Bastien is still home with me one day a week, and our summer is so short it’s crazy not to take full advantage of everything Montreal has to offer. Plus, I know that a lot of readers are looking for suggestions on what to do with an energetic toddler in Montreal.
Here’s what we are planning on, and my thoughts on visiting Montreal in the summer with a two year old.
La Ronde – This is Montreal’s amusement park and it has rides for every age level. Part of me is super excited about riding with my son, and part of me is terrified of losing him in the crowd but I think if we went on a weekday it could be fun. Maybe a grandparent or two could be involved… One warning is that I believe they don’t allow any outside food and the inside food is pretty much what you’d expect at an amusement park, but I think for one meal it’s OK. The adult rides can have huge lineups and I’m hoping the kiddie rides are better. They also have a fantastic fireworks display on certain evenings – it’s a pretty big deal here in Montreal.
Explore a neighbourhood – I think this is such a great idea for visitors, and locals alike. Off the top of my head, Mile End is pretty walkable and has some fairly kid friendly eateries (Em Café, Kem Coba Ice Cream, bagels galore, etc.) It’s an eclectic area with a few parks and lots of kids. I am also going to give a shout out to my new ‘hood of Westmount. It’s absolutely beautiful, and the Westmount Park area has the park, kids library and a greenhouse right there.
Go for a picnic – This is a must for the summer. Unfortunately, we don’t have a Marks & Spencer type store where you can just stock up on picnic provisions. My suggestions are to scope out the food trucks in the area (see how here), pick up a sandwich from a bakery or take away food place, or make it at home to go. Great spots for a picnic include on top of Mont Royal (drive or take a bus), Westmount Park, the Botanical Gardens (see below), Jarry Park, or Lachine Canal. Jarry Park and Lachine Canal are conveniently located close to Marché Jean-Talon and Marché Atwater respectively.
Visit the Botanical Gardens and take a picnic. I’m only a bit hesitant because I’m not sure how much Bastien would amuse himself on his own. I think this is more of a group activity.
Swimming! There are various splash pads and outdoor pools around the city and this is a must in the hot heat and humidity.
More for locals but still a good idea is to head to a local library! Montreal has some fantastic children’s libraries and it’s a great idea for when the weather isn’t great (either too hot or too cold!)
A note on Old Montreal and downtown: I’m sure a lot of visitors really want to visit these two areas with their kids. Personally, downtown would be pretty out for me to drag my energetic toddler around. He’s not into his stroller, and besides stores and restaurants I don’t think there’s much to keep a kid amused.
Old Montreal has the problem of narrow sidewalks and cobblestone. I think it would be a nightmare with the stroller. If you do want to visit Old Montreal with a toddler and a stroller I’d keep the strolling bit quite minimum and then take it along the canal where you can see big boats, and there are often food trucks and kid friendly restaurants. Plus the canal (along de la commune) has a paved walkway. Old Montreal also has horses which the kids love (and drivers hate!), and a few museums such as Pointe-À-Caillère, and the Montreal Science Centre both of which I think are still too old for my 2 year old but may be perfect for older kids. The Science Centre has an IMAX.
Originally from the prairies and now in Montreal, I love exploring new places, eating great food and modern design. I'm mom of two wild things and paper and cake make me happy.
Photographing your cutie family would make me very happy.