Go for gold at Montréal's Olympic Park

Robyn Fadden

Robyn Fadden is a Montréal-based writer and editor who searches out city secrets, new bands, life-changing art and things to do with her perpetually active kid. Robyn has covered major events for HOUR, MUTEK, ARTINFO, CKUT 90.3FM and more.

This article was updated on March 27, 2024.

Since its construction for the 1976 Summer Olympic Games, Montréal's Olympic Park has transformed from a historical site into an international hub for major sports and cultural events – not to mention the 80-kilometre views in every direction from the iconic Montréal Tower.

360° city views and a rich history

One of Montréal's most famous icons and one of the best places to see Montréal from above is also the most recognizable part of Olympic Park: the Montréal Tower stretches 165 metres (541 feet) towards the sky at a 45-degree angle, making it the world's tallest inclined tower. When renovations to the tower are complete in 2024, visitors can ride the glass elevator – big enough to be called a “funicular,” in fact – to the observatory at the top to see incredible panoramic views of the city, Mount Royal and the St. Lawrence River.

 

Stadium shows and sporting events

Designed by French architect Roger Taillibert as the 1976 Summer Olympics main venue, the Olympic Stadium was made to be spectacularly massive. Known by locals as “The Big O” – named for both the Olympics and the circular shape of its bright white roof – the stadium and the adjacent Sports Centre, which includes Olympic-sized swimming and diving pools, host major events, including Toronto Blue Jays MLB games and spring training, trade shows, rock concerts and the FINA World Diving Series. The pools and fitness centre are also open to the public throughout the week, so try your hand at training, swimming and diving like an Olympian!

Outside the Sports Centre, take a photo at Place Nadia-Comaneci, featuring a 3D representation of the Olympic rings and an Olympic flag. Next to the sports centre, discover the Space for Life's Biodôme, encompassing several wild ecosystems full of plants and animals, the Planetarium, featuring eye-opening exhibitions and immersive films and just up the hill, the Montréal Botanical Garden, an urban oasis of expansive outdoor gardens and tropical greenhouses, and the Insectarium, the first museum in North America where visitors are able to mix with a number of live and naturalized insect species. Save on your entrance to the Space for Life museums with the Passeport MTL.

 

Summer season activities

Outside the stadium's doors, you'll find the Esplanade of the Olympic Park, a huge outdoor space that is a hotbed of year-round activities. Starting on the first Friday of every month in June and July, eat great food in the open air at First Fridays, featuring dozens of the city's gourmet food trucks, music and family-friendly activities on the colourful Esplanade terrasse.

In the summer, the Îlots76 play area is a blast for kids, with bouncy castles, a play area, snacks and more. Or try bouldering at outdoor rock climbing gym Nomad Bloc, with routes for all levels and ages. And if you're a skateboarder, try the Esplanade's Vans Skatepark, a permanent 900 square-metre concrete dome skatepark open to the public and offering skateboarding classes. Also see outdoor concerts by the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal as part of its annual OSM Classical Spree festival in August.

 

Outdoor sports action

If you're into action sports, JACKALOPE has you covered in mid-August, with competitions by star athletes, demos and lessons in skateboarding, base jumping, rock climbing, fixed gear cycling, BMX, and more for all ages – a bonus: kids 10 years and under get in to JACKALOPE for free. Also in winter, the Esplanade transforms again with family-friendly activities for snow season.

 

Robyn Fadden

Robyn Fadden is a Montréal-based writer and editor who searches out city secrets, new bands, life-changing art and things to do with her perpetually active kid. Robyn has covered major events for HOUR, MUTEK, ARTINFO, CKUT 90.3FM and more.

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