Spring break in Montréal: Getting out and about as a family

Parc Jean-Drapeau - field hockey rink
Laure Juilliard

Laure Juilliard

This article was updated on February 29, 2024.

From March 4 to 8, 2024, the kids are on spring break and ready to take part in adventurous outings all over Montréal. Spring break is the perfect time to discover the city’s charms together, venture into unfamiliar neighbourhoods and revisit the places you love. Here are some suggestions for fun activities for families during spring break.  

Luminothérapie

Downtown

Take a stroll through shopping centres as a family, in search of a little something that will make each of you happy. From east to west along Sainte-Catherine Street, choose your stops among Complexe Desjardins, Eaton Centre, Place Montréal Trust, Les Cours Mont-Royal and the versatile Alexis Nihon. Along the way, stop off at LOV on McGill Street for a delightful vegan meal. 

A little further south, Place Ville-Marie is another great spot to shop and grab a coffee and something to eat. It’s also the temporary home of the Musée d’art contemporain (MAC), where you can visit fresh new exhibitions. 

In the heart of the Quartier des spectacles, take part in a fun and entertaining experience at Luminothérapie, an outdoor exhibition of luminous and interactive works. Enjoy a skate on the refrigerated ice rink at Esplanade Tranquille. Alternatively, check out MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE'S many activities for families. Also, enjoy parent-child activities at the FIKA(S)IMMERSIVE FESTIVAL OF SCANDINAVIAN KULTUR AND ART.

After your outdoor fun, warm up in Chinatown with a generous plate of dumplings made by Sammi & Soup Dumpling, Qing Hua or Mai Xiang Yuan: a sure bet for the whole gang! 

To introduce your little ones to the magic of the circus, theatre, dance, music or even puppets, take in a performance at the Maison Théâtre and Place des Arts junior. The hypnotic universe of OASIS immersion at the Palais des congrès de Montréal also offers a good dose of enchantment. 

 

Pirates or Privateers?

Old Montréal

Anyone with young children might have already explored Come Aboard! Pirates or Privateers?, Pointe-à-Callière museum’s seafaring interactive adventure, but a recent redesign has made the exhibit an exciting new experience. If your children are passionate about archaeology, discover Archaeo-Adventure, a simulated archaeological dig experience that showcases the dig site, the archaeologist's tent and the laboratory area. Family and child rates are discounted. Buy your tickets online (without a reserved time slot) and consult the visitor guide. 

For mini scientists, the Montréal Science Center offers permanent, fun and enriching exhibitions for all age groups. Do not miss the temporary exhibition, Inspiring Nature, Inspired Techno: Biomimicry and Transport, which details how plants and animals have inspired technologies to make transport more efficient and eco-responsible (until March 23, 2024). Your tickets also give you access to The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards exhibition (until March 23, 2024). 

Do you want a bird’s eye view of the city? See the spectacular ice on the St. Lawrence River and Montréal’s snow-covered skyline from a whole new perspective on La Grande Roue de Montréal. As the wheel goes 'round, make a game of how many church bell towers, bridges and other landmarks the kids can count! Back on firm ground, lace up your skates (which you can rent on site if needed) and twirl away on the beautiful, well-maintained skating rink in the Old Port (closed for the season from March 3).

A stone’s throw away on Rue Saint-Paul, enjoy the simple pleasure of a delicious hot chocolate with marshmallows or a sweet treat at Délice Érable & cie. 

At Château Ramezay follow a multimedia circuit and catch up on local history. The family rate for one or two adults and up to three children makes a visit to this historic site a great budget option.  

Want to stop somewhere nearby for a hot beverage or for dinner? Try the fab Italian restaurant Un po di più and the famous Olive + Gourmando for a family friendly welcome.

 

Parc Maisonneuve

Hochelaga-Maisonneuve

Nature is never far away in the urban Hochelaga-Maisonneuve neighbourhood. At the Biodôme, the lynx, monkeys, exotic birds and famous penguins are ready for visitors. Up the hill, the Botanical Garden outdoor paths are free to roam (or cross-country ski) in winter or opt for a ticket to the tropics in the garden’s nine greenhouses. Don't forget your gear! 

Nearby, Parc Maisonneuve features an ice rink as well as snowshoeing and cross-country skiing trails that will have everyone craving a good hot chocolate. Regulars buy it at Arhoma on Place Simon-Valois, and at the Canard Café east of Pie-IX. Third-wave coffee lovers head to Hélico Café.  

Lovers of well-kept secrets meet at the small ice rink in Parc Lalancette, a stone's throw from the Joliette metro station. And for a low-speed change of scenery, the Parc National des Îles de Boucherville offers bikes with oversized tires (yes, the famous “fatbikes”), as well as snowshoes and cross-country skis – buy passes online in advance and reserve your rental equipment over the phone.  

 

APIK

From the Plateau to Villeray to Rosemont and beyond!

From March 1 to 3, 2024, rue Saint-Denis will be transformed into Mont Saint-Denis, an epic snowboarding and skiing slope during the APIK festival. Thrills guaranteed! 

Near Beaver Lake on Mount Royal, lace up your skates and try a few tricks on the refrigerated ice rink. With on-site rentals of ice skates, cross-country skis, snowshoes and snow tubes you can fully enjoy winter on the city’s beloved mountain.   

On your way back down, make a detour to the Musée des Hospitalières de l'Hôtel-Dieu de Montréal, which organizes some great activities during spring break. Interactive or guided tours, paper and clay sculpture workshops: find out all about the program here.

