I recently moved to Montreal for the summer, and although I've only been here a short while, there are an unbelievable amount of things I want to do while I'm here. What's even more exciting is knowing that pretty soon, I'll be able to give my friends who visit from out of town a more real, not-so -touristy experience of the city. So, if you're like me and are new to the city, or you're a Montreal lover from afar who wants to try and live like the locals for a bit, here is a list that combines some of the things I've done, or can't wait to do with my out-of-town friends. Hopefully they feel authentic as can be, and, bonus, they won't hurt your wallet too much!
1. Have a picnic and a few drinks at one of Montreal's local parks
One of the best things I've learned about Montreal since moving here? There's something called the Picnic Law, which basically allows you to drink in public parks as long as you have a substantial amount of food with you. You and your friends will feel very much like locals when you see how many Montrealers take advantage of this great law on a hot afternoon. Check out our list of the best parks where you can chill out with your picnic basket full of brews. Cheers!
2. Chill Out near the installations at Montreal's Place des Arts
On my first day here, I wandered down to Place Des Arts, and immediately fell in love. The current art installations that are set up down there are awesome - swings that light up and play music? Yes please. This is definitely somewhere Montrealers go to hang out, so bring your friends and take in the atmosphere; you can even jump through the musically-controlled water fountains if you get too hot.
3. Bar hop on a hot night in Montreal (Saint-Laurent, Mont-Royal or Saint-Denis)
One thing I learned pretty quickly - Montrealers rarely stick to just one bar when venturing out for a night on the town. Maybe you'll want to start your night on one of the city's many summer terraces, set the mood with a mason jar concoction at La Distillerie, and then stumble on to the club. Need help deciding where? Consult our list for help. If you end up on St. Laurent at the end of your night, make sure to grab some $2 Chow Mein - and no, there's no catch, that's really the price.
4. Get lost discovering street art quite literally all over Montreal
I've done this pretty much every time I've visited Montreal, and I'm left in awe every time. St. Laurent is a good place to start if you want to see some gorgeous murals, but the best part is that you'll be pleasantly surprised by them pretty much anywhere in the city. Perfect if you have friends that are into the urban art scene, and if you want to wow them even further, plan their visit around the Mural Festival (June 9th-19th)
5. Rent BIXI bikes and venture to Old Port, the Lachine Canal or Parc Jean-Drapeau
This is something I have yet to do, but I'm so psyched for. These amazing landscapes prove that there's more to Montreal than just the city centre experiences. It's definitely something you can spend a day doing, and there are so many cool, hidden places along the Lachine canal especially that you can discover with your friends.
6. Spend time scoping out local, iconic Montreal restaurants
I can't even begin to tell you how overwhelmed I am at the amount of places I want, no need, to eat in Montreal. When you spend all day touring with friends, it can be easy to just wander in to any old place when you're hungry and tired. But trust me, take the time to find some local favourites, and you won't regret it. For example, the food at Patati Patata (pictured above) is out of this world, and insanely cheap! There are tons of places like this all over the city, and if you want to stay in the realm of budget friendly, we've got that for you here
7. Wander around the side streets in some key areas of Montreal
I feel like every time I explore a new neighbourhood in Montreal, I'm stopping every 5 minutes to snap pictures of the vine-laden apartments, or colourful coffee shops. Sometimes the best way to really get a feel for the culture, vibe and history of a place is to explore where people actually live, work, and go to relax. Check out the cool, fringe vibes on Duluth street, or the charm of St. Louis square and its surrounding streets. Go off the beaten path and you shall be rewarded.
8. Avoid large chain stores and opt for vintage boutiques instead
Undoubtedly, something your out-of-town crew will want to do in Montreal is go shopping - and rightfully so, since the city has an amazing selection of shopping for anyone and everyone. But simply darting in and out of the big chain stores on St. Catherine street can feel so overdone; those you can find in any major city. Instead, show your friends a more authentic shopping vibe by checking out the many unique vintage stores dotted throughout the coolest neighbourhoods in Montreal. Like always, we've got you covered for options here.
9. Do the one touristy thing that's totally allowed: take a sunset (or sunrise) photo at the top of Mont-Royal
Honestly, this is the quintessential tourist attraction in Montreal for a good reason: you just can't beat the gorgeous, expansive view of the city. But to make it a little less mainstream, head up to the mountain with your friends either before or after the bar (we're not responsible for what happens if you choose the latter). Chances are there will be less people around those times, and that way it will feel like your own private little viewing of this beautiful city. Time to make memories.