Photo: Dan Prokopowicz
Montreal is one of the most charming and happening cities in the world, but French Canadian weather is not always Paris in the spring—amirite? Its winters are legendary for deep-freezing temperatures and summers are hotter than ever, with lots of rain in between. Luckily, cooped-up kids still have plenty to do with these fun activities that the entire family can get with.
Some of the writer’s costs were covered by Tourisme Montreal.
This heated indoor ice rink is all about the roller disco vibes—complete with booming music and technicolour light displays. Located on the main floor of one of Montreal’s tallest buildings, it’s also flooded with natural light during the day thanks to a giant glass dome above the rink. The venue is extra kid-friendly with weekend mornings (11 am – 12:30 pm) reserved for families with younger kids, and the cutest penguin-shaped skating aids for the littles. They also offer lessons, birthday parties and special events during school holidays that include face painting and mascots.
Admission: Kids 12 & under $5; general $7.50; Students & seniors $6.50; Family (2 adults & 2 kids) $20. Rentals extra. Get more information: le1000.comPhoto: Stéphan Poulin
For the Barbie-doll and fashion-obsessed, obviously. The largest permanent museum of Barbies in the world opened in 2016 with a 5,000-square-foot space at Les Cours Mont-Royal in downtown Montréal. The exhibition features more than 1,000 one-of-a kind and celeb look-alikes (think Beyonce and Barbra Streisand) dressed in haute couture designers like Vera Wang and Christian Dior. Admit it, maybe this one is just for you.
Admission: Free. Get more information: expobarbie.caPhoto: Barbie Expo
A selfie-taker’s dream! Meet more than 120 wax models of historical figures and celebrities, from Celine Dion and Michael Jackson to Lady Gaga and Justin Trudeau. (The head of the museum says a team of people will ensure Trudeau’s hair and make-up stay flawless for the hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.) Younger kids might find the wax effigies a bit creepy (doesn’t everyone?) but there’s lots to entertain here, including props and costumes for dressing up with some of the figures and interactive spaces that transport you in time, place and season.
Admission: Kids 5 & under free; Kids 6-12 $13.60; Teens & students 13-18 $15.95; Adults $19.95; Seniors $18; Family $56. Get more information: grevin-montreal.comPhoto: Grévin Montreal Wax Museum
Learning is FUN. This is the best place in the city for interactive demos and hands-on exploring of scientific concepts. Conduct electricity through your body! Make the biggest bubbles you’ve ever seen! Create a cool animated video! You could spend whole days here. There are always new exhibits, awe-inspiring IMAX screenings, and there’s even a zone for younger kids, aged four to seven, to build neat things and play.
Admission: Kids 2 & under free; Kids 3-12 $8.50; Teens 13-17 & Seniors $10.50; Adults $12; Family $37. Imax tickets extra. Get more information: centredessciencesdemontreal.comPhoto: Dan Prokopowicz
Your little lovers of the outdoors will totally dig these fascinating indoor spaces. Montreal’s four nature museums include the Montreal Biodome (closed until summer 2019 for renovations), Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium, Montreal Botanical Garden and Montreal Insectarium. Discover different universes, from recreated rain forests to the world of insects and starry skies. If your kids are crazy about animals, they also can also help feed and care for them during supervised activities.
Admission for each site (packages available for extra): Kids 4 & under free; Kids 5-17 $10.25; Students (18+) $15; Adults $20.50; Seniors $18.75; Family $56.75Photo: Michel Tremblay
This public pool complex in LaSalle is well maintained and super kid-friendly with warm water, a toddler pool, mushroom spray fountain, slides, water toys and a family changing room. There’s even a small cafe if the kiddos start to get hangry.
Admission: Ages 3 & under free or $2; Ages 4-16 $2-$3; Ages 17-54 $3-$4; Ages 55-64 $2-$3; Ages 65 & up free or $3. Residents of Montreal’s LaSalle borough with access card pay the lower fare. Get more information: http://inscriptionsaquadome.caPhoto: iStock Photo
The old city’s modernized archaeology and history complex is located on the very site where Montreal was founded in 1642, and was inaugurated in 1992 as part of the 350th anniversary. But it’s not all fun facts. Find lots of hands-on play for the little ones, including an Archaeo-Adventure workshop, where kids can roll up their sleeves for a simulated archaeological dig, then head to the archaeologist’s tent and the lab space to further investigate their findings. Another permanent exhibit called Pirates or Privateers allows visitors to “test themselves against the rough and tumble mariners who plied the waves of the St. Lawrence River” during the French-British war of the turn of the 18th century, and see how they fare.
Admission: Kids 4 & under free; Kids 5-12 $8; Teens 13-17 $15; Young adults 18-30 $15; Seniors $20; Family $45. Get more information: pacmuseum.qc.caPhoto: Caroline Bergeron
Prepare to blow your kids’ minds with this glow-in-the-dark twist on mini-golf. Putting Edge’s 18-hole course is filled with dazzling colours and imaginative environments—including rainforests, medieval times and the Aztec jungles. Add the fun tunes, and the whole experience is designed to rock the senses. Admission: Kids 12 & under $10; General $12. Get more information: puttingedge.comPhoto: Putting Edge Centre-Ville
Old Montreal’s crown jewel is one of the most beautiful churches you’ll ever visit, and while definitely not your typical “play space” for kids, it’s well worth taking them here to soak in the lavishly painted, carved and gilded Gothic Revival structure with its incredible sculptures, stained glass and decor. Get a guided tour, or take a seat at the organ and its 7,000 pipes to hear its awe-inspiring sound. The Aura sound and light show during the late afternoons and evenings is also a mesmerizing experience (but not suitable for babies).
Admission with or without a guided tour: Kids 6 & under free; Kids 7 to 17 $5; Adults 18+ $8. Grand tours and other special experiences extra. Get more information: basiliquenotredame.caPhoto: Stéphan Poulin
Take in your favourite paintings or a new exhibition and best of all, enjoy free family activities for your creative kiddos on the weekends—including hands-on art workshops, musical activities and films. Located in the historic Golden Square Mile stretch at the foot of Mount Royal on Sherbrooke Street, the museum is the largest in Montreal and one of the most prominent art galleries in the country. Admission: Kids 12 & under free including major exhibitions; Ages 13-30 free; Ages 31 and up $15. (Major exhibitions extra for ages 13 & up.) Get more information: mbam.qc.caPhoto: Adrien Boussaroque
Located in the heart of McGill University’s campus, this natural history museum is well worth a visit with the littles. The kids are sure to go bananas over the taxidermy animals, mummies and dinosaur exhibits—including a full-size Gorgosaurus, Dromaeosaurus (relative of the better-known Velociraptor) and skulls of the beloved Triceratops and T-rex. Be sure to book ahead for the Family Discovery Workshops. Note: The lovely old architecture and staircases means the museum neither easily accessible nor super stroller-friendly. Admission: free for general public; donations welcome. Workshops: $8 per child or $25 for 4. Includes hands-on crafts. Get more information: mcgill.caPhoto: Claudio Calligaris
Hockey fans will dig the trip down memory lane at the home of the old Montreal Canadiens. They’ve preserved some of the original hockey arena with actual seats, and added lots of tributes and memorabilia to the historical displays. The arena has also been converted to an entertainment complex with a bar (not for the kids, but they’re allowed to stay under supervision!), movie theatre, games room and 10-pin bowling for older children. Get more information: forum-montreal.comPhoto: Montréal Forum