Summer fun for the whole family in Montréal

Canal de Lachine
Martine Rhéaume

Martine Rhéaume

This article was updated on July 13, 2023.

School's out for summer and the island of Montréal is buzzing with things to do.  Terrasses, pools, museums, splash pads: there’s no end to the choices for family fun in Montréal this summer!

CA LEM

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. While you’re at it, why not enjoy a frozen treat? From Asian-style rolled ice cream to Italian gelato or classic soft-serve dipped in the coating of your choice, frozen desserts are all the rage in Montréal. For the scoop on where to find the best scoop, including dipped, vegan and classic ice creams, check out this list.

Montréal being a city of festivals and street entertainment, it's not unusual to see Montrealers and visitors alike gathering in public squares and pedestrian streets, including the famous avenue du Mont-Royal (from Saint-Laurent to Fullum), Wellington in Verdun (de l'Église metro stop), and Sainte-Catherine from the Village (Beaudry metro stop). Borrow a Bixi,, walk, take the bus or the metro (it's free for children aged 6 to 11 accompanied by an adult). Go ahead, the city is yours and your family's, for a few months.

 

Pirates or Privateers?

Old Montréal

Ahoy, parents! Have you been to Come aboard! Pirates or Privateers? This exhibit at the Pointe-à-Callière Museum lets your pint-sized buccaneers learn about pirates and even pretend to be one. The exhibit was fully revamped recently and now offers a refreshed experience. All summer long, you can take a cruise down a long and not at all tranquil river with the exhibition Egypt - Three Thousand Years on the Nile, a journey to the heart of a civilisation. Are there real mummies? Yes! Children of all ages will find lots to learn about this incredibly rich period of history.

Discover Favourites! Our Collections on Display, an exhibition in which the museum illustrates Montréal life through 400 "favourite" objects selected from among the thousands it holds.

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 from aboard La Grande roue de Montréal. Why not give your kids a challenge during the ride: count church steeples, name local bridges and figure out which directions are north, east, south and west.

 

SOS Labyrinthe

 

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  Québec City 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.

 

Caffe Un Po Di Piu

 

Treat your family to a meal at one of your favourite restaurants or try a new spot in the area. So many options, but 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 delectable ice cream options or a classic beaver tail.

 

OASIS immersion - L'odyssée Pacifique

Downtown

Looking for something cool to do with kids on a sweltering day? Rediscover the simple joy of wandering through a downtown mall. Going down Sainte-Catherine Street, from east to west, you can duck inside Complexe Desjardins, the Centre EatonPlace Montréal Trust, Les Cours Mont-Royal and the Alexis Nihon shopping centre, which has a little of everything. As of July 5, check out Sweet Folie, a playful walk through a zany universe created by powerful visual projections and stunning sound by OASIS immersion . You won’t be disappointed! 

 

Dans ma cour... ç'a du chien !

 

The transformation of Place Ville-Marie is complete and quite frankly, it is sublime. Lounge on the esplanade around the big ring or step into the bright Cathcart Market for some of the city's finest grab-and-go food. There’s such a selection that even the pickiest of eaters will find something they love! If you have kids in tow, you might want to avoid happy hour on Thursdays: it gets pretty crowded, but is still packed with atmosphere. A few steps away, you can find fresh treats and prepared delicacies at the Marché Artisan market, located in the lobby of the Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth (also accessible via the underground passageways).

You’ve heard right: there’s always something going on in the Quartier des spectacles entertainment district. In the summer, one festival rolls into the next with activities often starting mid-afternoon during the week and even earlier on the weekends. Arrived before the festivities? Treat yourself to a frozen treat from Chocolats favori or Have aux glaces and let the world know about your newest fav ice cream spot on social media. This square kilometre is packed with cultural activities, including the indoor and outdoor facilities of the Esplanade Tranquille, at the corner of Sainte-Catherine and Clark. This public space and associated activities is a blissful haven of peace and beauty nestled in the downtown core, designed to impress on a major scale.

 

Chinese garden - Montréal Botanical Garden – Space for Life

Hochelaga-Maisonneuve

Hochelaga-Maisonneuve may be a densely urban area, but nature is never far away. At the Biodôme, you can check out lynx, monkeys, exotic birds and even penguins in their brand-new habitat. Outside is where you’ll find 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. Be sure to check out the Insectarium and Planetarium for a creepy-crawly, out-of-this-world experience!

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 Café Canard 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.

 

Noble Café

From the Plateau to Villeray

Always buzzing, Mount Royal 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 with your library card in hand 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!

 

ÉcoTours Montréal - Parc Jean-Drapeau - Quadricycles

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. A favourite among cyclists, the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve race track is an ideal spot to train.  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 floating obstacle course.

Updated but with all of its old charm, the La Ronde amusement park is the place for adrenaline-seeking families. Rides, shows, thrills: everything you need for an exciting day out!

 

H2O Adventures

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. Remember to take and apply your sunscreen!  Craving ice cream? Atwater Market's Calem serves up Instagram-worthy cones while Havre aux glaces along the canal 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 or gelato at Mollo in Pointe Saint-Charles.

East of Atwater, you've got the Japanese pub Otto,  Barley restaurant, the September surf café andthe 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.

 

Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue - Ecomuseum Zoo

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

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.

See articles by Martine