This Thanksgiving, we decided to escape the Florida heat and take a Canada road trip! We traveled from Montreal to Mont Tremblant to Quebec City, and it was amazing! Read on to check out the highlights of our family vacation.
Montreal, Quebec City & Mont Tremblant: 3 of Canada’s Most Charming Destinations
We flew Air Canada from Miami to Montreal, drove to Mont Tremblant, then headed to Quebec City and flew back to Miami from there. It sounds like a lot of driving, but it really only comes out to about 6 hours total. You can see all three on the map below:
I’m so glad we decided to drive because I feel like we got to see so much more of these charming destinations. Let’s start with Montreal since that’s where my trip began.
I didn’t spend a ton of time in Montreal, so I’m going to keep this section short. We pretty much just flew, rented a car, and headed off on the rest of our Canadian adventure. Still, I saw enough of it to know that I want to go back one day and explore more of what this gorgeous city has to offer.
In case you’re not familiar with Canada’s geography, Montreal is located in southern Quebec, about an hour from Vermont’s northern border. It’s actually on an island surrounded on all sides by rivers, which just adds to its beauty.
If you’re planning on staying for a few days, there are so many fun things to do there. Vieux-Montréal (Old Montreal) is perfect for history buffs. You could spend an entire day there just walking around and looking at the stunning European architecture, without spending a dime. It’s like stepping back in time. You might even see a horse-drawn carriage!
Other highlights and things to see in Montreal:
- Parc du Mont-Royal: a free-to-explore park with steps leading up to a stunning view of the city.
- Jean-Talon Market: one of the biggest outdoor markets in North America, it’s filled with shops selling homemade goodies, produce, and more.
- Esplanade Tranquille Ice Rink: The free rink is twice the size of the one in Rockefeller Center in NYC. Obviously, it’s only open during the winter.
As I said earlier, though, we weren’t in Montreal long enough to really take in the whole city. I think you’d need to spend a good solid week there to even begin to see everything that they have to offer. Next up on our Quebec road trip, we hopped in our rental car and started our journey to Mont Tremblant!
Mont Tremblant is about 90 minutes northwest of Montreal, give or take depending on the route. I love this little village so much. We only stayed for one day, and I definitely want to go back for a longer trip during the wintertime.
We didn’t plan any skiing because we were originally told that the mountain opens after Thanksgiving. But we got there, and it was open! Apparently, there was enough snow to open earlier than usual.
If you know you want to ski, though, I recommend planning your trip for after Thanksgiving just in case. If you’re new to skiing, they have 22 trails that are small enough for beginners and kids. For the more experienced among you, they offer 31 “difficult” and 49 “extreme” trails as well, for a total of 102.
More things to do in Mont-Tremblant aside from skiing:
Even if you’re not really into skiing or other snow sports, there’s a ton to do in this cute little town. It’s filled with adorable local shops and restaurants. We were content to just explore, play in the snow, and see where the day took us. But if you prefer to travel with an itinerary, here are some neat things to do while you’re there aside from skiing:
- Ride the gondola for a breathtaking view of the mountain and village
- Try out ice-fishing
- Take a guided tour of the area
- Try some real maple syrup
- Go hiking in Mont Tremblant National Park
- Go on a horse-drawn sleigh ride
- Watch street entertainers or meet the area’s mascot, Tofu
Some of the activities are a bit pricey, but there’s a ton of free stuff that you can do in Mont-Tremblant if you’re willing to give up planning your trip down to the last minute.
Check out my video below for a panoramic view of Mont Tremblant:
Last up on our trip to Canada, we drove northeast for about 4 hours from Mont Tremblant to Quebec City. Out of the three places we visited, this one was my favorite. That’s saying a lot, too, because I really loved Montreal and Mont Tremblant!
