Winter in Montreal can provide unexpected surprises for families eager to explore. While the cold may seem intimidating, especially with children, there are numerous ways to enjoy a Montreal winter adventure without feeling isolated. We used more time to relax than usual, but still managed to fit in a variety of activities from my exciting list.
Where to Stay: DoubleTree By Hilton Montreal
When it comes to family travel, especially during the winter months, comfort, convenience, and location are vital. The DoubleTree by Hilton Montreal stands out as a top choice for many reasons, all contributing to an unforgettable Montreal winter adventure.
Delicious Welcome with Signature Cookies
Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted with the DoubleTree’s signature warm chocolate chip cookies. It’s more than a sweet treat; it’s a symbol of the warmth and hospitality that await you. Even the little ones will appreciate this delectable welcome after a chilly day exploring the city.
Easy Access to Key Attractions
The hotel’s strategic location allows easy access to Montreal’s essential winter attractions:
Subway Access: The nearby subway station connects you to various parts of the city, ensuring that Montreal’s winter delights are always within reach.
Underground City: A vast network of underground pathways filled with shops, restaurants, and more. Perfect for those extra cold days when you prefer to stay indoors.
Complexe Desjardins: Connected to the hotel, this shopping complex offers dining, shopping, and entertainment options, all without stepping into the cold.
Comfortable Stay with Modern Amenities
The DoubleTree by Hilton Montreal offers well-appointed rooms and suites, each designed with family comfort in mind. Amenities like free Wi-Fi, an indoor pool, and on-site dining options make your stay convenient and enjoyable. Whether you’re warming up by the fireplace in the lobby or relaxing in your cozy room, the hotel ensures a comfortable haven from the winter chill.
Unique Garage Experience
It might sound odd, but the garage’s inviting smell adds a quirky charm to your stay. Easily accessible parking with direct access to the hotel lobby not only keeps the car warm but adds an unexpected sensory delight. It’s the little details like this that make the DoubleTree a standout choice.
Embrace the Cold: Relaxing in a Montreal Winter
Winter in Montreal is synonymous with snow, ice, and invigorating cold. But it’s also a season of beauty, relaxation, and unique local experiences. Knowing how to embrace the cold can turn a Montreal winter into a treasured memory.
Packing for Cold Weather: Essential Tips
Packing for a winter adventure in Montreal requires some planning and thought. Here’s what you need to know:
- Layer Up: Start with thermal base layers and build with sweaters, fleece, and a waterproof, insulated outer layer.
- Protect Your Extremities: Warm gloves, thick socks, and a good winter hat are must-haves.
- Choose the Right Footwear: Waterproof, insulated boots are essential for navigating icy streets.
- Don’t Forget Accessories: Scarves, earmuffs, and hand warmers can add extra comfort.
- Consider a Backpack: Carrying a small backpack allows you to shed or add layers as needed throughout the day.
Local Insights: Embracing Montreal’s Winter Culture
Montrealers know how to enjoy winter. Here’s how you can join in:
- Explore Outdoor Activities: From ice skating at Parc La Fontaine to skiing at nearby resorts, Montreal offers a range of winter sports for all ages.
- Indulge in Cozy Cafés: Montreal’s cafés are renowned for their cozy ambiance. Sip a hot chocolate or café au lait as you watch the snowfall.
- Experience Winter Festivals: Don’t miss out on Montreal’s winter festivals like Igloofest and Fête des neiges, which celebrate winter with music, food, and fun.
- Relax at Indoor Pools and Spas: For those seeking relaxation, indoor pools, and spas offer a warm escape from the cold. Many hotels, including the DoubleTree by Hilton Montreal, provide these amenities.
Culinary Delights: Sampling Montreal’s Best
A Taste of Montreal’s Culinary Scene
Montreal is renowned for its vibrant food culture, reflecting the city’s diverse heritage and love for quality ingredients. During winter, the culinary scene takes on an even more comforting and warming tone, promising flavors that can thrill any palate. Here’s how to embark on a culinary journey in Montreal’s winter.
Breakfast and Brunch: Starting the Day Right
Eggspectation Complexe Desjardins: Kickstart your day with a hearty breakfast at Eggspectation. Located within the Complexe Desjardins, the restaurant offers an extensive menu, from classic eggs Benedict to creative omelettes. It’s the ideal place for fueling up before exploring the city.
