Beyond Montreal: Best Family Activities in Quebec
In a bid to see as much of the country as possible, many families limit their Quebec travel to the capital, Quebec City; the largest city, Montreal; or to the popular ski destination, Mont Tremblant. But Quebec is the largest province in Canada—it’s larger than Ontario in size but less populated—which means there’s plenty to uncover in this predominantly French-speaking region beyond the usuals, and some of the best family activities in Quebec are the least explored. From natural wonders, such as Îles de la Madeleine, to one of Canada’s oldest European settlements in Vieux Quebec, Quebec is one of the most varied places to visit in Canada. Come for the culture, the food, the vibrant European feel, and the natural experiences.
Two of the best underrated regions to visit are Lanaudiere and Laval. The Lanaudiere region is about an hour northeast of Montreal and has a great mix of outdoor adventures, cultural events, and incredible food experiences, while Laval is just 20 minutes from Montreal. Get off the beaten path with these best family activities in Quebec that go beyond the usual tourist stops.
Where to Stay
The Lanaudiere region is great for outdoor enthusiasts. An ideal lodging option with plenty of outdoor activities for the whole family is L’Auberge du Vieux Moulin. There, you can go fishing, paddle in a canoe or kayak, head out in a paddleboat, or try your hand at stand-up paddleboarding (SUP). For those who prefer land-based adventures, try cross-country biking, enjoy the volleyball and badminton courts or learn to play horseshoes. This family property has everything for a well-rounded adventure experience for the whole gang.
One of the best amenities at this property is the indoor swimming pool and spa area for days when the weather isn’t cooperating and outdoor activities aren’t possible. Or, after a morning spent outdoors, you can relax and unwind at the on-site Nordic spa before dinner. The food is all homemade and delicious, and there are many local delicacies to try.
What to Do
Bison Bastion: A unique stop in the Lanaudiere region is La Terre des Bisons, a dynamic and hospitable bison farm offering activities and educational information. It offers guided tours where travelers will learn the differences between many of the animals, such as bison and elk.
Sky High: Families with adrenaline junkies will fall in love with Arbraska Rawdon. With more than 120 activities for families to enjoy in the trees, it’s the perfect way to spend a day outdoors. Channel your inner Tarzan with zip lines, rope bridges, climbing nets and lianas. There are dedicated areas for younger children as well, and nature hikes for those who are less fond of heights.
Chasing Waterfalls: Lanaudiere has many wonderful outdoor spaces to stretch your legs. Parc regional des Chutes Dorwin is considered to be one of Quebec’s most spectacular natural sites. Two observation points with spectacular views are worth the hike along the 2.5km-ecological trail that runs along the gorge, but the crowning jewel in this lovely park is the 60-foot waterfall.
Where to Stay
Laval is much more than just a suburb of Montreal—it’s a vibrant, urban destination worth visiting on its own. The Sheraton Laval is a great choice for accommodations because of its spacious guest rooms and suites, the indoor pool and hot tub, and the on site restaurants.
What to Do
Climb Time: If you’ve got adventurous kids and aren’t afraid of heights, one of the best family activities in Quebec is Clip n’ climb. This climbing gym offers hour-long sessions and 34 themed climbing walls ranging in difficulty from beginner to expert. It’s a great way to burn off some of those delicious meals you’re bound to enjoy while in the area.
Beer Fest: If there’s a beer lover in the family, book your trip during Festival des Bieres de Laval, which runs for a weekend every July. The festival is a big, family-friendly, country-style celebration of Quebec’s brewing industry and regional food products. This festival was created by a husband-wife team who love beer and wanted to create a community event that would cater to families as well. Kids will love the family area, complete with bouncy castles.
Pub Grub: If you enjoy pub food and want something that will suit kids as much as adults, head to Premier Joueur. The pub has all the classic fare but with over 1,000 board games to choose from to play before, during, or after your meal.
Get Outdoors: Nature addicts will have a wonderful time at Parc de la Riviere-des-Mille-Îles. Visitors can go on a guided fishing tour and learn about some of the fish that are local to the area, or take a ride in a rabaska (indigenous birch bark canoe) and see the sights by water. For an educational twist, book a guided tour of the Exploration Center, which helps guests understand the river ecosystem and the environmental issues facing it.
By Claire Zlobin