Top 18 things to do in Montreal during the Summer
You’ve started checking the humidity index instead of the windchill factor. Your favourite part of the day is hopping on your bike. You’ve invested in some super-low ankle socks. You’ve even attended a BBQ or two. Only one thing is possible: IT’S SUMMER!!!! Montrealers are a little bonkers for their 3 months of sun, which has made for many festivals, events, and activities. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, you’ll want to take advantage of this summer madness. Check out our list of best summer picks for 2016. Cover photo credit: Jean Michel Seminaro Photographe
18. Chill out at the one-of-a-kind Village au Pied-du-Courant
The previously named Village Éphemère is back under the new label of Village au Pied du Courant. The boardwalk style “village” is a creatively designed mashup of all things Montrealers love: a local artisan market on Sundays, 5 à 7 on Thursdays, a biergarten, yoga, live music.. and the list goes on! Make your way here from Thursday to Sunday as of June 1rst, 2017!
17. Celebrate Montreal’s 375th Birthday!
Montreal is turning 375 years old! Nothing gets the city as excited and riled up as much as celebrating its birthday. Montreal knows how to party, so the city’s hosting events all summer long to celebrate its 375 years of existence! For more information on the events, click here!
Cite Memoire: (Starting May 18th, 2017)
This attraction in the Old Port starts up when the sun sets. Cite Memoire projects images, onto the Old Port’s landmarks and buildings, of people who’ve contributed and shaped Montreal into the city it is today. The glowing images are accompanied by music, making it a magical experience for a warm summer night spent in one of Montreal’s most exciting districts.
An Open-Air Museum: (June 5th – October 29th, 2017)
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is organizing an open-air museum between the Place-des-Arts area and McGill’s Redpath museum. Walk along Sherbrooke street and see the 67 pieces of art that are each inspired by peace and humanity. It’s bringing back the optimism and playfulness the city felt during Expo 67!
Jacques Cartier Bridge Illumination:
Have you ever seen the Eiffel Tower light up? Montreal’s doing something a little bit similar, only with our very own Jacques Cartier bridge! The city has already started adding thousands of lights to the bridge. It’s sure to be a magical light show over the water that can be seen around the city once the sun sets!
16. Treat yo’self! …and relax on a terrace
It’s no secret that summer in Montreal is synonymous with a nice cold beer on a terrace. Some terraces score higher on the chill factor than others, and some are simply off the charts. Here are 5 we like, chosen for both their drink options and vibes.
1. La SAT Terrasse: Awesome food, great music and a central location.
2. St-Bock Bar: Great place if you like craft beer and good food. St-Bock has also recently renovated their bar and menu.
3. Hotel Nelligan: This place is a classic! Offers the best view of the Old Montreal.
4. Alexandra Platz: For the younger crowd who enjoy “off the beaten path” venues.
5. Terrasse St-Ambroise: Situated right at the Lachine Canal. The perfect terrace after a bike ride!
15. Discover the Old City with an Old Montreal Food Tour!
Food tours are an increasingly popular way to get to know a city, and no one’s wondering why. In only 3 hours, The Old Montreal Food Tour goes all out, taking you to a variety of food stops. These range from fish ‘n chips to Quebec’s classic poudding chômeur, and even a sneak peak and snack inside Crew Collective Café! The tour is also sure to stop at many historical landmarks, satisfying not only the foodies in your group but also the culture buffs.
Check out the website for more info: localmontrealtours.com
14. Celebrate your Sunday morning with brunch
Sure, you can brunch during winter. But can you head to the park after to spend your food coma in the grass? Can you request a seat on the terrace? Nope and nope. Enjoy your summer Sundays brunching with your favourite people at one (or all?) of these brunch spots.
Maison Publique: A classic British tavern nestled right in the Eastern part of the Plateau, you might be surprised to find out that it is a project by Derek Dammann, an ex-chef from one of celebrity chef Jaime Oliver’s restaurants. Come savour the greasy meaty classics in all their glory on Saturday and Sunday.
