We had 3 weeks in Montreal, Canada, with our 4 kids, between June and July 2017.
It was hot and sunny from 5 am to 9 pm and we enjoyed it a lot. We didn’t do much, but what we did, we loved.
Montreal is such a cool city, we just couldn’t get enough of it.
Everything about Montreal with kids
It was also our first experience with the French language – not easy. Luckily, Canada has 2 official languages and most people do speak them both. Otherwise, we’d have been lost.
We spent our days in this apartment. It’s a studio, really. The first thing that left a huge impression on us was the elevator. It’s the old, horror movie elevator. You know, the one you need to manually close the door, then close the little gate, then it moves. It also smelled like urine.
I used the stairs, mostly, but the kids enjoyed it a lot.
The studio is big, but it’s a studio: no walls, no doors. There’s this huge window from the ceiling to halfway down the wall that has no curtain. It meant that the whole place was bright as outside at 5 am.
It’s super well located, which also means there’s a lot of noise from the street. Serious noise. It usually started at 1 am and went on and on until dawn. Terrible for people who need to sleep in the little time they have between work and dawn.
The good things about this place were the location and the pets. It’s close to everything, so we didn’t need any kind of transportation besides our feet.
There’s a cute gecko in the house, and it was delightful to have him around for those weeks. And there was a cat coming around every day to sleep and play a bit. The kids loved having that time with the pets. Oh, and it’s got a pole dance pole and hula hoops, which also made my kids very happy.
I think it’s a great place if you’re in a smaller party, so you could all sleep in the little nooks. The kids slept there, and they are a bit more shaded, but we had to sleep in the open and we really felt the lack of sleep heavy on our bodies. Or maybe if you have a shorter stay. For 3 weeks, it was too much.
The internet is also very slow, which may be because the building is old or because it’s shared between neighbors.
Family friendly things to do in Montreal
We went to the cinemas twice: to watch Cars 3 and Despicable Me 3. It’s been a long time since we last watched an animation in the theaters because it was always subbed in Spanish in South America, so it was super nice to have the option of English. It’s more expensive than South America, but it’s expected. Popcorn price is outrageous – but it’s the same as New Zealand. It was just so cheap in South America…
We used Cineplex in the Forum Mall. It’s OK and it has the popcorn popping game by the entrance that kept our kids entertained for a long time. They also play some games before the movie starts, so you can get points and earn free movie tickets. We didn’t play, though.
We received free entry for both the Insectarium and the Botanic Garden, but the opinions are 100% ours.
To be really honest, half way through it I’d had enough. People were pushing the kids so they could look at stuff better. I was tired of protecting them, shoving people away from them, distributing the crazy-mom look, and trying to be interested in all the stuff they were discovering.
But the kids were having so much fun I felt I needed to persist. So we did.
We spend around 2 hours there.
The smaller kids had a lot of fun. They were all creeped out about the number of strange stuff from Costa Rica (our next destination).
We entered through the Botanic Gardens, and it was beautiful, as any other Botanic Garden in the world. So we just roamed around a bit until we found the Insectarium.
It was a holiday, and it was full. We managed to see it all, but not easily. Therefore, avoid holidays. So many people inside that building, it was hard to keep an eye on the kids AND see all the insects around.
After we left, we asked the kids who’d want to try the food made out of insects and, of course, none of them wanted. But Coral wanted ice cream, so there we went to the line. There were 15 people in front of us but the line took over 20 minutes. By the time we reached the counter, Angelo had toughened up and decided to try the termite ice cream. I think it’s a tactic.
He finished it under the disgusted looks from the rest of the family.
While we were eating, people were taking selfies eating crickets and stuff like that.
If you have insect lovers in your family, I recommend a visit, but choose a weekday and go during school hours to the Insectarium.
The Botanic Gardens, though, can be visited at any time because even though it was full, it wasn’t all those people crammed into a small space.
After we exited the Insectarium, we went to walk around a bit more and visited the Monumental Dougherty, which is kind of a woven labyrinth and pretty cool.
We also ate some berries straight from the trees, visited the Japanese Garden, and played on the cool pathway for kids.
The Botanic Gardens were perfect all around!
We received a free pass for 2 in this attraction, but the opinions are 100% ours.
We passed there one day, had a chat and the person there told us that it’s for all ages, from 3 to 92. The kids were kind of excited, but when they heard there’s no tandem ride, they gave up. Only Melissa and I wanted to go, but we decided not to.
The second time we passed there, we had a purpose. Melissa and I would do it, even if no-one else would. So we did.
We signed a waiver, received a phone holder, and went to collect our gear. One guy showed us how to put the beautiful leg straps on while the other adjusted the even more beautiful helmets on our heads.
From there, we were told to climb the 3000 steps to the top of the tower. OK, it wasn’t that much, but it certainly felt like it.
We were given the safety instructions and sent to fly. Melissa went first because I wanted to film her.
While she was doing her ride, I was told to step on and started on a recap of the safety instructions. Then when I heard the ‘Ready’, I totally lost it.
I was holding the camera, but I also wanted to hold onto the cable for my life so I let the camera go. Luckily, it was strapped to my neck. Then, when I felt it was safe enough, I tried to take the camera and make a usable video BUT didn’t manage. It was already at the end. Hahahaha.
