Summer fun for the whole family in Montréal

Martine Rhéaume

Martine Rhéaume is a strategic writer. The texts she writes or edits are elegant yet precise, direct yet pleasant. Martine first got a degree in musicology before getting an advanced graduate diploma in Marketing Communications (HEC Montréal, 2016). She worked as an editor, then an advertising copywriter for TC Médias Livres from 2011 to 2016. Since 2017, Martine is editor in chief at C2 Montréal.

School's out for summer — and so is homeschooling— just in time for family activities to reopen across the Island of Montréal. First, it's the patios, then it's indoor dining rooms, water parks and pools. Families will have tons to choose from this summer in Montréal.

Across Montréal

Guided tours are a great way to venture out of your neighbourhood or discover new aspects of it, including enchanting back alleys, the hidden corners of the Plateau Mont-Royal or historic spots in Old Montréal. Or would you rather explore on your own? The STM's Family Outings program starts June 23 and lasts all summer long. It lets up to five kids ages 6 to 11 ride the bus or metro for free when accompanied by an adult with a valid ticket. Plus, with free parking downtown on weekends until September, your family can discover the city without breaking the bank.

Frozen treats are a simple option that everyone loves, and Montréal offers lots of variations on the theme! There's Asian rolled ice cream, Italian gelato or classic soft serve dipped in your choice of delicious coating. To help you find the best spots for ice cream, including dipped cones and vegan options, check out our suggestions for Montréal's best ice cream.

And for bigger cravings, don’t forget that you can take advantage of MTLàTABLE Off-trail edition until October 11 to explore the culinary scene and discover new flavours! Many participating restaurants are family-friendly.

Old Montréal

Ahoy, parents! Have you been to Come aboard! Pirates or Privateers? This exhibit at the Pointe-à-Callière Museum lets your bite-size buccaneeers learn about pirates and even pretend to be one. The exhibit was fully revamped recently and now offers a refreshed experience. Older kids will appreciate A Railroad to Dreams. This temporary exhibit demystifies the world of trains and how this mode of transportation changed the face of the world. Family packages and children's rates are available. Buy your tickets online (without a reserved time slot) and check out the guidelines for visitors.

On the shores of the St. Lawrence River, the Marguerite Bourgeoys Historical Site gives families the chance to explore an exceptional heritage site. If you're into history and archaeology, you'll love exploring this unique spot. There's a lot to see and learn! Don't forget to climb the tower to catch breathtaking views of the river. 

Ready to take your summer to the next level? Soar high into the sky for a bird's eye view of the islands dotting the river and the city's rooftops. La Grande roue de Montréal is a giant ferris wheel that provides each family bubble with their own cabin. If you're riding with kids, give them a challenge such as counting church steeples, naming local bridges and figuring out which directions are north, east, south and west.

Thrill seekers can head to MTL Zipline, where you can fly over the Old Port of Montréal! Then there's Quick Jump, which offers bungee jumping, and Voiles en voiles, where kids of all ages can explore an aerial course that runs through some majestic ships, like those used by European explorers. Rain or shine, SOS Labyrinth invites you to make your way through an exciting indoor maze. The Old Port offers tons of activities, like boat tours and quadricycle rentals. And if you can convince your spouse to take care of the kids, consider popping into Bota-Bota Spa, located right on the water!

Château Ramezay is both a museum and historic site in Old Montréal. The latest temporary exhibition is Montréal Landscapes – Power Corporation of Canada Artworks Collection, while the permanent exhibition is Life at the Château: Splendour and Misery in New France. And with family admission (up to 3 children) coming in under $25, visiting this historic site is an affordable option.

Treat your family to a meal at one of your favourite restaurants or try a new spot in the area. Be sure to check the province's reopening plan so that you know what's open and what's not. This will help you avoid unpleasant surprises, especially since restrictions are subject to change. Where to eat? Mélisse serves sandwiches, salads, fresh pasta, grilled meats and desserts. Un po di piu offers Italian cuisine while Olive et Gourmando has gained a huge following with its simple yet sophisticated menus. One bite and you'll know why these establishments are some of the most popular in town. Try the memorable pastries at Maison Christian Faure or treat yourself to a full dining experience at Holder, a trendy brasserie.

While in Old Montréal, keep an eye out for ice cream options or a classic beavertail. You never know, Mr. Crémeux, the homemade ice cream truck run by Pastaga, could be right around the corner.


Do the kids need something to do on a sweltering day? Rediscover the simple joy of wandering through a downtown mall in search of little treasures. Going down Sainte-Catherine Street, from east to west, you can duck inside Complexe Desjardins, the Centre Eaton, Place Montréal Trust, Les Cours Mont-Royal and the Alexis Nihon shopping centre, which has a little of everything. Try something completely different with an immersive experience that involves powerful visual projections and stunning sound at OASIS immersion at the Palais des Congrès (reservation required). Feeling peckish? Try the vegan fare at LOV on De la Montagne Street. These air-conditioned options will get your teens walking without even realizing it.

To the south is Place Ville-Marie, which remains open during its transformation. A little further along, fresh treats and prepared delicacies await you at Marché artisans, which is located in the lobby of the Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth (also accessible through the underground tunnels).

In the Entertainment District, flex your brain muscle with the Giant Chessboards on Sainte-Catherine between De Bleury and Saint-Urbain (until June 27). Over at Place des Festivals, Dans ma cour, ç'a du chien is a sculpture exhibit with pieces that range from kitsch to endearing to Instagrammable. Outdoor concerts will be announced shortly — stay tuned!


