Clock Tower Beach
Photograph: Daphne Caron | Clock Tower Beach

24 best things to do in Montreal with kids

The essential list of the best things to do in Montreal for guaranteed family-friendly fun.

Laura Osborne
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Montreal is a playground for kids of all ages—especially during the summer. The city is full of attractions for young kids (and the young at heart), stellar free museums and excellent places to eat that are easy on the budget. Every borough has its own family-forward fun—not to mention illuminated trampoline parks—with easy access via public transportation (5 year-olds and under ride for free!). 

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Best things to do in Montreal with kids

Free museums in Montreal are a great place to explore art, history, zoology and more—all without spending a dime. A combination rich history, a steady influx of scholars and up-and-coming artists make the free museums in Montreal the hosts to world class exhibitions and some of the best galleries around. Best of all? Checking out these top 10 museums is only one of many of the best free things to do in Montreal.

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Montreal, being situated on an island, offers a unique advantage that should be fully embraced. Make the most of it! Our selection of the finest beaches in and around Montreal ranges from expansive sandy stretches adorned with tiki-inspired huts to spots where you can catch some waves. We're talking about urban escapes, shores adjacent to parks, and family-friendly escapes that are consistently worthwhile (don't miss this hidden gem, a must-visit on your Montreal road trip itinerary). Remember to pack your preferred affordable meals, grab a beach chair, and, of course, don't forget the sunscreen.

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Bounce high among the trees 12 months a year! About 30 minutes from Montreal, Uplå — North America’s largest outdoor trampoline park — is offering an illuminated tree top experience that’s like no other. Picture jumping on a series of bouncing platforms suspended 20 feet above the ground in the Mont-Saint-Grégoire forestAnd as the sun goes down, the net world comes alive surrounded by a dazzling display of neon twinkling lights.

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7. Discover a new side of Parc Mont-Royal

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.

Montreal is brimming with artists, in part due to its enticing art programs that attract students from distant places. Additionally, it remains the most affordable major city in Canada, making it an appealing choice for artists who prefer budget-friendly options. Consequently, the city boasts a diverse and vibrant cultural scene, offering numerous independent art galleries and artist-run centers that can be explored without any admission charges. Whether you're interested in commercial galleries (be prepared to spend money if you want to purchase artwork) or non-profit exhibition venues, each one has its own distinctive character, providing an excellent complement to the city's renowned museums.

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When it comes to the abundant array of amazing free activities in Montreal, spending time in the city's numerous urban green spaces and beaches stands out as a top choice. These locations are frequented by Montreal residents throughout the year, but it's during the warm summer months that they truly flourish.  They also serve as perfect destinations for unwinding after a long day at school or grabbing a casual meal. Here are some of the finest parks in and around Montreal.

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.

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11. Head to the Biodome

Pair inexpensive tickets and a pretty good tour in less than two hours and you've got perfect activity 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.

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13. Explore the Montreal Science Centre

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.

14. Experience Bach Before Bedtime

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.

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This 60-metre tall observation wheel—kaleidoscopically lit and equipped with climate-controlled booths running throughout the year—offers killer views of Old Montreal and downtown. It's also (conveniently) located next to Voiles en Voiles (a pirate-themed ropes course) and the Tyrolienne Mtl Zipline (an aerial adventure where you can fly like a super hero).

16. Watch a film at Cinéma Moderne

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.

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18. Get lost in SOS Labyrinth

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.

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19. Take a leap at iSaute

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.

20. Check out the Ecomuseum Zoo

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.

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21. Get tickets for Geordie Theatre

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.

22. Visit Exporail / Canadian Railway Museum

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.

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Twice the size of the The Rink at Rockefeller Center, the refrigerated ice rink at the Esplanade Tranquille—located at the intersection of Sainte-Catherine Street West and Clark Street—is 1,500 mof winter fun. Expect 70s vibes on Saturday nights thanks to all the musical disco hits (hello, Donna Summer!), and classical vibes (Mozart and more) on Wednesday afternoons. Did we mention you can borrow board games at no charge from the Esplanade Tranquille’s Grand salon?

24. Watch a show at Illusion Theatre

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.

On a budget?

Keep it cheap!

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