In the summer of 2018 we spent two months in Canada (which is also where we got the crazy idea of becoming full-time travellers, by the way 😉).
What you probably don’t know is that after spending a month in gorgeous Montreal and loving every minute of it (you can read my Montreal with Small Kids travel guide), we did the most amazing road trip: 20 days driving around Quebec and Ontario, visiting amazing places, and living fairy-tale experiences.
It’s a loop that started and ended in Montreal, but you can really do it in any direction and with any starting point!
Quebec City is not listed in this guide, because we did it a weekend trip while we stayed in Montreal (there's a 3h train going there, which was perfect) and we highly recommend it.
Quebec and Ontario special road trip loop
This loop is designed to drive no more than 2 hours from one place to the other, and possibly a little bit less 😉: at the time Emily was 18 months and Oliver was 3, so we planned car rides around their naps.
Montebello and Fairmont Hotel
From Montreal we drove to Montebello and stayed a couple of nights at the majestic Fairmont hotel (one of the last existing hotels entirely made of wood… so charming!). It’s a beautiful resort where you can also rent bikes (with a trailer, if needed) and bike through the forest and all the way to the town where we saw horses and stopped at a playground; you can also canoe in the lake, use the swimming pool and sauna, and it has a lovely playground and mini cricket in the front garden.
We spent one day and one night at Parc Omega. We enjoyed the day, driving around the park and feeding all the animals who wonder free in vast fields (except the cinnamon bear, which we thought had too little space). But what we really loved was the night! We stayed at one of their Wi-Tents, went to observe the wolves and bears from the boardwalk, and had a fairy-tale encounter with the fallow dear that came to drink from the pond and steal our apples 😍. Memorable!
We really didn't want to leave Canada without seeing the capital, and I was happy we did. The Parliament Hill, with its gothic vibes, is definitely worth a stroll, but the best photo we took of it was from the Canadian Museum of History: this museum is stunning in itself, but we visited it mainly to take the kids to the Children's Museum (sooooo worth it!).
With two young toddlers, we decided the National Gallery was a bit too much, so we opted for the Canada Aviation and Space Museum where we also indulged in a sky tour of the city in a mini plane. Two neighbourhoods we liked are The Golden Triangle and The Glebe, but had we stayed longer in Ottawa, we might have found more and better ones.
This was the highlight of our trip. We spent about 5 days here, and after almost three years Oliver still says he wants to go back to Sue's farm. I dedicated a whole blog post to it, you can find it in the recommended articles below.
We spent a few days in Toronto, because, well… really because I wanted to "hunt down" and meet Sina from Happy Grey Lucky 🙈: we didn't find her, but we visited pretty much all the places she mentions in her "Top 10 Things To Do in Toronto with Young Kids" (except for the zoo, because we don't do zoos).
We especially loved the Roundhouse Park (near the Ripley's Aquarium), the Distillery District (with all the beautiful kid clothes shops), the Ontario Science Museum, and the walk along the waterfront. PS. We couldn't resist and had one lunch at the extravagant The Old Spaghetti Factory (not for the food 😉).
We felt we had to. Would I redo it? No. Will you decide to do it? Yes. Because it's the famous Niagara Falls and if you're so close to it, you'll feel like you simply have to see them. What to expect: LOTS of people, no healthy food, queueing wrapped in a yellow plastic bag until you reach the falls, take a picture, and queue back. I might exaggerate, but that's what I remember. 🙈 Somebody told us that crossing into the United States, and go see the falls from that side is less crowded, maybe you can try that.
The whole area is worth a few days of outdoor active adventures, but at this point we were all a bit tired, so we picked an Airbnb on St Lawrence River near Gananoque, and simply relaxed and canoed on the river for a few days. We then made our way back to Montreal, where we spent the last few days in a different area of the city, in the family-friendly neighbourhood of Monkland Village, before heading back to Europe.
The Airbnbs we stayed at in this trip
Ottawa (we wanted to be walking distance to the downtown, but we wouldn't pick it again. We'd prefer a place in a more family-friendly neighbourhood)
Toronto (it was small, but we'd pick it anyway as it's right next to a beautiful playground, and close to underground)
Thousand Islands (peaceful and quiet, and it included two canoes!)
Montreal, Monkland Village (perfect for families, lots of toys)
Montreal, the place we lived for a month (no air-con, but we loved the place, we loved the area, the host was great, and we'd highly recommend it)
Tell me what you think
Did you like it? Do you agree or disagree? I'd love to hear from you.