Montreal is known for being a carnavalesque party town—not exactly kid-friendly, but that’s just the surface. Look closer and you’ll find the city is a cultural and educational playground for young families, and the best things to do with kids in Montreal are full of attractions that stimulate the minds and creativity of children of all ages. Every borough has its family-forward points of interest—not to mention some awesome Montreal parks and the spectacular museums—and each is easy to get to via public transportation (five-year-olds and under ride for free!), so you’ve got plenty of options wherever you’re headed.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Montreal
Best things to do in Montreal with kids
Parc Mont-Royal was inaugurated in 1976 in an effort to preserve a natural space in the city’s core, but the park has been an important social meeting ground for generations before it was made official. Today, it’s the site of the weekly Tam Tam drum circle, vast picnic grounds, an excellent toboggan hill where equipment can be rented for a nominal fee, a lookout at the summit and multiple hiking trails.
Head down to the Old Port and keep a look out for a big red molecule sculpture. There you’ll find this interactive museum located smack dab on the harbour. The exhibits rotate fairly regularly, but the Tiny Tots room and IMAX cinema are always available. Located on a pier that’s surrounded with important historical buildings and lunch spots, you could easily plan for full day visiting this place.
Fine art galleries aren’t the first thing you imagine when you plan a weekend for kids, but the folks at Montreal’s Museum of Fine Arts do a terrific job of curating exhibits for all ages. Most exhibits have a room with tactile activities for young kids and free art workshops that compliment the main show. Skip the gift shop and take home a souvenir made by the whole family.
Whether you grew up in Canada or it’s your first time north of the 49th, you probably haven’t engaged with Canadian animals as closely as you might like to. Well, you can at the Ecomuseum. This West Island zoo houses 115 species from Quebec, including arctic foxes, black bears and a delightful raft of otters. Rather than keep the animals in traditional zoo cages, the animals roam in beautiful specialized habitats designed with conservation in mind.
The Biodome is under renovations until December of 2019, but if it was left off this list, an iconic Montreal attraction would be neglected. Can’t have that. What you can have as of the end of 2019 are inexpensive tickets and you can do a pretty good tour in less than two hours—perfect for tots who need an activity before naptime. Stroll through four drastically different ecosystems and experience the climate, flora and fauna in an immersive way. Side recommendation goes to the Planetarium next door to keep you busy until this one reopens.
Located on Saint Helen’s Island, La Ronde is accessible by public transportation, so forget about parking. The park includes classic roller coasters for pre-teens, a kid zone for toddlers and a series of family-friendly rides. Stroller rental is available, so you don’t even have to tackle Metro stairs with a buggy. Genius!
It’s difficult to grasp just how grand steam engines are until you’re standing in front one. The Exporail train museum in Saint Constant—an hour away by public transportation—offers exhibits that get you up close and personal with locomotive artifacts. Exhibits include a miniature train ride, antique steam engines and a model train room which captures the attention of more dads than anyone would like to admit.
For nearly four decades, Geordie Theatre has presented plays for kids performed by award-winning actors. Their headquarters is in the Sud-Ouest neighborhood of Montreal, but you can catch public shows at the MAI and DB Clarke Theatres in Montreal’s downtown core. Different shows are good for different age groups, with shows for youngins and young adults alike.
Illusion Theatre has been around for nearly thirty years. The company performs puppet shows for toddlers to double-digit-aged kiddos. Shows are primarily in French, and are so dazzling and engaging that you’ll definitely enjoy them (even if you aren’t a fluent Francophone). It’s located in Little Italy, where you’ll find lots of parks and family-friendly restaurants for a follow-up meal and some relaxation by sundown.
Going to a sugar shack is one of the best things to do in Montreal. It’s that cultural touch point that every local kid experiences as a high school field trip, but no one’s ever too young to go. They’re a way of connecting with Quebecois history by eating more pig and maple syrup than anyone thought possible. Sucrerie de la Montagne in Rigaud is one of the few sugar shacks open year round and has provided an authentic sugaring-off experience for over a century.
Piknic Electronik has taken place in Parc Jean-Drapeau every Sunday for 15 years, and now you can bring your kids to this massive outdoor rave. Don’t worry, it’s not as irresponsible as it sounds: Every Sunday from June to September, Petit Piknic compliments its big sister show with games, snacks and dancing for kids. Best past is that it’s free for children under 12.
In the trendy Mile End neighbourhood stands Cinema Moderne, a small 54-seat movie theatre. On weekends it plays children’s movies selected by a curator with terrific taste. These aren’t the annoying films you’ve already seen 1000 times; the kids’ movies usually play in the late morning, so you can still get home in time for that 1pm nap. There’s a bar downstairs where you can grab a beer during the show, let alone enjoy the brunch they have during weekends as well.
It’s rainy outside and your kids have boundless obnoxious energy. What do you do? Easy: Take ‘em to a giant warehouse full of trampolines and let them bounce until they pass out. iSaute has two Montreal locations, one in Kirkland and one in Anjou. Open to both kids and adults, Mondays are the best time to go, as there’s family jump night with special prices for people with kids.
An indoor maze in Old Port, SOS Labyrinth is a challenging activity with a historical twist. Learn about the Montreal harbour’s history with an adventure in a maze, featuring puzzles and obstacles to keep your kids busy. SOS Labyrinth is open to all ages, but it’s best enjoyed by kids of reading age. Note that the Labyrinth is in a 105-year-old hangar that cannot accommodate winter fun, so the summer season’s the best time to go.
Performed by Allegra Chamber Music, Bach Before Bedtime is a series of classical music concerts with interactive elements to entertain toddlers and babies. The shows are presented in a mix of English and French, but even if you didn’t understand half of what’s said, the music carries the show. Bach Before Bedtime is presented downtown at McGill University and Place des Arts.
On a budget?
Keep it cheap!
Maximize your dime and time with the best cheap things to do in Montreal, from arts and culture to food and drink. Here’s our list of our favourite ways to spend time in Montreal without spending too much of your hard-earned cash.
Here’s your list of essentials for the best things to do in Montreal, from fantastic attractions to cultural powerhouses.