Chez José: Its location on Duluth, a cutesy colourful cobblestone street, makes this spot a perfect fit for summer. Galavant your way down to this vibrant eatery and enjoy a vegan or Portuguese breakfast, viennoiseries or a refreshing smoothie. This Plateau classic is a must.
Dep le Pickup: Half dépanneur, half restaurant. Make this your Saturday brunch option if you’re in Little Italy, the Mile-Ex, or just willing to travel for some of the best noms in the city. Famous for their amazing haloumi sandwich and savoury brunch, there’s tons to sample here (including the goodies for sale in the dep section).
13. Discover Rosemont, Montreal’s Mecca of Craft Beer
With a microbrewery every few blocks and a craft beer coop, it’s safe to say Rosemont is Montreal’s top spot for craft beer. Whether you want to spend all afternoon at a single one or make the full circuit, if you’re a beer lover you’ll wanna make your way there. Here’s a handy circuit we’ve put together for the hardcore craft beer lovers wanting to check them all out in one day. For the rest of you, here’s the lowdown on each awesome Rosemont brewery.
Harricana: Make your way here for the chic tavern decor, a glimpse at their brewing equipment, poutine “hot dogs”, and the beer and cheese pairing plate.
Vices & Versa: You’ll love the cozy terrace, the meaty poutine options, and their extensive selection food and microbrews.
Birra: Heading to Jean-Talon market? Make a quick stop here and try one of 17 local microbrews.
Isle de Garde: The happening atmosphere here is well paired with an extensive selection of brews on rotation, quality food options, and a little bonus.. home-brewed kombucha! Check out their frequently updated website for a current beer selection.
Mabrasserie: Brewing coop Mabrasserie is the first of its kind in Quebec. Aiming to be Montreal’s home for brewers, these guys share their space, equipment, and extensive craft beer knowledge. Some of the brewers (or breweries) that do call it home are Isle de Garde, La Succursale, Noire Blanche and Brouhaha. Convinced? Make your way to the increasingly-charming Rosemont, and check out their tasting space, where there are 48 beers are on tap for your taste budding pleasure. Enjoy them on their outdoor terrace and be sure to check out their beer shop! You can also take brewing classes and take it to the next level. 2
12. Grab lunch at the new Crew Café, aka inside a former 1920’s bank!
When Crew was looking for a new office space, they probably didn’t plan on A) opening up one of the city’s most stunning cafés, and B) taking over an old 1920’s bank. But they did, and Old Montreal now has a force to be reckoned with. Not only is its design haunting and antique, but the minds behind the menu are ex-Pied de Cochon chefs, making for some seriously delicious nosh. Come take advantage of this freelancer’s haven (coffee, wifi, and outlets) or make it your next impress-a-date-spot. Pro tip: meeting rooms and various seating options are available with a coworking space membership.
Welcome to Little Italy, where pizza is in the air, and the sights are all a charm. This colourful neighbourhood is an increasingly popular spot for new homeowners, date goers, and visitors. Here are our suggestions for a day of walking around.
La Cornetteria: Remember the cronut craze? La Cornetteria took part in the wave by creating Montreal’s first cronut, attracting Montrealers from all over to try the yummy things. They’ve kept them ever since, and have a wide variety of flavours. Come sample ’em for yourself, and sip an espresso while you’re there. 6528 St-Laurent; lacornetteria.com
Café Oui Mais Non: This sassily named neighbourhood spot embraces vintage goods in its boutique, caffeine on its espresso machine, and even food and beer in between! Make your way here for a cute and cozy decor along with a meeeean espresso or a smooooth latte. 72 Rue Jarry E, cafeouimaisnon.com
Madonna Della Difesa church, also known as Notre Dame de la Défense, is an architectural sweet spot. It was built by Italian immigrants in 1919 to commemorate the miracle of Madonna’s apparition in Molise. The church is an authentic representation of the era it was built in, and is well worth a visit. 6810 Henri Julien
Pizza, of course:
Pizzeria Napoletana opened many moons ago in 1948, and claims to be the first pizzeria in Montreal! It evolved from a casual spot where workers would come to play pool and cards, to being one of the most popular eateries in Little Italy. Simplicity and authenticity make their pizzas a memorable affair. Oh and, it’s BYOW, so…get on it. 189 Dante Street; napoletana.com