Well, I’m scared of heights, if you don’t already know. I hope you’ll enjoy the video of the sky I shot while zip-lining. Just kidding, Angelo didn’t like it and said we won’t use it – and he’s the one who makes the videos.
Anyway, the ride is super cool, it’s family friendly and worth going! It’s a slow and safe line, great for first timers!
– Apple Camp
If you’re in Montreal during school holidays, enroll your kids (8~12 years old) into one of the Apple Camps. They’re free, pretty cool, and the kids get a T-shirt. Angelo got one too. They did the film making workshop, learned a bit about composition, how to make an interesting clip, interacted with other kids, and even got themselves a certificate of conclusion. How not to love it?
– Walk around Old Montreal and the Old Harbor
Montreal is an incredibly beautiful place, but the Old Montreal and the Old Harbor, ah, they’re magical. Full of cool stuff to do, beautiful scenery, a huge range of restaurants and shops, museums, I mean… you can live there. I know I could.
During our time there, we were lucky enough to catch a lot of festivals. It was probably more than we’d ever seen.
- A Nous La Rue
I didn’t quite get this one yet, but it was fun. We were walking around Old Montreal when we saw something going on and decided to stop. There was music, acrobats, cool video projection on buildings, green people (didn’t get them either) walking around. We enjoyed it, even though it was raining a bit.
- Sainte Catherine fair
I also don’t know what it was, but as we were leaving the last day of Apple Camp, we realized something was going on. Lots of stalls, streets closed to car traffic, people, music, giant chess, giant battle ship, giant table soccer, and all those cool stuff. Well, we stopped, strolled around, played a bit, and basically had fun – even though we didn’t buy anything there.
- Just for Laugh
Then, just as we were going home from the Saint Catherine fair, we passed another one. This one had open air theatres, performers, so many food stalls, giant marshmallow roasting pit, and stuff we have no idea what was because Coral was tired and wanted to go home. Well, I’ve never seen anywhere as crowded as that place – not even the Insectarium.
But it was fun.
- Street Art Festival
When we arrived, the festival was just done and lots of walls around town were covered in beautiful murals. It’s worth having your camera out all the times!
The service in Montreal is pretty good. We felt very welcome in all the places, and the food was almost always delicious.
– Royal Burger
It was the first place we tried there and it was good. We even went back one day. The poutine is delicious and so are the burgers. The veggie burger wasn’t too good, though. A bit too dry for me.
– Juliette et Chocolat
My favorite. Sometimes it’d take a while for things to happen, as it usually was one or 2 people serving the whole restaurant (and it’s not small) but we loved it so much we returned several times. The POP Fondue, a fondue of mini popsicles, is divine. Angelo loved the Chocolate Fondant, and I also liked the salad with chocolate sauce, though it’s pretty big. Go eat there. But go with time, and enjoy.
It’s a Japanese style restaurant. The food is good, though not very authentic. Service was OK. They dropped a whole cup of soba noodle sauce over Joao (12), haha, and that was fun. Even he found it funny. There’s always a first time.
– La Diperie
Get the small one. We ordered the big one because we love ice cream but it was too much. None of us managed to finish it. I had so much ice cream that I even felt sick. Not fun.
The idea, though, is. You choose the size, the container, the dip, and the topping. Don’t choose the lemon dip – it wasn’t good.
– The Keg Steakhouse
Delicious food, a bit pricey (pricier than any of the other places we went to), but worth it. Everything was perfect! The baked brie was divine.
– Big in Japan
We tried it because it was right in front of the apartment. It should be a Japanese restaurant, but it wasn’t. It’s fusion food. We didn’t like it. It also smelled very strongly of fish.
– Dirty Dog
Good burger, huge portions of fries and poutine. It’s good. And appreciate the street art mural on the side of the building.
– The Cage
Good food, but it was open and a bird pooped on José. Well, yes, it wasn’t our lucky time. Or it was. The kids’ menu is a whole booklet of activities that kept Coral highly entertained.
If you like maple syrup, visit it. If not, don’t even bother.
We went there just to get the maple taffy on snow (which is actually ice) and it’s delicious. It melts quite fast, though, in summer.
We entered it after a long day of shopping. The stairs had an old red vintage look, it was a bit creepy, to be really honest, but the food was great, and so was the service. We loved it!
This was our supermarket to go. It’s cheap, but they don’t offer bags, and it’s very crowded. It’s also small and cramped. But worth going if you’re on a budget. Take your bag or use one of the boxes they have there. It doesn’t have any sign on the entrance, but you’ll see lots of people coming in and out. That’s it.
We also went there a lot because it was closer to the apartment and open 24/7. It’s not as cheap as Segal, but it was the supermarket price around.
In Saint Laurent, you’ll see lots of charcuteries. They sell meat, mostly cured. Some sell sandwiches, some have looooong lines. We went into the smaller one and loved it.
– Pharmaprix & Jean Coutu pharmacies
Huge drug stores, it reminded me of the Japanese drug stores, where you can do your whole weekly shopping. There’s everything, from drugs to food, toys, and even clothing items. We had fun roaming through the aisles.
We had ours done at Mandrika Tattoo. We loved them! Custom made, quick, clean. Fun all around!
So those were our 3 weeks in Montreal with kids.
It’s a city that must be on everyone’s bucket list, so beautiful and full of things to see and do!
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