We had the opportunity to visit Montreal when we were invited to a wedding at Jay Peak Resort. We decided to head to the area early, drive up from Burlington, VT and spend the night in Montreal!
We arrived into Burlington, VT very late at night. We grabbed a hotel near the airport and decided to start our 3 hour drive to Montreal the next day. Once we woke up, we started our trip North! The drive into Canada was very easy and obviously not complete without a stop at Tim Horton's.
Day 1: Botanical Gardens, Notre Dame, lots of food
We arrived to the city of Montreal too early to check into our Airbnb, so we decided to go straight to the Botanical Gardens. Our trip was in early May, so there weren't very many people around when we arrived as it was still pretty chilly out. We got everyone unloaded and got to the entrance for them to tell us that the Gardens still weren't open for a tour, but that their greenhouse was the only attraction available. We decided to skip it, but I recommend it if you're going during their peak season.
From there we hopped back in our car and headed to our Airbnb to see if we could check in a little early. SUCCESS! The apartment was in a fantastic location within very short walking distance to the Metro (called the STM), restaurants, and across the street from a convenience store. We were able to use our code and drop all of our belongings off and park our car. (parking was a bit of a hassle, but we were able to leave our car for the duration of our stay, so that was convenient)
Once the kids had a nice break and snack, we loaded up our stroller and headed for the STM Station. We decided to get the 24-hour ticket so we could ride as many times as we wanted instead of paying per trip. The station wasn't quite stroller friendly, but we were easily able to carry the stroller down the stairs. You can find more about accessible stops and routes HERE.
We took the STM from our apartment over to the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal. Our 2 year old was very antsy that day, so we gave her time to run around the pedestrian friendly square located directly in front of the church. We played there for about 45 minutes before entering the Basilica. The church itself was magnificent and reminded us of the other beautiful churches we have seen across Europe. The cost of admission is a $6 flat rate for a self guided tour. There were also very convenient and FREE bathrooms located in the back of the church. It helped us out since we needed to change both kid's diapers and it was too cold to do it outside. The church was also handicap accessible and even had a ramp leading to the back bathrooms which helped us out a lot with our double stroller.
After our tour we walked around downtown and had delicious pizza and Canadian brews at Pizzeria Bros. We were pretty happy to find this place as they were extremely kid friendly, spoke fluent English and French and had great food. It was a win all around.
After we decided to take the metro back to our neighborhood (central Plateau area) and explore the area around our apartment. We found so many cool cafes and small shops. We stopped and enjoyed [too many] DELICIOUS treats at Marius et Fanny; a pastry and sweet shop. I highly recommend their Macaroons and Cappuccinos.
Our kids were pretty tired after the drive and walking around the city, so we decided to head back to our apartment and let them relax. Once we got them bathed and in bed, I headed out to get Jimmy and I some special Canadian treats. I walked from our apartment over to the famous Schwartz Deli where I had quite the experience getting cash out for the cash-only restaurant, but once I got it sorted out, I was able to get us each our own renown Smoked Meat Sandwich. IT WAS SO AMAZING TOO! Worth ALL the hype in my opinion. I also stopped along the way back and picked up some of Canada's prized Poutin from the hipster Frite Alors cafe. I was not disappointed and now I crave Poutin all the time.
Day 2: Cat Cafe, Parc Jean Drapeau, Envirnoment Museum, Old Port, & Delicious Ice Cream
We knew we were heading to Jay Peak, Vermont later in the day, so we got started touring more of Montreal right away. We decided to drive the city instead of using our metro tickets, so we could get on the road whenever we were ready. I think I would have rather taken the STM looking back, but it all worked out.
We started our morning with breakfast and coffee at a Cafe Chat L'Heureux. We got there before they opened, but Montreal has so many parks all around, so we walked to one near by and let the kids play and swing for the 45 minutes until the cafe opened. I have dreamed of going to a cat cafe, so I was beside myself when I found one near our apartment. The baby didn't care about it, but our toddler L-O-V-E-D it! She followed the cats around, laid on the floor with them, pet them and generally just loved being around all these fat house cats. I also loved it. It was great to see all the kittens and house cats being loved on by everyone. The food was surprisingly good too!
We then headed over to Parc Jean Drapeau which is the island in the middle of Montreal! We went directly to the Biosphere. This cool architecture is home to the Environment Museum. The museum itself was very kid friendly and every room is interactive. We enjoyed having the place mostly to ourselves too. The tickets were a bit pricey in my opinion, but we had a really good time. The views of the Montreal skyline from inside the dome are pretty spectacular too.
From the island we drove over to Montreal's Old Port. We used the Pay-To-Park area and walked towards the shops. There is an awesome kids park right near the parking area, so if your kids need a break, this a perfect spot. They also have a very well kept walking/jogging trail that goes from the parking area over to the main areas of Old Port. The path goes along the water, so the views are spectacular the entire walk too. We walked around the entire path and then headed into the city via Place Jaques-Cartier which has a large pedestrian area and lots of shops & cafes. This part of Montreal looks IDENTICAL to a European city and it felt very European too. We stopped for coffee and ice cream at Mlle Catherine. This tiny shop is a boutique ice cream parlor located directly next to a Ben & Jerrys -- I recommend skipping the B&Js and trying out this unique place! Charletta loved her ice cream and I loved my huge croissant.
After we got our sweets fix we headed to find bathrooms which were located inside of Bonsecours Market; a large indoor market. The restrooms were free and very clean. As a side note, the massive windows in the restrooms had some of the best views of the canal.
From here we decided to hit the road and head back to the United States! Our trip was a whirlwind and there is so much more of Montreal I would love to see. However, if you only have a short stopover, it's totally worth getting out and seeing this beautiful city. You won't be disappointed.
- Pizzeria Bros
- Mlle Catherine (Ice Cream + sweets shop)
- Cafe Chat L'Heureux (Cat Cafe)
- Schwartz Deli (Famous Smoked Meat Sandwiches)
- Frite Alors (French Fries & Poutin)
- Marius et Fanny (Macaroons & Treats)
- Botanical Gardens
- Biodome & Environment Museum
- Parks in Montreal
- Best Playgrounds in Montreal
- Metro Information (STM)
- Parking your car in Montreal
- The Desert Bull: 2 Bedroom, 1 Bathroom centrally located apartment. (Don't forget to use our Airbnb link (HERE) to get $40 off your first stay!)
Have you been to Montreal? Let us know about your trip in the comments!
Want to see more about traveling the world with kids? Check out some of our other posts!