Winter in Montreal: 48 Hours of Family Adventure
With a few days to spare before the holidays, we decided to take a quick trip to Montreal for some winter fun! With plenty to do, there were endless options for our itinerary as we set out into the streets of Montreal! When planning your family adventure travel, it will depend upon who you are travelling with and how many days you have to gallivant through the gorgeous city. We aimed to check out a few museums, several food “must do’s” and some winter fun during our short 48 hour excursion!
Accommodation in Montreal
After some research of the local accommodation options, we decided to stay at Hotel chez Swann. We wanted to try something other than the well-known establishments. It was an affordable opportunity and tres chic! It is a quaint little hotel with easy access to the Metro, stores, and restaurants. The rooms were immaculate and offered a great deal of comfort. The continental breakfast was a nice way to start each day with yogurt, granola, fruit and pastries. Everything we wanted was right at our fingertips. If we were uncertain of anything, the bilingual staff was more than willing to help us out.
Transportation in Montreal:
Our best advice while in Montreal is to “Park the Car”! Parking in the city is quite expensive and each time you leave a parking lot; we guarantee that you’ll hit their daily maximum (usually about $4/per 20 min with a $16 max). We recommend the Metro. The Metro occasional card was affordable and easy to use. Just remember that tickets at the subway stations can only be paid by cash only. We each ordered up a three day pass for $18 and didn’t worry about counting out tokens! The trains came frequently in all directions and we got on and off as we liked.
Day One: Travel to Montreal
Arrived in Montreal after spending five hours travelling in the rain.
Our first stop was the BioDome. They offer a multitude of options for your trip; it all depends on the age and interests of the group members you have brought with you and how much time you have to spend at their facility. We were only planning on spending the afternoon there, so we had to choose what was our top priority to see (a full day would allow more options). We eagerly wanted to see the penguin feeding and trainer speech at 2:45pm. This made it impossible to attend the 2:30pm or the 3:00pm ‘English’ talk at the planetarium. Check out the website provided above and plan ahead, so that you have all the details needed to fulfil your wishes. Also, as it is winter, we were also off-season for the botanical gardens; however, they did have a candy themed Christmas walk available to families.
The Biodome was well organized and had plenty to see for all ages. The tropical forest was a relief from the cool weather outside and provided a lot of activity as you peered through the leaves for animals and birds. This centre brings five ecosystems together under one roof amazingly well! We were happy with our choice and enjoyed reaching the finale of our trip – the penguins! They had a penguin that was only 24 days old and a new hatchling that was being born right while we were there – but, there was no way that mommy was going to let us see!
NOTE: It is quite warm in the forest, so you may want to use a locker for your coats, however, know that the next room is 8C and you may want to hang onto a sweater.
Food: World famous smoked meat for Dinner
We headed back to the Metro in search of the Schwartz’s Deli; the oldest deli in Canada and a popular Montreal delicatessen. If you get there around rush hour, you will need to prepare yourself for a lineup. However, we timed it just right and took a seat to order up a large plate of smoked meat!
Ice Skating in Old Montreal
To work off our super delicious indulgence, we headed back into Old Montreal to go ice skating. This ice rink does have an activity fee to participate – but it was a fun way to end the day. If you don’t have skates – no worries – they offer rentals at affordable prices. Each day of the week has a different music theme as well! Fun times had by both of us!
To warm up on our way back to the hotel, we stopped at Paris Crepes for a nice hot drink and of course; delicious sweet dessert crepes. We enjoyed a delicious Belgian chocolate & raspberry crepe and an apple, cinnamon & caramel crepe. It is so hard to decide which one was nicer. The staff were fast and friendly. We enjoyed a second floor table by the window and enjoyed the passersby on the street below.
On our second day of fun, we started off our Christmas Eve at Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal. This church has an entrance fee of $5 per person. It includes a 20 minute tour (offered in English and French) to educate you of the history of the parish, the key architectural features of the building and the beautiful artwork. If you chose, you may tour the facility by yourself.
Afterwards, we walked along Montreal’s oldest street (rue St. Paul) and did our classic souvenir shopping for our boys. There were plenty of shops to browse, and at the end of the street, we found ourselves enjoying a lovely treat at Montreal Poutine. It was a quaint little place above street level where we got to observe the traffic along the cobblestone road and the pitter pattering of raindrops in the puddles. The food choices were vast – but we went with the classic poutine and skipped the added meats/sauces. It was a nice serving size and very delicious. Montreal Poutine offered impeccable and friendly service.
Montreal has a lot of other shopping opportunities, but we would’ve needed another trip to accomplish that. If you are interested in planning that trip, check out you’re your options at:
Another lovely venue to ‘taste’ as you venture in Montreal is St. Viateur Bagels. They are the longest running bagel shop in Montreal and are family owned. They offer handmade delicious & famous bagels and have done so for over 50 years. We found them to be a bit pricey for dining in, however very affordable for take-out. We chose to bring a dozen home as we left Montreal to enjoy with the family!
Montreal: Museum of Fine Arts
We finished our whirlwind trip by checking out the Museum of Fine Arts. As it had been raining all day, it was nice to dry off amongst the wonders indoors.
This was a quick walk from our hotel and for those of you who are R.O.M. members in Toronto, you can view their permanent exhibits for free. There was so much to absorb, it definitely requires a second trip for a deeper look!
It was a remarkable trip and a beautiful city – even if we did explore it in the rain! We eagerly await the time in which to bring our family back for another adventure as there is so much more to see and do!
Check out Montreal tourism or feel free to contact us for more information – we’d be happy to help plan your next adventure.