The oldest city in North America, Quebec City, Canada, is known for its cobblestone streets, Old World European charm and romantic corners. What many people fail to realize, though, is that Quebec is an ideal vacation spot for the entire family. It offers many of the best aspects of Europe without the long flight and high price tag, and with exciting festivals and events happening throughout the year, there really isn’t a bad time to visit.
If you’re considering a trip to Quebec City with the kids, consider some of these options when planning your itinerary.
Located in the city center, this plaza, near St. John’s Gate, features some of Quebec’s best hotels, restaurants, shops and entertainment. The plaza is a hub of activity, hosting concerts and entertainers during the warmer months, and turning into a public ice skating rink in the winter. You can rent a pair of skates and spend a few hours twirling in the shadow of Quebec’s twinkling skyline.
Aquarium du Quebec
Located along the Saint Lawrence River, the aquarium is home to more than 250 species of aquatic creatures, many of them native to the region. While you’re visiting the aquarium, be sure to take in the views of the surrounding area, including the Old Quebec Bridge and the ships sailing along the river.
Museum of Civilization (Musée de la Civilisation)
Although the kids might roll their eyes at the mention of a museum, they will like this facility, which is dedicated to the history of Quebec, the surrounding area and its people. There’s even an exhibit on dragons to keep the kids entertained. The museum offers several interactive children’s exhibits as well.
Quebec City’s northern location might lead you to believe it’s primarily an indoor city, but within the city and surrounding area, there are a number of parks and natural sites you can enjoy any time of the year.
The Battlefields Park complex is a favorite with kids of all ages. The complex, which was the site of several battles between the British and French, includes the Plains of Abraham, an enormous park filled with meadows, grassy areas for picnicking, and tree-lined paths for hiking. The park also houses the Citadel and the Montello Towers, historic sites where you can learn more about Quebec’s military history.
Outside of the city, visit Montmorency Falls Park, a national park. Ride the gondola to the top of the falls, hike the miles of trails and walk across the falls on a suspension bridge. During the summer, the park also hosts a fireworks competition, which is sure to delight the whole family.
The Canyon Sainte-Anne is another nearby park. Here, the family can view the water rushing over the 210-foot waterfall into the whirlpool below or take a ride on the zip line over the falls and river. If the kids are over age 10, Canyon Sainte-Anne offers several more intense adventures, including hikes over suspension bridges and rappelling excursions.
Visit Quebec City in late January or early February and experience the Quebec Carnival, a two-week extravaganza of parades, concerts and snow activities. Ride the giant ice slide near the historic Chateau Frontenac hotel — the kids will love careening down the hill on a toboggan. Or, visit during the Quebec City Summer Festival, a multi-week festival of art and music with shows and exhibits in nearly every style and genre.
From shows and museums to outdoor adventures, from ancient history to modern marvels, Quebec City is a family vacation paradise. Most of the residents are bilingual, but the city has enough of a European feel that it’s easy to believe you’ve actually landed on the other side of the Atlantic. Include the aforementioned attractions in your itinerary, and you’re likely to hear “When can we come back?” before you even head home.
About the Author: A native of Maine, Francine Westcott has traveled to Quebec City more than two dozen times. She especially enjoys snacking on beavertails — large, fried pastries covered with chocolate that are a Canadian specialty.