Montreal is arguably one of the most stunning cities in Canada, with its French-influenced architecture, foodie culture, and dazzling arts and festivals. But whenever the typical metropolis soundtrack of horns, traffic, and crowds becomes too much to handle, a haven of countryside bliss flanks the city boundary, where outdoorsy adventure awaits.
People of all ages will find something tailored to their adventure taste—whether it’s munching on unique treats in a scenic setting or dialling up the exercise-related intensity. For example, there’s Domaine Labranche, with The Sugar Shack and apple picking, or there’s cycling or cross country skiing the 145.4mi P’tit Train du Nord Trail. If you want to stick close to the city, but you’re craving fresh air, head to Cap-Saint-Jacques Nature Park on West Island for a collection of activities, ranging from kayaking, cycling, and beach volleyball. Read on to learn more about what to do in these locations and discover more epic day trips from Montreal in winter and summer!
Cap-Saint-Jacques Nature Park
When the forecast shows an upcoming sunny weekend, where better to go than Cap-Saint-Jacques Nature Park? This family-friendly destination creates an ideal bonding environment for you and your family. You can take on kayaking, go cycling or hiking in the 288-hectare park, and when snow sprinkles the land, this area on West Island transitions into an oasis for snowshoers and cross-country skiers. However, if you’re in the mood to relax, why not set up a spot on the beach or go fishing? Other water sports to try are kayaking and canoeing. And don’t worry if you lack the equipment to try out these adventures, as you can always rent on-site.
Do note that you will have to pay $9.50 for parking for the day!
How to get to Cap-Saint-Jacques Nature Park from Montreal
By car: 55 minutes
To get to Cap-Saint-Jacques Nature Park from Montreal, head to A. 20 before taking exit 48 for Boul. St-Charles. From here, continue onto Bd Saint-Charles N. After, take Voie de Service N and Ch de l’Anse à l’Orme to Chem. du Cap-Saint-Jacques and your destination will be on the left!
Parc National d’Oka
Soak up the sun on the beach at Parc National d’Oka! It’s common for Montreal locals to curl their toes in the smooth sand lining the lake here on the weekends. When you come, be sure to pack a snack or some BBQ-ready meat because there are picnic tables and charcoal grills just waiting to be used by happy beach-goers. Nothing beats the smell swirling off the BBQ on a sizzling summer’s day in a waterfront destination. If you need to move your body after beach-lazing, you can always go kayaking or hiking, to name two activities. When winter takes over, give snowshoeing, fat biking, snowy hiking, sledding, or cross-country skiing a go!
How to get to Parc National d’Oka
By car: 1 hour
To get to Parc National d’Oka from Montreal, head to the A. 640 O, following signs for QC-344 O/Oka/Kanesatake/Parc National d’Oka. After merging onto A. 640 O, continue straight onto QC-344 O before turning left onto Chem. des Collines, and then take a right onto Chem. du Camping. Look for the destination on your right!
Parc National des Îles-de-Boucherville
Similar to Cap-Saint-Jacques Nature Park, Parc National des Îles-de-Boucherville is a jackpot for adventurers. Escape the city to trail run in a natural setting or lace up your boots and explore this stunning area on foot. You can explore the 13.0mi of multi-use hiking and cycling trails or walk the less-frequented scenery flanking 9.3mi of off-the-beaten paths. Another option is to kayak among the water trails, either the Le Grand-Héron nautical trail, which usually takes approximately three hours to explore or the easier 1.5 hours long Le Castor nautical trail. You can rent equipment at Île Sainte-Marguerite, and campers staying at Grosbois campground can rent at the Grosbois Visitors Centre.
This national park becomes a winter wonderland for cross-country skiers and snowshoers when the land becomes laden with snow. There are also hiking, and fat biking routes ideal for snowy weather.
