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Things to Do in Montreal

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Pointe-à-Callière
7 Tours and Activities

Located in the beautiful historic neighborhood of Old Montreal, Pointe-à-Callière is an archaeology and history museum dedicated to Montreal’s and Canada’s tortuous past. The museum was built on what is believed to be the birthplace of Montreal; archaeological studies have shown evidence of over 1,000 years of human activity in this very location. Pointe-à-Callière opened in 1992 for the city of Montreal’s 350th anniversary celebrations, and, after 10 years of extensive digs, became one of the largest archaeological collections in the country. Guided tours and information sessions are available every day at no extra charge. Visitors will a disability should not that the museum is entirely wheelchair accessible except for sections in the archaeological crypt below ground level.

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Laurentian Mountains (Les Laurentides)
1 Tour and Activity

While the actual mountain range stretches roughly from Ottawa to Charlevoix, the “Laurentides” refers to a mountainous region just north of Montreal. Other than being a nature’s lover idea of paradise, thanks to lush forests, the Laurentians are actually one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world - it contains rocks deposited before the Cambrian Period 540 million years ago.

The region is very popular with Montrealers wanting to escape the city’s hustle for a weekend, as well as visitors with a thing for hiking, rock climbing, rafting, cycling, canoeing, zip-lining, golfing and a host of winter activities like snowshoeing, alpine and cross-country skiing, dog sledding, ice skating and many, many more. In fact, the Laurentians are home to some of the best ski resorts in the province, top-notch golf courses, world-class Nordic spas and a 230-kilometer-long (140 miles) linear park. The first ski lift in North America was actually built in Shawbridge back in the 1930s!

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Outremont
4 Tours and Activities

Often regarded as one of the fanciest and most expensive areas in Montreal, Outremont has only recently started to be on the tourist map. Understandably so – with its elegant avenues and stately manors, it’s no wonder more and more visitors are drawn to it. The name Outremont actually comes from a pun with the French wording for ‘over the mountain,’ seeing as most Montrealers resided south of the Mount Royal at the time. The three main thoroughfares are Bernard Avenue, Van Horne Avenue, and Laurier Avenue, which are filled with upscale shops, trendy cafés and chic French bistros that even locals consider a treat. The district also includes Mount-Royal cemetery (resting place of many major Canadian figures), which is popular with runners thanks to its giant leafy trees and soothing atmosphere.

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Dorchester Square (Le Square Dorchester)
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6 Tours and Activities

Dorchester Square is a leafy and large urban park in downtown Montreal surrounded by boutiques and skyscrapers; it is bordered by René-Lévesque Boulevard to the south, Peel Street to the west, Metcalfe Street to the east, and Dominion Street to the north. The elegantly manicured alleys are shadowed by mature trees and lead to four statues, each representing a segment of Canadian history (Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Boer War Memorial, which is the the only equestrian statue in Montreal, Lion of Belfort, and Robert Burns Statue). From spring to autumn, it almost bursts to the seams with smartly dressed office workers enjoying fresh air during their lunch break.

But what is currently known as Dominion Square used to be, in fact, two different squares: Dorchester Square and Place du Canada, which were both inaugurated in 1878. The recent reunification of the two created a new area just over 21,000 m2 (2.1 hectares), making it a focal point for pedestrian traffic in the district.

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Montreal Tower (La Tour de Montréal)
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5 Tours and Activities

Welcome to the tallest inclined tower in the world! At 165 meters high (575 feet) and at a 45-degree angle (Pisa Tower only has a five-degree angle, by comparison!), the iconic tower certainly knows how to catch the eye. It was built for the Montreal Summer Olympics back in 1976 and even though it is a notorious white elephant to Montrealers, it is also one of the city’s most popular attractions. Understandably so – no other place offer such sweeping views of Montreal, the Laurentians mountain range, the St. Lawrence River and plains as well as Mont-Royal Mountain. On clear days, visitors can see up to 50 miles! The outdoor, glass-encased funicular alone is worth the detour, since it is the only one in the world to operate on a curved structure, relying on a sophisticated hydraulic system to complete the ascent.

