Montreal provides virtually endless opportunities for family entertainment, but sometimes you’re looking for a little something special. Maybe something a little more on the cutting edge. We’ve rounded up some next-level activities you can partake in, whether you live here, or are just visiting.
Tour la Nuit and Tour de l’Île
Vélo Quebec’s Tour la Nuit takes place on Friday, May 31, and it’s the perfect way to explore Montreal after dark. The route consists of a 21 km ride that begins and ends at Parc Jeanne-Mance, taking you through Montreal’s Plateau, Hochelaga and Rosemont neighborhoods. Cyclists of all ages are encouraged to participate. Only some of the family are into cycling? No worries – there’s plenty of entertainment to keep everyone busy, including a Ferris wheel and live music.
Two days later, on Sunday, June 2, Vélo Quebec will be hosting the Tour de l’Île, an event which sees thousands of cyclists take to Montreal’s streets with an incredible amount of energy. There are three itinerary options for the day: a 50 km car-free route (that can be reduced to 25 km), a 100 km option for more seasoned cyclists (which can be reduced to 65 km), and a high-octane 50 km ‘Express’ option, which sees cyclists travel at 30 km/h for 1 ½ hours on downtown streets. Either way you slice it – it’s a ride.
The event is open to the whole family, and there are rest-stops along the way. There are also relief vehicles for those riding with young ones. If you don’t have a bike but still want to participate, BIXI, Montréal’s public bicycle sharing system, is offering a $2.00 special just for the occasion.
Voiles en Voiles and Saute-Moutons Jet Boating
Summer is the perfect time to visit Montreal’s Old Port. Aside from the regular action, the food trucks and buskers give it that festival vibe all season long.
Voiles en Voiles is a pirate-themed outdoor amusement centre housing 10 different aerial adventure courses, like tree-top trekking, except right in the heart of the city. If you’ve got adventure-seekers in the family, this is the place for them. In addition to the aerial courses, there are ziplines, climbing walls and an inflatable playground.
Want to get wet? The Saute-Moutons Jet Boating experience is an oldie but a goodie. The company has been around for over 3 decades, but remains, in my opinion, the best boat tour the city has to offer. You just can’t beat the one-hour ride through the Class V Lachine rapids for the sheer excitement factor. As the website says: it’s wet, wild, and wonderful.
A/Maze Escape Rooms
Ready to move inside? Try out one of the many escape rooms around Montreal. If puzzles are your thing, this is your place. I have now tried three and only successfully escaped from one of them. Don’t kid yourself – they’re challenging!
The idea is you’re locked in a room full of clues with your teammates, and you must solve various puzzles and riddles to find the way out. Most rooms are suitable for the whole family, but I’d make sure to have enough adults per room. Remember – challenging.
There are five different A/Maze locations, and each houses several escape rooms. If you’ve got Harry Potter fans in the family, I highly recommend the Magic Academy in Pointe-Claire. Loads of fun and the kids love it!
MKRLAB Maker Space
Tucked into the heart of Montreal’s Notre-Dame-de-Grâce neighbourhood sits MKRLAB, a relatively new makerspace offering activities from 3D printing to video game coding, cooking and silk screening – if you can think of the project, you can probably find it there.
I took my daughter (11) and her friend to a vinyl tote bag making workshop, and they had the best time. They learned how to use the vinyl cutter and a heat press, as well as how to lay out their designs and ensure good results. They also learned that things aren’t as easy as they seem!
MKRLAB offers monthly membership rates, but you can also just pop in for the day if you’ve got a project you’d like to complete. Or, you can check their website and sign up for one of their weekly workshops. It’s a great rainy-day activity.
Canadian Olympic Experience
Barely a year old, this interactive installation takes you through the immersive experience of what it means to be an Olympic athlete. The Canadian Olympic Experience is 3-tiered. First, you create your own athletic profile and try out different Olympic sports. Then, you get an inside look at Canada’s contribution to the Games, and what an athlete’s road to the Olympics looks like. Finally, you step into the stadium to experience that ultimate moment when athletes and fans unite. If you love sports, you will love this experience.
The location is conveniently nestled between downtown and Old Montreal. It’s open Wednesday through Sunday and is a relatively inexpensive way to fill up an afternoon.
A Fun Day Out
Family outings are not just about parks, zoos, and waterslides anymore. There are so many new and different options when it comes to entertainment in Montreal. Check out one or more of the options above. I guarantee you’ll have a great time.
Header image: Saute-Moutons Jet Boating. Photo credit: © Anton Fercher