7 great ways to vacation in the Laurentians this summer

7 great ways to vacation in the Laurentians this summer

Photo: Tourisme Laurentides Image by: Photo: Tourisme Laurentides Author: Canadian Living


7 great ways to vacation in the Laurentians this summer

The Laurentians (also known as Les Laurentides) is a year-round wonderland of mountains, lakes, hiking and biking paths, quaint Quebecois villages and amazing natural history just an hour's drive north of Montreal.

Here are seven family-friendly, fun-filled activities to highlight a visit to the Laurentians this summer:

1. Mont Tremblant National Park ­ is a haven for canoeists and kayakers (of all levels) with six rivers and 400 lakes and streams to choose from. A popular boating route is the Méandres de la Diable which you can do guided or on your own.

Also in the park are two supervised beaches: Crémaillère in the La Diable sector, and Lac-Provost in La Pimbina sector. If anyone in your group is up for something a little more challenging, consider the Via Ferrata Du Diable, a hiking-climbing path along the Vache Noire rock face, affording you incredible views when you reach the 200-m summit.

Trip tip: For a hands-on, active cultural experience, sign up for a "Rabaska Canoe" outing in the park. The rabaska is an 8-m-long boat (seating capacity of 10) used long ago by the coureurs-des-bois (runners of the woods) who trapped furs and explored the area.

2. Le P'tit Train du Nord (the Little Train of the North) is a 200-km linear park in the heart of the Laurentian region. The park follows an abandoned railway line that has been converted into biking and hiking trails running from Saint-Jérôme to Mont-Laurier.

Various companies offer shuttle services if you only want to bike one-way. The trail is easy to navigate (hey, it's flat, after all) and courses through picturesque landscapes dotted with rivers and lakes.

Trip tip:
Many of the former railway stations have been retrofitted as cafés, bistros, boutiques and other enterprises where you can get your bike serviced or simply take a break.

Page 1 of 3 – Discover more family fun on page 2, including water parks, glam camping sites and day trips in the Laurentians.
3. Mont Saint-Saveur Parc Aquatique.
Saint-Sauveur and Piedmont Valley, 60 km north of Montreal in the middle of the Laurentians, offers a lively mix of cultural, active, indoor and outdoor entertainment, which makes it great for family vacations (it's a magnet for skiers in winter.)

In spring, summer and fall there are golf, hiking, camping, plenty of dining options and a roster of concerts and cultural events.

One of the highlights for families, however, is the Parc Aquatique a thrilling water park where you can let the kids go wild – or reconnect with your own inner child – by going tubing, leaping into the wave pools, kayaking, playing in the bumper boats or hopping onto the roller-coasters.

Trip tip: To add a little nature to your visit to Mont Saint-Saveur, ask about the wild campsites (with water access) or one of the fully-equipped log cabins.

4. Oka National Park
is only 35 minutes from Montreal by car and offers a twofold appeal of both cultural and natural history.

For history buffs, there is the Calvaire, which encompasses four preserved oratories and three chapels built more than two centuries ago by the Sulpician Order. Enthusiasts can follow the Calvaire d'Oka trail. On a clear day you can see Lac des Deux Montagnes and the Adirondacks.

The wetlands at Grande Baie and Rivière aux Serpents have attracted many types of migratory birds. (Park officials are incredibly proud of its heron nest.) While there are 862 campsites to choose from, frequent campers say the best choices are the Dunes, near the beach, or the Meandre area in the interior of the park.

Trip tip: Oka is one of the national parks where visitors can have the option of "Huttopia camping." It's a little bit like glam camping, for those who want the outdoors but a little comfort as well.

Huttopia tents consist of wooden platforms and canvas walls, roof and canopy, and some have a canvas curtain to separate into two rooms. The tents are equipped with furniture, including gas or electric heating.

5. Day-tripping through the Laurentians
The Laurentians are within driving distance of Quebec City, Ottawa and Montreal, thus perfectly situated for day-tripping. Strap your bikes to the roof of the car – or rent them along the way – and you're all set.

Past visitors give thumbs-up to the scenic Autoroute des Laurentides 15 expressway from Montreal. Within 30 minutes of leaving the city you'll see rolling hills, sparkling lakes and mountains in the distance.

Page 2 of 3 – Sure, Mont Tremblant is great for winter sports, but do you know how much there is to do during the warmer months? Find out on page 3.
Also, there's no shortage of interesting villages to shop at and explore, from Ste. Hyppolite and Ste. Agathe-des-Monts to Ste. Marguerite and Val-David (whose enclave of artists and craftspeople gives it a bohemian touch). It's a relaxing way to truly experience the culture of rural Quebec.

Trip tip: For background on the culture and history of the Laurentians, read the Laurentian Heritage Web Magazine – but not while you're driving!

6. Cultural camping in the Laurentians
With 9,012 lakes and 103 rivers, there's no shortage of blue waters and green countryside for camping in the Laurentians.

The upside of camping in such a culturally rich region is its proximity to local festivities and events. For example, if you're camping in Lac-du-Cerf between June and September, there's Le Festival Classique des Hautes-Laurentides during the evening.

Trip tip: Visit the "Laurentians Events Schedule" to see what's happening near your campground.

7. Mont Tremblant in summer
Of course, skiing comes to mind at the mere mention of Tremblant but it's a thriving destination in the spring and summer months.

There's ziplining, mountain biking, mini-golf and trampolining for kids, plus bungee jumping and more. The Mont Tremblant Water Sports Centre is situated on the shores of the 12-km-long Lake Tremblant, which makes for easy-access water sports.

Trip tip: You can always opt for canoeing, kayaking or inner tubing in Mont Tremblant – but have you ever spent an afternoon in a pontoon? You can rent from one to three hours, usually with a maximum of eight or nine people. It's one more way the entire family can spend time outside together in the Laurentians.

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7 great ways to vacation in the Laurentians this summer