillon Bilk (lunch or dinner)
    • Au festin de Babette (brunch in Plateau Mont_Royal)
    • Another option for a great Sunday brunch is this Boutique/Restaurant concept @ Le Cartet in Old Montreal
    • Bakery Toledo, located @ Le Plateau. Try their delicious pastries and bread. This is a perfect place for breakfast or lunch.