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Quebec’s Charms Rival Justin Trudeau’s

by Carley Wade

Nov 1, 2017

© Carley Thornell

Destinations / North America

Much has been made of Canada’s 150th birthday this year. Time may be running out to seek out a visit in 2017, but just a quick weekend to Quebec offers a trip back in time —and yes, a taste of that amazing indulgence kids love known as poutine, French fries covered in gravy and cheese curds.

poutine food tour

Photo: Carley Thornell

 

Learn about how it’s made and how to tell if it’s fresh (hint: the curds squeak when you chew them) on a Tours Voir Quebec food experience, which conveniently kicks off at the tourist information center right before the funicular, helping parents with strollers avoid what could be an arduous trek up and down this hilly city.

 

Get the lay of the land traversing top sights downtown with a toothsome historical overview from the top with guides like Simon Jacobs. The classical musician with a taste for tourism imbues each trek with a glimpse into centuries of history, shedding light on why the city walls still stand and why French is still spoken in this enclave. He’ll advise you to check out the Musée de la Civilisation, where kids can learn about a different kind of Native American, including the First Nations and Inuit cultures. Or, for the more active young ones, a tour of the walled Citadel fortress affords a chance to stay outside and enjoy an active military installation, a daily cannon firing at noon and (seasonally) a changing of the guard ceremony that includes the official mascot, a golden-horned goat.

 

Quebec Old Town

Photo: Carley Thornell

Enjoy the excellent view here from high atop the city or head over to the 31st floor of the Observatorie for a look at the Old City and new high atop the clouds. Or, get a high of another kind with a sugar rush at Delices Erable & Cie, a boutique with plenty of samples with Canada’s most famous export — all things maple. From gelato to syrups and maple-coated popcorn to tea, there’s plenty to savor and salivate over or to take home.

 

Indeed, the shop’s home on St. Jean Street is rife with souvenirs to be had — including some great cold-weather gear and red-checked flannel moose pajamas for the whole family — but a can’t miss one-stop-shop for all things kid is Benjo toy store in the Saint-Roch neighborhood. Its 25,000 square feet are stuffed with clothing, books, educational toys, Legos, models, puzzles and stuffed animals, of course! Trains also figure prominently here, whether it’s model or a huge display that actually moves throughout the store at timed intervals daily.

Benjo toy store Quebec, Canada

Photo: Carley Thornell

 

You’d be well-served checking out the train schedule for a trip a bit further afield to Montmorency Falls via Charlevoix Rail from city center; it’s worth it to take the soaring cable car over this stunning cascade, but those in better shape may opt for a great workout hiking and climbing their way back up. Heart-pounding fun is available for those willing to brave a 300-meter zipline over the cataract, but it’s a bit easier for younger kids to marvel at the 300 species at the Aquarium du Quebec, including new baby walruses.

 

Several hotels offer up family packages, accommodations and special rates.

 

Marriott Quebec City Downtown offers stays in the heart of the city with great views of where the action is. Bonus: Everything is within walking distance, but get ready to climb the Old City’s hills.

 

PUR offers up more modern accommodations and a swank rooftop swimming pool. Plus, it’s right around the corner from Benjo toy store. (Bonus for parents: this is also the up-and-coming craft beer neighborhood with tables where kids are welcome.)

Quebec_Resort11

Photo: Carley Thronell

 

Four Points Sheraton is a bit further afield but offers up a serene space with a golf course, sauna and spa (including children’s mini treatments!) and in the winter has dog-sledding packages for outdoor fun. There’s also a shuttle to the Old City, about 15 minutes away.

 

Quebec is about a six-hour drive from Boston, or Air Canada offers several short-duration flights from the East Coast so there’s no worrying about watching Frozen for the 50th time in the backseat.

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