Montreal: the Easiest Family-Friendly City Ever?

Montreal at dusk (Photo: Thinkstock)

With its old-world charm, the finest dining and shopping, and its rich cultural scene, Montreal has a lot to love. But the most amazing way to see the city is through a child’s eyes. Here are the best things to do for kids — or for the kid in you.

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts


Young visitors in front of an oil on canvas painting by Gerhard Richter at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Photo: Allison Weiss Brady)

In downtown Montreal, this museum occupies both sides of Rue Sherbrooke; an underground tunnel connects the two sections. There is a range of contemporary floor-to-ceiling artwork with bright colors, circular, and linear shapes for kids to enjoy, as well as broken-down boats emerging from the walls, a motorcycle sculpture with a fake oil spill that many are tricked at first glance that it is real, and gift stores with a variety of art books.

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Currently the “Fabulous Fabrege, Jeweller to the Czars” collection is on display, showcasing gorgeous gilded eggs decorated with crowns, light blue enameled picture frames, and royal family photos. One of the most recent arts and crafts project for kids: making and decorating precious boxes, which can hold everything from chocolates to your secrets.

Bagnoles & Bobinette


Outside Bagnoles & Bobinette are mini-cars for tykes and a red carpet for the youngest VIPs (Photo: Bagnoles & Bobinette)

This quaint two-level toy store in the heart of Old Montreal, an area of Montreal with a vintage European flair, has the best curb side appeal. With old-fashioned kids’ cars parked out front, and a red carpet laid out for your youngest VIPs to enter the store, it makes quite an impression. There are toys from the UK, books and games in French and English, mini-pianos, huge bunny rabbit dolls with tutus, play doll houses with families, magnetic dress up dolls, and fantastic pirate ships. Favorite purchase: Mini Logic games for about $7, including sequencing, pattern, and logic games for the whole family.

Horse & Carriage Ride


Exploring Old Montreal on a horse and carriage ride (Photo: Allison Weiss Brady)

On��Rue de la Commune Ouest in front of the Old Port, you can release your inner princess and explore the cobblestone streets of Old Montreal on a beautiful horse and carriage. Your driver will explain some of the history of the area, introducing you to landmarks including the Notre-Dame Basilica church and Place Jacques Cartier, a square with lovely outdoor restaurants where you can eat crepes, buy jewelry from street vendors ,or get your caricature done. You’ll pass a mixture of art galleries, souvenir shops, and student violinists practicing in the streets. For a 30-minute ride, the price is approximately $44.

Tandem Bike Ride


Tandem bike ride — the more, the merrier (Photo: Allison Weiss Brady)

Stop by Eco or one of the other on-location bike stands around Old Port, to take a leisurely tandem bike ride for up to six people. Enjoy beautiful waterfront scenery, people watching, and summer flowers in full bloom. Go at your own pace; afterward, you can enjoy an ice cream treat from one of the trucks right on the path. A one-hour rental is $68.

Fruit Picking at Domaine du Flanc-Sud


Children picking blueberries during the season (Photo: Allison Weiss Brady)

About 45 minutes outside downtown Montreal in an area called Mont Saint-Hilaire is a quaint farm where visitors can pick a variety of fresh fruits. Depending on the time of year, there are blueberries, apples, or cherries. The farm is open 8 a.m.-noon, and in warmer months it is best to start earlier in the morning, as it gets hot as the day goes on.

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For blueberry picking, guests pay per person, and the group is assigned a particular bush to pick and asked to gather all the fruit on it before proceeding to the next bush. While the adults are having the fruit weighed, children can jump in bounce houses and explore the animals at the farm.

isaute Trampoline Park


Guests old and young enjoying the iSaute Trampoline Park (Photo: iSaute Trampoline Park)

About 30 minutes outside downtown Montreal, the town of Laval is a hotspot for many kids’ activities. Not to be missed is iSaute Trampoline Park, an indoor space where you bounce, flip, and spin your way into having a great time. Climbing, sliding, and throwing Nerf balls are all part of the fun. Call ahead to purchase tickets, as space is limited and it fills up quickly. One-hour or two-hour time slots are available, and don’t be surprised if your kids ask to go back. It is fun family bonding and great exercise too.

La Ronde


Vol Ultime (Ultimate Flight) swing ride at La Ronde (Photo: Allison Weiss Brady)

Also in Laval is La Ronde, a Six Flags Park: Eastern Canada’s largest amusement park, with rides for children and adults of almost any age. For an easy, leisurely ride, take the train that goes throughout the park. Be sure and grab a map, as it has a detailed picture of the park, as well as ride information broken down into height-requirement categories, which makes it easy to see which rides would be most appropriate for your youngsters.

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For younger children, the best ride is the Pommes d’Api (Small Apples), where about three to four people can go up about 40 feet in the air in a circular apple tree and spin around slowly. The Disco Ronde (Round Disco) fits two at a time in a car that remains at street level and spins, twists, and turns; it’s a classic carousel with pink and white ponies decorated with painted ribbons. For the truly adventurous, try the Vol Ultime (Ultimate Flight) ride, where you sit two-by-two and swing almost 150 feet or 15 stories high above the park, flying at almost 40 mph.

SkyVenture Montreal


Flying high at SkyVenture Montreal (Photo: SkyVenture Montreal)

Saving the best for last in Laval is this indoor skydiving adventure for kids and adults. It’s the experience of a lifetime. Participants get briefed in a classroom, put on skydiving suits, and get to fly in a large zero-gravity vertical tunnel with an expert instructor. For the ultimate thrill, finish off your skydive with a tandem ride, where the instructor holds your arms and spins you all the way to the top of the enclosed wind chamber and back down again about three times. You can also sign up for individual training and lessons to excel at the craft. At the end of each session, the instructors will give a demonstration of their expert skills, looking like Spider-Man as they slide down the tunnel and fly upside down in a rotating circle. Here is your chance to act like your own super hero.

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