It’s no secret that Quebec is a family-friendly cruise destination, but why not extend the fun by by booking a hotel for several nights pre- or post-cruise (most of the lines overnight there). There are tons of great family attractions within walking distance from the Port of Québec. You can literally walk off your ship and be in the old city in just a few minutes. Or, if you’re driving up from New York for a long weekend, there are plenty of things to keep you busy. Here are some of our favorite things to do in North America’s most European city.
One of the most recognizable hotels in the world, Le Chateau Frontenac is ideal for a three- or four-night stay, or at the very least dinner, tea or drinks. It’s steps away from the Port of Québec, and located inside the walls of Old Québec, where shopping, restaurants and stores abound. The hotel recently underwent a multimillion dollar renovation and the result is stunning. Views from the rooms can be of the St. Lawrence River or the historic European-feel city. There are 610 rooms (it’s a great place for multigenerational families) and the pool is a great place to relax after a full day of exploring. After four nights here, you’ll start to feel like a Québecois (a native person of Québec).
Changing of the Guards at the Citadel
This activity was packed with both adults and kids—many people agree that it’s a highlight of a visit to Quebéc. It’s walking distance from the port, the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac and the downtown area. Tours of the citadel are given hourly, but be sure to get there at 10am each morning when they do the changing of the guard. It’s full of pomp and circumstance—complete with marching band—and the entire event takes about 35 minutes (even the little kids, with short attention spans, were spellbound, with mouths gaping).
Helicopter Ride Over the City
To truly get a sense of Québec and just how walkable it is, take a helicopter ride over the St. Lawrence River. GoHelico tours fly over the aquarium, the old city, the Frontenac, the Citadel, the Plains of Abraham and Montmorency Falls. To take things up a notch, be sure to book a flight with the doors removed from the back seat of the helicopter. It’s safe, yet thrilling.
Sure, you can walk up and down the streets of the old city, but the funicular is a fun—and unique experience—especially for kids. If you’re only going to use it one way, be sure to walk down—and ride the funicular up.
If you’re into marine mammals, this is the place to go. It’s small enough to cover in an afternoon, but big enough to keep kids of all ages entertained. There are over
10,000 animals representing more than 300 species. A big hit is the giant walrus that plays peek-a-boo with the crowd.
Outdoor enthusiast will love the Montmorency Falls—which is 1.5 times taller than its famous sister, Niagara Falls. Be sure to take the cable car to the top and walk across the suspension bridge. Then, take the stairs down to get up-close to the falls (the water spray will keep you cool as you descend the 450 steps). Kids over 12 will love the zip line across the falls.
Combine the Canyon Sainte-Anne with the Montmorency Falls for a full day of adventure (do one in the morning and the other after lunch). Canyon Sainte-Anne is a beautiful canyon that was carved by the strong and powerful Sainte-Anne Falls. Visitors can walk to the bottom of the falls as well as walk across the three suspension bridges. Be sure to take part in the Air Canyon, ride, which is basically a seated zip line. You’ll get an amazing view of the falls and canyon below.
Eating in Québec
Calling all foodies and culinary aficionados. It’s hard to go wrong in Québec—there are so many restaurant and cafes—but here are some of our favorites:
Sapristi: This is a great spot for a lighter meal—salads, pizzas and yummy desserts.
Cochon Dingue: This French-style restaurant is a must. It’s a 100% Québecois and a great place to try some of the local favorites, including poutine.
Ciel! Bistro-Bar: If you’re looking for some of the best views in Québec, then eating here is a must. It’s a revolving restaurant atop the Hôtel le Concorde.
Cassis Monna & Filles: This outdoor eatery has yummy grilled cheese, salads and poutine, but be sure to leave room for the homemade ice cream. It’s the best part of the meal.
La Buche: Another great place for Québec cuisine, this Sugar Shack culinary star is a favorite for both locals and tourists. Be sure to sample the rabbit wings (even kids will like them).
Le Sam: Located at the Fairmont Chateau Frontenac, Le Sam has great views of the St. Lawrence river in a casual atmosphere.