Hundreds of city skating rinks dot the Montréal landscape, including in several large parks, such as Parc Jarry and Parc La Fontaine, where you’ll also find sledding hills. For hot chocolate, check out Montréal’s indie coffee shops or go into État de choc (shock or not, you’ll probably come out with a box of chocolates to enjoy later). And don’t head home with an empty tummy: enjoy an Italian dish at Fiorellino (Laurier).  

Then it's on to La TOHU, where free programming awaits the whole family. In your sights: free shows, eco-responsible crafts, an introduction to dance and yoga, and circus workshops. Take advantage of outdoor activities in Frédéric-Back Park, including guided tours and free loans of snowshoes, cross-country skis, kites and sledges. Full program here.

For the film buffs in the family, the Montréal International Children's Film Festival (FIFEM) will take place from March 2 to 10, 2024, with screenings at the Beaubien Cinema and online.Young cinephiles will have access to an unprecedented program of local and international long and short films, animations, fictions, and documentaries. So much to see! After your session, head to La Petite-Patrie at the Café des Habitudes, an eco-responsible and vegetarian space designed for today's families, then take a look at the adjacent Heureux de Nature shop which offers, among other things,yoga, music, philosophy, art, conscious communication and ecology, for children from 1 to 10 years old.Book your activities now! 

From Monday, March 4 to Friday, March 8, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., Marché Jean-Talon invites families to an entire week of free activities as part of the "Vive la relâche scolaire!" event. On the program: culinary and gardening workshops, artistic activities, short film screenings and a board game session. Full program here.

 

Parc Jean-Drapeau - sliding

Parc Jean-Drapeau island getaway

With the right winter boots, there’s nothing quite as invigorating as a family winter hike on the 25 km of trails in Parc Jean-Drapeau. For a little more speed, bring your sleds and go sliding down the free slope near Espace 67. Glide along the 500-m Skater’s trail or help your kids refine their cross-country skiing on the island’s beginner (Île Sainte-Hélène ) and intermediate (Île Notre-Dame) trails. The fat bike hype has indeed reached Parc Jean-Drapeau too – and it’s an ideal place to experience what this winter bike and its giant tires can do in the snow.  

Quartier du canal and Pôle des rapides

Real sledding enthusiasts know to head to the city’s Southwest. Parc Le Ber in Pointe-Saint-Charles boasts a sledding hill with easy access from Ash Street (bring your own sleds). For warm-up breaks head to Café Bloom on Du Centre Street and Le Trou north of the Canal for beverages and bagels. Continue your visit west along Notre-Dame Street for brunch at Barley cereal bar and Spanel Crêpes & Gourmet. A little further, by car, metro or bus, Newman Hill at Parc Ignace-Bourget features several sledding corridors where you ride your own sled for free or rent snow tubes (online, the day before) – an outdoor adventure at a low cost.  

In Saint-Henri, bring the whole family to the second edition of Montréal Boréal (February 17 to March 10, 2024), an outdoor event offering free programming including many family and sporting activities (think snowboard, snowshoe or fatbike initiation, laughter yoga classes, story time, axe throwing etc.), winter installations, urban furniture and games accessible at all times, as well as a fiery musical atmosphere.

In the family neighborhood of Verdun, take a gourmet vegetarian break at Café Chato, surrounded by several cats and kittens. Kids love it! Then take a walk on the Promenade Wellington, which is strewn with good addresses, and sit down, for example, at the renowned Janine Café Brunch. 

 

Ecomuseum Zoo

West Island wildlife

Discover an array of Québec wildlife in a natural and enchanting setting, without even leaving the island of Montréal. About 30 minutes from downtown, the Ecomuseum Zoo is home to otters, ducks, wolves, foxes, owls and more animals. No car to get you to the West Island? Make it a train getaway (around 30 minutes from Vendôme station; budget for a short taxi ride on arrival). As with many outings this spring break, remember to buy your tickets in advance! 

 

Casteliers - Marionnettes en vitrines, 2023

Throughout Montréal

From March 6 to 10, 2024, come and celebrate the 11th art form at the Festival international de Casteliers, a major annual event dedicated to the puppetry arts, this year welcoming creations from Quebec, Canada, the United States, France, Belgium, Finland and South Korea. Don't miss Marionnettes en vitrines! Maître et relève, an exhibition in the windows of Outremont businesses (until March 12, 2024).

Themed guided tours exist for nearly every neighbourhood in the city. Architecture, history, murals and even ghosts will brighten up your family walks. Take public transit to get to your starting point Thanks to the STM's Family Outings program, an adult with a valid transit pass can accompany up to five children aged 11 and under free of charge. 

Rain or shine, Montréal offers a host of indoor activities, whether physical, fun or educational. Check out our top recommendations here and here. And if you've got a budding computer genius at home, Studio XP, created by two Ubisoft alumni, offers a bilingual online spring break camp for kids aged 8 to 19, where they'll learn to code, program and do 2D/3D animation, through the creation of a video game. To get your children even more involved in culture, take a look at our cultural guide for families, specially designed for 0-17 year olds. 

Finally, take a look at our guide to family-friendly restaurants and our selection of the best bakeries and patisseries to stock up on tasty treats! 

 

Happy spring break!

Laure Juilliard

Laure Juilliard

Originally from Paris, Laure Juilliard made Montréal her home over 15 years ago and has never looked back. Won over by her new city's unique energy, cultural vibrancy and gastronomic effervescence, she loves exploring all the coolest spots. A writer and blogger specialising in lifestyle, culture, travel and gastronomy, she has lent her pen to Tourisme Montréal for more than 10 years, in addition to magazines such as ELLE Québec and Clin d'œil, as well as a variety of well-known companies and agencies. Always on the lookout for innovative concepts and the best addresses wherever she is in the world, she is also always planning her next trip.

See articles by Laure