Feel like you need to getaway from the relentless winter? Montreal is the place for your Spring Break! Not only is Montreal a top travel destination, it’s also a city with amazing outdoor, cultural, food and educational activities for families. When it comes to inspiring destinations for spring break, Montreal can’t be overlooked.
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Spring Break Montreal
There are many reasons to visit Montreal anytime of year. During spring break, Montreal really comes alive. It’s also THE festival city. There are festivals for movies, comedies, dance, winter and more. No matter what time of year you visit there is a festival taking place.
If entertainment isn’t your thing, how about world class shopping? The downtown multi-level underground city allows you to shop at over 1,000 stores without venturing outside. With over 30 kilometres of shops, restaurants and hotels, freak spring break storms (rare, I promise!) won’t hamper your visit. Not sure where to go? You can take an underground city tour.
If all that isn’t enough, Montreal has more restaurants per capita than any city in North America. Of course, you have to try one of the city’s MANY types of poutine, but you can also get literally ANY type of food you’d like.
And if we’re talking about food, I got to mention my favourite… FOOD TRUCKS! Montreal has so many food trucks, they have a food truck festival the first Friday of the month during the summer. And the rest of the year you can find food trucks throughout Old Montreal.
Montreal has something for every traveller and an abundance of things to keep families with kids occupied. There is so much to do in Montreal during spring break, it’s hard to narrow it down. Below are a few of my favourite day trips in Montreal, but if you’ve got more time, 3 days in Montreal is tops.
Best museums in Montreal
Montreal has a crazy number of museums on everything imaginable. One of the lesser known ones is great for travellers because it’s found in the Montreal Eaton Centre. Grévin Museum is a wax museum with over 120 characters.
Currently, Chocolats Favoris is bringing a Willie Wanka-ish world of chocolate alive with a temporary exhibit. You can learn about the history of chocolate, enjoy free tastings and workshops on the weekends and of course activities for spring break and Easter.
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts offers fine art in all forms and is one of Canada’s most visited museum. It’s also a favourite with kids of all ages. Their ‘four-hands’ workshops are great for pre-schoolers and their themed workshops entertain kids six-years and older.
Additionally, they have more in-depth drop-in workshops suited for older kids. Their activities are usually free for kids accompanied by an adult, but check their website for times.
We couldn’t talk about museums without the McCord Museum. The McCord Museum has interactive activities where the entire family must work as a team to explore the Museum’s collection. They conduct a treasure hunt search for exploration cards and follow a discovery guide to enhance their visit.
With over one million pieces of artwork, fashion, photographs and more, there’s a lot to discover. It helps too that kids aged 3 to 12 can visit for free!
Visit Old Montreal
Visiting the Old Port of Montreal is always one of my favourite things to do in the city. Whenever we have guests, I never roll my eyes at spending the day in the Old Port of Montreal, regardless of the time of year.
You can spend a day outside wandering around, traversing the Voiles en Voiles rope course on a pirate ship, or in the labyrinth maze. If you’re not sure where to go, you can take a VIP walking tour.
You don’t even always need to plan something because most weekends year-round already have activities taking place in the public space on the Old Montreal docks.
If you’re looking for more of an educational experience, check out the Montreal Science Centre or the Montreal Archaeology Museum for lots of hands-on activities.
Or, you can just take in the awe of the cobblestone pathways and world-class dining. If you happen to be there on a bad weather day check out the IMAX theatre in the Science Center to watch specials on anything from volcanoes to pandas.
Hiking Mount Royal
When I first moved to Montreal, I didn’t understand Montrealer’s obsession with Mount Royal Park. That’s probably because I didn’t understand the sheer magnitude and importance of the park. Later I found out Mount Royal Park was designed by the same man (Frederick Law Olmsted) that designed New York City’s Central Park.
Drawing over 5 million visitors a year on its 470 acres, it’s not surprising Mount Royal Park has historic sites, picnic spots, and scenic areas, especially around Beaver Lake.
This man-made lake is shaped like a four-leaf clover and is a go-to spot for walking, boating, picnics or just hanging out.
I love Mount Royal Park because it offers an easy way to explore nature and get outside. And there are many ways to get to the park. The most popular is to head up Peel Street and catch the ‘serpentine’ road.
You can also take Olmsted Road via Park Avenue or the popular weekend workout path from Côte-des-Neiges Road, that brings you up the Trafalgar staircase.
Although it’s a 45-minute walk to the top, you should plan 3-hours to explore Mount Royal Park. You’ll want to spent some time admiring the iconic Montreal cross at the summit. The cross has sat at the top of Mount Royal since 1643. It’s been updated since then with LEDs making it visible from downtown.
Consult this map to plan which path you’d like and pay attention to the elevation, too.
If you’re not outdoorsy or your spring break weather isn’t cooperating, visit the Kondiaronk Belvedere at the summit. A short drive and easy 10-minutes walk from the parking lot, you’ll see a wide semicircle viewing point in front of the Chalet du Mont-Royal. This is probably one of the best views in the city and allows you see downtown Montreal, the Biosphère (to the left) and the St. Lawrence River.
Where to stay in Montreal with family
Being a decent sized city, there’s lots of options for where to stay in Montreal, but if you’re travelling with your family, you’ll want to be choosy. Jody and I caught up at Le Centre Sheraton Montreal, where she stayed with her daughter at the end of February – just weeks before spring break officially started.
You can’t beat the location of Le Centre Sheraton. It’s downtown and steps away from where tons of festivals take place. It’s also less than a five-minute walk to Centre Bell, where the Montreal Canadiens play. Jody was there during game night and didn’t hear a thing!
The biggest draw for families would have to be the hotel’s massive salt water pool. Light streams in from floor to ceiling windows, and even in the dead of winter it feels like you’re at a resort. In spring, their large patio is open so you can lounge outside.
The fitness room is 24/7 and their spa has been run by the same family for decades. Locals working downtown head here for their massages, so you know it’s good.
If a caregiver has to do any work, guest rooms are equipped with a round table that works as a desk and adjusts to standing. If you’re on a club floor or have Bonvoy Elite Status, you get access to the Club Lounge – the largest in Montreal with a fantastic spread.
Have you ever been to Montreal? What’s your favourite time of year to visit this iconic city?
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Guest post by Paige McEachren
Paige McEachren spent over 20 years working in corporate communications for world-leading technology, health care and pharmaceutical companies. In 2015, she decided to leave the professional workplace to stay home and help her young kids navigate life with ADHD and dyslexia. When not taking care of her kids (three including her husband), she loves to plan family vacations, struggles with the love of baking and challenges herself to try new things. If she’s lucky, she finds herself a bit of quiet time. Follow Paige on Instagram or Twitter.