Life abounds downtown
The reimagining of downtown Montréal this summer continues with a wide array of cultural activities, arts and entertainment featuring more than 150 artists and creators in a number of coolly reconceived public spaces, all tapping into the vibrancy and liveliness of downtown. The art-inclined can and should take advantage of a bounty of outdoor art on display throughout the city centre, from sprawling murals to photo exhibitions to innovative installations and much more. This summer Montréal is also home to a record number of “TULIPs,” or Terrasse Urbaine Libre Au Public: urban patios open to the public that are picture perfect for putting your feet up, watching pop-up performances or even cooling off in a fountain. And if inside activities are more your speed, games (laser tag, glow-in-the-dark mini-golf, escape rooms etc.), world-class museums, unique boutiques and shopping centres, and top-tier international cuisine are among the many reasons to (re)visit downtown this summer.
Attention outdoor-freedom seekers
Montréal’s 700-plus kilometres of bike paths are by themselves testament to the city’s adoration of two-wheeled transportation (a love so big, it requires a guide to all things biking in MTL). With so much summer still ahead, the time is ripe for planning your must-ride bike routes (perfect for visitors), whether it’s on your own bike or one from one of the many top-notch bike rental places in Montréal. Another of the city’s unique features is that it’s an island, so rather than cycling around it, perhaps you’d prefer to cool off in the waters surrounding it. Whether it’s swimming, pedal boating, paddle boarding, surfing, white water rafting, jet boating or simply going for a relaxing dinner cruise along the St. Lawrence River, there are many, many water activity options for one and all. And with all that water comes a wide assortment of beaches in and around the city, each with their own character, many with organized aquatic activities, and some are just minutes from downtown. And for those looking for a different perspective, there’s always “the mountain,” or Mount Royal, a 10-square-kilometre heritage site that’s home to residential areas, neighbourhood parks, picturesque cemeteries, the magnificent 200-hectare Mount Royal Park and some of the most spectacular views of the city.
Family fun before the bell rings
Since the return to school is imminent, the time for planning a few last summer family outings is now. Whether it’s exploring different parts of the city together — from nature parks you’ve always meant to visit to boat rides on the St. Lawrence River to that ice cream shop just off the beaten path — there are still a vast number of fun family activities to be enjoyed this summer. Among the sure-fire hits are the Botanical Gardens, Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Archaeology and History Complex, the conservation-focused Ecomuseum Zoo, La caverne de Saint-Léonard and, of course, La Ronde Six Flags amusement park on Île Ste-Hélène (itself a wonderful place for a family picnic). And if it’s too hot to be outside? No sweat — there are a number of kid-friendly exhibitions going on around town, showcasing space travel to the fascinating story of the Incas to the world’s largest Barbie collection and more.
MTL’s in an end-of-summer mood for food
As summer winds down, the city’s cuisine scene is winding up with seasonal spaces, pop-up events, new restaurants, take-out menus, picnic boxes and go-to restos coming up with imaginative and safe solutions to the pandemic predicament. Take-out and delivery menus from many of the city’s top restos have proven especially popular and should be fully taken advantage of while we can still picnic outside in Montréal’s wealth of pristine parks and green spaces. If inside dining is more to your liking, the much-anticipated reopening of the downtown Time Out Market has taken place and includes restaurants, bars, the cooking school as well as the local market. And savour these last weeks of hot summer with cool libations on some of Montréal’s numerous awesome outdoor patios (or terrasses as Montrealers call them) with creative cocktails, cool local brews and physically distanced mingling.