Despite a relatively mild and slow start to this winter season, Montrealers are delighted to see their city finally covered in successive waves of freshly-fallen, silent shrouds of snow. But unlike Paul Simon, we are not rocks or islands, and we can't fight the urge to get out there and break the surface of this immaculate, powdery blanket as we roll around in it. After all, we northerners enjoy filling our lungs with fresh air, as much as filling our phone's memories.
But as we begin the new year with another quarantine, you might be wondering how you can take advantage of this most magical season and still follow restrictions.
With that in mind, here's a list of fun activities that are accessible right now. So put on your toque, and enjoy all that our gorgeous regions have to offer.
And to give you an extra reason not to spend all day binge-watching shows on Netflix, Desjardins is holding a contest from January 22 to March 7 during which you can share a photo of your outdoor activities for a chance to win one of 12 gift cards of $750 for SEPAQ and Ontario Parks.
Click here for more details.
When: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., every day from January 16 to February 14
Address: 5340, boulevard Marie-Victorin, Sainte-Catherine, QC
Why You Need To Go: You can enjoy all kinds of winter activities set up for visitors to this gorgeous park in Sainte-Catherine. Whether you enjoy sliding, ice-skating, or strolling under twinkling lights strung across the trees and the evergreens, this place is just like you imagined the Land of Snow would be like.
Bastican River Parc
Price: $4.35 daily entry fee for adults or free for local residents
When: Every day from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Address: 200, chemin du Barrage, Saint-Narcisse, QC
Why You Need To Go: Why not get lost along a wooden path only minutes away from Trois-Rivières? You'll find various lookouts along this path from which you'll get a breathtaking view of this gorgeous stretch of nature. Although this isn't the of the most well-known spots in Mauricie, it's definitely more than worth a visit.
Price: Starting at $19.50 for adults
When: From December 2 to January 31, closing at 6 p.m. for pedestrians and 6:30 p.m. for vehicles.
Address: 2805, boulevard du Souvenir, Laval, QC
Why You Need To Go: There aren't many things more beautiful to look at than fresh white snow... except of course when it's illuminated by millions of shimmering lights casting ethereal hues of colour. Be careful not to fill up your phone's memory when taking pictures along this 3 km-long path pulled straight out of our dreams.
Centre de la nature
When: Every day from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Address: 901, avenue du Parc, Laval, QC
Why You Need To Go: Is there a better place to truly enjoy what nature has to offer than in a protected space of 18 500 m2, where you can go sledding, ice-skating, and cross-country skiing, only a few minutes drive from your home? While the hiking paths are open to visitors at all times, remember to make a reservation online to be able to access other activities offered by the Nature Center in order to respect public health measures.
Entre Chien et loup
Price: $40 for a 2-hour hike.
Address: 190, chemin Périgny, L'Anse-Saint-Jean, QC
Why You Need To Go: If you've always wanted to go on an arctic adventure, this is the perfect excursion to get a taste of the northern frontier life. Entre Chien et loup offers various activities such as snowshoeing and nature exploration in scenes that'll have you keeping an eye out for White Walkers.
Village sur glace de Roberval
When: Monday to Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. starting January 25.
Address: 851, boulevard St-Joseph, Roberval, QC
Why You Need To Go: Every year, the city of Roberval builds a temporary village on ice, off the shore of St-Jean Lake. More than a hundred tiny houses line up around an ice circle and a pathway for visitors of all ages to stroll along. Some even choose to settle there for the season! Come for a ride on your ice-skates or your fat bike around this quirky little town where you can enjoy various outdoor shows and attractions.
Glissades des Pays d'en Haut
Price: Starting at $24 for adults
Address: 440, chemin Avila, Saint-Sauveur, QC
Why You Need To Go: With more than 50 tracks designed for all different types of sledding, you'll have a day packed full of adrenaline and laughs at the Saint-Sauveur Center. You can choose between riding a tube, rafting, or even a bobsleigh to glide down the powdery slopes. As for the daredevils, make sure to ride a tornado or a vortex, which will have you spinning 360° as you come down.
P'tit Train du Nord Linear Park
When: Every day from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Address: 1490, rue Saint-Joseph, Sainte-Adèle, QC
Why You Need To Go: This multi-function path in the Sainte-Adele park allows outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy the dreamy landscapes through which it travels, whether they choose to follow it on foot, fat bike, skis, or snowmobile. It's also located in a defined sector, meaning that visitors can admire the surrounding beauty on this decommissioned railway, without having to fear for their safety. With a little luck, you may even witness some of the furry creatures dwelling in these woods.
Price: Starting at $498 (group rates available)
Address: 158A, route du Parc, Sainte-Anne-des-Monts, QC
Why You Need To Go: These hills are what we imagine ski paradise looks like. It's even commonly referred to as "Quebec's greatest playground." Imagine getting to off-track ski across 95 km of glistening snowy hills surrounded by an unbelievable panoramic view. If you rather take in the sights a little more slowly, you can also slip on your snowshoes for a hike through this picture-perfect scenery.
Coin-du-Banc Base Camp
Price: Starting at $30 for adults
When: Every day
Address: 315, route 132 Est, Percé, QC
Why You Need To Go: There probably isn't a more perfect place to go fat biking than the Coin-du-Banc Base Camp in Gaspésie. You can ride along the beach as you gaze onto the frozen shores. Even if these bikes are a little tougher to pedal, this activity is a lot chiller than you might think and will have you relaxing in no time.
When: Every day, from sunrise to sunset.
Address: Saint-Anaclet-de-Lessard, QC
Why You Need To Go: Discover a hidden fairy tale forest nestled in Saint-Anaclet-de-Lessard, a Rimouski municipality. In the wintertime, the falls there look like a castle made of clouds with mesmerizing shapes. This makes it the ideal spot to work on your photography skills, and maybe even get a few pics for your story, Elsa style.
Address: 800, autoroute Jean-Lesage, Lévis, QC
Why You Need To Go: While we can't take a trip to Niagara Falls, the Chutes-de-la-Chaudière are pretty spectacular as far as alternatives go. After enjoying the terrifying beauty of the torrents of water and ice rushing down these falls, you'll be able to wander through the adjacent park, which gets particularly picturesque in the wintertime.
Refuge faunique Marguerite-D’Youville
Price: Starting at $5.65 for adults
When: Every day, from 9 a.m. t 5 p.m.
Address: 480, D'Youville Blvd, Châteauguay, QC
Why You Need To Go: This refuge located on Saint-Bernard island allows animal lovers to experience the wilder side of their local fauna and flora. Visitors will be able to admire colourful birds, foxes and many other wildlings typical to the region. Some of them might even agree to take a selfie with you!
Alpagas du Domaine Poissant
Price: Starting at $37.50
When: Friday to Sunday. Must reserve in advance.
Address: 1235, chemin de la Montagne, Mont-Saint-Hilaire, QC
Why You Need To Go: As far as adorable furry creatures go, alpacas have a place of honour among the champions. These domesticated mammals from South America look like giant woolly plush toys, so affectionate you'll want to move in with them at their farm in Mont-Saint-Hilaire. And when you learn that you can't, you may accidentally adopt one to bring back home.
Now that you know where to go, you can satisfy your craving for big open spaces. And while you're at it, don't forget to capture some of those happy memories. Who knows? They might even win you one of those $750 gift-cards Desjardins will be giving away for a Quebec or an Ontario provincial park. And all because you took the time to treat yourself to a fun activity.
Why not also take this opportunity to check out their student offer, which could alleviate some of your worries as you complete your diploma and learn to tackle adult responsibilities step-by-step.