Dive into Quebec’s Signature Dish: Poutine
Poutine Galore: When in Montreal, tasting poutine is a must. This delicious concoction of fries, cheese curds, and gravy is a Quebecois staple. You can find it in many eateries, ranging from food trucks to upscale restaurants.
La Banquise: For an authentic poutine experience, head to La Banquise, open 24/7 and offering over 30 variations of this iconic dish.
Delight in Montreal’s Smoked Meats and Sandwiches at Schwartz’s: A visit to Montreal would be incomplete without trying the city’s famous smoked meats. Schwartz’s Deli has been serving up these delicious sandwiches for decades. The combination of perfectly spiced and smoked meat with mustard on rye bread is truly unforgettable.
Experience Global Flavors: From French to Asian Cuisine
Fine Dining: Montreal offers a plethora of fine dining options. Try the gourmet French cuisine at Europea or explore Asian flavors at Le Blossom.
Street Food and Food Markets: For a more casual experience, explore food markets like Jean-Talon and Atwater, where local vendors offer fresh produce, artisanal cheeses, and street food that reflects Montreal’s multicultural identity.
Sweet Treats and Desserts: Indulgence in Every Bite
Maple Syrup Creations: Winter is maple season, and you’ll find maple-infused desserts and treats across the city. Don’t miss the maple taffy made on snow, a true Canadian winter delight.
Chocolateries and Patisseries: For chocolate and pastry lovers, Montreal has some of the best chocolateries and patisseries in North America. Try Juliette & Chocolat for a rich hot chocolate.
Free Adventures: Exploring Barbie Expo and More
Montreal, despite its rich history and cultural diversity, doesn’t always have to be an expensive city to explore. From art exhibitions to natural parks, the city offers a plethora of free adventures that can add a whimsical touch to your winter vacation. Here’s a guide to exploring the best free attractions in Montreal.
Barbie Expo: A Whimsical Journey through Fashion and Fantasy
A World of Barbies: Located inside Les Cours Mont-Royal, the Barbie Expo is the largest permanent Barbie doll exhibition worldwide. It’s an enchanting experience, showcasing Barbie dolls dressed by renowned designers and portraying iconic figures from history and pop culture.
The expo offers unique photo opportunities, including posing with giant handbags or shoes. It’s a delightful spot for fun family pictures and a chance to relive childhood memories.
A Must-Visit for Fashion Enthusiasts: With Barbie dolls adorned in creations from designers like Christian Dior, Vera Wang, and Givenchy, the Barbie Expo is a fashion enthusiast’s dream.
Outdoor Exploration: Embrace Nature without Spending a Dime
Mount Royal Park: Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who co-designed New York City’s Central Park, Mount Royal Park offers beautiful views of the city. In winter, it’s a perfect place for sledding, snowshoeing, or just a serene walk.
Lachine Canal: A popular spot year-round, Lachine Canal provides scenic paths for walking, running, and biking. The frozen canal offers a picturesque winter landscape.
Art and Culture: Free Access to Montreal’s Creative Side
Museum of Fine Arts: On the first Sunday of each month, the Museum of Fine Arts offers free access to its permanent collections. It’s an opportunity to explore world-class art without spending a penny.
Public Art and Murals: Wander through Montreal’s vibrant neighborhoods like Plateau Mont-Royal, and you’ll discover a world of street art and murals. These open-air galleries showcase Montreal’s artistic spirit and creativity.
Historical Insights: Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History
The Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History, also known as Pointe-à-Callière, is an essential stop for any Montreal winter adventure. Serving as a gateway to Montreal’s rich history, it provides a unique blend of archaeological discovery and interactive learning. Here’s what awaits you and your family:
North America’s First Collector Sewer: Memory Collector
The Memory Collector: An exhibit that is truly one-of-a-kind, the Memory Collector allows visitors to stroll through North America’s first collector sewer. This underground tunnel has been preserved and transformed into a walkable space, offering a unique perspective on Montreal’s early urban planning.
Interactive Experience: Touch screens and information panels guide you along the path, recounting stories of the city’s development and daily life in centuries past.
Fort Ville-Marie: Where Montreal Began
Walking on History: Perhaps the most striking feature of Fort Ville-Marie is the glass floor, allowing you to walk over the remains of what was once the heart of the settlement. The remains of Fort Ville-Marie represent the birthplace of Montreal, founded in 1642.
Illuminating Light Show: An immersive light show projects illuminations on the remains, narrating their history. It’s a captivating experience that combines technology and storytelling to breathe life into ancient stones.
