Things to do in Montreal
- Casino de Montréal, 1, avenue du Casino (metro Jean-Drapeau).
- La Ronde (member of the Six Flags family), 22, chemin Macdonald(metro Jean-Drapeau). Check web site. Discounts are readily available: A Coca-Cola tin is worth a $8 discount on any rides ticket.
During the winter, many parks offer the possibility to do cross-country skiing with groomed paths.
- Parc regional de l'Ile-de-la-Visitation — Ski rental available.
- Parc du Mont-Royal. Ski rental available and usually the best ski conditions.
- Parc Maisonneuve and Jardin Botanique — No ski rental.
- Year-round ice-skating, 1000, rue De La Gauchetière (metro Bonaventure).
- Free skating, Lac aux Castors (Beaver Lake), in the Parc Mont-Royal.
- Free skating, Connected ponds of Lafontaine Park, in Plateau Mont-Royal.
- Winter skating, in the Old Port (Vieux-Port) in front of the Bonsecours Market and many parks.
Montreal Island's Grands Parcs
The greater Montreal area offers a number of large parks for year-round outdoor recreation. The most accessible are Parc du Mont Royal and Parc Lafontaine in the Plateau,Parc Jean-Drapeau offers the closest beach park, and Parc Maisonneuve, next to the Olympic Sports complex and Botanical Gardens. Further afield, Parc des Rapids and Parc Angrignon are in Le Sud-Ouest and Parc Rene-Levesque further West, with miles of bike paths and access to river surfing.
- River surfing — Although the Saint Lawrence River is frozen nearly solid for four to five months out of the year, the waterway has become a magnet for aficionados of this new sport. Unlike their oceanic brethren, river surfers ride the standing waves in fresh waterways. The Saint Lawrence has two main hot spots for the sport: Habitat 67 is close to the bridge between Montreal and Ile des soeurs, the site of the 1967 expo and the Montreal Casino. (This wave is also known as Expo 67). The Surf 66 Boardshop at the 1952 rue Cabot offers lessons.
- Kayaking — Just off the shore of the park in Lasalle are the Lachine Rapids. Huge waves, fast water, and loads of fun for Kayaks. Lessons are available on site in the huge eddy formed by the peninsula. Annual surf (rodeo) competitions at "Big Joe" (formerly called and sometimes still referred to as "Beneath the Wheel" by old schoolers). Other famous play waves on this set of rapids on the St. Lawrence river are, Istambul and Constantinople, Pyramid, Slice and Dice, Black and Decker, as well as HMF on the other side of the islands. For those seeking less of an adrenaline rush, there is always the Bunny Wave (La Vague a Guy) upstream near the bike path at Park Rene Lesvesque. Rafting these same rapids is also a fun option.
An interactive map of the cycle path network is available at the Vélo Québec website.[www] Particularly pleasant places to cycle and skate include:
- Parc Maisonneuve — A large park with smooth paths.
- Parc Jean-Drapeau — Particularly the Île Notre-Dame on the Formula One race track: a fantastic view across the water to downtown Montreal.
- Lachine Canal — Bike paths west of the Old Port.
- Riviere-des-Prairies — You can ride across Montreal Island from west to east along the river on the north of Montreal. Many sites have incredible views. A stop at Perry Island is a must.
- Square Saint-Louis, corner of rue Saint-Denis and rue Prince-Arthur, slightly north of rue Sherbrooke (metro Sherbrooke). A charming little park with majestic trees and a lovely fountain, lined with charming houses on three sides (the Institute of Hotel Techniques of Quebec hotel school is the fourth side). This was the site of the first water reservoir in Montreal.
- Parc Jean Drapeau — The former Expo 67 fairgrounds, Parc Jean Drapeau is spread across two islands (Ile Ste-Helene and Ile Notre Dame) in the Saint Lawrence River. On Sundays in the summer, join thousands of Montrealers reveling in the sunshine and music outdoors at Piknik Électronique. People enjoy riding a bicycle around the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve race track on Ile Notre Dame. La Ronde and the Montreal Biosphere are located here. (metro Parc Jean Drapeau)
- Parc Lafontaine, from avenue Papineau to avenue du Parc Lafontaine and from rue Rachel to rue Sherbrooke. Ice skating on the lake in the winter, baseball, boules, and outdoor theatre in the summer. (metro Sherbrooke)
- Parc Maisonneuve and Jardin Botanique de Montreal (from rue Sherbrooke to boulevard Rosemont and from boulevard Pie-IX to avenue Viau (metro Pie-IX or Viau)). The Jardin Botanique is one of the largest botanical gardens in the world and features the First Nations Garden, the Insectarium, and the Tree House, as well as 16 different themed gardens and greenhouses.
