If Montreal were a dessert, it would undoubtedly be a banana split with three extra big scoops of ice cream, lots of fluffy whipped cream and a handful of maraschino cherries on top—oh, and don’t forget those colorful sprinkles. This is a sweet delight of a destination, one that will offer your clients a whirlwind vacation experience, as well as the opportunity to meet some of the friendliest people we’ve ever encountered in our travels.
With its appealing restaurants, unique architecture, myriad festivals, inviting museums and quirky attractions, this cosmopolitan city that seamlessly blends European charm with North American energy should be savored just like one would savor that aforementioned banana split. Tell clients they have our permission—no, our most obstinate recommendation—to get lost in a hangar-enclosed labyrinth, speed over river rapids, hunt for ghosts under the blanket of a night sky, hold their breath as they drop 171 ft. down a roller-coaster named, aptly enough, Goliath at the La Ronde amusement park, and even shop till they drop in a 20-mile “underground city.”
Visitors will need a good long week to tour this Canadian city located in the state of Quebec—of course, if they had more time that would be ideal, but a week will give them plenty of time to see most of the sights. Also, recommend families visit during the summer—this is when the city is at its liveliest and locals at their happiest—since some of the attractions do not operate during the colder months.
So where to begin? That’s the kicker—there’s just too much to see and do for families in this city, but we’ve compiled a “short” list of some of our favorite places. If your favorite isn’t included, why not drop us a line and we’ll include it in an upcoming “Agent Speak” column.
Touring the Montreal Tower and Olympic Park is a must, especially for first-timers to the city.… It feels cool to be walking around the same spot where competitors from the 1976 Olympics once stomped—does the name Nadia Comaneci ring a bell? Visitors will view the venue that held the track and field events and tour the center where the swimming and diving events took place, and then they can hop on the funicular-type elevator that zooms up the Montreal Tower—which was actually added after the Olympics—to the observatory for spectacular views of the city.
For yet another amazing bird’s-eye view of the city, take a jaunt up Mount Royal to the Chalet du mont Royal. The scenic lookout point in front of the chalet affords marvelous views of downtown Montreal and the St. Lawrence River. The Mount Royal Park is also a beautiful place for a picnic or to simply relax and enjoy nature (squirrels here are especially friendly). Interesting fact: the park’s architect was the same one who designed New York’s Central Park, and it shows—it’s a stunner.
Over on the St. Lawrence River, families with older kids won’t want to miss the jet boating experience on the river, located by the Clock Tower Pier at the Quays of the Old Port of Montreal. The specially outfitted boats for this 1-hour ride zip right into the river’s Lachine Rapids and passengers get soaked—and we’re not talking about a few sprinkles; it’s a veritable drench session from head to toe. Swimsuits recommended, although participants will be given special attire to wear over the swimsuit for the ride. This trip also affords the opportunity for visitors to see Montreal from another vantage point.
For a drier experience in the port, take a detour to the Shed 16 Labyrinth, also located on the Clock Tower Pier. This has got to be one of the most fun—not to mention unique—experiences we’ve ever come across in the middle of a metropolis. A must for kids, but not necessarily for claustrophobes, this maze of dark alleys will have visitors zig-zagging back and forth for a better part of two hours, as they glide down slides, make their way through tight ropes, walk cautiously over hazardous bridges, encounter countless dead-ends, come upon labyrinth inhabitants, and finally see the light—literally—at the end of the tunnel. Even non-claustrophobes’ hearts will be palpitating there for a moment.