Confession: I have a dog-eared, out-of-focus photo of me dancing on a speaker at a club. It was taken on December 31, 1999 and I was partying up with my friends in Montreal. Known for its bar, lounge and restaurant scene, the vibrant city was the perfect place to ring in the new millennium.
“I love this city!” I shouted in between the second and third shot of Goldschläger. “Let’s do this again next year!” I held my sparkly flip phone up to the crowd, trying to grab a picture of the pulsing lights.
In fact, we weren’t able to get organized the following year, or the year after that. And all of a sudden, 17 years passed before I returned to la belle province. This time around, I didn’t have my sparkly flip phone with me, but I did bring along two of my favourite things.
Of course Montreal is perfect for family getaways! In fact, for those living in Ontario, I daresay it’s one of the best weekend trips you’ll take with your loved ones this fall or winter. There’s no shortage of things to do and with the city celebrating its 375th Anniversary, there’s no better time to visit!
Here’s how to make it happen.
1. Transportation. From Ontario, you’ll have planes, trains and automobiles at your disposal. Via air, your journey is a short 90-minute flight and definitely an option if you want to get to Montreal in a hurry. Both Air Canada and WestJet fly multiple times per day (hourly, really) so you’ll have many options to choose from.
However, flights for three or more family members can add up quickly, so taking a train or driving on your own may be your preferred method of transportation. A train ride is just over five hours, the main benefit being that you can get a little work done, stretch out your legs or simply zone out. Not having to concentrate on the road for several hours ensures you’ll be fresh and ready to explore the city when you arrive.
Still, there’s no doubt that driving is the most economical way to visit Montreal. From Toronto, your voyage will be about six to seven hours depending on traffic. But for large families or people who just love road trips, this is definitely the preferred route.
2. Accommodations. I have a recommendation you’ll love: Le Centre Sheraton Montreal. If you’ve been following me on social, you’ll know we were invited to experience the hotel recently for a long weekend adventure. It was hands down one of the most enjoyable stays for the entire family, and here’s why!
Location. Le Centre Sheraton Montreal is situated in the heart of downtown Montreal, a stone’s throw from shopping, dining and entertainment. We didn’t rent a car during our stay in Montreal and had no reason to! We walked to Ste. Catherine for a little retail therapy and some of the best restaurants are just minutes away.
(When in Montreal, eat poutine. Preferably double smoked bacon poutine. Don’t offer to share it with anyone unless they’re willing to trade a big bite of their smoked meat sandwich in return.)
Old Montreal is less than 10 minutes from the hotel via cab, and if the weather is treating you right, you may even attempt to walk. Stop by to chat with the friendly concierge at Le Centre Sheraton Montreal for expert advice on the things you must do and the places you must see.
Pool Views. Not all hotel pools are created equal. In addition to a large, heated indoor pool, Le Centre Sheraton Montreal boasts a hot tub overlooking the city’s impressive skyline. A fantastic pool is a prerequisite to an enjoyable stay, especially for little ones! My boys spent the better part of an afternoon splashing around.
Club Lounge. Take your travel experience to another level with a Club Level room – featuring access to Le Centre Sheraton Montreal’s 37th floor Sheraton Club Lounge, which includes deluxe continental breakfast, evening hors d’oeuvres and all-day beverages (including to-die-for lattes).
Overnight rates for Club Level rooms begin at $361 per night; however, to celebrate Montreal’s 375th Anniversary, here’s a sweet deal for you!
Enjoy a complimentary upgrade to a Club Level room when you book online or call 866-716-8101 and mention rate plan MTLCLUB. You’ll also receive a coupon booklet from Tourisme Montreal with special offers to enjoy the city’s major attractions – a $500 value!
Trust me when I say the deluxe continental breakfast is a great way to start the day – especially one that will be packed with sightseeing.
Sheraton Signature Bed. Get ready for a whole new level of comfort; the custom-designed mattresses at Le Centre Sheraton Montreal feature a plush-top design that delivers even, all-night comfort. We slept like babies.
Pet-Friendly Hotel. Taking off for weekends is a wonderful thing, but only if you don’t have to leave behind your best friend. That’s why Le Centre Sheraton Montreal allows dogs to stay with you in your guest room. They accept dogs up to 40 lbs.; however, you must inform the hotel of your furry roommate when you make your reservation.
Peace of Mind. Especially when travelling with my boys, I like to stay at trusted hotels and resorts. Sheraton is one of the most revered names in the business; it has a reputation for offering excellent service, quality amenities and large, clean rooms. Our stay at the Le Centre Sheraton Montreal lived up to my high expectations.
The view from the 36th floor isn’t too bad, either.
Have I convinced you to stay at Le Centre Sheraton Montreal? Wonderful! But you may be thinking, besides shopping, eating and sightseeing, what else is there to do with kids?
3. Recreation. Visit the Biodôme. Together, the Biodôme, Insectarium, Botanical Garden and Planetarium form a place where nature and science are honoured. It’s a great place for kids of all ages to better understand the need to protect our planet’s biodiversity. At the Insectarium, kids will have a chance to get up close and personal with creepy-crawlies (yikes!) and the Planetarium is rite of passage for those curious about outer space.
Visiting in winter? The Natrel skating rink is well-known for its beautiful views of Old Montreal. No need to tote your skates with you (unless you’re driving in and have the space) – you can rent them on-site and use a locker to store your personal items. There’s always music in the air and be sure to inquire about their theme nights, too.
Finally, check out www.375mtl.com for a calendar of events surrounding their year-long celebration. In addition to the 375th’s official program, a number of other independent activities have been organized by people who love Montréal. Take a peek via La Vitrine.
Do you often pop away for the weekend? Is Montreal on your travel bucket list?
This post is sponsored by Marriott Hotels. The opinions on this blog, as always, are my own.