During the summer of 2015 we didn’t go on a big vacation, or spend a lot of money,
and it was probably the best summer I can remember.
So what did we do? We took day trips, found fantastic beaches I’d never heard of, and explored all around Montreal.
It started as more of a necessity, because as the toddler would say “we had no monies”, and ended up being incredibly fun.
So if you’re planning on staying close to home this summer, here are some of our favourite outdoor activities from last year.
I’ve got a MEGA bucket list for this coming season, so I’ll probably make a “mid-summer” favourites list as we do them,
because as always, everything on the site we’ve tried out ourselves.
p.s. these are in no particular order
1. Parc national d’Oka
This park was on our summer bucket list for the last three years and every. single. year we ran out of time. Now that we’ve been, I think we’ll go back a few times this summer just to see the whole place!
2. Le refuge faunique Marguerite-D’Youville– Châteauguay
Coupled with a crossing on the Châteauguay-Lachine people/bike ferry (available on weekends), a trip to Ile Saint-Bernard and the Marguerite-D’Youville wildlife refuge makes a great family outing, where you’ll feel like you traveled wayyyyyyyy further than just 20 minutes from Montreal!
3. Parc de la Rivière-des-Mille-Îles – Laval
Feel like an explorer as you travel along the calm waters surrounding ten islands in this wildlife refuge. You can rent canoes and kayaks (or bring your own), take a guided boat tour, or dock and explore some of the islands.
4. Jack-Layton Park (Sandy Beach) – Hudson
There’s a beach in Hudson? What?
Public and FREE, but alas, not for swimming. Though everyone was swimming (but I’m not saying you should!)
If you want a GIANT sandbox with a view, this is the spot.
5. Chartier-De Lotbinière Park & L’Escapade – Rigaud
Another one of the places where I said “WHY have I never been here before??”
Playground, splash pad, outdoor gym, skatepark, and then 27km of trails all up and down Mont Rigaud. It was beautiful, AND I felt like we’d travelled far, far away. Make it a whole day and you could also try the zip-lining at Arbraska.
6. Upper Canada Village – Morrisburg, Ontario
Visiting Upper Canada Village is one of my most vivid childhood memories and last summer we took a whole gaggle of our family (a gaggle? A crew? The gang?) with us and had THE BEST time. We got there before they opened and stayed until they closed.
7. Montréal Botanical Garden – Montreal (Rosemont – La Petite-Patrie)
Visit Chinese and Japanese gardens, watch the ducks and koi, and then check out the Toxic Plants garden (my kids’ favourite of course). Bundle it with a visit to the Biodome and Insectarium and you’ll have a full and exhausting day. We only saw part of the Botanical Gardens and were completely wiped after 3 hours.
8. Milles Roches Beach – Long Sault, Ontario
The longest sand beach on the St. Lawrence corridor, this beach was a great find and made for a fun day trip. Bring along some food for the bbqs, cash for renting a canoe or kayak, and then do some sightseeing along highway 2.
9. Parc historique de la Pointe-du-Moulin – NDIP
Take a driving tour of Pincourt/Ile Perrot/NDIP and you can visit this park, rent canoes and kayaks next door, frolic in splash pads, or visit Le Verger Labonté or Quinn Farm. You can find everything on the website! Use use the “Search by Map” feature to plan a full day of exploring the island. (I recommend starting with Smoke Meat Pete and ending with Dairy Queen 🙂 )
10. Old Port of Montreal (Vieux Port de Montréal) – Montreal (Ville-Marie)
We spent a day being tourists and rented a quadricycle. And was it ever fun!
11. Beach of the Regional Park of the Saint-Timothée Islands – Valleyfield
My number 1 favourite spot we visited last year.
12. Salamander Park and Mount Royal – Montreal (Ville-Marie)
The kids were sick of me prattling on about the history of the park “You know kids, it’s by the same designer who did Central Park in New York City!” and instead ran off to enjoy the (fairly hidden) Salamander Playground.
Spend the day with a BBQ, visiting the lookout, wandering the trails, taking a guided tour, watching the Tam Tams on Sundays, or check the Mount Royal website to see activities and events going on throughout the summer. May has all sorts of activities to celebrate the park’s 140th anniversary including mini yacht regattas, family games, walks, dancing and drinks and a puppet show. See HERE for all the upcoming events.
13. Coteau-du-Lac National Historic Site – Coteau-du-Lac, Quebec
This adorable town along the St. Lawrence River is less than 30 minutes from the West Island. I suggest visiting on a Saturday when you can grab a snack at the farmers’ market and sit beside the rapids.