10. Have a fruity cocktail at this Tiki Bar!
If you’re looking for a tropical experience but can’t afford a lavish vacation to a Polynesian island, then head to little Italy’s new Snowbird Tiki Bar. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a bamboo hut, surrounded by tiki figures and colourful paintings of a tropical beach. If the decor isn’t enough incentive to visit, then maybe their extravagant cocktails will be. They definitely pack a punch and are full of fruity flavours to delight your tastebuds. Head there for dinner and try their Polynesian cuisine!
9. Grab a bite at Montreal’s hip new Asian eateries!
You’re going to have those evenings where the question where should we eat will become a central discussion. The phrase “I heard of this great new place” is always an easy sell, so let us help you and give you a few.
Otto Yakitori Izakaya: This new kid on the block is an Izakaya to be reckoned with. Montreal’s first Yakitori (an Izakaya that specializes in chicken skewers), features all kinds of roastable meat like chicken thigh, wings, tongue.. yum! A great pick for reasonably priced, delicious late eats. 1441 St Mathieu St
Épicerie Hao: Rejoice! Épicerie Hao has come to rescue the Plateau from its steamed bun shaped void! Yep, right on Rachel street. The small eatery mimics the classic small spots found in big cities in Asia with its intimate and takeout friendly setup. Pork shoulder buns for meat lovers, shiitake mushroom buns for the veggies… come taste theses babies and you’ll be hooked. 255 Rue Rachel E
8. Participate in a festival!
There’s always some kind of festival going on in Montreal, but during the summer, Montreal becomes a veritable hub for outdoor entertainment! Here’s a little list of some of the best festivals in the city.
Fantasia International Film Festival: (July 13th – August 3rd, 2017)
Every summer, the long lines that surround Concordia University’s Hall building are for Fantasia, a leader in genre film scene. You can catch movies that wouldn’t normally be screened at your average movie theatre. Think movies from Asia, Europe and the Americas that are harder to find. You’ll be greeted by a buzzing crowd of excited film buffs all meowing at the screen (a tradition that started after a screening of a short film called “Sam the Cat.”) Is there a romantic scene? The Fantasia crowd cheers. Is there a sad scene? The Fantasia crowd erupts in laughter. Is there a gory scene? The Fantasia crowd goes wild. If this sounds like your cup of tea, then be sure to check out this summer festival! http://www.fantasiafestival.com/home/en
Shakespeare-in-the-Park: (Various parks from July- August, 2017)
Thespians rejoice! This one’s not really a festival, but you should definitely catch one of their shows if you’re into classic theatre! Repercussion Theatre hosts their yearly Shakespeare-in-the-Park event where they choose a Shakespearean play to perform throughout Montreal’s various parks. From July to August, find out which park is hosting the play, bring your own snacks and lawn chairs, and settle-in for an evening with the Bard! https://www.repercussiontheatre.com/shakespeare-in-the-park/
Zoofest/ OFF- JFL: (July 6th – 29th, 2017)
This bilingual festival is a cocktail of all the funnest parts of the arts. Zoofest and OFF-JKL (the English version of the festival) runs the gamut, putting on shows featuring actors, comedians, musicians, magicians and any other talented performers! If you’re looking to be gloriously entertained or to keel over laughing, Zoofest is the festival for you! www.zoofest.com
Mutek: (August 22nd – 27th, 2017)
For six days in the early summer, Mutek is an international festival that puts on shows featuring innovative electronic music and imaginative visual art. If the digital art world inspires you and the beat of an analog synth gets you moving, Mutek is the fest for you! http://www.mutek.org/en
Just for Laughs: (July 15th – 30th, 2017)