Guided Tours: Consider taking a guided tour to delve deeper into the history and significance of Fort Ville-Marie. Knowledgeable guides enhance the experience with fascinating insights and anecdotes.
More Than a Museum: Engaging Exhibits for All Ages
Be a Privateer: This interactive exhibit lets children (and adventurous adults) role-play as privateers. It’s an engaging way to learn about the maritime history of the region.
A Role-Playing Journey
- Dressing the Part: The exhibit invites you to wear authentic privateer clothing, fully immersing yourself in the experience.
- Onboard a Ship: Navigate a life-size replica of a privateer’s ship, exploring its various sections from the deck to the captain’s quarters.
- Hands-on Activities: Learn to read maps, tie sailor’s knots, and engage in other seafaring activities that bring the history to life.
Learning Through Adventure
- Understanding Privateering: Discover the difference between privateers, pirates, and sailors through interactive storytelling and guided exploration.
- Maritime Heritage: Gain insights into Montreal’s naval history, its connection to trade, warfare, and exploration during different periods.
- Connecting with the Past: The experience humanizes history, allowing participants to understand the challenges and triumphs of privateers.
Fun for the Whole Family
- Inclusive Experience: Suitable for children and adults alike, this exhibit offers varying levels of engagement to ensure everyone enjoys the adventure.
- Educational Entertainment: While it’s designed with fun in mind, the exhibit provides a valuable educational experience, making history tangible and exciting.
- Memorable Moments: Don’t forget to take pictures and capture the joy of being a privateer, creating memories that will last a lifetime.
Temporary Exhibits: The museum often hosts temporary exhibitions, such as a set from La Petite Vie, that provide fresh and intriguing glimpses into different aspects of history and culture.
Daytripping Adventures: Quebec City and Montmorency Falls
A daytrip to Quebec City provides the charm of Old Quebec and Quartier Petit Champlain amidst snow-covered cobblestone streets. The breathtaking Montmorency Falls is a must-see, even if just a fleeting glance.
Explore Old Quebec: A Timeless Journey
- Snow-Covered Charm: Stroll through snow-covered cobblestone streets that transport you to a different era.
- Historic Architecture: Admire the preserved buildings, churches, and plazas that make up the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Old Quebec.
- Quartier Petit Champlain: Explore this picturesque neighborhood, famous for its boutiques, art galleries, and cafes. Don’t miss the chance to pose with ice sculptures and savor a meal at a cozy restaurant, like Sapristi.
Montmorency Falls: Nature’s Winter Splendor
- A Breathtaking View: Just a short drive from Quebec City, the Montmorency Falls present a majestic frozen spectacle in winter. Whether you plan a detailed visit or just a fleeting glance, the falls’ icy beauty is a sight to behold.
- Winter Activities: For those wishing to explore further, the area around the falls offers winter sports like snowshoeing and ice climbing.
- Observation Points: There are several viewing areas to capture the perfect photo, including from the suspension bridge over the falls.
Combining Culture and Nature
- Flexible Itinerary: You can tailor the daytrip to your interests, whether focusing on cultural exploration in Quebec City or adventurous activities around Montmorency Falls.
- Guided Tours: If you prefer an organized experience, several companies offer guided tours that cover both Quebec City and Montmorency Falls, providing transportation, insights, and local tips.
Experience a beautiful view of the St. Lawrence River from Quai Chouinard, an iconic spot in Quebec City.
It’s a perfect location for capturing memorable photos of your trip.
Artistic Exploration: Basilique Notre-Dame
The Basilique Notre-Dame in Montreal, Canada, is a stunning example of Gothic Revival architecture and one of the city’s most renowned landmarks. Known for its grandiose interior, it features intricate wood carvings, beautiful stained glass windows, and an ornate altar. Visitors can attend mass, explore the chapels, or enjoy a light show that tells the story of Montreal through multimedia effects. Its remarkable beauty and spiritual significance make it a must-visit for both tourists and locals exploring Montreal.
What’s Next? More Adventures Await
Whether it’s SOS Labyrinthe – Vieux-Port de Montréal or the Montreal Science Centre, there’s always more to explore. And if summer calls you back, Montreal’s parks will be waiting.
Winter in Montreal offers an endless array of experiences. This guide to a Montreal winter adventure is filled with diverse activities and attractions that promise an unforgettable family trip. Start planning now to create your very own Montreal winter memories!