Indoor family activities in Montréal
NOTE: As of June 2020, Montréal is moving toward a progressive reopening of businesses and a return to many public activities, while respecting public health guidelines on social distancing and the use of non-medical masks. Readers are encouraged to visit the websites of the businesses and attractions mentioned in this article or to call to verify whether they are open and what their current hours are.
This article was updated on June 11, 2019.
When you’re travelling with your kids, indoor-fun options are a must no matter what the season. Montréal saves the day with all kinds of activities, from adventurous physical feats to skill-testing games and educational entertainment.
Fun and games
If you’re out and about exploring sights and museums downtown, take a play-break at the Montréal Forum’s bowling alley, games centre and billiards room or catch a film at the multiplex. Stretch your legs at year-round indoor skating rink Atrium Le 1000, go swimming and bounce around in the aquatic playground at the huge Olympic Pool or skateboard and scooter indoors at Le TAZ. There's more fun in the dark at Laser Quest's high-energy games of hit-or-miss. Team up in a fun game of NERF Hero, while combat meets archery at nearby DodgeBow. Kids of all ages are welcome to navigate the obscure mazes at Laser Game Evolution. Bowl or aim to win at the largest multi-level laser tag arena in Québec, BoulZeye, Pub & Attractions. And go for gold at the Canadian Olympic Experience – create an athletic profile, try virtual bobsleigh, track and field, fencing and freestyle skiing, and discover Canada's Olympic history.
Explore the planet and beyond
No matter what their age, kids will be wowed by the wonders of the outside world indoors at Space for Life, where the secret life of insects comes to light at the Montréal Insectarium (closed for work), the vastness of the universe is within reach at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium and tropical weather never ends at the Montréal Botanical Garden Greenhouse (the critters, birds and fish of the Biodôme return in 2020 after major renovations). Over at Parc Jean-Drapeau, tour the geodesic dome of the Biosphère Environment Museum and learn about local history at the Stewart Museum. And indoors and outdoors at the Ecomuseum Zoo, spot over a hundred animals native to Québec, like bears, otters, wolves, hawks and caribou.
Engage in some serious mind games as you work together to get out of tricky scenarios in escape game adventures in Montréal. A/Maze Escape Games features a prison break, an alien maze, an interactive game with actors and more, challenging each team to come up with solutions in a white-knuckle countdown. Get into more exciting problem-solving and code-cracking fun at Laser Quest's Key Quest Escape Room. And less tense but just as fun, find your way through the Old Port's SOS Labyrinthe in the daytime or as the sun sets.
Climb the walls
If you’re a family who thrives on physical challenges, reach new heights at indoor rock climbing gym Horizon Roc Climbing Center, with dozens of top-rope climbing and rope-free bouldering routes, short intro-to-climbing classes for all ages. Horizon Roc also features the Acro∞Parc high-ropes obstacle course and 25-metre zip line for ages 8 and up. Refuel at these great places to eat with kids.
Geek out with the gang
Got budding or full-fledged geeks in your gang? Then a trip to the Montréal Science Centre is a must for interactive educational entertainment, from hands-on creativity labs to giant-screen adventures in the IMAX® TELUS Theatre. Among Montréal's kid-friendly museums, play and learn at Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal History and Archaeology Complex's Pirates or privateers? and Archaeo-Adventure interactive exhibitions and immersive cinema experiences. Meet super heroes and other comic book legends at Montreal Comiccon every July and celebrate all things anime at Otakuthon in August. Learn how to wield a lightsaber and fight like a Jedi at The Force Academy or book a game of Quidditch, cricket, soccer, archery-battle, nerf-battle and more at the Ministry of Cricket & Other Homeless Sports. Kids can climb aboard historic locomotives and hear stories all about trains at Exporail / The Canadian Railway Museum. Young fashionistas can see Barbie through the decades at the Barbie Expo downtown.
See a show
Montréal is not only home-base to Cirque du Soleil but several other acclaimed circus troupes who perform year-round and during July's MONTRÉAL COMPLÈTEMENT CiRQUE festival. Catch an acrobatic circus show at La TOHU circus centre and see incredible dance, theatre, opera, the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal or Broadway hits at Place des Arts. Geordie Productions creates shows that really connect with kids and Centaur Theatre presents children's theatre on Saturday mornings. Sit in on storytelling and other literary events at the Blue Metropolis Children's Festival. The springtime Montréal International Children's Film Festival sparks young minds and September's Festival Stop Motion Montreal includes family-friendly screenings.
In the driver's seat
Let kids get behind the wheel and drive to their hearts’ content at Action 500 Karting & Paintball, the largest indoor go-cart centre and paintball arena in Canada, with 5 asphalt courses covering more than 73,000 square feet, equipped with juniors-only courses and double carts for parents to accompany kids. Or fulfil that need for speed at Vortex Racing in the West Island, where racing simulators offer up to 2.5 Gs of force in a realistic race-car experience.
Climb into the cockpit of the Aerosim Experience full-scale flight simulator with a professional pilot instructor and choose from thousands of destinations, views and weather conditions—a 60-minute junior package lets 13 to 16-year-olds fly a Boeing with friends or family as passengers. On the other hand, find out what it’s like to jump out of a plane without actually jumping out of a plane: SkyVenture Montréal is an indoor wind tunnel that lets anyone age 5 and up experience the thrill of a free-fall. Or catch some air with every jump at state-of-the-art trampoline park iSaute.
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.