Hochelaga-Maisonneuve may be a densely urban area, but nature's never far away. Now that the Biodôme has reopened, you can check out lynx, monkeys, exotic birds and even penguins in their brand-new habitat. Just outside is the Botanical Garden, an ideal place for a stroll and a picnic. The Chinese Garden and First Nations Garden will make you feel like you're a long way out of the city.

Parc Maisonneuve is located nearby, with bike paths, jogging trails and designated areas for inline skating. You can grab an iced coffee or snack at Arhoma on Place Simon-Valois, at Hoche Café on the east side of Pie-IX, at Atomic Café, which is a little further west, or at Hélico Café. Not far from there, you can practice your swing at the Centre d'exercice de golf driving range. Reserve an enclosure, take a class or complete the Golf Municipal de Montréal's 9-hole course to get into this sport, which is enjoying a certain renaissance.

To escape from the city without too much travel time, head to the Boucherville Islands Park, where there are bike paths, hiking trails, fishing and boats for rent. Since there are campgrounds and food options — including ice cream, hooray! —  your family is sure to love it. Be sure to buy a pass in advance and call ahead to reserve rental equipment.

From the Plateau to Villeray

On the majestic Mount Royal, follow the Family Nature Immersion Guide, which was designed to help children ages 5 and under discover this green space. On weekends, go to the Kondiaronk Lookout for the Walk in the Woods activity. The "mountain" is always a popular spot for walking, jogging and cycling, or just relaxing on a blanket. Pack a lunch and stay all day!

Les Fouines du Plateau is an outdoor activity that leads you to nine distinct destinations in the neighbourhood. From public art to architecture, you'll get to know the hidden gems of the Plateau Mont-Royal. It's an experience to be enjoyed at your own pace.

If you're into tennis, try playing on the artificial turf at the Lafontaine Park tennis courts. Call in advance to reserve a court. Montréal boasts dozens of swimming pools, some of which are even located within major parks, like Jarry Park and Laurier Park. What better place for family outings or for teens to chill with their friends? If you need a cool drink, stop at one of the many local cafés or test your willpower at État de choc (odds are you'll come away with a box of chocolates). If you're ready to sit down at a restaurant or outdoor patio, try an Italian dish at Fiorellino (Laurier) or a bistro classic at Enfants Terribles (Bernard). Over near Jean-Talon Market, Pile ou glace on Saint-Laurent is one of Little Italy's best-kept secrets. Their affogato will put a spring in your step!

Island activities: Parc Jean-Drapeau and La Ronde

With easy metro access, Parc Jean-Drapeau is a bustling destination that offers breathtaking views of the city and activities for all tastes and ages. Consider a guided segway tour with Eco Tours or bring your bikes to enjoy the trails with the whole family. The Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve is currently being used as a vaccination site, but the rest of the time it's an ideal spot for cycling. The Parc Jean-Drapeau Aquatic Complex features world-class facilities that everyone can enjoy. Meanwhile, Jean-Doré Beach features light-coloured sand that will make you feel like you're on an exotic getaway. For active types, try Aquazilla, an inflatable obstacle course on the water.

La Ronde has refreshed its offering for adrenaline-seeking families. Reserve in advance and don't forget to bring a mask. Face coverings are required at all times in the theme park.

Lachine Canal and Pôle des Rapides

For swimming and sunbathing in the city, head to Verdun Beach. While you're in the area, enjoy the outdoor patios and ambiance on Wellington Street, which will be closed to vehicle traffic again this summer. Some choice destinations include Librairie de Verdun, Janine Café Brunch and Jack le Coq for unbelievable fried chicken.

Along the Lachine Canal, locals and visitors can sit down to enjoy take-out food, cycle on the bike path or enjoy time on the water by renting a canoe, kayak or pedal boat. Just don't forget to pack your mask and sunscreen for a safe experience. Craving ice cream? Atwater Market's Calem serves up cones in vibrant hues, while Havre aux glaces offers top-quality classic ice cream and sorbets.

Notre-Dame Street is lined with restaurants. West of Atwater Street, you'll find amazing pitas at Sumac, memorable sushi at Kioko, pastries and natural wine at Barbara vin, ice cream at Dallarose and fine foods at Pantry par Dany Bolduc. Over in Pointe Saint-Charles, Mollo is a choice destination for gelato. East of Atwater, you've got the Japanese pub OttoSlice + Soda restaurant and the Burgundy Lion pub.

If you want to burn off some energy, try tennis in the South-West borough this summer. La Vérendrye Park has tennis courts and mini-tennis courts (reservations required), which are ideal for anyone interested in taking up this racket sport. Over in Saint-Henri, Roland-Proulx and Jacques-Viger parks also have neighbourhood courts. If you're lucky, you'll find a free court to play on.

Wildlife on the West Island

You don't need to leave the Island of Montréal to see wildlife in a natural environment. Ecomuseum Zoo is home to otters, ducks, wolves, foxes and owls. It's just 30 minutes from the city centre. Don't have a car to get there? The commuter train (roughly 30 minutes from Vendôme Station) will get you close by. Then you'll have to take a taxi the rest of the way there. Don't forget to buy your tickets in advance.

Martine Rhéaume

Martine Rhéaume is a strategic writer. The texts she writes or edits are elegant yet precise, direct yet pleasant. Martine first got a degree in musicology before getting an advanced graduate diploma in Marketing Communications (HEC Montréal, 2016). She worked as an editor, then an advertising copywriter for TC Médias Livres from 2011 to 2016. Since 2017, Martine is editor in chief at C2 Montréal.

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