Hi friends! Last week my blog went silent. My husband’s and my best friend unexpectedly passed away. I took the time to grieve and was, frankly, overcome by sadness. He was 33 and just too young to leave. We weren’t done making memories with him, you know? But it did help me refocus on what is most important- the people I love. I am more dedicated than ever to lead a life that matters, to love those around me to the best of my ability, to be present everyday. Honestly, I needed those reminders and am trying to be a better mom, wife, and friend.
trip recap- Montreal, Canada
A few weeks ago, my little family went to Montreal, Canada to visit my little sister who just moved there with her boyfriend. It was also my 10 anniversary with my husband, so it was perfect timing for a vacation! I thought I would share my favorite activities, where we stayed, and some travel tips with a toddler.
we made the “fun” decision of doing a red eye with Don. It was hard. He stayed awake for the 4.5 hour plane ride to NYC, but slept during the 2 hour plane ride to Montreal. While he was awake, here is what kept him happy:
plane tips for kids
- I have a tablet that I saved TV shows on through Netflix so he could watch them offline.
- I have an old iPhone that still works. For trips, I pay for one month of YouTube Red so that I can save his favorite videos offline. The first month of YouTube Red is free so this is a great option if you want to check it out.
- He watched a movie on the plane. Luckily we were on a large place so there were free movies on the seat backs. Yes, this was a lot of TV time, but helped keep him happy and quiet on the plane. These are the headphones we use on the plane. There is a sound adjuster so you can limit the volume to protect little one’s ear drums. These headphones are top rated on Amazon with almost 4,000 reviews!
- I bought lots of stickers and a blank book from Michael’s for $3. This was great entertainment while we were at restaurants too. Note, here is an option on Amazon for a blank book for $1.50 with prime.
- Books. I like to buy a couple new books for Don since he loves to read to himself. For the plane we LOVED the Richard Scarry book A Day at the Airport. It is only $5 on Amazon (!!!) and has a sticker sheet.
- Treats. My favorite toddler treat for a trip is Pez. They take awhile to eat, and yes its sugar, but it is a hand eye coordination activity and keeps them happy. I buy a big pack of Pez refills and they are nice and compact for travel
To help him sleep, I made sure he was in comfy clothes and had his binky (which he still sleeps with).
where we stayed
The first decision I make when traveling is where to stay. I LOVE finding a hotel in a good location where it is convenient to see things in case you need to pop in the room for a nap. We choose to stay at the Hotel Place d’Armes. Here is what we loved about it:
- location. It was right next to a metro stop and the Notre Dame in the middle of Old Montreal. This made it super convenient to sight see within seconds of walking out the front door.
- character. This isn’t just a cookie cutter hotel- there is original brick inside and the exterior is full of French charm!
- There is a restaurant on the main level called Brasserie 701 with the most beautiful decorative molding and drapery. I was drooling every time I walked past! Note, you do have to be 18+ to eat inside the restaurant.
- The room itself was so nice! It was two levels and had a huge bathroom with an amazing tub. Don took two baths a day there (note to self, invest in a big tub 😉 )
what we did in Montreal
Here is a list of things we did in Montreal. We were in the city for a few days and would suggest these activities:
Old Montreal is the part of the city that has the original, Parisian-style architecture. It was my favorite place to walk around. There are lots of amazing places to eat, cute boutiques, and museums. You can even take a horse-drawn carriage although they were expensive (around $65). This was my favorite section for sight seeing with the beautiful cobblestone streets! We rented bikes, but the bike trail led mostly to the industrial area so it wasn’t my favorite city to bike in.
Mount Royal is a big park at the top of the city with an amazing view of Montreal. There isn’t much to do in the actual park for little ones (no play places), but the hike is worth it for the view! It was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed Central Park in New York City.
montreal observation wheel
The Montreal Observation Wheel is a new attraction, it just opened in September 2017. It is a large Ferris wheel where you sit inside a cooled or heated cabin and you can see 360 degree views of Old Montreal, the port, the mountains, downtown, and the river. The Ferris wheel is huge- 60 meters tall (almost 200 feet).
If you travel with kids, the Biodome is a must see! Its a type of zoo that takes you through the ecosystems of the Americas. There are four sections- a tropical rainforest, a maple forest, a gulf, and a sub-polar region. The Biodome mostly houses small animals and birds (the penguins were our favorites). The animals seemed very happy though since it was a realistic natural habitat for them.
The Notre Dame Basilica is truly stunning. There are SO many gorgeous churches to see in Montreal and this is the one we selected (we would have seen more if we weren’t traveling with a 2 year old). It was built in 1656, which makes it Montreal’s oldest Catholic church. The interior is so beautifully designed- Celine Dion was married here! The stain glass in the church chronicles the history of the city.
The Gay District is another fun place to walk around in. There is a huge art installation of balls strung above the street that make a huge rainbow. Note, the have since been taken down. There was lots of great street art in this section, which I loved. Note, there are some reviews that this area wasn’t family friendly at night.
Montreal has a few cat cafe’s so we decided to have lunch at one while we were in town. Don (my son) was in heaven walking around petting the many kitties. It was so fun to see them everywhere- curled on the chair next to you, on a skate board! However, it did smell strongly of cat fur. It was fun to eat with the cats, but if you are at all allergic or sensitive to smells, this might not be your cup of tea.
We had such a fun time in Montreal and will definitely be back! If you travel there, I’d love to hear your favorite activity!
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