Montreal’s ever popular Just for Laughs festival always boasts an impressive list of local and international comedians. Some of the biggest names in comedy pass through Montreal, much to the delight of locals who spend an evening gasping for air in laughter. They also host a free outdoor festival in the Place-des-Arts entertainment district. The outdoor festival has bilingual acts, activities and food for families to enjoy, as well as some later comedy shows to catch after dinner. http://www.hahaha.com/en/montreal-festival
St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival: (May 29th – June 18th, 2017)
If you enjoy spending a leisurely day at the theatre, Montreal’s Fringe Festival puts on a variety of cool shows, from off-broadway plays to dance and drag queen performances. Their mission is to create an environment of inclusion and diversity, all within the wonderful world of theatrical arts. They take over Parc des Ameriques on Saint-Laurent boulevard and turn it into a performance space that’ll keep you entertained for hours! http://www.montrealfringe.ca/
7. Chill out in Laurier Park
Things you can expect at Laurier Park: ping-pong tables, petanque fields, picnicking, portable BBQ’s, a pool, and thousands of people! The number of Montrealers visiting this park has drastically increased over the years–it’s got that the whole neighbourhood is having a party here! feel. If you are visiting the Plateau Mont-Royal, plan yourself a few hours here. Pro-tip: Le Lapin Pressé next door makes a killer grilled-cheese, grab one for an express picnic!
6. Make the most of the Jardins Gamelin events!
From May 19th to October 15th, 2017, the little park on the Saint-Catherine street and Berri street packs a lot of activities into a small place! Coming back in full swing this summer, this garden/ performance space hosts a variety of activities from dance lessons to all kinds of musical performances. See the website below for a list of their upcoming events.
5. Discover these great new restaurants!
If you’ve never been to Port-Au-Prince in Haiti, Agrikol is the next best thing! This new Haitian restaurant in the heart of the Gay Village is known for its Haitian-inspired decor and tasty food. Step into a quaint little house that’s been converted into a hip, two story eatery complete with a magical terrace outback. Definitely order one (or a few) of their creative cocktails, especially the ‘ti-punch’ if you really want to get the party started. The ‘ti-punch’ is basically just rum and lime juice! Their menu is made up of grilled meat and fish, but you can order off the menu for a vegetarian option. As if this place couldn’t get any cooler, two of the four owners are Arcade Fire’s Win Butler and Régine Chassagne! Have a taste of Haitian food and music at Agrikol! 1844 Amherst St. http://agrikol.ca/
Head to the Old Port to enjoy some fresh vegan and vegetarian food in LOV’s botanical garden decor. The bright and airy space is filled with hanging terrariums to sit on and greenery at every corner. It’s a warm setting for a weekend brunch or a romantic venue for an intimate, candlelit dinner. Their food is made with all natural ingredients and the menu is made up of vegan and vegetarian delights like their kale mac and cheese. Don’t forget to try a fruity cocktail and maybe have a stroll beside the water after your meal! 464 McGill St. http://www.lov.com/
Make your way down to Griffintown’s newest French bistro on Notre-Dame street. License IV’s chef Darryl Crumb brings back classic French dishes that have long been forgotten. Even the decor will send you back to the old glamour of a Parisian bistro in the 1970s, back when you could sample a beef tartar with a long cigarette in hand. Over a glass of European white or red wine, dig into their tartars, meats, foie gras and charcuterie, which are all delicious to the last crumb! 1524 Notre-Dame West. http://www.licence4.ca/
