Guest post by karenj
Map tips: each color represents a different day. Click a marker to learn more about the spot, and click the star in the map header to save the entire map under Your Places in Google Maps.
The car ride from Cleveland to Montreal (Quebec Province, Canada), is about 9.5 hours, so we started our journey on a Tuesday evening. After driving for about 4.5 hours we made a stop in Rochester, NY for the night. We left on Wednesday morning at about 8am and arrived in Montreal around 1:30pm.
Montreal seems like an easy enough city to navigate, but there were a couple of places outside of the main city center we wanted to visit that didn’t seem as easily accessible by public transportation, so we drove straight there.
- Montreal Botanical Garden
- Montreal Olympic Park
- Hôtel Bonaparte
We drove straight to the Montreal Botanical Garden and parked our car there. From there you can easily walk to the Olympic Park and the Biodome. Even though it was a bit cold, the Botanical Garden was beautiful in the fall colors! There was pumpkin festival going on, which was cute. The Chinese and Japanese gardens were all decked out for their nighttime light shows. Some of the gardens looked a little barren, but that’s to be expected at the end of October. Next we walked to the Olympic Park and saw the stadium. You can ride up to the top of the stadium but we did not. Next door is the Montreal Biodome. What an interesting place! You can get through it pretty quickly, but I feel like it was worth seeing. After spending about 3 hours in that general area, we drove to the center of old Montreal, which is where our hotel was. We stayed at Auberge Bonaparte which is very close to Notre Dame Basilica. It was a perfect hotel! Nice accommodations, reasonably priced, and close to everything. They also include a full breakfast (you get to order off a menu) every morning. The normal price is $15 so I feel like it’s a deal for it to be included. We also ate dinner that first night at the restaurant in our hotel, and it’s ranked as one of the best. I can see why! The food was fabulous. Highly recommend the hotel and the restaurant in it.
- Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal
- Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal
- Parc du Mont-Royal
- Camillien Houde Way
- Belvédère Kondiaronk
- Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal
- Place Jacques-Cartier
- Stash Café
Day 2 was a bit rainy to start, so we decided to do the hop-on/hop-off bus offered around the city. It’s a bit pricey but the convenience (and warmth) of the bus was worth it. It’s a 2 hour bus ride around the city, but there are multiple places to “hop-off”. Our first stop was the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. I’m sure it’s a fine museum if you’re into art, but I went through it rather quickly. I was most impressed with the outside of the museum! Next we took the bus to St. Joseph’s Oratory, which my husband said was the highlight of the trip. It was so impressive! Pilgrims come from all over the world to St. Joseph’s Oratory, and they climb the steps on their knees. The inside and outside of the oratory are a site to see. After getting back on the bus we went to Parc du Mont-Royal, specifically to the Camillien Houde and Kondiaronk lookouts. If you pick one, I suggest Camillien Houde. The view from Kondiaronk might be better, but Camillien Houde has a physical lookout point. We had quite a jam-packed day 2! After getting off the bus we went inside the Notre Dame Basilica, which I think was the most beautiful church I’ve ever seen. You HAVE to go inside. Next we walked down Rue. St. Paul to Place Jacques Cartier. It’s a great square that looks very European. Nice place to wander around for a bit, if you’re looking for a taste of Europe. This night we had dinner at a great place called Stash’s Café (Polish food). If you’re looking for something a little different, with a great atmosphere (they had a piano player) this is the place to go.
- Pointe-à-Callière, Place Royale
- McGill University
Our next day started by visiting the Pointe-a-Calliere Museum. It’s an archeological museum with some interesting historical exhibits of Montreal. The 3D (or maybe it was 4D) movie experience was worth the price of admission, in my opinion. The museum was a bit overrun with school groups, but not terribly crowded otherwise. They also had a special exhibit on snow when we were there. From there, we hopped back on our hop-on/hop-off bus and took it up to McGill University. McGill was a cute campus to walk around (from what we saw). We grabbed lunch at a pizza place near the university. We then finished off the hop-on/hop-off bus route. This day was our 5th wedding anniversary, so we had a special dinner planned at Gibby’s. I can’t say I would recommend a return visit. The food was good, but the atmosphere was horrible. The tables were basically on top of each other. However, they did give us a free anniversary cake so they get points for that.
- Old Port of Montreal
- Saint-Paul Street West
- Montréal poutine
- Ristorante Quattro
- Chez Delmo
On our last day in Montreal we started off by walking around the Old Port. What a great view of the city from the Old Port! The fall colors were phenomenal. You could walk along the water and get views of the Biosphere and the amusement park across the way. Overall it was just a great place for a morning stroll. We walked for a while along the water, and then headed to Rue St. Paul for some souvenir shopping. We then had our first taste of poutine. Fittingly, we had it at a restaurant called Montreal Poutine. The place was packed! We got poutine with chicken, and I would recommend the experience if ever in Montreal. Next up, we tried (and failed) to navigate the Underground City. I think our prime mistake was trying to walk completely underground to get to the points of interest. It was like a maze/cave/tunnel with no clearly marked directions. Instead, we should have determined what we wanted to see (like the indoor/underground malls) and walked outside to the nearest entrance to those spots in the underground city. We got the basic idea of the underground city, but didn’t get to see any of the cool stuff. I’ve heard that this happens to a lot of people trying to get through there. Dinner this evening was at Quattro, a great Italian restaurant. Quiet, nice staff, and good food. After dinner we went to Chez Delmo, because we heard they had the best crème brulee in town (it was pretty darn good). They also light some of their cocktails on fire, so I had a cosmo flambé. Totally worth the experience.
Before heading home on Sunday, we drove through Square Saint-Louis to see the Victorian houses. We also wanted to check out some of the famous exterior staircases. Fantastic to look at! Then began our 9 hour drive home.
If you’re going from Cleveland to Montreal, the drive actually isn’t terrible – flying there is so expensive so it seemed worth it when we were going to be there for 4 full days.
If you ever want the “Europe experience” but can’t get to Europe, go to Montreal.
Traveled in October 2015
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