Canada Family Travel

Family Road Trip: Montreal to Quebec Circle

A great family road trip is a tradition as American as apple pie.  But our neighbors to the north, Canadians, are also big fans of road trips.  There are many advantages to doing a family road trip in Canada – favorable exchange rates, cooler weather, and if you visit the French Canadian side exposure to new language and culture.  So, when planning a great road trip with my family I decided to start in Montreal and travel to the nearby City of Quebec, with plenty of stops along the way.  I stuck to all my road trip rules – small driving distances, one major attraction per day and plenty of rest time and arrived at a perfect family vacation.  Here is our perfect road trip itinerary for Montreal to Quebec (and back again).  

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Family Road Trip: Day 0

  • Attraction: None for a travel day
  • Sleep in: Laval 

We arrived in Montreal at night and checked into Le St. Martin in Laval.  When it comes to traveling with a family I try to pick hotels that are 3 or more stars.  I have discussed this in my previous article on road trips, but essentially the idea is to have plenty of amenities to keep kids occupied in between activities.  Unless you are on a very high budget I would recommend sticking to hotels right outside major metropolitan areas.  Just a 10 to 15-minute drive will put you right in the center of the city, and you will save hundreds of dollars on hotel bookings.  Real estate is all about location – so a similar hotel in center Montreal would have cost far more.

Family Road Trip, Montreal to Quebec: Day 1

  • Attraction: Forest Luminata
  • Sleep in: Sherbrooke

I had arranged for a car rental prior to arrival. While doing my research I used discovercarehire.com which allows me to price compare dozens of rental car websites.  We spend the morning in the pool, and after check out called the car rental company that picked us up at the hotel. 

Our first destination was Sherbrooke, which is located right outside several attractions I had planned for us.  For day 1, our highlight of the day was the well-reviewed Forest Luminata.  This attraction sells out quickly so I booked tickets 4 weeks in advance. If you are following this itinerary, this is the only attraction I would suggest booking in advance.  We spend the day driving and exploring the French Canadian countryside and visiting locals farms.  English is at a premium here, and I would suggest you have an English to French dictionary uploaded to your phone if you don’t speak any French. 

family road trip montreal to quebec stop forest lumina
Image courtesy of Forest Lumina

Family Road Trip, Montreal to Quebec: Day 2

  • Attraction: Mines De Capelton
  • Sleep in: Sherbrooke

For our second day, I had originally planned a visit to the Parc Du Mont planetarium.  This attraction had great reviews and offered what sounded like a real once in a lifetime experience – observing stars from a real planetarium from one of the darkest places on earth.  However, when I called in the morning to check for times and create reservations I encountered an issue.  The staff here spoke so little English and I so little French we were almost unable to communicate.  The staff wanted all of my information in order to create a reservation but was unable to understand me.  Additionally, they informed me that all the information at the planetarium would be in French, the show would be at 10 pm (late for us) and if there was a cloud cover we could not get a refund.  In any case,  I decided to pass on this attraction in favor of a much more easy to visit Capelton Caves.  

The Mines de Capelton turned out to be a great choice anyway. The 3-hour tour, in English, is appropriate for ages 7 to 15 and takes you deep inside a now-shuttered mining operation. The guides discuss history and science behind mining and the tour is well organized, informative and fun.  I can definitely suggest this stop on your family road trip in Quebec.

Images courtesy of Mines De Capelton

  Family Road Trip, Montreal to Quebec: Day 3

  • Attraction: Quebec Aquarium
  • Sleep in: Quebec 

Although I didn’t have a big plan for this day I knew we would come up with something good as most big urban centers have plenty of kid-friendly attractions.  We left Sherbrooke early and arrived in Quebec around 12.  The kids decided they wanted to visit the Quebec Aquarium, which was absolutely delightful.  It’s easy to spend hours here wandering through all the exhibits, and we didn’t even arrive in time to watch the shows.  Still, there was plenty to do including multiple touch tanks and an outdoor playground.  

That night we stayed on the aptly named hotel avenue at the Travelodge which boasts a small pool and other helpful amenities.  When you are in Quebec, be sure to try the local poutine, a potato/gravy/cheese combination invented in Quebec and served almost everywhere.  

Image courtesy of Quebec Aquarium

Family Road Trip, Montreal to Quebec: Day 4

  • Attraction: Museum of Civilization
  • Sleep in: Quebec

We had quite a few options for things to do in Quebec, and the kids picked the Museum of Civilization because the reviews discussed 3D printing opportunities available here.  There is quite a bit more to do in the Museum than 3D printing, but I really appreciated all the exhibits. You can find plenty of kid-friendly activities here (such as the cool key scavenger hunt) and plenty for adults too.  Additionally, check out the nice cafeteria on-premises as well.  We spend most of the day here.  

Later on, we ventured out into downtown Quebec (you can leave your car parked at the museum for the whole day) and visited the famous downtown Quebec with its closed streets.  Of the two cities, Montreal and Quebec, the second definitely has far more old-world charm.  Enjoy a stroll here with some great gelato, another local specialty.  

Image courtesy of the Museum of Civilization.

Family Road Trip, Montreal to Quebec: Day 5

  • Attraction: Road trip stops Cap-Sante and Trois Rivieres
  • Sleep in: Montreal

On day 5 of our road trip, we head back to Montreal. I did not plan for any major tourist attraction for that day, instead preferring to stop in little villages of Cap Sante and Trois Rivieres along the way.  We took a different way to Montreal, bearing west instead of east and so the views on the trip were quite different.  There is a nice little beach in Cap Sante where you can spend hours exploring or playing on the seashore.  

That night we stayed in Hotel Brossard, a nice hotel outside of Montreal which unfortunately lacked a pool.  They did sport the only alcohol vending machine I have ever seen in all my travels, so that kind of made up for it.  

Family Road Trip, Montreal to Quebec: Day 6

  • Attraction:  Montreal Science Center
  • Sleep in: Montreal 

For our last full day, we really wanted to visit the biodome in Montreal.  However, upon arrival to the city we realized that the biodome is closed for renovations and so we had to quickly change plans.  Luckily, the Montreal Science Center was an absolutely fantastic attraction.  We actually spend most of the day here – and didn’t even visit every exhibit by 4 pm.  

Image courtesy of Montreal Science Center

Afterward, I finally dragged my kids out into downtown Montreal.  Unfortunately, only then did I learn about the light show at Cathedral de Notre Dame but if you are following my itinerary perhaps you can avoid my mistake and have a chance to see this show.  Online reviews rave about it, but all the showtimes were sold out by the time we finally made our way here.  

That’s it for our family road trip – we left for home early the next morning (stayed over in Montreal that night). I hope you have enjoyed this itinerary and found it useful. Please feel free to share on social media and to leave comments – I love to read them!  Please check out my artwork for sale and help support this blog: 

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