4. Savour some Ice Cream!
You’ll recognize Kem Coba by the long lineup that wraps around Fairmont and St-Laurent. Trust me and pencil in an extra 15 minutes to your ice cream excursion– it will be worth the trip to this artisanal ice cream shop. You can the sit and indulge on the colourful benches right in front, along with other ice cream lovers. Flavours are chosen seasonally, making for the freshest flavours and ingredients. Yum. Kem Coba is also famous for their flavour combinations, twisting sorbet and soft serve into divine concoctions. 60 Avenue Fairmount O. https://kemcoba.com/
Ever wanted to dip your ice cream in some melted baileys-flavoured chocolate? Choose from over 40 different kinds of chocolate dips and toppings for your soft ice cream and throw a party for your palate! There are a few Diperies around Montreal, so be sure to check one out! 68 Pins Ave E; 1481 Ste-Catherine E; 5582 Boulevard Monkland https://www.facebook.com/ladiperie
For an ice cream shop in the heart of the Saint-Laurent action, Ripples is a great stop to refuel after some shopping or to bring a cone to Mount-Royal! 3880 St Laurent Blvd. http://www.montrealicecream.com/ripples/
3. Explore the Mile-Ex
The newly (but unofficially) named Mile-Ex area near Little Italy is just sprouting with fun new experiences. It’s no wonder people just won’t stop talking about them: a restaurant depanneur, a modern but cozy fine food experience at Le Mile Ex Restaurant, a backyard-party style ‘biergarten’ Alexandraplatz, and even something for third wave coffee fanatics at Dispatch Coffee. Take a look at our article on the neighbourhood to find out why a walk around the Mile Ex is a surefire way to impress a date, a new friend, or a someone in from out of town.
Bonus! Dinette Triple Crown:
How ‘bout a picnic in the park with some Southern comfort food? Dinette Triple Crown will pack a lovely picnic basket of hearty mac and cheese or fried chicken that you can bring to Parc de la Petite-Italie out front. 6704 Clark St. http://www.dinettetriplecrown.com/
2. Get giddy at these new Montreal bars!
There’s no shortage of new bars to try out in Montreal. These three are particularly exciting for their awesome decor, great drink menus, and overall je-ne-sais-quoi vibe!
This cafe/ bar has been packed since its Spring 2017 opening. Maybe it’s the steampunk/industrial decor that’s got a Los Angeles vibe, maybe it’s all the craft beer and cider they’ve got on tap. Whatever the reason, it’s an exciting hangout at any hour of the day or night. 4328 St Laurent Blvd. https://www.facebook.com/BarCafeDarling/
This hugely popular Sherbrooke microbrewery has finally graced Montreal’s Saint-Laurent street! Beer amateurs now have another drinkery to delight their craft beer-loving palate. 5101 St Laurent Blvd. http://siboire.ca/
Looking for a place that’s a little fancier? This wine bar invites you to sniff and sample their long list of imported wine in a fun, chic setting. 1234 Mont-Royal Ave E. http://www.rougegorge.ca/
1. Take the Evening Mile End Tour!
Montreal’s Mile End becomes a magical place in the evening. The locals are out, enjoying a summer evening with ice cream in hand or biting into a fresh Montreal-made bagel. The Evening Mile End tour invites participants to explore the neighbourhood’s vibrant scene by learning about the multicultural history of the area and digging into the best food it has to offer. Taste a Saint-Viateur bagel dipped in cream cheese, sample some authentic Italian tomato sauce on some yummy gnocchi, and treat yourself to Montreal’s best soft ice cream all in one fantastic tour! For more information, click here!
Get some gnocchi on the go!
La Drogheria Fine on Fairmont has added a brand new summer-friendly feature: gnocchi-to-go! Arguably the city’s best tomato sauce, La Salsa de la Nonna is served with only the freshest homemade gnocchi, in Chinese take-out style containers. The result? The perfect portable snack for your Mile End park hangs and bench chilling.
Eat at pop-up restaurant during Restaurant Day Montreal!
Montreal will have more than 150 pop-up restaurants open on November 12th. Restaurant Day is a food carnival when everyone is invited to create their own pop-up restaurant wherever they want and with the concept or the menu they decide.