It’s a bummer that travel is somewhat limited this summer, but there are still lots of ways to enjoy a vacation in and around Montreal. Whether you’re in search of reconnecting with nature, want to enjoy the surf and sand, or even wax nostalgic with some old-school fun, the city will definitely have a different vibe this season… but it will still be the best place to be.
For the nature lovers
The great thing about the island of Montreal is: it’s surrounded by incredible greenspaces. Your starting point could be SEPAQ (Société des établissements de plein air du Québec), a fantastic resource for finding outdoor activities, destinations, and nature stays across the province. Buy a pass and gain access to a wide range of parks.
There are also 47 national parks and 27 provincial parks in Quebec, meaning endless chances to discover local flora and fauna – and many are surprisingly just a short drive away.
Closer to home turf, check out the Laval Nature Centre, a 50-hectare urban park with five kilometres of walking trails. Visit one (or many!) of their 13 gardens, the outdoor farm (the indoor facility is closed this year), the cycling circuit, and much more.
Rivière-des-Mille-Îles Park is the largest protected wildlife area in the metropolitan region, and it’s home to an incredible array of indigenous species. This wildlife sanctuary is a beautiful place to spend an afternoon kayaking, picnicking, or hiking.
The Montreal Botanical Gardens have also reopened much to the delight of locals – tour the picturesque Japanese gardens, which have been meticulously kept up during its initial closure due to COVID-19. The daily capacity is limited and online ticket purchase is strongly recommended.
For the water lovers
Montreal is surrounded by water, and Quebec also has many bodies of water (there are more than 500,000 lakes and over 4,500 rivers). That means there’s ample opportunities to enjoy a beachy lunch, a cool swim, and a plethora of water sports.
Your closest bet: starting July 3rd, the Clock Beach in the Old Port will be open, however the Tower itself will remain closed.
Oka Beach has been a go-to destination for those seeking sand and sun. This summer, the beach is open for bathing but the reception capacity is halved in order to comply with social distancing guidelines (also, their website states that the online purchase of a daily pass does not guarantee you access to the beach and the parking lot if it reaches capacity).
At Bois de L’Ile Bizard Beach and Nature Park north of the city, there’s a small shallow beach, 9.5 kilometres of hiking trails as well as 10 kilometres of bike paths. You can also swim daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Cap St. Jacques Nature Park, Saint-Zotique Beach is now open but is only accommodating 2,500 visitors per day, and Saint-Timothée’s Parc régional des îles has a beach that’s open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. until August 23.
For the old-schoolers
Given we are still avoiding convening in large crowds indoors, we may seem limited in what we can do… which is why things like drive-ins are becoming popular once again. Pack up the family, bring along some comfy chairs or blankets, and load the cooler up with fun snacks – the fun begins when the sun goes down! Cine-Parc St-Eustache has five massive screens and a family-friendly lineup of flicks to keep you entertained all summer long.
And at places like the new Royalmount Drive-In, visitors will be able to take in live events and entertainment, movies, corporate events, and ceremonies, all while respecting social distancing measures – there will even be window service for concessions, individual bathrooms and handwashing stations.