We just got home from a 10-day trip to Montreal. It was mostly work for me, but Dan and Aiden came along and got to truly experience the city of Montreal. The first time I visited Montreal was in early December so I thought it was a nice city but I had no idea how much there is to actually do there. It truly surprised me in a great way. There were tons of things to do in Montreal with a toddler. If this location is not on your travel list you should add it!
I love that our trip to Montreal was international without seeming super international (if you know what I mean). They speak another language (French) and you need a passport, but for us, on the East Coast, the flight was only about an hour and a half so it’s super close. I love that we didn’t have to stress too much about a long flight but we still had the benefit of learning about another culture. Aiden even picked up a few French words while we were there!
We stayed at the Intercontinental Montreal which is in located right between Old Town Montreal and the new section. It was mostly walking distance from everywhere we wanted to go, but for those that were a bit outside of the comfortable walking range, it was very close to a metro station (and the metro was very easy to navigate). We also had Intercontinental Club passes which meant our breakfasts and evening happy hour and snacks, plus all the water we could need were taken care of.
As far as things to do, there was no shortage. Here are the things I would recommend:
Rue St. Paul
On day one we visited the Old Port. Before we actually got to the waterside; however, we were attracted by St. Catherine Street which was a gorgeous old looking street with tons of souvenir type stores and restaurants. We found a great brewery there called Les 3 Brasseurs which had a great outdoor eating area with excellent food (and great beer too).
Old Port (Vieux-Port de Montréal)
This area was within walking distance to our hotel and it was a lot of fun for our first day. There was something for everyone. Aiden, Dan and I enjoyed the family theme park Voiles en Voiles which had inflatable activities perfect for Aiden. There were also two obstacle courses scaling pirate ships. My mom enjoyed the Montreal Zipline.
This was a really fun and interactive museum. There were definitely a few things above Aiden’s comprehension, but overall he had a great time. He especially loved the giant bubbles.
Montreal Olympic Park
We took a day trip out to the Old Montreal Olympic Park area where there are many tourist attractions. I really like what they have done with this area. We visited the Olympic Park in Salt Lake City and there was really nothing so this was a pleasant surprise. There was quite a bit of construction and signage to indicate the further development of this area in the years to come so it’s only getting better! The next few locations are from the Olympic Park area.
This was the highlight of the trip out to Olympic Park. The Biodome is very cool and was perfect for Aiden’s age range. You walk through five ecosystems including a tropical rain forest, Maple Forest, Gulf of St. Lawrence, Labrador Coast, and Sub-Antarctic Islands. You are really submerged in these ecosystems and the animals are all around you. It is a very cool experience.
I have to be honest, the Planetarium was perfect for Aiden’s nap time 😆 As I said we did a day trip out to this area so I knew nap time might be an issue. The Planetarium has several “movies.” We attended Edge of Darkness. We went into the theatre and laid on a beanbag to watch a 30-minute immersive experience on asteroids. It was a really cool experience but way over Aiden’s head so he took advantage of the dark room and took a little nap on Dad (which was totally fine with us).
The Insectarium is in the Botanical Garden. It was a short exhibit for us because we aren’t super into bugs. They do have a building dedicated to bugs of the world and the opportunity for a bug tasting (which my mom did!) The Botanical Garden was nice to walk around in. Aiden snoozed in his stroller while we enjoyed the gardens.
We didn’t have a chance to go up, but you can visit the Montreal Tower in this area which offers beautiful views of Montreal. It is the tallest inclined tower in the world and received a 3-star Michelin Guide score (the highest available).
Before we left, we took a picture with the Olympic rings!
The food in Montreal is REALLY good. I wouldn’t say there wasn’t any place we went that we didn’t enjoy. Plus, there are tons of options. I would say do your research before you pop in to a place (or at least read the menu). One of the nights we ended up in a “fine dining” restaurant that specialized in duck. It was good, but an experience to say the least. Here is a picture of Aiden eating Duck foie gras 😆
Not to be confused with the Biodome, we also visited the Biosphere. This is the dome you have probably seen in pictures which now houses an environmental and climate change museum. As people not super into the content of this museum I will say it was interactive and interesting and Aiden enjoyed playing with a lot of the exhibits. I really enjoyed the view from the outer terrace.
Dan had a ton of fun roaming with Aiden in Chinatown. They wound up getting these giant ice cream waffle things which were ridiculous (but delicious). It also smelled amazing.
This was a highlight of my trip. I don’t think it’s a secret that Aiden loves fountains and there are plenty in Montreal. However, one of my colleagues told me about someone who told him about a fountain that lit up in flames at night. Naturally, I told Dan who let me know that Aiden was playing in said fountain when a homeless man rambled on about fire in the fountain. We decided to look it up and sure enough the fountain does have a ring of fire which happens between 7-11pm.
Mount Royal is the highest point in Montreal and has some breathtaking views (and a lot of raccoons). It is not a bad walk to the top either by stairs on one side or just following the road to the other side. Depending on where you are staying I would suggest taking the metro to the bottom of the mountain and then walking because it is still a fairly decent walk uphill. There are a few things to see at the top. Two scenic overlooks, a cross, a church, and a chalet.
As you can see there is a ton to do in Montreal with a toddler and this isn’t even everything — just the highlights!
Here are some good places to eat:
Bistro-Brasserie Les Soeurs Grises — This is a brewery with excellent food and elevated pub fare.
Barroco — Heads up this is not kid friendly and you NEED a reservation. We were fortunate to have my mom around to watch Aiden for this one.
Britt & Chips — Really good fish and chips. Similar to a “chipper” in Europe.
FCO di Fiumicino — Make sure you know what a meter is before you go. They sell a meter of pizza which Dan asked: “what is a meter” to which they replied…a meter 😆 needless to say we ordered a third of a meter and that was plenty for two people.
Le Pizzaiolle — This was great Italian food.
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Here are a few quick tips about visiting Montreal:
- Just about everywhere we visited accepted credit cards (except American Express) so you don’t have to take out a ton of cash or worry about currency exchange.
- It is a good idea to pull out some Canadian dollars so that you can tip your bell hop or other random service providers.
- The Province is trying to maintain their French heritage so most places will greet you with Bonjour, hello. If you respond with Bonjour (and don’t speak French) be sure to immediately follow up with something in English because they will continue in French.
- Montreal has lots of restaurants but they are not stroller friendly. Even our small stroller was difficult to navigate in some places and in others they asked us to keep the stroller outside or in an area that was more out of the way.
- Many of the metro stations did not have elevators or escalators so we did a lot of carrying up and down stairs.
- At night, in Old Montreal, watch the buildings because many of them have silent movies projected on them.
- If you decide to go to museums check out the websites first, some have package deals.
We are headed to San Diego in a few weeks so be on the lookout for things to do in San Diego as well as tips for packing and traveling with a toddler. UPDATE: Here is the San Diego travel guide with a toddler.
Have you been to Montreal with a toddler? What are your favorite things to do?
If you liked this post check out Things to Do with Baby: Boston, Tips for Traveling With a Car Seat, and Things To Do With Baby While Mama is on a Business Trip.