Fall 2021: family fun in Montréal

Laure Juilliard

Laure is a writer, community manager and the founder of the blog Une Parisienne à Montréal. She’s also an epicurean globetrotter who’s always on the hunt for innovative concepts and must-try restaurants. In 2016, she co-founded Slow Journeys, a webzine that focuses on ecotourism and design.

Please note that as of September 1, 2021, Public Health authorities have introduced a mandatory vaccination passport for visitors age 13 and over. 

See the city in a whole new light with our top picks for family fun. Take advantage of this excellent opportunity to show kids everything that’s great about Montréal and spark their minds and imaginations.   

Old Montréal and the Old Port

The gigantic, graceful Grande Roue de Montréal is a definite can’t-miss. Not only will kids enjoy spectacular views, but they can try naming the city’s different monuments when they reach the ride’s apex.  

Thrill seekers big and small can unleash their inner super hero when they go flying down the MTL Zipline, while teens will love the Quick Jump bungee jumping experience. Voiles en Voiles lets swashbucklers weave their way through ropes and platforms connecting two majestic ships, while at SOS Labyrinthe, the whole family can crack cases as they move from one challenge to the next. In nice weather, boat tours and quadricycle rentals are excellent ways to take advantage of Montréal. With this many activities, the Old Port keeps everyone entertained.

Looking for some exhibitions? The Château Ramezay, a historic site and museum in Old Montréal, presents Life at the Château: Splendour and misery in New France, which takes visitors time travelling back to life in Montréal during the 18th century. Budding swashbucklers will love the Come aboard! Pirates or Privateers? exhibition at the Pointe-à-Callière Museum, swordfights (of the foam variety) and adventure guaranteed. Little history and archaeology buffs will love the Marguerite-Bourgeoys Historic Site on the banks of the St. Lawrence River: an outstanding heritage site that offers sweeping vistas from its tower. 

Downtown and the Quartier des spectacles

Downtown’s malls are teeming with treasures for your back-to-school bounty. Young fashionistas will love looking for a new outfit, school supplies or a brand-new backpack  along Sainte-Catherine Street or at the Complexe Desjardins, Centre Eaton, Place Montréal Trust, Cours Mont-Royal and Alexis Nihon. You can also browse the boutiques in Place Ville Marie and wrap everything up in the enchanting beauty of the OASIS immersion experience at the Palais des congrès.

Thanks to Les aventures du cœur de l’île, downtown and the Quartier des spectacles have been transformed a giant playground for the whole family—check out the weekly programming here. On the stage, La Maison Théâtre, young Montréal theatregoers’ place of predilection features magical programming of close to 15 shows for all ages. Place des Arts also presents some 20 performances each year for kids from 3 to 12 years old. We’ll be finally reunited with the Francos de Montréal (September 9 to 12), the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal (September 15 to 19) and the POP Montréal International Music Festival (September 22 to 26): a perfect chance to dance your pants off with the whole family! For a well-deserved snack, head to Café Sfouf on Ontario Street, an eatery designed with families in mind that offers an excellent menu of Lebanese specialties.

Hochelaga-Maisonneuve

The giant Space For Life museum complex will definitely wow kids wee and old. The freshly-revamped Biodôme invites children to observe lynxes, monkeys, exotic birds and a raft of penguins in their brand-new homes. Bring your older kids to see the Birth of Planet Earth ultra-high definition experience at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium. Grab you picnic basket and set out for a stroll among the gorgeous colours of the immense Botanical Garden. Dreaming of your next getaway? Go to the Gardens of Light for inspiration, or enjoy the series of Indigenous tales and song organized at the First Nations Garden. Right next door is Parc Maisonneuve’s 63 hectares of greenspace: an ideal spot for your nature break and fun for the whole family.  

From the Plateau to Villeray to Rosemont

Mount Royal, our green giant and “lungs” of the city, is another great spot for hanging out, walking, biking or jogging.  Download the Family Nature Immersion Guide and take toddlers (0 to 5 years old) to discover the many green spaces in this huge swath of nature. At the Kondiaronk lookout on Saturdays and Sundays A walk in the woods treats you to an informal educational workshop on natural environments, led by the conservation and education team from Les Amis de la montagne. And gorgeous fall walks at Parc Jarry, Parc Laurier or Parc La Fontaine are best enjoyed with coffee, hot chocolate and churros.

