Montreal is a very cool city with a European feel too it, particularly with all the French influences. It feels quite urban but there are lots of chances to enjoy the outdoors and escape the energy of the city. We’re not a bit fan of crowds and the urban crush so when we’re in the midst of the hustle and bustle, we like to get outside and take a breath of (mostly) fresh air.
Here are some of the places we enjoyed on our recent trip to Montreal this past July on our first stop on our honeymoon.
Mount Royal Park was probably my favorite escape, a hill just west of the downtown where you can go for a casual walk or a more serious hike if you want to reach the very top. The walking trail is closed to cars and is quite wide so bikers, runner, walkers and even the occassional mountee can co-exist. It is forested, pretty well shaded and really makes you feel like you are no longer in the city. The views are awesome from the top.
More expensive than Mount Royal’s free trails but lovely and exotic was the Montreal Botanical Gardens ($18.75 canadian for adults). We spent quite a few hours wandering the various sections, of which there are about thirty themed areas, many of which contain water features and all of which were beautiful. It’s hard to pick favorties but the teepees and water lillies of the First Nations Garden were wonderful and by a shaded strech of walkway, which was a nice break from the heat of the day. The Chinese Gardens were like a little gem tucked away behind thick walls that we almost didn’t venture into, though it might be my favorite so I’m happy we did. The water features there (water falls, ponds) all build around rock gardens and Chinese style buildings was amazing, as was the tea break we took in the teahouse located right in the middle and surrounded by mini bonsai trees.
Montreal also contains lots of parks in the midst of the city (like Parc Laurier pictured below) or places that feel like a park, such as the Montreal’s Old Port area on the waterfront by the Saint Lawrence River. A lot of the parks are very spacious; for example Laurier Park has an area of 27 acres and contained something for everyone- playgrounds, pools, picnic tables, a dog park, open streches of grass etc. If you go during the summer months, check out the fireworks that happen every Saturday at 10 pm on the waterfront.
There’s so much to see and do that we couldn’t possibly do it all, even in a five day visit. Here’s some other outdoor attractions that were on our list:
Parc Jean-Drapeau: a fun sounding park, includes the Biosphère Environment Museum ($12, 10am-5pm) and Floralies Gardens where you can view the perennials, trees and shrubs plus tens of thousands of annuals.
Mount Royal Cemetary: you can take a self-guided walking tour from a historical viewpoint and also pick up the tree brochure detailing the cemetery’s arboretum with more than 100 species of tree on 165 acres (145 bird species, too.) Part of Mount Royal Park
Lachine Canal National Historic Site: Bike (rent by Atwater Market) or walk the canal, you can also rent kayaks or canoes. Definitely a must-see if we go again