10 Great Day Trips from Montreal
Whether you’re a born-and-bred Montrealer, or a visitor looking to make the most of your vacation, these day trips outside of the city are worth adding to your Montreal bucket list.
Coaticook River Valley
Located an hour and 45 minutes southeast of Montreal, this municipality lives up to its slogan, “Enchanté!” Stroll through Parc de la Gorge de Coaticook, where you can peer into the eponymous gorge from a 169-metre-long suspension bridge—or visit after dusk from June through October, when lights, music and projections transform a two-kilometre-long trail into an immersive and magical experience. When you need a break, stop by the Coaticook Brewery for a bite and some craft beer. Don’t miss out on the famous Coaticook ice cream parlour for dessert, either!
Iles-de-Boucherville Provincial Park
This park, made up of five little islands in the middle of the Saint Lawrence River, offers peace, quiet and natural beauty—all just a few kilometres outside Montreal. Enjoy hiking, canoeing and fishing in the warmer months, while more than seven kilometres of cross-country skiing trails open once the temperature dips. Home to 280 kinds of birds, and dozens of animal species—including 150 deer—Iles-de-Boucherville Provincial Park is also a wildlife lover’s paradise.
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Drive two hours west and you’ll find yourself in the nation’s capital. Spend the afternoon at one of Ottawa’s many museums, including the National Gallery of Canada, the Canadian Museum of Nature and the Canada Science and Technology Museum. Learn more about our federal government at the Parliament buildings, then swing by the neighbouring Byward Market and build your own picnic with fresh produce, breads, cheese and jams. For dinner, book a table at upscale favourites Restaurant 18 or Play Food & Wine. If you want a great meal without the crowds, the city’s Chinatown and Little Italy neighbourhoods are a must-see as well.
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Le Petit Train du Nord
Once a railroad track, this scenic trail has been converted into a gorgeous 200 kilometre-long bike path that stretches through the Laurentians. Start your journey in St. Jerome, less than an hour’s drive north of Montreal. Bike as far as your legs will take you, stopping off in quaint small towns along the way. Try Prevost for its dazzling escarpments, Sainte-Adele for its Nordic Spa and popular beach and Val David for its farmer’s market, restaurants and microbreweries. The trail stays open in the winter, when it’s transformed into a cross-country skier’s paradise.
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Take a one-hour drive southeast of Montreal and find yourself amidst the rolling hills of the Eastern Townships. Build your own picnic as you weave through the region’s many microbreweries, coffee roasters, maple syrup producers, wineries, cheesemakers and apple and berry orchards. If the weather permits, bring your feast to the beach or a lookout point in Mount Orford National Park. Or take in the cozy Victorian houses and charming small-town churches—and, if you’re lucky, the gorgeous fall foliage—from the warmth of the car on the way home.
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La Maison Lavande
Located less than an hour north of Montreal, this abandoned farmstead was once condemned and set to be demolished. In 2008, however, husband-and-wife duo Nancie and Daniel Ferron Joanette renovated the property with sprawling lavender fields—La Maison Lavande now attracts more than 50,000 visitors annually. From June to October, you can sample confections like lavender-infused frozen yogourt and lemonade, or shop for lavender-based products at the on-site boutique. For six weeks between June and August, the farm’s 100,000 lavender plants are in full bloom!
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The region of Montérégie, located less than an hour southwest of Montreal, has something for everyone. Take in the history at the Droulers-Tsiionhiakwatha archaeological site (pictured above), an authentic Iroquoian village replica created collaboratively by both First-Nations and non-Indigenous historians. If you’ve got kids, get up close and personal with butterflies at BFLY, an interactive aviary for kids. Want to satisfy your cravings as you drive? Keep a lookout for Montérégie’s chips trucks and roadside produce stands.
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Long Sault Parkway
This series of 11 islands was created more than 50 years ago, when the area was flooded to expand the St. Lawrence Seaway. Today, a 10-kilometre road connects the nearly-dozen small gems. Start your journey about two hours west of Montreal at the Lost Villages Museum, which features buildings from the villages that were submerged in the flood. Then drive, bike, or hike along the parkway, stopping to fish, rent a kayak or visit one of the area’s two beaches along the way. More adventurous travellers should check out Lock 21, located off of Macdonnell Island. There, you can scuba dive, searching for lost treasure in the remnants of the flooded villages.
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In search of sparkling lakes, good food or small town arts and culture? The region of Lanaudière has you covered. Start just 30 minutes outside Montreal, in the suburb of Terrebonne, which has retained a heritage village with structures that date back to the 17th century. As you continue east you’ll find Berthierville’s famous potato donuts at Délices d’Antan, perfect fishing spots at Pourvoirie du Lac Saint-Pierre and gorgeous waterfall views along the hiking trails at Parc régional des chutes du Calvair.
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St. Raphael Ruins
Built in the 19th century, St. Raphael’s was one of the first Roman Catholic churches in English-speaking Canada. A fire in 1970 destroyed most of the structure—fortunately, its outer walls were spared. Located an hour east of Montreal in Williamstown, Ontario, visitors are allowed to wander the impressive ruins free of charge, though donations are accepted. On the way back, stop off in Ste. Anne de Bellevue for a lakeside meal. (Many of the town’s charming houses are more than 100-years-old!)
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