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La Fontaine Park (Parc La Fontaine)
4 Tours and Activities

Eighty-four acres of pure bliss – that is what locals are going to describe La Fontaine Park. Right in the hustle and bustle of the city stands a lavish green park, which features two linked ponds with a fountain and waterfall, an open-air theatre venue, a cultural centre, a dog park, playing fields, bike paths, barbecues and tennis courts. It remains one of the most popular parks among Montrealers, year-round.

But La Fontaine Park wasn’t always this urban forest; it is located on the grounds of what used to be the old Logan farm, which was sold in 1845 to the Government of Canada and used for military practice until the 1900s. This part of Montreal was still very much rural back then, and the soldiers used the surrounding wilderness to train. At one point, the military left, and the park got its first landscaping makeover – it was the first phase of the development of the city's large nature parks.

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Atwater Market (Marché Atwater)
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5 Tours and Activities

Open since 1933, Atwater Market is an important part of Montreal’s culinary heritage. While the city has a number of great markets, this one is considered to be more upscale than the norm. Here you’ll be able to get a true taste of the city, as the market features artisans and purveyors selling only the freshest foods, ingredients and products. Spread across two spacious floors -- as well as outdoor stalls when the weather is warm -- you’ll need a few hours to really see (and sample!) all that’s offered.

Keep an eye out for hard-to-find and specialty items, including ethnic specialties and rare spices. If you’re looking for fresh meats, upstairs you’ll find about 10 butchers. In their onsite wine store you can peruse many local varietals, while a large array of flower shops allows you to explore the colorful side of Montreal.

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More Things to Do in Montreal

Grevin Museum (Musée Grévin Montréal)

Grevin Museum (Musée Grévin Montréal)

2 Tours and Activities

Talk about a museum that takes the art of make believe to a whole new level! Mingle with the (wax versions) likes of Celine Dion, Queen Elizabeth II, Albert Einstein, Lady Gaga, Ghandi and more at the newly opened Grevin Wax Museum in downtown Montreal. The museum is spread over eight different rooms or “worlds,” starting with the Palace of the Seasons, which takes visitors on a magic journey inspired by the beauty of the four seasons.

The New France room focuses on 16th century explorers in the company of the French navigator Jacques Cartier, while the Paris-Québec room presents famous personalities who made their mark on both sides of the Atlantic. The Sports Temple might as well be called the Hockey Temple since it features a hockey rink and several wax statues of celebrated hockey players. The Hotel Grévin room takes visitors throughout a series of hotel rooms, each with a distinct ambiance and guests.

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McCord Museum

McCord Museum

2 Tours and Activities
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Lachine Canal (Canal de Lachine)

Lachine Canal (Canal de Lachine)

2 Tours and Activities

Running from Old Montreal to Lake St. Louis in western Montreal, Canal de Lachine is a 14.5 kilometer-long (9 miles) inland waterway that was mainly used for commercial shipping. It was built to allow ships to bypass the treacherous Lachine Rapids, which were not navigable. Work on the canal started in 1821, and it opened for navigation in 1825. The opening not only made Montreal one of the most important ports in North America and a significant trade center for wood, iron and steel, but it also helped develop the neighborhoods surrounding the canal like Petite-Bourgogne, Saint-Henri, Griffintown and Pointe St-Charles – in fact, Montreal’s population quadrupled over the 50 years following the canal’s construction.

Although the canal is now obsolete for commercial navigation, it is possible to visit its historic docks, the most popular ones being located in Old-Montreal.

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Musée d'Art Contemporain de Montréal (MAC)

Musée d'Art Contemporain de Montréal (MAC)

1 Tour and Activity

Canada’s only museum dedicated exclusively to contemporary art, the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art is a showcase of some 7,000 permanent works displayed in eight galleries. Focusing on work created since 1939, the museum includes work from Quebec legends Jean-Paul Riopelle, Paul-Émile Borduas and Génévieve Cadieux. There are also temporary exhibitions of works by current Canadian and international artists.

