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Montreal is a colourful palette of life, where food and fun are consumed with equal enthusiasm.
Montreal Jazz Festival
"Whatever you do," said my Calgary taxi driver when he discovered I was heading to Montreal, "Don't miss the jazz festival."
Good advice. Running at the beginning of July each year, the Montreal Jazz Festival delivers everything fun-loving citizens and visitors alike have come to expect from this city. This year's festival will feature artists from 30 different countries and more than 350 free outdoor performances.
Shakespeare in the Park
Introduce your family to Shakespeare outdoor-style. Shakespeare in the Park runs from July to August each year, offering performances in parks throughout the city. Admission to this event is pay-what-you-can. For more details, call 514-916-7275.
If it's Saturday, you must be at the Atwater Market!
If you're planning a drive into the country or a picnic in the park, Montreal's fresh markets can quickly turn a lunch into an event. Rows and rows of fresh produce line the outdoor stalls, and inside, pastries, fresh breads and butchershops tempt passersby. Here, truly, food is art.
TIP: Try the Montreal Melon, similar to a cantaloupe.
The underground city: A rainy day exploration
If you're a visitor to Montreal, you'll want to check out the underground pedestrian walkways of this city, 33 kilometres of walking space linking 10 metro stations, 62 buildings, 7 major hotels, 200 restaurants, 40 movie theatres and two train stations. It's one of the largest indoor cities in the world, with more than half a million people travelling through it every day!
Packing a picnic
Summer and good food team up with a trip to Mount Royal Park, where an abundance of trees and picnic tables -- especially around Beaver Lake and the Chalet -- provide the perfect background for a family outing.
Tip: Check out the kids' playground at Beaver Lake.
Food and fun are side-by-side at La Fontaine Park, located at the core of Plateau Mont-Royal. Montreal's third-largest park is a haven for bikers, strollers and inline skating fans.
Tip: Five minutes along the bike path at 4354 Brebeuf Street, stop at Mr Pinchot's, an artisanal bakery that warrants a caloric and piggy bank splurge.
Page 1 of 2 -- Discover fun activities in Quebec City on page 2
A visit to Quebec City's walled old town -- the only walled city in North America -- is like a step back in time. Divided into Old Upper and Lower Town, this area supports much of the city's historical architecture and world-class restaurants. A walk through this area is both free and priceless.
Quebec City Summer Festival
Running in July, the Quebec City Summer Festival is this city's most popular festival of the summer season, boasting nearly 500 free shows and concerts. With circus arts, street performances and music (rock, pop, hip-hop, classical and folk) it truly has something for every taste.
Each evening of the festival between 6 and 11 p.m., street entertainers will wind their way up and down Le Circuit des Arts de la rue (the portion of Rue Saint-Jean extending from Place d'Youville to Côte du Palais), turning heads and garnering smiles from passersby. You'll be treated to stiltwalkers, street theatre performers, musicians, buskers and puppeteers wending their way through.
Parc des Champs de Bataille
Strap on the rollerblades, or pack up the bikes, and head to Parc des Champs de Bataille, where 108 hectares of parkland make for some great family fun. Wind your way up to the area closest to the cliff where, at the Plains of Abraham, Canadian history was forever changed in 1759 during a battle between the French and British. Free walking tours leave from the Discovery Pavilion daily. For more information, call 418-648-4071.
Steal of a deal: Musée de la Civilisation
The building is a work of art in itself, incorporating more traditional aspects of Quebecois architecture, although it was built in 1988. Two permanent exhibits feature the First Nations culture and the history of the province. Temporary exhibits can be fun, interactive and interesting, and usually focus on items of current interest. For more information, call 1-866-710-8031.
Ghost tours of Quebec
Located in Quebec City's Upper Town at 41 rue d' Auteuil, the Ghost Tours of Quebec is free to kids under 10 ($17.50/adults) and features a lantern walk through the historic streets of Old Quebec. This tour of the ghostly aftermath of historic executions and hauntings will delight many, but do check it out for suitability for your own family. Get more details by calling 418-692-9770.
Whether your tastes run to hiking, cycling, or just soaking up the beauty of Mother Nature, Parc de la Chute-Montmorency has the means to make your summer day. Onsite picnic areas, with plenty of space to play, make this a natural choice for families. Not to be missed is the 83-metre Montmorency Falls -- 30 metres higher than Niagara Falls!
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