We often visit Le belle ville to see my in laws, my uncle, and to feel like a true change of scenery from our home. Typically, the kids are excited, but because most of our visits are mainly with family and friends – they can be antsy and start to act out within a couple of days. The challenge is how to keep them busy (for a good week), and in winter! As the weather was bitterly cold during this particular visit, we had to look for mainly indoor things to do – and things we would enjoy as adults too. So here is a list as of the date of this post for places to see. Our kids loved each one of these (for the record this includes a 4 year old and an 11 year old – so toddler to preteen approved).
- AURA light show at the Basilique Notre Dame – https://www.basiliquenotredame.ca/en
This is the second time we see this show, it’s usually at night and will require a drive Old Montreal, but well worth it. Not a long wait and the show is a solid 30min. We took our youngest when she was younger than a year and she loved it then too. Can’t go wrong with a beautiful church, dramatic music, lasers, and an incredible light show. My uncle loved it too.
- Café Chat L’Heureux – https://cafechatlheureux.com/en
A cozy cat café that has great food and coffees. Not huge but kids spent a good 45min and we had a nice light snack. They could have easily stayed longer or gone again. The cats were plenty, mostly lazy but still managed to pet a few. Parking was a bit of a achallnege but mainly because much of the street parking was full of snow piles.
We have a few trampoline parks near where we live, but for some reason this was a special one for the kids. Maybe the layout but it was open, and had many trampoline related activities. We visited the Kirkland branch and had great Chinese nearby, but they have other branches around the City.
- Montreal Science Centre – https://www.montrealsciencecentre.com/
This is a new facility and has great activities, especially for the younger age range, but still managed to keep my older kid busy. Not as big as the Ontario Science Museum, but a great indoor activity destination also near Old Montreal – so you can group it with a nearby dining experience.
- Montreal Observation Wheel – https://www.oldportofmontreal.com/activity/montreal-observation-wheel
Close to the southern shore of the Island and at the end of Old Montreal there is the La Grande Roue De Montreal. This amusement park/tourist area has lots to do in summer, including roller coasters, zip lining, and all the amusement park rides you would expect (it’s owned by Six Flags). In winter though much of it is closed – however the large Ferris wheel is worth visiting to get some great views of the City. There is also a skating area and hot chocolate to keep you somewhat busy. However, we just did the wheel, and although the queue was quick to move, the line was outside, the day was especially cold and windy (we were under dressed). However, the views were great.
- The Planetarium Rio Tinto Alcan – https://comm-espacepourlavie.ca/horaire-planetarium/?Codelang=En
This was the last item on our trip, and along with the nearby Espace Por La Vie Biodome a good full day of activities. The Biodome (https://espacepourlavie.ca/en/biodome) had some exotic plants and wildlife that are a nice break from the outside cold, it also had a great vegan café for a snack. The planetarium had a choice of short films that are great to see on the round screen.
Other places to consider (we didn’t have time to visit):
- A Cirque du Soleil show, depending on the time of year you are visiting they are usually ongoing shows; after all it is their hometown!
- Le Grand Marché de Noël de Montréal or Village de Noël de Montréal in Atwater Market Square. If you happen to be around Christmas, the markets are great. Although not indoors, being around hot chocolate, vendors, and other people – you can easily feel cosy and warmer than usual.
- The insectarium (which forms part of the Espace Por La Vie complex that has the biodome) was on our list. But our son is deathly afraid of insects, and when we went we didn’t book ahead so there was a bit of a wait. Book ahead online! Lots of butterflies and great indoor space to visit (not all insects are free range here, only the butterflies so it’s actually pretty insect phobia friendly).
- Can’t go wrong with neon mini golf. We have one in our hometown, but if the kids are feeling the winter blues, The Putting Edge is a great pick me up.
- Most kids hate shopping, but Montreal is known for its Underground City and there are plenty of non-shopping activities, coffee shops and things to keep them busy. If you have the time a must visit (especially in winter) and it takes you through the city to major landmarks above ground. Visit https://montrealundergroundcity.com/for more info.