I have to preface this post about Montreal with a quick disclosure: this is an honest look at OUR experience.
It’s written from the perspective of someone who travels the world with her kids. I am constantly searching for unique and exciting adventures for our family. Though this might not be everyone’s experience/opinion about Montreal- this is ours.
Last summer our family took an incredible 2-week journey through 13 states. I did ridiculous amounts of research to insure that every stop made good use of our time. While I would have loved to spend weeks exploring each location, we didn’t have the luxury of unlimited time on this trip. So obviously weren’t able to do everything, but it was important to highlight the best of each destination.
Most of the cities I researched had about 5-10 things I really wanted to see. Narrowing down the options was probably my biggest challenge in planning the whole trip. But then…there was Montreal. And somehow, the dilemma seemed to be the exact opposite. I couldn’t quite figure out what I was going to do to entertain my children for an entire day in that city.
Had Montreal been a city in the US, I easily would have cut it from our trip for lack of unique, kid-friendly activities. However, I’d already become obsessed with crossing the border into Canada and “experiencing” it. (Read more: Canada: Crossing The Border) So off to Montreal we went. During the hours of drive time my husband kept asking me, “so, what do you have planned for Montreal?”
If I were being completely honest I would have said “not much.” But fearing that he’d turn the car around, I remained enthusiastic.
From everything I read prior to our visit, Montreal is an awesome tourist destination. It’s a great city known for its shopping, European atmosphere, fine dining and nightlife. Unfortunately, NONE of those things appeal to my children. In searching for unique family-friendly entertainment in Montreal, I really came up empty.
Don’t get me wrong- there’s PLENTY to do with kids in Montreal. For example, the city is full of parks with swing sets, slides and walking trails. There are also several movie theaters and roller skating rinks. But for us, Montreal lacked distinctive options for one-of-a-kind experiences for my kids.
At the end of the day, I chose to do the two most popular tourist attractions in the city: the Mont-Royal city overlook, and the Notre-Dame Basilica tour. In comparison to some of the other amazing city views we’ve experienced, The Mont-Royal overlook was nothing to write home about. On the other hand, the Notre-Dame Basilica was one of the most impressive and beautiful churches I’ve ever entered. My kids still talk about the architecture and lighting candles there.
As you might imagine, those two activities accounted for only a few hours of our day. We spent the rest of our time walking the streets trying to absorb the European culture and checking out several cute bakeries. And then, ultimately, we let the kids swim in our hotel pool and relax. Admittedly, after a few fast-pace touristy days in other cities, the downtime wasn’t horrible.
In hindsight, do I regret spending a day in Montreal? Not at all.
Am I dying to go back with my kids? Not at all.
As I mentioned in my post about crossing the Canadian border, our family is REALLY looking forward to experiencing some other cool Canadian cities like Niagara Falls, Toronto, Banff and Vancouver.
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