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First time Visiting Montreal (and Quebec city and Ottawa)

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Irving, Texas
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First time Visiting Montreal (and Quebec city and Ottawa)

Hi - We are planning to visit Montreal during mid august and would like some advice on "must do, must see" for first time visitors. Also looking for some hotel suggestion. We are 3 - Me, my wife and 4 yr old son. I am driving into canada from the US and mostly visiting Montreal from either Ottawa or from Quebec city. I enjoy scenic landscapes and natural spots (mountains, falls, etc..) while my wife prefers big cities, famous tourist landmarks etc...I am equally enthusiastic about big cities and historic spots as well. So would request for recommendations on both categories. We both also like some level of physical activity (read about speed boats somewhere). Thats about us. Here are some questions that I am trying to get answers for...

1. Most scenic route to drive into Montreal - from Ottawa and from Quebec? From another thread - I looked at http://tinyurl.com/mym3a7 and it sounds good...but didn't see any feedback from you experts. Also this person mentioned a 1 hour ferry ride...not sure which part of the route has a ferry ride

2. Hotel suggestions: I am looking for a clean budget friendly hotel (<$100 a day?) which is: close to public transport, offers included breakfast, free wi-fi and free parking. Don't have any big expectations other than a safe place to spend the night. I understand parking is a big deal in Montreal - free or not. I plan on leaving the car parked for the whole day or two while I am there - so this looks like where I need the most help?

3. Like to see the best of Montreal in 2 days max. I have approximately from Wednesday to Saturday to spend among Ottawa, Montreal & Quebec City. In this time I would like to do and see as much as reasonably possible. Driving time between the cities and the fact that my son may need his downtime has to be considered. Also, I want to spend time where it is worth and not rush through everything. If it is justified, I can extend my trip by a day and do Tuesday to Saturday. Plan on driving back to the US on Sunday morning. I almost forgot - I am a photography enthusiast - so any suggestions on best spots for pictures in Montreal is appreciated.

4. Any place considered specifically fun / interesting for my 4 yr old son?

5. Anything outside Montreal City worth considering (not more than an hour or two by car)?

This is what I have so far from my research on the three cities:

Ottawa - 1 day

Parliament bldg

Rideau Canal - Ferry ride here in August?

Parliament Hill

Montreal -

Notre-Dame Basilica (Basilique Notre-Dame)

Mont (Mount) Royal / St Joesph Oratory - how much time here?

Biodome - is it worth visiting / spending time in?

Vieux Montreal

Walk around downtown at dusk / night?

Speed boat ride?

Quebec City

Vieux Quebec (Old Quebec)

Terrasse Dufferin

Montmorency Falls Park/Parc de la Chute-Montmorency

Quebec - Levis Ferry

Observatoire de la Capitale

Thanks in advance...

Old Montreal
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1. Re: First time Visiting Montreal (and Quebec city and Ottawa)

A few random comments.

It sounds like you might enjoy tremblant, you might want to check it out. There is not much of Internet for a small child in historic Quebec city. I think of it more of a nice getaway week end for a couple. Ile d'orleans might be of interest.

In Ottawa checkout the natural science museum they have a dinosaur wing among other goodies.

In montreal, check the biosphere. Great for kids and on the top floor, you will have great views of Montreal. The classic spot for pictures is the belvedere on mont royal. Carre st Louis is great for taking pics of a Victorian square. There are very few of these in north America.

Montreal, Canada
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2. Re: First time Visiting Montreal (and Quebec city and Ottawa)

I would certainly extend by one day and start on Tuesday if possible.

You write " and mostly visiting Montreal from either Ottawa or from Quebec" and I first assumed that you wanted to do a day trip from either of those cities to Mtl. But then I had a look at your ittinerary and realized that you will be doing the classic two Capitals with Mtl sandwiched in between. Anyways most roads going from Ottawa to Québec City are going through the Island of Montréal or very close by.

So here are a few suggestions for your trip:

Ottawa -

Parliament bldg with a young kid, I don't really know. The kid is also too young for the dinosaurs at the Museum of Nature but the Museum of Civilizations, across the river in Gatineau, has a great Children Museum inside + Imax/Omnimax and much more.

Rideau Canal - not a ferry but a canal cruise is offered many times per day.

Drive from Ottawa to Mtl

Drive on the Québec side of the Ottawa River. Not so scenic but you will be able to make two stops in Montebello, one to have a look at the famous Fairmont Chateau Montebello, the largest log structure in the world and then Parc Omega that will be perfect for son, and wife too!

Montreal -

Notre-Dame Basilica and all of Old Mtl, possibly a horse drawn carriage tour in that area.

Mont (Mount) Royal, just drive to the parking near the Chalet lookout and walk to that observation point. Since you have little time just skip St Joseph Oratory and the trip could be done in 2 hours max.You could do that at dusk if you want You will be facing east so the sunset will not be visible but you could you could add or replace that by a drive to Parc Jean-Drapeau where you can see glorious sunsets silhouetting the city skyline.

Biodome is appreciated by kids but may be a littlemore by those older than yours but you could still do it and get a combo ticket with the Botanical Garden where there is much to see, including the Insectarium if you son is into creepy crawly things.

Speed boat ride, it is expensive and your son might be too young. Why not La Ronde amusement park? A whole section for young kids and also a few all family rides.

Quebec City, you nailed it pretty well. The Museum of Civilization (totally different from the one in Gatineau) in Lower Town has some children activities as does the Musée des Beaux-Arts farther away on the Plains of Abraham.

