The winters in Montreal, Québec’s largest city located just about an hour’s drive from the U.S. border, are some of the coldest in North America. And while residents certainly know how to navigate the freeze (see: the collective Canadian coat game), when temps start to rise, the city really comes alive.
All through the summer and into mild September, sip natural wine at an outdoor cafe (or terrasse, as they’re known in Montreal), climb to the summit of Mount Royal and stay for a picnic in the park, and stroll through Old Montreal, stopping into shops and historic sites along the way. In other words, spend a weekend embracing the city’s warm weather, just like the Montrealers do.
Pictured: Four Seasons Hotel Montreal
Check in to the beautiful Four Seasons Hotel Montreal, in the heart of the Golden Mile. Plush rooms are kitted out in a palette of rose and gray, and corner accommodations have sculptural soaking tubs. While you’re there, have a cocktail on the terrace at chef Marcus Samuelsson’s eponymous restaurant, and book a treatment at the newly-unveiled Guerlain Spa, where the Power of Montreal massage comes with a choice of transportive scents. Afterwards, spend time in the lounge, in the heated pool or with the acupressure-focused Kneipp hydrotherapy experience. As a sweet finale, a spa associate will deliver a bite based on the scent you chose for the massage, made by the in-house pastry team.
Pictured: Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
After Montreal’s notoriously cold winters, spring and summer come alive with locals soaking up the sun in outdoor activities. Join them. Visit Mount Royal Park, designed by Central Park’s Frederick Law Olmsted, and climb to Belvédère Kondiaronk lookout at the summit for spectacular city views. Pick up provisions at a market like Marché Atwater, and take a picnic to the Lachine Canal, or to one of the city’s many parks. Stroll the streets of Old Montreal to see historic monuments and architecture, like the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal, where Celine Dion tied the knot in 1994.
In particularly hot afternoons, seek out shade in some of the city’s cultural institutions, like the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. The permanent collection includes some 45,000 works, but be sure to visit the current exhibitions. A particularly vibrant one from Swiss multi-media artist Nicolas Party is on view until mid-October. A few blocks away is the McCord Museum — a jewel box of a space dedicated to Canadian history with a powerful permanent exhibit on Indigenous Voices of Today.
Pictured: Vin mon Lapin
Montreal may be best known for dishes like smoked meat, bagels, and poutine, and while you must try them all, there’s so much more to the city’s culinary landscape. Especially in the warmer months, the streets burst with diners spending leisurely hours in outdoor cafes. Try Vin mon Lapin for plates of roasted chicken, local bread with cultured butter, maple syrup-laced desserts, and flowing natural wine recommended by the gracious, knowledgeable staffers. At Beba, in the Verdun neighborhood, Argentine and Québecios cuisines come together brilliantly, from the tender and perfectly flaky empanadas to the chanterelles-laced guineafowl. Ice cream fans should not miss the ethereal swirls of lime, passion fruit, raspberry and honey at Kem CoBa in Mile End.
Pictured: Le Petit Dep
In the Golden Mile, pop into Holt Renfrew to shop high-end designers, and plan to spend an afternoon visiting the vintage shops and boutiques of Mile End. Nearby, Onze is stocked with pretty dresses in an array of patterns, and Le Petit Dep is a charming emporium selling local and regional treasures. While you’re there, pick up a few jars of small batch maple pecan butter for someone you love.
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