- Parc du Mont-Royal, North of avenue des Pins, between avenue du Parc and chemin de la Côte-des-Neiges, 514-843-8240 ([email protected]). This beautiful, immense urban park tops the "mountain" (at 232 metres, it's more like a hill) that overlooks all of Montreal and lends the city its name. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, creator of Central Park and Prospect Park in New York, the park is elegant and accessible, and has hundreds of nooks and crannies to explore. A broad and gradual five mile bike and pedestrian path begins at the Monument Georges-Étienne Cartier (on Avenue du Parc, opposite the western end of rue Rachel, where the bike path continues), winding its way around the mountain and culminating at the Belvédère (lookout) and Chalet Mont-Royal, with incredible views of downtown, the St. Lawrence river, and the Eastern Townships. The Belevedere and Chalet are also accessible from downtown by the newly restored staircase, access via the path at the top of rue Peel. Numerous smaller paths and trails crisscross the park. For lazy visitors, or those with limited mobility, you can enjoy a wonderful view from the mountain by taking bus route 11, which stops at the lookout on Chemin Remembrance, as well as Beaver Lake. Every Sunday during the summer, thousands of people get together at the monument on Avenue du Parc to enjoy the big tam-tam jam.
- Parc Jeanne-Mance, bordered by avenue du Parc, avenue Duluth (with a small extension south as far as avenue des Pins), rue de l'Esplanade and avenue Mont-Royal, directly across from Parc du Mont-Royal. Includes tennis courts, baseball/softball diamonds, a soccer/football pitch, beach volleyball courts, a skating rink in winter. Also a very popular dog-walking venue.
- Parc de l'Ile-de-la-Visitation, rue d'Iberville and boulevard Gouin, +1 514 280-6733 (metro Henri-Bourassa, Bus 69 east). This regional park is along the Riviere-des-Prairies. Quiet and enjoyable place to bring a lunch and relax for an afternoon. Good starting point for a cycling tour along the river.
Sports to watch
- Canadiens, Ice hockey, Canada's national winter sport: Bell Centre (Centre Bell), 1260 rue De La Gauchetière (metro Lucien-L'Allier or Bonaventure), [www]. One of the greatest institutions in Quebec culture. If you want to see a game, it helps to know someone with tickets, as they generally sell out within minutes of going on sale. They are widely available through unofficial channels and scalpers, but be prepared to shell out as they don't come cheap! You can also get cheaper tickets if you're a resident of the HI youth hostel. You can also stay in front of the hostel and ask a resident to buy a ticket for you if you aren't staying at the hostel!
- Alouettes, Football (Canadian Football League), Percival Molson Stadium (Stade Percival-Molson), avenue des Pins at University (playoffs: Olympic Stadium), [www]. A dominant team in recent regular seasons, the Als have won the Grey Cup three times since being reborn in 1996, including back-to-back in 2009 and 2010. Molson Stadium is an excellent place to see a game, but tickets can be hard to come by. Before the stadium was expanded in 2009, the Als had sold out all of their home games for more than a decade, and even after the expansion sellouts are still common.
- Impact, Association football (soccer), Saputo Stadium (Stade Saputo) located at 4750 Sherbrooke street East and Viau in the Olympic Park (metro Viau), [www]. One of the newer teams in Major League Soccer, and the league's third team in Canada, joined MLS in 2012. The previous version of the Impact was a consistent contender in several different leagues (including three in the last three seasons before the team joined MLS) at the U.S./Canada second level. The Impact occasionally use nearby Olympic Stadium for matches that are expected to draw unusually large crowds.
- Tennis — Montreal hosts an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event (men) every odd-numbered year. In even-numbered years, Montreal hosts a WTA event (women),[www] .
- Formula 1 Grand Prix — Circuit Gilles Villeneuve hosts the Canadian Grand Prix weekend every year, with pre-race practice and qualifying on Friday and Saturday and the race on Sunday. The event gathers about 100,000 spectators and is considered a motor racing classic.