How to get to Parc National des Îles-de-Boucherville
By car: 35 minutes
To get to Parc National des Îles-de-Boucherville from Montreal, you’ll follow QC-136 before continuing onto QC-134. Then, you’ll head right to merge onto QC-132 E. Next, take exit 89N for Autoroute 25 N toward Autoroute 40/Pont-Tunnel LH.-LaFontaine/Montréal. 1969ft later, you’ll merge onto Transcanadienne/Autoroute 25. Continue for 0.6mi and then take exit 1 toward Île Charron/Québec/Parc National des Îles de Boucherville. After, you’ll turn left onto Rue de l’Île Charron, followed by a right onto Carré de l’Île St Jacques 1.6mi later. When you reach the roundabout, take the 1st exit onto Rue de l’Île Charron. You’ll see your destination to your right!
P’tit Train du Nord Trail
Yes, here’s yet another active day trip option—Montreal folk love their outdoor adventure, okay? The 145.4mi former railroad cuts through the Rivière du Nord valley. While this is a multi-use pathway, it’s predominantly used by cyclists. Some super-fit cyclists can finish this relatively flat route in one day, but others can divide it into two or four segments. It’s worth taking your time along this route, as there are great scenic points along the way. However, since this is a suggestion on an article dedicated to day trips, you can always take on a section of the P’tit Train du Nord Trail one day and come back to try out a different part of the trail another time.
How to get to the P’tit Train du Nord Trail
By car: 1 hour and 40 minutes
To get to the P’tit Train du Nord Trail, you’ll follow the Rte Transcanadienne, following signs for Autoroute 15 N. Eventually, you’ll merge onto Rte Transcanadienne/QC-117 N, staying on the same road through two roundabouts. Next, you’ll take a right onto Chem. des Faucons, followed by a quick left onto CH De La Station. Stay right to remain on the same road, and you’ll reach your destination.
Montebello is a tiny village that hugs the shoreline of the Ottawa River, but despite its scenic location, only 1,000 permanent residents reside here. However, the quintessential Canadian river view isn’t why this quaint place sits on this list.
Montebello is home to the largest structure crafted from logs in the world: the Château Montebello. You can go cross-country skiing, dog sledding, boating, golfing on the grounds here!
How to get to Montebello
By car: 1 hour and 25 minutes
To get Montebello from Montreal, follow the A. 50 O before taking exit 216 towards Fassett, followed by a left onto Chem. Prine/Mnt Fassett. After, take a right onto QC-148 O. Next, you’ll take a right onto Rue St Henri. 689ft later, go right again to reach Montebello.
Not in the mood for something active? The Domaine Labranche makes for the perfect family, couple, or friend outing, with the most prominent attraction being the historic Sugar Shack. Traditionally this Sugar Shack lived up to its name and became a hub for those seeking maple syrup. When the maple business boomed in the 1920s, Victor, the then owner of the Sugar Shack, built a tiny place for his family and friends to gather in the sugar bush where he tapped maple trees. But now, this long-standing shack has morphed into a restaurant that caters to gluten-free, lactose-free, and vegan palates. But that’s not all!
The branch that produces sap in the spring becomes a carrier for apples and vines come autumn. As a result, apple picking is also a popular activity here in the fall.
How to get to Domaine Labranche from Montreal
By car: 30 minutes
To get to Domaine Labranche from Montreal, you’ll want to take the QC-138 O followed by QC-221 S to Rang Saint-Simon in Roussillon.
Mont-Tremblant lies in Quebec’s Laurentian Mountains. This ski resort transforms from a snow haven for skiers and snowboarders to an adventure haven in summer, where ziplining, canoeing, kayaking, and paddleboarding take over. You can spend some time paddling along the Rouge and Diable Rivers or Lake Tremblant. When you’re ziplining, you’ll catch a bird’s eye view of the wildflowers carpeting the greenery.
Another way to immerse in the beautiful scenery is by foot. You’ll find 11 trails that appeal to a range of hiking abilities. Choose anywhere between a 1km hike up to an 6.8mi adventure.
How to get to Mont-Tremblant from Montreal
By car: 1 hour and 25 minutes
To get to Mont-Tremblant from Montreal, follow the Rte Transcanadienne/QC-117 N. You’ll eventually take exit 116 toward QC-327/Rue Léonard/Huberdeau/Lachute. After, continue onto Rue Lalonde before turning right onto Rue Léonard/QC-327 N to reach your destination.
