Summer activities for families in Montréal

Summer is made for families in Montréal. Play in the parks, join the summer festival revelry, go swimming and cycling together, take a boat ride or ride a rollercoaster – outdoor activities abound. Indoors, spark young minds with museum workshops, games and circus shows. Eat well at all kinds of family-friendly restaurants and end the day with fireworks or an ice cream cone!

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Outdoor playtime

When you're on a family vacation in Montréal, a wander through Old Montréal is a must for its historic sights, great restaurants and cafés, museums and more. Then head into the Old Port of Montréal, where kids can climb high on ropes course Voiles en Voiles, fly through the sky on the MTL Zipline and make their way through the SOS Labyrinthe. Hop on a boat tour along the St. Lawrence River with Bateau-Mouche and electric boat tour company Le Petit Navire, or go jet boating with Jet St-Laurent. Get a thrill at La Ronde, the second largest amusement park in Canada, featuring rides for younger kids as well as hair-raising rollercoasters.

From August 16 to 18, action sports event JACKALOPE keeps kids on the go with sports, entertainment and other activities at Esplanade of the Olympic Park, and features chill-out zones for younger kids and food trucks to keep everyone fed. Beat the heat at the city's swimming pools and beaches. When it’s time to re-fuel, try some of Montréal’s many great places to eat with kids in Montréal, and, of course, locally made ice cream and other frozen treats!

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Parks and markets

Among the city's many parks and green spaces, take a walk (or a bus) to the top of Mount Royal Park for one of the best views of downtown and beyond, where you'll also find an open-air café and event space. Picnic and play in the playground in Parc Jeanne-Mance near the base of the mountain or go over to Parc La Fontaine in the Plateau, where you can see performances at the park’s open-air Théâtre de Verdure. Escape the city in Parc Jean-Drapeau, just a short metro ride away from downtown – from July 6 to 7 and 13 to 14, celebrate Montréal’s cultural diversity with music, dancing, food and fun at family-oriented event Week-ends du monde, one of the many free things to do this summer in Montréal.

All summer long, Montréal's public markets and seasonal outdoor markets and spaces offer a variety of local food, drinks, entertainment and family-friendly activities, including at Jardins Gamelin outside Berri-UQAM metro station, Pop Montréal’s Marché des Possibles in Mile End, Village au Pied-du-Courant near the Jacques-Cartier Bridge and the Old Port’s Marché des Éclusiers. Hop on bikes to discover Montréal via its numerous cycling paths. Find all this and more at your fingertips with My Official Montréal City Guide, a travel app that lets you experience the city like a Montrealer.

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Summer festival fun

If you're here in summer, you'll no doubt find yourself at one of Montréal’s many summer festivals. The Festival International de Jazz de Montréal celebrates its 40th year from June 26 to July 6, with hundreds of jazz, blues, rock, hip hop and pop concerts starting at mid-day on several stages downtown in Place des Festivals and on a new stage in the family-oriented Verdun neighbourhood. Circus spectacles delight all ages as international festival MONTRÉAL COMPLÈTEMENT CiRQUE takes to the city's stages, streets and parks from July 4 to 14 – catch early-evening performances on Saint-Denis Street and at Jardins Gamelin plus outdoor activities and shows in neighbourhoods across Montréal. Comedy fest Just For Laughs brings joy to Place des Festivals with entertainers, a playful kids zone, a street festival and a parade from July 10 to 28. If your kid loves comics and superheroes, make Montréal Comiccon a must – the major convention runs from July 5 to 7.

Festival International Nuits D’Afrique brings the best of African and African-influenced music to Montréal from July 9 to 21, with music concerts, instrument demos, dance and storytelling outdoors. There's more food and family activities at A Taste of the Caribbean from July 11 to 14. Haiti on Fire! glows with music, theatre, dance and more from July 22 to 28 in Parc La Fontaine. See performances outdoors by Indigenous artists from Canada and around the world at the Montréal First Peoples festival from August 6 to 14. The OSM Classical Spree features concerts for families from August 7 to 11. And electronic music and digital arts festival MUTEK also welcomes families to hear music outdoors in Place des Festivals from August 20 to 25.

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City sights and sounds

Join Montréal's Canada Day celebrations on July 1 with an evening of fireworks and live music in the Old Port of Montréal. Stay up late to see the brilliantly creative fireworks set to music for L’International des Feux Loto-Québec on Wednesday and Saturday nights from June 29 to July 27 – watch from La Ronde amusement park, the Old Port or a rooftop patio. Get a birds-eye view of the city from the Montréal Tower at Olympic Park, on observation wheel La Grande Roue de Montréal, and from 46 floors up at the Observatoire Place Ville Marie.

Cirque du Soleil's stunning Alegria impresses and inspires with world-class circus arts performers, incredible costumes and beautiful design, with shows until July 21 under the blue-and-white big top in the Old Port of Montréal. Repercussion Theatre's Shakespeare-in-the-Park stages comedy Measure for Measure from July 11 to August 11 in city parks, including July 16 and 17 in Westmount Park and August 2 at Mont Royal Cemetery, while Théâtre La Roulotte's children's theatre show Cache-Cache tours parks from June 26 to August 16. And catch Montréal's Major League Soccer team the Montréal Impact playing at Saputo Stadium, and CFL team the Montréal Alouettes at Percival-Molson Memorial Stadium.

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Museums, nature and culture

Kid-friendly museums and galleries abound in Montréal – some even offer free entry to kids 12 and under. Take a kid-friendly tour through the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, where kids can take art workshops on the weekend. See history from a new perspective in interactive exhibitions at the McCord Museum, Stewart Museum and Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Archaeology and History Complex, featuring multimedia shows, tours and outdoor family activities every Sunday in summer. Experiment, play and explore in hands-on activities and exhibitions at the Montréal Science Centre and IMAX theatre. And watch kids' eyes light up when they see the dinosaur skeletons and fossils at the Redpath Museum. Other indoor activities for families range from rock climbing at Horizon Roc Climbing Center to ice skating indoors at Atrium Le 1000 downtown to laser tag.

Dive into the natural world at the Space For Life, featuring the Montréal Botanical Garden's extensive grounds and greenhouse and the immersive Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium. At the Ecomuseum Zoo, spot over a hundred animals native to Québec – like bears, otters, wolves, hawks and caribou. Barbie fans can see her style transformations through the decades at the free Barbie Expo downtown, while hundreds of celebrities and historical figures are rendered lifelike in wax at Grévin MONTRÉAL. For those obsessed with trains, go full steam to Exporail / The Canadian Railway Museum. And take a break with a book at Librairie Drawn & Quarterly (one of the city's many great bookstores), at the Grande Bibliothèque downtown or any of the Montréal's kid-friendly libraries.

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Family day trips

For the adventurous family, explore the regions around Montréal. Take a short day trip out of town or spend the weekend in the great outdoors. Among the excellent places to hike, camp, swim and enjoy all kinds of outdoor activities, check out the Centre de villégiature Tremblant and other areas in the Laurentians or in the Lanaudière region north of the city. Just south-east of Montréal, discover the Montérégie region's orchards, vineyards and maple groves. In Montréal and off-island, you'll always find something fun and memorable to do with your family.

Robyn Fadden

Robyn Fadden, blogger

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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