I hope that the residents of Saint-Lazare would not hate me for writing about this winter heaven, so close to Montreal. This family-friendly park is offering well-organized facilities such as tubing, an ice rink, outdoor playgrounds and 20km of cross country & 4km of snowshoeing trails.
The nicest Sepaq park in terms of scenery (out of the 9 we have visited so far), located in the Laurentian Mountains, 50km north from Quebec City. This post is about our 4km loop winter walk “Les Cascades”, a relatively simple walk for families (difference in altitude about 40m). The walk is beside a stream (mostly frozen in the winter) and inside a forest, reaching a viewpoint of the Sautauriski mountain. The first part of the walk is along the Jacques Cartier River, starting at the Sepaq discovery and visitor centre (at km 10).
Île-d’Orléans, on the St. Lawrence River nearby Quebec City, is devoted to agriculture & horticulture and is benefiting from agrotourism all year long. The island consists of 6 municipalities, it is about 34km long and 8km wide at its widest point. The island is accessible via the Île d’Orléans bridge from Beauport. I have listed a few ideas for a half day visit during winter time.
Chocolaterie de L’île d’Orléans
Ice Skating in Saint Laurent de l’île d’Orléans
The place for some winter adrenaline rush! Riding on an Austrian sled down the slopes of Mont Sainte-Marguerite. Enjoy 4 consecutive descents of 2.3 km each ride. Choose between a Family or a Kamikaze trail. The place was once a military communications base (part of the Royal Canadian Air Force) during the Cold War from 1952 to 1964 as it has the highest peak in the region (summit at 698 meters). These days, the small mountain resort also offers hiking trails, bike trails, survival training, visits to the military bunker and more. We were happy to find this place as most activities with Austrian sledding in the area do not allow young kids to participate. Here you can ride with your kids from a very young age (taking the risk into consideration).
An impressive ski resort, about 30 minutes from Quebec City. Stoneham is a large and well-organized ski station with 42 ski trails, a snow park and an ideal area for kids to learn to ski/snowboard with two magic carpets (one simple slope and one steeper slope). Kids under 7 go free!
A nice and small ski resort, 1 hour away from Montreal, located in the Laurentian mountains with 20 trails, a snow park (for skiers and snowboarders) and a new short special trail for kids, Sentier des toutous, featuring 2000 soft toys along the forest path. The mountain has direct sun most of the day so you can enjoy lots of great luminosity.
A colourful theme park for young kids (designed mainly for 2-8 years old) with lots of activities; tubing (three options), treehouses, inflatables, train ride, slides and houses with different stations. This park is open mainly during the summer and is open briefly during the winter (until Jan 6th, 2019!). Super friendly staff dressed as elves will keep you entertained in each station.
This all-year trail is a super fun walk, about 1.9km return, part of the Parcs Regionaux MRC Matawinie. It is not suitable for very small kids as the trail during wintertime can be very slippery. There are about 90 stairs to reach the small waterfall. During our visit, it was mostly frozen and impressive to watch from close proximity. The trail is well maintained and has clear indications. Interpretive signs along the trail will explain the wood logging history of this region.
The closest ski resort to Montreal, Ski Saint-Bruno is offering 18 tracks with lots of ski activities for all ages and all levels at an altitude of 175 meters. The resort is ideal for beginners with 4 magic carpets and a dedicated ‘low-speed area’. Main attractions for all levels: Zone Park SBB, Mini Zone Park, La Forêt Enchantée and the new SNÖFUN area with inclined turns, valleys, jumps, uneven terrain and a mini half pipe. The enchanted forest is a beginner track inside the forest with fairy tale figures and stories.
We had a lovely afternoon visiting the Marché de Noël de Terrebonne. Open from November 29th until December 16th, 2018, the market is located in old Terrebonne. Main attractions are the exhibitors; decorated stalls with various offerings (food, wines, clothing, house decorations and more). There is a main stage with performing artists (check online program). The market is relatively small so you can continue walking along the decorated streets of Old Terrebonne to discover this charming area. Add to your walk a quick visit to Ile-des-Moulins just nearby the market.
Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal is a Roman Catholic basilica and a national shrine based on Mont Royal’s Westmount Summit. The construction of the chapel started in 1904, continued in 1924 with the basilica and completed in 1967. This is the largest shrine in the world dedicated to Saint Joseph who was credited with healing power. Many ill, handicapped and pilgrims pour into this Basilica. The basilica is built from Canadian granite and copper. This Montreal landmark is truly worth seeing. Take your visitors from out of town to visit this place and admire the architecture of this basilica and the wonderful views from its terrace.
Beautiful Rougemont is known for its apple orchards. Cidrerie Michel Jodoin is located at the base of Mont Rougemont. This fourth generation family-owned apple orchard (since 1901) offers a nice boutique for their cider products, a guided tour of the cider house with tasting and a 3.6km hiking trail up the mountain (private property of the orchard). The trail is an intermediate level (round trip) to reach an elevation of about 220 meters. The scenery at the viewpoint is super nice. The trail is not suitable for young kids. Our 10 years old friend, completed the hike without a problem. For my kids (6 and 4) it was not easy. The trail is open all-year-round with a small entry fee.
This is the place for kids to learn about different professions in a super joyful way, with 22 professions to discover. The venue is designed for the ages of 2-8 years old. One rainy day (a statutory holiday) we visited this place and the kids had lots of fun. We spent there about 3 hours, exploring each station and enjoyed two funny shows from the nice staff. Good for rainy/snowy days.
Maison Saint-Gabriel is a national historic site located in Montreal (Pointe Saint-Charles). This museum will take you back in time to show you how the new settlers of New France lived in the mid 17th century. The place was founded by Marguerite Bourgeoys who bought the land in 1668 to support agricultural and educational activities of the Congrégation de Notre-Dame. We spent a few hours at this wonderful site. I highly recommend a visit, it is an ideal place for rainy/snowy days.
Hurry up, only a few days left for pumpkin picking at this great farm (a family-owned business in L’ Assomption since 1790), 40 minutes north from Montreal. The activities for kids include a tractor ride, a playing area with lots of different bicycles, a huge pile of hay with bridges to climb on and a small farm with cows.
Île-des-Moulins is located 30 minutes from downtown Montreal and nearby Laval, on the north shores of the Riviere des Mille-Iles and of the Riviere des Prairies. This small island is considered one of the most important pre-industrial site of the 19th century, a historical site, as it used to have a large complex of buildings from that era (today only 5 remained). The first flour mill was built in 1721 and a sawmill in 1725. Many other mills were built in the 19th century. We headed to Terrebonne on a cold autumn weekend day and we discovered a gem! Enjoy the sounds of the streaming water, cross the dam towards Île Saint-Jean and be inspired by the old buildings and mills.
Halloween is just around the corner and autumn is definitely here. Head for this great place for pumpkin picking. Take a wheelbarrow & a pruner and start loading these beautiful pumpkins, choose from 300 varieties of squashes!! Play in the garden and learn about the pumpkin culture in the interpretation area.
Nearby Montreal, Mont Saint-Hilaire (elevation of 414 meters) is known for its apple orchards thanks to the soil which is ideal for the growth of apple trees. The orchard, located on the southern slopes of the mountain, offers a large playground, a mini-farm, a restaurant and a shop for homemade ciders and other local produce. In addition to a variety of 20 types of apples for self-picking, there are many other activities like a giant maze, a tractor ride (during the weekend only) and a treasure hunt.
A small museum on the St Lawrence riverside, great for young kids to keep them entertained and active! The museum (with its three small houses) invites you to learn about the history of Gananoque as a center for boats throughout the years. Your kids can craft a wooden boat and enjoy playing in a naval theme indoor playroom with lots of dressing up, related toys and books.
Built during the war of 1812 to protect against an American attack on a strategic and elevated location, nearby the Ontario Lake, the Cataraqui River which flows to the St. Lawrence River and the Rideau Canal. Restoration work on the fort from 1832 to 1837 led to a second fort been built on the site of the first. The fort was occupied by British troops and then by Canadian troops until 1891. During the first and second world wars, it housed prisoners of war. Today, it is considered a National Historic Site and a World Heritage Site. The museum lets you experience a mid-1860 appearance and military life.