We took our family to Montreal and ate our way through the city while enjoying a wide variety of activities. We had amazing meals – from delicious brunches to bistro lunches and quintessential French dinners and desserts. The kids loved the food as well as exploring the Montreal neighborhoods, playgrounds, museums and more. Below I’m sharing our favorite Montreal restaurants and activities.
Our Favorite Activities:
Archeology Museum – This museum was excellent and is located at the exact point where Montreal was founded. It was relatively interactive and really well done – the kids and adults both enjoyed it!
Playgrounds – We found some great ones for the kids to explore. There were lots of balancing and climbing activities. Our favorite was Jarry Park for all the climbing and balancing activities, but we also enjoyed Parc Beaubien, a small neighborhood playground that was conveniently across the street from our Airbnb in the Mile End district
Canadian Olympic Experience (not at the Olympic stadium!) – Awesome value and super fun for kids to try Olympic sports like bobsleigh, skiing and fencing. They wanted to go back the next day.
Mount Royal – Spend an hour hiking up the mountain or drive up and stop at the overlook (can also walk a bit from here too). This is a manageable walk with kids.
St. Peter’s Basilica – This is a great alternative to waiting in a long line at Notre Dame. It was gorgeous and we got to hear the organ play and caught a service too.
Neighborhood Exploring – We walked through Old Montreal which had some cute shops but seemed touristy. We loved driving around all of the different neighborhoods and experiencing the different vibes they had.
We also visited the Sugar Shack but I would not recommend this activity, even though you will see it come up as a “must try” experience, unless you book the ropes course for your kids well in advance. Aside from a climbing structure, there is not much to do and we did not feel like we learned much about the sugaring process. We found the Port of Montreal to be very touristy and wouldn’t recommend it unless your kids wanted to do the activities offered (zip line and ropes course, etc). I really enjoyed the Jean-Talon and Atwater Markets, but the kids could have cared less!
Where to Get Coffee:
Tip: Don’t expect to find any Splenda or Half&Half anywhere.
- The Standard (our favorite)
- Dispatch Coffee
- Caffè In Gamba
- Nous Sommes Caf
- Hof Kelsten (also has an incredible bakery)
Where to Get Brunch:
Fabergé Restaurant – Easy, local and yum. Looney Tunes on the TV and coloring sheets and books provided to the kids. There are lines on the weekends, but The Standard coffee shop and Fairmount Bagels are next door.
L’Avenue – Delicious and friendly! I loved my egg with beer soaked ham, caramelized onions, and arugula. They give everyone a skewer of fresh fruit as an appetizer. This was the only place in Montreal with Crepes American (e.g. pancakes). Go early to avoid the long lines.
Régine Café – A very long wait (though they brought out hot tea and pastry samples to us!), but incredible and well worth it! The kids menu is amazing with very sweet options, plus they get to decorate their own cookie! The adult menu is incredible. I ordered the Champi and am still dreaming of it. Go early! I am obsessed with this place!
Fairmount Bagel – These are not like NYC bagels but we had to try it for the experience. Order a bunch to try (I liked the everything bagel), buy a tub of Philadelphia cream cheese from their fridge, and eat on the bench outside or inside The Standard coffee shop. There were no lines on weekdays.
Where to Get Late Lunch/Dinner:
Leméac – This restaurant is kid friendly, despite the white tablecloths and the fact that it is an upscale neighborhood French bistro. We went back twice just for the hanger steak. The meal was excellent and the wine suggestion was perfection.
Les Deux Gamins – French bistro with warm, toasted bread and great wine. At 5:30 we had the place to ourselves. We walked up the block for dessert at Juliette & Chocolat which I thought was overpriced and touristy, but the kids loved.
Schwartz’s Deli – This is Montreal’s version of Katz Deli. There were no lines mid-week for early dinner, but the lines were down the block other times we drove by. We got a half chicken for the kids and their classic smoked meat sandwiches (e.g. corned beef) for us with a side of half sour pickles. We had a super friendly waiter who gave my daughter a mug as a birthday present. It doesn’t top NYC but is a Montreal institution and we had an enjoyable experience with no lines, a chatty waiter, and locals at the counter.
L’Express – Incredible French bistro that we were lucky to get into without a reservation at 5pm. The “granddaddy” of the Montreal restaurant scene. Incredible food, wine was perfection, and they were very friendly to the kids, giving them crayons and joking around. My recommendations are the goat cheese salad, chicken, croque monsieur (my picky kid ate every bite), and the ravioli (I am still drooling over the classic French sauce!) We also got their classic dessert and it was incredible.
Chao Phaya – We went looking for food to take-in and stumbled on this Thai place in the Mile High neighborhood. It may be some of the best Thai I’ve ever had!
Restaurant Szechuan – This authentic Chinese restaurant was a gem with amazing food and the friendliest waiter. Completely put everyone in a great mood after dodging the pouring rain outside. Stop in after Archeology Museum and enjoy!
St-Hubert Express – This is fast food but it’s delicious, and the counter service is so nice! A waitress told us this place is beloved and nostalgic to everyone who grew up there. You can get kids’ nugget meals, rotisserie chicken, and more. You can eat in, get to-go for the car, and they also deliver.
Montreal was a great family destination and we were able to easily navigate the city and plan out our days. The city has everything from amazing architecture to natural views to fabulous dining options. We were able to pack in so many fun activities and the adults and kids all left happy!
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