Being a Seattle native, it’s surprising that I haven’t spent more time in Canada — but a cursory weekend trip to Vancouver and a handful of stopovers on the way to Alaska were my only Canadian experiences until this past week.
My family decided to meet up for 6 days in Montreal, and it was a blast. We found so many fun activities in Montreal and really feel like we experienced Montreal like a local.
We enjoyed good food, beautiful scenery, a lovely house sublet, and some awesome traveling tips from locals we met at a bar. Having some know-how from locals always does make the travel experience more fun–which is what we’re all about.
How to visit Montreal like a local
So here are some things I’d suggest in Montreal:
1. Stay in a house
No doubt there are some awesome hotels in Montreal, but it’s also nice to stay in a house and enjoy the unique architecture and friendly vibe of the residential neighborhoods—and many are within walking distance of plenty of things to do.
Some of the residential streets feel a bit like a mix between Downtown Brooklyn and Europe—in fact, sometimes you forget you can drive right up from Vermont, because it feels so European.
Search for options on Airbnb below.
2. Have a Beer (Or A Few)
Montreal is a great place to try locally-brewed beers. They are mainly classified as blonde, rousse (red), ambree (amber) and noir (black). A good brewery to try is Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel. And there are many more. And to just have a drink?
McKibbins Irish Pub was suggested by a local, and there are a lot of good spots frequented by college students and young adults, especially near McGill University–and we found a couple that sell pitchers for about $12–of course, the pitchers were cheap, so I don’t remember the names.
3. Dive Into Thrifting
Not your usual fun activities in Montreal list. If you’re up for some more adventurous shopping than the standard fare, Montreal has a good amount of thrift shops. One particularly fun one is called Eva B.’s, on Boul St-Laurent. In the back of the store is a chest-high pool of clothes, and every item is $1. And after you’ve had a “swim,” there’s fresh lemonade at the juice bar.
One local described it as a rather intoxicating experience—and an old man with a guitar even came in to serenade shoppers! Be warned, it can be dusty in there, and it isn’t a place for thrifters who aren’t ready for a dig.
Of course, there are plenty of options here. Some suggestions? Les Enfants Terribles has an excellent selection of fresh goodies (fantastic salmon tartare), and some very nice cocktails—which also come alcohol free for those just looking for a taste.
Another local recommendation, try the lamb burger at Diez Onze on St. Erne. If you’re in for it, you can try a local favorite called Poutine at a variety of places—it’s fries with gravy and cheese curds. Not my style, but there’s plenty to be found if you like that sort of thing.
5. Visit the Jean-Talon Farmer’s Market
If only to be impressed by the luscious arrangement of produce! Aside from tasting and buying some fresh goodies, you can also get smoothies and a delicious sorbet or ice cream.
If you’re staying at a house, this is a great place to pick up some foods to grill for a relaxing dinner at home. I highly recommend it.