Hotels, I don't think that you will find so many budget accomodations In Mtl close to Downtown and the mais attractions. You should post on the specific Québec City and Ottawa forums to get more input on that for these specific towns. In Mtl the only idea that I have at the moment is the International Youth Hostel that has a section with full family rooms. If budget would not be a problem then I would give you only one suggestion in Mtl, the greatest family hotel: Le Square Philip but it is way over $100. Considering that it offers full kitchen facilities with a supermarket and convenience store nearby, offers full breakfast free and that you can self park just next door I would still consider it.

SE Ontario
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3. Re: First time Visiting Montreal (and Quebec city and Ottawa)

i might add that if Le Square Philip is way over budget, you might consider its sister property L'Appartement Hotel, which is generally less expensive. I stayed here for first time last month and found the service just as good as the Philip. It is an older property and a bit tired decor-wise, but clean and comfortable. Full kitchens in the one bedroom suite. It provides breakfast, there is a grocery store a couple of short blocks away, and I "believe" there is parking close by. They have a small pool on the top floor.

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4. Re: First time Visiting Montreal (and Quebec city and Ottawa)

I'm planning drives between the 3 cities as well, and Park Omega looks great fun and your 4 year old will be sure to enjoy. Google the website. Also was suggest to buy a bag of carrots prior to getting there as you can feed the deer and such right from your window. Will save you some money over buying them at the park.

Here is the link of suggestions people gave on the drive between Ottawa and Montreal.


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5. Re: First time Visiting Montreal (and Quebec city and Ottawa)

I will be going to Montreal at the end of the month driving from US too. I lived though in this beautiful city for 20 years and it's truly a gem.

Much to do in Montreal but given your time constraints, you will have to choose main/touristic attractions:

1. Biodome de Montreal (4 ecosystems, Olympic velodrome converted into a Biodome, quite impressive even for a 4 yr old that can see penguins as well as tropical birds)

2. Olympic stadium guided tour

3. Definitely check out the underground city in Montreal, the only one of its kind! Absolutely beautiful shopping centers underground. You can enter near La Baie on St. Catherine street, look for Promenades de la Cathedrale shopping on St. CAtherine and go underground.

4. Lots of festivals like Jazz festival etc going on in town. Check them out.

5. Just walking around in downtown with musicians playing music etc is amazig with sidewalk cafes etc.

6. Going up on Mont Royal for an awesome view of the city is great. You can climb up if you have time.

7. Laurentians (north of Montreal) is beautiful (Shivananda Ahsram is here)

8. Vieux Montreal (Old Montreal): Don't miss this as Montreal is a harbor city and there is a lot going on in Old Montreal. You can walk around in the cobbled streets filled with artists/musicians and vendors etc with great restaurants near by. Also Notre Dame church is beautiful and in Old Montreal. Check out Nelson Monument and surrounding area and go to water front to see huge ships as well as lots of entertainers.

Quebec City:

1. Bas Ville is nice with cafes etc, below the street level.

2. MontMorency Falls is beautifil, so is Chute St. Anne. But consider St. Anne de Beaupre which has the Cyclorama next to the Basilica. Cyclorama is very unique, painted on circulal walls in 1880s and as you take the tour around inside, you get 3D effect despite it being a painting. It's hard to describe but very beautiful. You can get binoculars and when you look at some far away figures, it really is like you are looking at live painting with some figures far away and some are nearby (as in real life).

3. Quebec city is the only fort city in NA, quite beautiful if you get the guided tour and you will see historic sites where french/English fought.


1. Musee de Civilisations is really beautiful and unique. They have people in period costumes doing plays depicting native Indian life etc.

2. Parliament bldg is beautiful but your choice.

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6. Re: First time Visiting Montreal (and Quebec city and Ottawa)

I forgot to mention Ile Ste. Helene and La Ronde (it's like Six Flags or other huge amusement parks in the US). Ile Ste Helene was the site of world exhibition Expo 67 and has lots of events going on along with great architecture that was built for the expo.

Irving, Texas
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7. Re: First time Visiting Montreal (and Quebec city and Ottawa)

Thanks everyone for your response...these are invaluable as I plan my trip...I will post an update on what I plan to do soon...thanks again...Merci beaucoup!!

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8. Re: First time Visiting Montreal (and Quebec city and Ottawa)

Lots of great ideas have been submitted to you already - I'll throw in a few extra:

- With photography and outdoors in mind, if you like cycling and you want to break away from downtown, rent bicyles with a trailer to put your child in and ride from the Old Port following the Lachine canal to Parc René-Levesque - gorgeous views on a sunny days. You can cycle there two ways, one following the canal, the other following the St. Lawrence River.

- The Park on Iles de Boucherville is very nice and they rent bicycles. We rode there and saw a white-tailed deer and its very frisky fawn. Lovely area. It is a series of five islands, some which connect by a short ferries. There is also an aboriginal site to explore.

- I always like the Biodome for kids, a good rainy day activity because it is indoors. My son loved it when he was four, still does (he's 11 now).

- A hotel with a pool is normally a hit with kids - the Bonaventure Hilton downtown has a really nice outdoor pool. When we went to Italy we took our son, and having a pool in the summer was a lifesaver! They have an underground parking lot and are connected to the underground city/metro. But there are lots of other family friendly hotels, such as Holiday Inn, Marriott Courtyard, Embassy Suites.

I hope you have a terrific trip!

9. Re: First time Visiting Montreal (and Quebec city and Ottawa)

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