Episodes 6 and 7 of this series showcased Montréal and Havre-Saint-Pierre respectively, two gems along the St. Lawrence River in Canada. In this episode, we’d like to showcase yet another. Travel with us as we discover Québec City and share the highlights of this captivating and vibrant place.
We’ll start with very comfy walking shoes to explore Old Québec, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the most intact fortified town north of Mexico. The colonial architecture is over 400 years old and it is the cultural heart of Québec City. Petit-Champlain is one of the oldest shopping streets in North America. Browse the shops and marina of Old Port and soak up the ambiance of this picturesque place. Citadelle de Québec sits at the top of the famous Cap Diamant and is the biggest British fortress in North America. Built between 1820 and 1850 to defend the city, the Citadelle is a remarkable military heritage site and home to the Musée Royal 22e Regiment, where visitors can learn about the history of the regiment and the fortress. Basilica Cathedral Notre-Dame de Québec is located in the heart of Old Québec and was home to the first Catholic parish north of the Spanish colonies. Described as “magical in the winter and popping in the summer” Old Québec is filled with charming little streets and local shops. You’ll be glad you opted for the comfy walking shoes.
For the adventure seekers, we’ve got you covered. Just 15 minutes from downtown is Montmorency Falls which has the distinction of being 30 meters higher than Niagara Falls. Who knew? You can take a cable car ride, climb on the scenic stairway, or trek across the suspension bridge for magnificent views of the falls. If that’s not enough of an adrenaline rush, try ziplining. The double zip line means you and your adrenaline junkie bestie can share the experience! In winter, the falls are transformed. When the cold hits, the mist from the falls freezes into the famed “pain de sucre,” or sugar loaf, creating a remarkable natural ice formation.
Sticking with the adventure theme, let’s head to the great outdoors of Jacques-Cartier National Park, where kayaking, canoeing, hiking, camping, and communing with nature are among the options. Experience the silence and solitude of floating on the river, hike through the majestic hillsides where you might encounter beaver, deer, or moose in their natural habitats. Plan a long weekend in the woods by renting a log cabin or chose from some of the alternative accommodations in the area such as a yurt, treehouse, or a geodesic dome and compare vacation cabins in Big Bear. After being cooped up inside for weeks, it could be exactly what you need!
A drive around Île d’Orléans will be like stepping back in time, 18th century rural Québec to be exact. With centuries-old villages, farms, churches, and heritage homes, it’s the birthplace of French North America. Today the island is an agritourism hotspot with an abundance of artisan outlets and farm stands offering a taste of delicious local products. Visit vineyards, cider producers, chocolate shops, vinegar makers, and cheesemakers. Pick up some local delicacies and plan a picnic in one of the charming villages along St. Lawrence River. Not to be missed is a visit to Cassis Monna & Filles, a fifth-generation family-run boutique liquoriste producing crème de cassis, black currant wines, and an assortment of black currant products. If you’re looking for an authentic experience made better by the genuine warmth of locals, you’ve found it.
If you’re searching for family fun, Québec has tons of choices. Village Vacances Valcartier is Eastern Canada’s largest theme park featuring a huge outdoor waterpark and a brand new indoor waterpark that’s open year-round. In the winter, connect with your inner child at the biggest winter playground in the Americas, which includes North America’s only ice hotel. Aquarium du Québec has 300 species and nearly 10,000 specimens. The aquarium has a spectacular view overlooking the St. Lawrence River. The Awesome Ocean Discovery tunnel lets visitors enter the world of creatures that inhabit the depths of the Pacific. Learn about Québec’s rivers and streams, and see marine mammals like polar bears, walruses, and several species of seals. Splash pads, picnic spots with a view of the St. Lawrence River, and a ropes course for the kids provide everything you’ll need for a family play day.
Québec museums offer education, culture, and fun for the kiddos. The world’s largest collection of Québec art can be found at Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec. It houses a comprehensive overview of Québec art from the 17th century to the present day. The museum has 4 pavilions nestled in the vast expanse of the Plains of Abraham, the most noteworthy being the Lassonde Pavilion. It’s a stunning piece of architecture with walkways and staircases bathed in light streaming in from tall glass windows. It’s one of the Instagram moments you’re looking for. They offer guided tours and workshops for kids.
Musée de la civilization is one of Québec’s most popular interactive museums with hands-on workshops for the whole family on a range of current, historical, and unusual subjects. A mix of permanent and temporary exhibits sheds new light on diverse societies and moments in history.
For an authentic, immersive, cultural experience you only need to travel 20 minutes from Québec City where you’ll find the Huron-Wendat Nation. They share their long history, culture, and ancestral traditions and knowledge with dancing, stories, and legends. Wander through the Huron‑Wendat Museum, visit the authentic craft stores in the village, and taste the finest Northern terroir cuisine featuring game meat and corn.
Québec City is exciting, fun, and fascinating no matter what time of year you choose to visit. Winter wonderland or summer playground, Québec City is great for friends, couples, and families. Put this one on the list.