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Montreal, Quebec with Kids: Old Montreal and Vieux-Port

Our baby liked the costumed soldiers at Chateau Ramezay in Old Montreal!

Our baby liked the costumed soldiers at Chateau Ramezay in Old Montreal!

Montreal boasts so many fun things to do with kids, you truly run the risk of exhausting yourself. I admit, during our three days in the city with our 20-month-old toddler, Colin and I messed this up. We got so gluttonous about doing and seeing everything that we accidentally walked 10.5 miles the first day, and 14 miles the second. Whoops! And also: pant, pant, pant… don’t do that.

I’ve put together this guide to Montreal with kids so that you can plan better than we did, taking your time to savor the many delights of the city, while bearing in mind its large size and cornucopia of offerings so you can pace yourself.

Place Jaques-Cartier in Old Montreal is a delightful place to stroll.

Place Jaques-Cartier in Old Montreal is a delightful place to wander.

1. Start in Old Montreal. I always advise beginning your sightseeing in the most famous part of the city, so set your sights on Old Montreal: the cute cobblestone streets with buildings dating back to the 1600s!

The cafe-lined pedestrian road at Place Jaques-Cartier is an ideal place to stroll for lunch, admiring the energetic street performers and artists. Note that some of the best hotels are a healthy walk (or train ride) from Old Montreal (click here to see our Montreal hotel) so allow for travel time.

Motreal has a Notre-Dame church!

Montreal has a Notre-Dame church!

A short walk from Place Jaques-Cartier, you’ll find Montreal’s lovely Notre-Dame cathedral. If you want a good shot of it, arrive several hours after noon, since you can see how the sun washes out photos at or before mid-day. I’m happy to make the mistakes so you don’t have to! Sigh.

(Love beautiful stone buildings? Check out these photos of the Cathedral of Learning in Pittsburgh!)

The cobblestoned streets of Old Montreal.

The cobblestone streets of Old Montreal.

The museum called Chateau Ramezay, pictured in the first photo of this article and the shot below, has fun costumed employees and a delightful garden. Devi enjoyed swatting at the bright green bushes as he held his Daddy’s hand.

There are lovely gardens behind Chateau Ramezay.

The gardens behind Chateau Ramezay have flowers, fountains, and geometric bushes.

Parents with young children, be warned that many of the pretty little restaurants in Old Montreal have no changing tables in their restrooms. I tried to work around this by switching Devi’s diaper in the bathroom while my little guy was standing up, but he proceeded to unleash a waterfall upon me, then tap dance in the resulting puddle. Pro tip: Pack a change of clothes for baby and parents. (Oy vey… we forgot to.)

Place Jaques-Cartier in Old Montreal is a great place to eat and see street performers.

The street in Old Montreal where Devi taught me a wet lesson.

Wandering Old Montreal can keep your family happy for a few hours, culminating in lunch. If you’re feeling cultural, there are museums to pop into, most notably the Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History, built on the exact spot where Montreal was founded in 1642. See how interactive it is? Devi even got to do some digging for artifacts! You can see by his expression that he was rather perplexed.

In the Montreal Archaeology Museum, kids can dig for "artifacts!"

In the Montreal Archaeology Museum, kids can dig for “artifacts!”

After you’ve had your fill of Old Montreal, trot a few blocks towards the Saint Lawrence River to the next neighborhood of child happiness: Vieux-Port.

The plaza facing Notre-Dame in Old Montreal.

The plaza facing Notre-Dame in Old Montreal.

2. Spend the afternoon in Vieux-Port (Old Port)… and take a boat tour! At this point, if you have a young child, he or she will either be melting down from exhaustion, or already deep in dreamland in the stroller. Devi was mightily into the former state, and Colin and I were exhausted, too, so we grinned to see the wide green park on the water that is the heart of the Vieux-Port area.

My talented husband rolled the stroller in circles until our little guy conked out, then we collapsed, ourselves, under a tree and fell asleep. (If you’re planning this tactic, bring a towel or sheet, as I did not, and ended up smelling strongly of lawn for the rest of the day. Alternately, if your hotel is nearby, you could just nap there!)

Vieux-Port has a long, green park overlooking the water that we took a nap in!

Vieux-Port has a long, green park overlooking the water that we took a nap in!