Get a fresh new look at the lively Plateau Mont-Royal with Les Fouines du Plateau, an outdoor activity that links nine can’t-miss neighbourhood attractions between Saint-Denis Street and Coloniale Street. Indulge in public art, architecture, gourmet and educational stop-offs as you roam the Plateau’s pretty streets and back alleys at your own leisure. In several Plateau libraries, you can help your kids develop their critical thinking skills with the Des Têtes bien faites workshops. For a cool hands-on activity, stop at the Céramic Café on Saint-Denis Street, a ceramic painting studio for both young and young-at-heart creatives.  

A little further north in Little Italy, roll up your sleeves for a special kid/parent pottery workshop at the charming Les Faiseurs café. A little further east, in Petite-Patrie, step into the brand-new Café des Habitudes, an environmentally-friendly and vegetarian café designed for today’s family, then check out the next-door Heureux de Nature boutique, which offers yoga, music, philosophy, art, conscious communication and ecology classes for kids from 1 to 10.

In Villeray, TOHU takes centre stage with two eagerly-awaited shows: Animal by the Cirque Alfonse and Six from the FLIP Fabrique company that are guaranteed to wow. Take a stroll in the sprawling Frédéric-Back Park, an ambitious environmental revitalization project in Montréal that has a truly unique ambiance.  

Outremont and Westmount

In Outremont, the Casteliers, which is dedicated to marionette arts, showcases highlight productions from here and around the world. The Théâtre Outremont also offers a great youth program this fall. Over in Westmount, the Théâtre Geordie offer theatre classes for kids and 2020-2021 programming for everyone that’s soon to be unveiled.

Quartiers du Canal and Pôle des Rapides

In family-friendly Verdun, enjoy a vegetarian break at Café Chato, surrounded by cats and kittens. The kids will love it! Next, go for a stroll Promenade Wellington, which is dotted with great restaurants, and have a seat at one, like the popular Janine Café Brunch.

You’ve still got time to rent a pedal boat or a small electric boat and go on a  mini cruise with the whole family along the Lachine Canal. Later on, stock up on delicious foods from Notre-Dame Street: succulent pitas at Sumac, pastries at Barbara vin and sweet treats from the Pantry par Dany Bolduc.

Parc Jean-Drapeau and La Ronde

With easy métro access and just minutes from downtown, Parc Jean-Drapeau offers a panoply of activities in a picturesque setting. Go on a discovery ride aboard an electric vehicle as you learn about the park’s history and islands, get an eyeful of public art that showcases talented local and international artists, or go hiking or biking for a full day of fun. Your teens will go gaga for the Osheaga Get Together (October 1 to 3). Bring them and win mega parent points!

An amusement park paradise for kids, La Ronde  is finally welcoming back thrill-seeking families. Be sure to bring your mask and your vaccination passport (for guests 13 and over).

Across Montréal

Guided visits are an excellent way to go exploring with your kids. Haunted tours, bike rides, culinary discoveries, a special open-air mural exhibition, screenings under the stars: the choices are profuse. Some tours are adapted to all ages while others are free for kids under 12. Consult our free guide here.

Outdoors, the Festilou storytale festival will have young and old listening with rapt attention in different parks across the city with the “La Rentrée des Contes” free two-hour events.

Rain or shine, Montréal offers a ton of indoor activities, whether they get you moving, laughing or learning. Check out our top picks here and here. You can still, of course, take advantage of the city’s best seasonal installations if you want to picnic, hang out, go to the market or even garden. La Pépinière’s different outdoor spaces feature numerous event on the Facebook pages: take a look and plan a special fall season.

Getting chilly out? No worries, because we’re swapping out ice cream for delicious hot chocolates in cafés across the city. Check out our guide to the creamiest, chocolatiest drinks. The MTLàTABLE Off-Trail Edition takes place until October 11 so you and your crew have time to dig into Montréal’s culinary scene. Take a look at our guide on great restaurants to eat with kids and our selection of the best bakeries and pastry shops to fill up on yummy treats.

A little farther out

For a green getaway just a few kilometres from the city centre,  the Îles de Boucherville National Park is lush oasis that offers walking trails, fishing, water activities and campgrounds. Bring your whole family on this Montréal-adjacent adventure! With its miles and miles of walking trails and ecological farm, the Parc-nature du Cap–Saint-Jacques is also worth the detour. You can also see the fauna of Québec in a natural setting at the Ecomuseum Zoo, about 30 minutes from downtown.

Laure Juilliard

Laure is a writer, community manager and the founder of the blog Une Parisienne à Montréal. She’s also an epicurean globetrotter who’s always on the hunt for innovative concepts and must-try restaurants. In 2016, she co-founded Slow Journeys, a webzine that focuses on ecotourism and design.

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