CANADA FAMILY VACATIONS: Quebec City with Kids – With its French-speaking residents, 17th and 18th century European inspired architecture, and beautiful countryside, Quebec City is often regarded as one of the most romantic cities in the world. And while that might make it responsible for the conception of many children, it is also a wonderful destination to visit with kids.
Most visitors flock to Quebec City during the summer and winter months when many annual events are held. Two of the most popular are Les Grands Fuex Loto-Quebec, a multiple day fireworks festival held in August, and Carnaval De Quebec, a large-scale winter carnival held in January.
Whether you plan to visit in the high seasons or low, here are my top quatre (4) recommended activities along with un (1) great place to eat and un (1) great place to stay while visiting Quebec City with kids.
Activity 1: Take a Step Back in Time in the Old City
It’s a big deal to be named a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and the Historic District of Old Quebec has that honor. Dating back to the early 17th century, Old Quebec is still surrounded by its original fortified city walls. Within those historic ramparts are winding streets lined with artisan shops, cafes, and many must-see attractions including the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Quebec, the Citadelle of Quebece , and Château Frontenac.
Horse hooves clopping on historic cobblestone streets are commonly heard across the old city, and one of the most memorable and kid-friendly ways to tour Old Quebec is via a horse-drawn carriage or tramway tour operated by Calèches Québec.
A small section of Old Quebec known as Lower Town sits along the shores of the St. Lawrence River. It is separated from Upper Town by a steep cliff. There are a few streets and a staircase connecting the two sections; however, you can score some major kid-points by taking them on the Funicular, a cool rail car system that travels 200 feet up and down the cliff at a 45-degree angle. Find out more: www.quebecregion.com
Tip: Just a short walk from the Lower Town section of Old Quebec is the Museum of Civilization. Its “Encounter with the First Nations” exhibition is especially kid-friendly.
Activity 2: Shop at Benjo
Kids get to go through their own Little People’s V.I.P. entrance when visiting Benjo, a 25,000 square-foot toy store located in downtown Quebec. Behind the door there are 20 different departments including a huge amount of children’s books, a broad selection of board games, and stuffed animals of all sizes.
There is also children’s clothing and a massive wall of candies. If the kids get hungry while visiting Benjo they can grab a bite to eat at the store’s restaurant that also includes an ice cream parlor. Find out more: www.benjo.ca
Tip: On Saturdays and Sundays, children and adults can take a ride around the store on a colorful electric train.
Activity 3: Explore the Aquarium du Québec
Just a 15- to 20-minute drive from downtown Quebec City, Aquarium du Québec is home to more than 10,000 marine mammals, fish, invertebrates and amphibians.
Top draws include a magnificent jellyfish exhibit, multiple walruses and seals, and a lovable polar bear. And don’t miss the glass tunnel under a nearly 100,000 gallon salt water tank filled with sea life and touch pools with sting rays, star fish, sea urchins, and more.
During the summer months kids stay cool in a water park and explore an aerial trail made with nets, catwalks, gangplanks, and vines. Find out more: www.sepaq.com
Tip: Call ahead or ask the staff upon arriving for the schedule of feeding times, which are some of the best opportunities to see various animals being most active.
Activity 4: Be Wowed by Montmorency Falls
At nearly 300 feet high, the Montmorency Falls are way taller – by 98 feet to be exact – than Niagara Falls. They can be found just 7.5 miles from the heart of Quebec City and can be explored in a variety of ways.
First, observe the falls from the platform at the bottom. Then climb a winding cliffside staircase or ride the cable car to view them from the top. A breathtaking bridge crosses over them awaiting your agile feet. For the adventurous kid and kid-at-heart, a zipline travels nearly 1,000 feet across the top front of the falls. What’s more, you’ll find three via ferrata hiking trails on the rock wall adjacent to the falls. Find out more: www.sepaq.com
Tip: Before heading to the Montomorency Falls, stop by the Old Port Market and prepare a picnic lunch from among the dozens of local vendors.
1 Great Place to Stay in Quebec City with Kids: Hotel PUR
Hotel PUR is in the perfect location for exploring Quebec City. It sits in the Saint-Roch District, just blocks from Old Quebec near shopping boutiques (including Benjo) and restaurants.
The modern design hotel has nearly 250 spacious rooms including many that connect. Each room has floor-to-ceiling windows framing nice views of the city. There are also 47-inch LCD TVs and multiple USB and electrical outlets to keep gadgets and techies powered up.
Beyond the comfortable rooms, the hotel features a large indoor heated pool, spacious fitness center, and a lobby lounge with a pool table and fireplace. Table is the hotel’s restaurant and is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Find out more: www.hotelpur.com
1 Great Place to Eat in Quebec City with Kids: Café du Monde
Café du Monde serves excellent classic French and seafood dishes. But for kids it also offers a fun vibrant atmosphere. The restaurant is located along the St. Lawrence River River, next to the cruise terminal in the Old Port. This makes its outdoor dining terrace an especially good option when the weather is nice.
However, seating inside is also nice. Enjoy large windows with views of the rivers and large open kitchen where kids can watch their meals prepared. A special menu is available for children 10 years old and younger. And no visit here is complete without a slice of delicious sugar pie for dessert. Find out more: www.lecafedumonde.com