Montreal’s Old Port has an unbelievable amount of attractions for children. Devi was too young to partake, but your kids may be at a perfect age to squeal about this Labyrinth maze game…

In Vieux-Port, there's a Labyrinth so your kid can "get lost!"

Your kid can “get lost!” in this Montreal Labyrinth!

Or they might like this choo-choo train that toots its way up and down the port for just a few dollars…

A mini-train chugs along Vieux-Port.

A mini-train chugs along Vieux-Port.

Or you may have an adventurous child who relishes jumping through the air on the epic pirate ship-themed adventure course that overlooks Old Port. I couldn’t get a good picture of it, but trust me, it looks awesome.

Even the outside of the Montreal Science Centre is fun.

Even the outside of the Montreal Science Centre is fun.

Finally, if your child is a brainy bunny, the Montreal Science Centre offers interactive intellectual stimulation. Devi was a big fan of the molecule sculpture directly outside.

Other families also realized how ideal a boat tour is.

Other families also realized how ideal a boat tour is.

To wrap up your time in Vieux-Port, hop on a boat tour with le Petit Navire, which boast a zero-pollution, scenic way to take in Montreal’s skyline from the river. (Boat tours are my favorite! To see a gorgeous one I did in Istanbul, Turkey, click here.)

The view of Montreal from a boat is excellent.

The view of Montreal from a boat is excellent.

I warn you, however, that the hot new thing in Montreal is this water jetpack flying contraption pictured below, so if your partner or child is a wild one, they may spot it and beg you to do it the whole rest of the trip! The man we saw was a pro, and did dips and flips like you wouldn’t believe.

If you're adventurous, you can fly with water jetpacks!

If you’re adventurous, you can fly with water jetpacks.

Ta da! That wraps up what I’d recommend you tackle for your first day in Montreal. Click here to read the rest of my Montreal to Quebec City articles. Still travel planning? Here’s an easy search for Montreal hotel deals by clicking here, and a link to cheap Montreal flights here. For those who have been to Montreal already, do leave your additional recommendations for the area. For those of you who haven’t been yet, what questions do you have? Comment away!

Devi very much enjoyed our boat cruise around Old Port.

Devi very much enjoyed our boat cruise around Old Port.

We were guests of Tourism Quebec and Montreal, but all opinions and mischievous babies are my own.

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Sally

Monday 27th of July 2015

Wow, great article! I changed trains in Montreal once but love the to-do-with-kids list! Would love to take my teen-tween brood there! Is there anything for kids in the Underground city or is it just all shops? Thanks!

Lillie

Monday 27th of July 2015

Thanks! We only popped in the underground city for a few minutes because it was so nice out that we wanted to remain outdoors, but my guess is that there are both permanent things for kids to do, as well as temporary events. When we were there, there was a really cute kids' jazz workshop going on down there as part of the Montreal Jazz Festival. Maybe a Montreal expert reading this can give us a better answer!

Larissa

Monday 27th of July 2015

We will be spending the month in Montreal soon--thanks for the tips! (We won't have a toddler along, but I think it will still be useful ;) )

Lillie

Monday 27th of July 2015

Great! Yes, sometimes I write articles that are supposedly targeted to one type of traveler, but actually work just as well for another. I think, especially of my Belize Honeymoon articles, which frankly work perfectly for many other types of travelers to Belize! Thanks for recognizing that, and have a great time in Montreal!

Mary @ Green Global Travel

Sunday 26th of July 2015

Thanks for sharing your Montreal travel suggestions. The park looks like a great place to have a picnic.

Lillie

Monday 27th of July 2015

Definitely, and I forgot to mention there are gourmet food trucks all around it!

Best of the Web- July 25 | YoderToterBlog.com

Saturday 25th of July 2015

[…] really want to go to Quebec.  This guide made it […]

Dariece

Friday 24th of July 2015

It looks like Devi had a great time! Montreal is definitely a beautiful city. I was there when I was 20 (aka, young and crazy) and basically spent my time shopping and going to night clubs! I'd love to go back now as a somewhat less crazy 31 year old and see all of the gorgeous spots you saw.

Cheers.

Lillie

Monday 27th of July 2015

I have the feeling that Montreal is brilliant place to be young and crazy, but we didn't exactly hit that side of it this time! Maybe in the future...

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