Parc National du Mont Orford
Parc National du Mont Orford boasts a network of trails ideal for hikers of all levels. The Bear Peak via Crêtes Trail or Mount Orford via Sentier du Ruisseau des Chênesan will have you wiping sweat off your brow. But, at the same time, you’ll get the chance to marvel at pools of blue water nestled in layers of verdancy sinking into the horizon.
Yet, if you want to explore more rugged scenery while huffing and puffing—but not too much—there’s the more moderate Mont Chauve Trail or the Mont Chauve via Ruisseau-David.
This national park also boasts biking, paddle sports, and winter activities like cross country skiing and snowshoeing. In addition, you can rent kayaks and canoes at Lac Stukely beach, Lac Fraser beach, Étang aux Cerises, and paddleboards from Lac Stukely beach and Lac Fraser beach. Do know that you will have to purchase a pass before coming. A daily pass costs $9, but kids 17 and under are free!
How to get to Parc National du Mont Orford
By car: 1 hour and 30 minutes
To get to Parc National du Mont Orford from Montreal, head to the A. 10 E toward Chem. Milletta in Magog. After 57.1mi, you’ll take exit 115 toward QC-112 E/Magog/St-Benoît-du-Lac. From here, you’ll drive toward QC-141 S in Orford before taking a left onto Chem. Milletta. When you reach the roundabout, take the third exit onto QC-112 O. At the next roundabout, take the second exit for Chem. du Mont Orford/QC-141 S and follow this road toward Parc National du Mont Orford.
Zoo de Granby
Sprawling one hour from Quebec sits the incredible Zoo de Granby, the largest zoo in Quebec, not just because of how many animals reside here, but the abundant land space that grants the wildlife to freely roam without seeming cruel. Feel like you’re standing among a microcosm of Earth’s Animal Kingdom as you admire the kangaroos, white rhinoceros, Amur tigers, green sea turtles, lions, jaguars, and more wildlife, all flocking from either Oceania, Asia, Africa, and South America. While it’s always cool to witness these animals meandering their natural habitat, it’s still pretty awesome watching these wild, exotic creatures up-close. Of course, your kids will love it, too!
But walking from animal to animal isn’t the only thing worth doing here! There’s the Ranger Robb and Friend Amusement Park, where thrill and excitement await. Or, if it’s a fiery summer’s day, spend a few hours getting soaked at the Amazoo Water Park.
How to Get to Zoo de Granby from Montreal
By car: 1 hour and 10 minutes
To get to Zoo de Granby from Montreal, you’ll follow the A. 10 E for 28.6mi before taking exit 68 for QC-139 toward Cowansville/Sutton/Bd David- Bouchard/Granby. 1148ft later, turn right onto QC-139 N. Continue along this road for 6.8mi and then go right, followed by a quick left, and the Zoo de Granby will be on your left.
Au Diable Vert Canopy Cycle
Did we save the best activity for last? We think so. You’re probably wondering, “What even is Au Diable Vert Canopy Cycle?” We’ll happily tell you all about it! Okay, first things first: think of a zipline. Have you got that image in your head? Good. Now, think of revelling in a bird’s eye view of the treescape, cascading falls, and ravines. Next, think about cycling. Now, put your bicycle on a suspended cable and imagine pedalling from up high while groves of trees and nature’s stunning wonders unravel below you. And what do you get? The Au Diable Vert Canopy Cycle! You sit on a recumbent bicycle, and how fast you pedal determines how quickly you make it from point A to point B—it usually takes around 45 minutes.
There’s something magical about revelling in the natural wonders of the ravines, waterfalls, and soaring trees underneath your pedalling feet!
How to Get to Au Diable Vert Canopy Cycle from Montreal
By car: 1 hour and 45 minutes
To reach Au Diable Vert Canopy Cycle from Montreal, you’ll want to head to the A. 10 E and continue along it for 32.3mi before taking exit 74 for Rte Pierre-Laporte toward Bromont/Cowansville/Granby. After, you’ll continue along Rte Pierre Laporte, heading onto QC-241 S, QC-139 S. Eventually, you’ll reach Rte Scenic. Follow this until taking a left onto Chem. Staines in Sutton. 2625ft later, you should come across the Au Diable Vert Canopy Cycle.
Did any of these day trips from Montreal stand out to you? It could be fun to try and hit up all of these spots within a year!