Visiting Montreal is like taking a quick trip to Europe without suffering through the long flight and jetlag. The predominantly French-speaking city in Quebec is adorned with spectacular architecture and boasts a unique, rich blend of North American and European culture. With sensational restaurant selections, a diverse shopping experience and an exciting social scene, Montreal is the total staycation package. Plan a weekend with the family to experience all the City of Saints has to offer.
Things to Do in Montreal
Canada’s first Gothic Revival-style church, Basilique Notre-Dame is an amazing piece of architecture and history. It houses an 11-ton bell and a hundred-year-old organ that has almost 700 pipes. During your visit make sure to check out the elaborate wood-carvings, statues, ceilings and stained-glass windows – the details are breathtaking.
Take the trek to Mont Royal or hop on a bus to the top to enjoy fresh air, people watching and great views of the city. Spend the afternoon biking through the park and taking in all of the attractions along the way. You’ll definitely want to visit the Smith House, one of the last outstanding examples of rural architecture in the area. Afterwards, take the kids to the playground at Beaver Lake and have a picnic in the park.
Recognized as one of the world’s greatest botanical gardens, the Montreal Botanical Garden is worth taking the time to see. It may be a popular tourist attraction, but every Montreal native should appreciate this natural jewel as well. The garden boasts more than 22,000 types of plants, flowers and trees and 200 different bird species. As one of the most beautiful locations in Montreal, It serves as the perfect escape from the city. The botanical garden has many indoor and outdoor greenhouses, so you can visit year-round.
The kids will absolutely love the Montreal Biodome, which replicates four ecosystems found in the Americas. Originally constructed for the 1976 Olympic Games, the dome now provides an indoor zoo, aquarium and garden all in one. The Montreal Biodome is the only one of its kind, regulating temperature, humidity levels and animal species unique to each ecosystem.
Where to Eat in Montreal
If you’re looking for the Montreal experience, eating poutine at La Banquise is a must. Originally a small ice cream shop, La Banquise is now a 24-hour snack bar offering more than 30 different types of poutine. If you’ve never heard of poutine it’s a French-Canadian dish made of French fries and cheese curds, covered in gravy. Sounds amazing right?
Alice Bar provides an upscale, but relaxed environment. The bar serves carefully crafted cocktails, fine wines and champagne complimented by recipes created by local artist, Alice Winant. The plush velvet and dramatic bronze décor featured in Alice Bar exude a sophisticated and elegant atmosphere. Visit the bar on Wednesday nights for Whiskey Wednesday or on Thursdays for Glamour & Bubbly night.
Chef Martin Picard’s sanctuary is the definition of decadence. Known for all things meat, its lively atmosphere and over-the-top presentations, Au Pied de Cochon is at the top of the food scene in Montreal. The famous “Duck in a Can” is a must try. We know how crazy it sounds, but trust us on this one.
Petit Opus Café reflects the city’s rich diversity with an artistic feel. It provides the perfect atmosphere for the whole family or a casual date night. The café offers classic French bistro fare available any time of the day. The entire menu is delicious, but we recommend the Pizza au chevre – you won’t be disappointed.
Toque! is ones of the most popular luxury dining locations in Montreal and for good reason. Think farm-fresh dishes and fine wines. Yes, you read that right. It may be a little pricey, but it’s the perfect spot for a romantic evening for two. Go ahead – splurge! You’re on a staycation remember?
Where to Shop in Montreal
Mont Royal Avenue is filled with shops and restaurants curated by local designers and entrepreneurs. Formally known as Mile End Road, Mont Royal Avenue is located at the foot of Mount Royal. Get a bagel at St. Viateur then spend the day exploring the eclectic, genuine boutiques. Who knows, you might find your new favorite shop hidden around the corner.
Recognized as one of Canada’s ten finest heritage buildings, Bonsecours Market is an essential shopping destination in Montreal. It houses 15 boutiques featuring goods made in Quebec including crafts, clothing, accessories, jewelry and art.
M0851 provides handmade leather goods produced right in the heart of Montreal. Its merchandise exudes a certain je ne sais quoi that reflects the brands values of authenticity, charm, and functionality. Leather will never go out of style, so go ahead and invest is a new jacket or bag – you won’t regret it.
RESO is an underground city that stretches for 20 miles underneath the streets of Montreal. The corridors are connected through metro stations and bus terminals. As if an underground city isn’t fascinating enough, the network connects 1,200 offices, 2,000 stores, 200 restaurants, 1,600 housing units and much more. There are more than 120 exterior entrances to The Underground City, so it is easily accessible no matter where you are in the city. Even if you’ve visited RESO before, it’s the perfect place to find a new shop or restaurant that you’ve never been to.
Where to Stay in Montreal
Conveniently located in the Golden Square Mile’s historical district, the Hotel Omni Mont-Royal has the ideal location for any staycationer in Montreal. The hotel exudes a luxurious and sophisticated atmosphere with amazing views of the city. The chic, inviting loft-style rooms will give you a feeling of living like a true European.