It’s such a beautiful city. We walked around even with the cold weather (it was in the 30s). We had warm jackets so it was fine. The food is amazing here, and the people are so nice and friendly. Although we were there for Thanksgiving, we got to see some Christmas stuff and my daughter even got to see Santa!!
Historic Quebec is full of beautiful landmarks and so many wonderful things to do. I couldn’t even begin to cover all of them here, so I’ll just share some of my favorites.
Patinoire de la place D’Youville Ice Skating Rink
Ice skating at Patinoire de la place D’Youville was definitely the highlight of our trip to Quebec City. The rink is surrounded by such gorgeous old-world architecture, so you really get a 360-degree view of the city as you skate around.
The outdoor rink is free to use, but if you don’t have skates you’ll have to pay a small rental fee. It’s open from November 11 to March 7th this year. They use special refrigeration technology to keep it frozen even if it gets unseasonably warm.
Rue du Petit-Champlain in Old Quebec City
All of Old Quebec City is beautiful, but I particularly loved this tiny little street (Little Champlain Street in English). Everything from the architecture to the shops made it feel like we stepped through a wormhole right into a quaint Paris town.
The stairs that you can see in the pic below are called the Breakneck Stairs (you can see why), and they’re actually a popular tourist attraction. Fun fact: Back when they were first built, they were all just one big set of stairs. In 1889, Charles Baillargé converted them into the three sets that we see now.
Fairmont Le Château Frontenac
The Fairmont Le Château Frontenac in Québec City’s historic Upper Town is both a fancy hotel and one of the country’s most popular landmarks. While it looks like an ancient castle, it’s actually only a little more than a century old, according to Historic Hotels Worldwide.
An interesting side note, the hotel was actually designed by an American architect, Bruce Price. Price chose the Châteauesque style (a design aesthetic inspired by Revivalist and French Renaissance). Canadian railroad tycoon William Van Horne commissioned it and named it after Louis de Buade de Frontenac, a famous colonial governor.
Montmorency Falls, located about 7.5 miles northeast of the center of Old Quebec City, is another super popular tourist destination. It’s literally the stuff of poetry. Famous poet John Keats wrote about them, as did poet and novelist Letitia Elizabeth Landon. They were also featured in Amazing Race Canada 5.
Did you know that they’re actually 99 feet taller than Niagara Falls? The park is open year-round but the climb is a bit treacherous during the winter, so sometimes they close down the steps. I didn’t get a picture of the falls themselves but can see the landmark suspension bridge below.
Other landmarks to see and places to visit in Quebec City:
- Place Royale: often called the “birthplace of French America” because it’s where Samuel de Champlain first founded the city.
- Mural of Quebecers (or the Fresque des Québécois): a stunning mural on 29 Rue Notre-Dame, it looks like you can step right into it and walk down the colorful street depicted!
- Citadelle of Quebec: this largest British fortress and only historic citadel still in operation in North America is also a secondary home to the Canadian Monarch (King Charles III)
- Fontaine de Tourny and Parliament Building: just the fountain and the outside of the Parliament building are worth seeing, but they do offer free indoor tours at certain times of the day if you want a closer look.
Quebec is the perfect place for a holiday getaway
Before I wrap things up for today, I just want to take a quick moment to compliment Air Canada. The entire trip was fantastic. Super nice service and on-time flights. That’s even more impressive when you consider that we flew over Thanksgiving, the busiest travel time of the year! And no, I wasn’t paid to say that. We paid for this entire trip ourselves.
Overall, I was impressed by the friendliness of the people everywhere we went on our Quebec road trip, and how safe everything was. It was perfect to get away from sunny Miami and experience some cold, even when we didn’t do any snow activities. Again, the season for snow sports and activities usually starts after Thanksgiving. But we had plenty of snow while we were there! More than enough for my kids to make a snowman!
If you have an opportunity to take a family road trip in Quebec, I highly recommend doing it! We loved every moment of our time in the snow together and can’t wait to go back again to explore more of what the gorgeous province has to offer.