Forms range from traditional to New Media, from painting, sculpture and prints to installation art and video. The exhibition spaces are large and airy, ideal for regular modern and avant-garde performances held at the museum. The sculpture garden, with Henry Moore's work Upright Motive No. 5, is worth a look. On the first Friday of each month, the museum stays open until 9pm to host "Friday Nocturnes,” with cocktails and live music.

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Ecomuseum Zoo

Ecomuseum Zoo

1 Tour and Activity
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Montreal Biodome (Biodome de Montreal)

Montreal Biodome (Biodome de Montreal)

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1 Tour and Activity

The Americas are home to four ecosystems, and at the Biodome de Montreal you’ll be able to walk through them all (well, replicas of them at least). Visitors will be guided by naturalists through the biodome, traveling through the tropical rainforest, Laurentian maple forest, Gulf of St. Lawrence and Sub-Antarctic Islands, and observing over 4,800 animals representing 230 species and about 750 plants. Interestingly, these exhibits are housed in what was once the cycling stadium used in the 1976 Summer Olympics. Essentially, the experience is similar to visiting a zoo but delivers more of an immersive experience that makes you feel like you’re really in the wild.

While there is much to learn about as well as flora and fauna to see in these four ecosystems, there are a few highlights of a visit to the Biodome de Montreal.

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Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park (Parc Marin du Saguenay-Saint-Laurent)

Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park (Parc Marin du Saguenay-Saint-Laurent)

1 Tour and Activity

As the only park in the province entirely dedicated to preserve and enhance an exclusively marine environment, the Saguenay-St Lawrence Marine Park understandably boasts exceptional whale watching opportunities. The limpid waters of the biggest estuary in the world, the St Lawrence River, joins those of the longest fjord in Eastern Canada, the Saguenay Fjord; the marine park that is created in the process is abundant in natural treasures and biological diversity, including some of the world’s most impressive cetaceans like the furtive blue whales, belugas, the harbor porpoise, the minke whale, the fin whale and the humpback whale as well as three types of seals and 150 species of birds.

Stretching over 1,245 square kilometers, the park requires an entire day to visit, if not more! It offers a myriad of activities like scuba diving.
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St. Lawrence River

St. Lawrence River

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10 Tours and Activities

As one of the longest and most historic rivers in the world – penetrating 3,058 kilometers into North America- the St Lawrence River is omnipresent everywhere visitors look. Stretching from the mighty Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes of Ontario, the land on either side of it has been occupied by Native tribes for almost 10,000 years. And although many studies suggest Vikings were the first European explorers to navigate its waters, the river was only officially discovered by Jacques Cartier in the 16th century – which turned out to be one of the most important turning points in North American history. Indeed, the Saint Lawrence River served as the main route for European exploration of the North American interior in order to establish a lucrative colonial empire resulting from the trade with the Montagnais, the Etchemin and the Algonquin people.

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Iberville Passenger Terminal (Port of Montreal)

Iberville Passenger Terminal (Port of Montreal)

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11 Tours and Activities

The largest inland port in the world, Montreal is also the busiest along the St. Lawrence River, which links the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean. Founded in 1642 by French Catholic settlers, today Montreal is the second largest French-speaking city in the world. With its cobblestone streets and sidewalk cafes, the city has an undeniable European charm, so it is no wonder it welcomes over 7 million visitors each year.Cruise ships dock at the Iberville Passenger Terminal, which is walking distance from many of Montreal’s main attractions, including the Old Town. Taxis are also readily available at the port.

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Mont Tremblant

Mont Tremblant

1 Tour and Activity

One of the most stunning national parks in the province of Québec, Mont Tremblant doesn’t disappoint. With six major rivers, over 400 lakes and roughly 40 different species of mammals, the park is a nature’s lover paradise and make for a picture-perfect postcard of the Québécois boreal forests. Luxurious log cabins, wholesome residents and plenty of outdoor activities understandably make up for a popular getaway from Montreal – at any time of the year, be it a winter wonderland or a vibrantly colored autumn escapade. Hiking, cycling, canoeing, zip-lining, golfing and a host of other outdoor activities are all readily available at Mont Tremblant, not to mention via ferrata, snowmobiling, ice climbing, dog sledding, tubing, alpine and cross-country skiing as well as snowshoeing and ice fishing.

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