11 Spontaneous Summer Day Trips 2 Hours Or Less From Montreal
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With the arrival of summer weather in Quebec, now's the time to start planning your first aventures estivales.
While a weekend getaway from Montreal might be calling your name, sometimes all you've got time for is a quick day trip, and luckily, there are loads of gorgeous spots with loads to do within a two-hour radius of Montreal.
So, grab your day bag, and maybe even your passport, 'cause these day trips from Montreal are definitely worth it.
Distance from Montreal: roughly one hour, five minutes
Why You Need To Go: The small Estrie town is known for its quaint and colourful town centre, boutiques, and craft shops.
If they're willing to pay a $20 parking fee, non-residents can spend the day at Douglass Beach on Lac Brome.
Distance from Montreal: roughly one hour, 15 minutes
Why You Need To Go: Tourists flock to the small Lanaudière town on hot summer days to repose in the cool shades of its spectacular Parc des chutes Dorwin, a nature park with walking trails and picnic spots overlooking the towering waterfall at its centre.
There's also the Parc des Cascades, a smaller park surrounding a series of shorter waterfalls, and the Rawdon municipal beach on the town's eponymous lake.
For $12, non-residents can purchase a bracelet that grants them access to all three sites.
Beloeil / Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Quebec
Distance from Montreal: roughly 35 minutes (to Beloeil)
Why You Need To Go: The Rivière Richelieu separates these neighbouring small towns directly east of Montreal.
In Beloeil, visitors can dine at any number of restaurants within walking distance of the waterfront and its views of the imposing cliffs of Mont Saint-Hilaire, perhaps the most iconic of the Monteregian Hills, occupied by a nature reserve with hiking trails and lookout points with sweeping views of the Saint Lawrence River Valley.
The town of the same name is the home of the ever-popular Strøm Nordic spa, a handful of orchards and cideries, and the Domaine Poissant, where alpaca enthusiasts can walk a fluffy friend through the forest.
Distance from Montreal: 35 minutes
Why You Need To Go: Vieux-Terrebonne sits at a picturesque bend in the Rivière des Milles-Îles across from Île-Saint-Jean. Visitors can browse local shops, grab a bite at one of the many restaurants that dot the neighbourhood, and stroll among colonial architecture.
The riverwalks along the Îles-des-Moulins and Parc de la Pointe-de-l'Île offer views of the adjacent rapids.
Distance from Montreal: one hour, 20 minutes
Why You Need To Go: The city of Magog crowns Lac Mephrémagog, which stretches up from Vermont deep into the Estrie region.
Beaches and public parks line the shore, while, steps away, restaurants on rue Principale entice potential customers with the smells of gravy, fried potatoes and grilled meats.
Distance From Montreal: one hour, 50 minutes
Why You Need To Go: If you want to rouse your dormant inner outdoorsperson with some adventure, consider a day trip to Orford, home of Quebec's Parc national du Mont-Orford with its hiking trails, boat and bike rentals, supervised swimming sites, and even rock climbing (recommended for accredited hikers only).
Distance From Montreal: one hour, 30 minutes
Why You Need To Go: Another small Estrie town with a dense centre of restaurants and shops that have even attracted the likes of Hillary and Bill Clinton.
Those mountains also make for some great hiking in the Parc d'environnement naturel de Sutton.
Plattsburgh, New York
Distance From Montreal: one hour 15 minutes
Why You Need To Go: Grab your passport and head on over to Plattsburgh. Whether you're interested in shopping, grabbing a bite at an American restaurant chain, or visiting the "Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks," Plattsburgh has a little bit of everything.
Distance From Montreal: One hour 30 minutes
Why You Need To Go: Vermont's largest city sits on a slope overlooking Lake Champlain.
The pedestrianized Church Street, lined with restaurants, local shops and outlets, alike, is the New England city's commercial hub.
Just blocks away on the lakefront are dockside restaurants with traditional American fare (burgers, ice cream, etc.) and the beautiful Waterfront Park with its views across the water toward the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York.
Plus Burlington has a Target and Trader Joe's.
Distance From Montreal: Roughly one hour, 30 minutes
Why You Need To Go: The famous Laurentian town sits at the foot of the sprawling Quebec national park of the same name. While the less outdoorsy can enjoy the restaurants and stores of both the town centre and faux-colonial ski resort, nature enthusiasts can choose from 23 trails to explore — including this one that leads to a lookout platform that appears as if it's floating above the valley below.
Distance From Montreal: Two hours
Why You Need To Go: Canada's sometimes overlooked capital completes this list. You only need a day trip to hit the major sites, including Parliament Hill, the Rideau Centre, ByWard Market, and the trails lining the Ottawa River. You may even have time to explore the exhibits of one of Ottawa-Gatineau's many museums.
If you're willing to venture just a wee bit further, Gatineau Park has a ton of trails, like this one around the turquoise Pink Lake (don't let the name fool you) and this one that passes the spooky ruins of an abandoned mill.
This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.
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