by Stephen Johnson
Montreal is a great city to visit any time of year but especially in the summer. With a full calendar of festivals and a number of summer-specific attractions, the city seems to devote all its energy towards having fun. With that in mind, our family decided a summer road trip to Montreal was in order.
We arrived in Montreal with the intention of checking out some of the attractions we had never seen before in the city. We decided to start with a visit to the recently opened Au Sommet Place Ville Marie Observation Deck. Located on the 46th floor of Place Ville Marie, the observation deck offers a 360-degree view of the historic city. I enjoyed pointing out some of the key Montreal sites to our son, David, like Olympic Stadium and the St. Lawrence River. The experience was enhanced by an interactive, multimedia exhibit that offered a local, insiders’ perspective of Montreal. I learned many new things about the city even though I had visited countless times.
The next day, our high-flying adventures were not over. We were taking a walk in Old Montreal when David spotted a pirate ship. He was not only attracted to the pirate ship but to the aerial adventure courses. Children and adults were exploring the ship from above while overcoming various obstacles like hanging ladders and footbridges. Upon closer inspection, we saw that everyone was securely harnessed to a thick overhead wire and clip. David wanted to do the Pirate Ship Aerial Course and was wondering which parent would join him. My wife, Sandy, bravely volunteered since she knows my extreme fear of heights. (She earned many bonus points for this one.)
At first, I was scared for both David and Sandy. The instructor clearly explained the activity and course, but it still takes some practice walking over footbridges five to ten meters in the air. They both slipped a couple of times but the overhead wire and clip securely held them. David quickly picked it up and nimbly made his way around the courses. Sandy was not quite as quick but successfully completed the courses as well. With my feet firmly planted on the ground, I was proud of them both.
I thought our vertical tour of Montreal was finished … when David spotted Montreal Zipline. The first words out of his mouth were, “Hey that looks like fun. Do you want to try it papa?” If the pirate ship experience was a few meters in the air, the zipline was about ten times that height. Again, Sandy was a willing volunteer thus earning many more bonus points.
After making their way to the top of the zipline, David and Sandy were ready to go. When David leapt from the platform, I could hear screams of joy. When Sandy jumped off … I would not exactly call her screams joyful. But both arrived successfully and were thrilled with their adventures.
Finally, my two Adrenaline Junkies had their fill and we were ready for quieter activities. Our first destination was the Quartier des Spectacles along St. Catherine Street. I heard the Just for Laughs festival was going on and there were free family activities. The festival delivered, with numerous kid-friendly performances, a screening area showing some of the most popular Just for Laughs gags, and a huge games area featuring a gigantic chess table and shuffleboard.
After having had a good laugh, we moved over to St. Denis Street to see the Montreal Circus Festival. Again, there were many activities geared towards kids. Performers put on shows and David was able to try out a few different circus activities like juggling and balancing on a wire. The best part was that the street was completely closed off to cars, allowing for a worry-free walk. I loved the chalk art in the middle of St. Denis Street as kids drew all types of pictures on the pavement. I left thinking it would be great if we turned over a few of our Ottawa intersections to kids once a year to create something magical.
As usual, we had a wonderful time in Montreal and left with great summer memories.
Here is a list of websites of the attractions mentioned in the article. For more information about other attractions and festivals in Montreal, visit www.tourisme-montreal.org.