As the Winter snows fall in Denver, I’ve been reminiscing on our mid-March trip to Québec City this year. While most people head south for Spring Break, we decided to go north into Canada to explore the region’s French Canadian history and snow sports.
Here are some of our top recommendations for Winter/Spring visitors:
- Tobogganing and Frozen Maple-Syrup Pops in the Old City
Our first stop was Château Frontenac, an historic hotel in Vieux-Québec (the Old City) that opened in 1893. The canons outside the hotel are those installed after the siege of Québec City by the British Admiral William Phips in 1690.
The hotel also overlooks the Plains of Abraham where a British invasion force led by General James Wolfe defeated French troops under the Marquis de Montcalm during the Seven Years War in 1759. General Wolfe’s victory led to the surrender of New France to the British.
Though the history was fun, our favorite part was the legendary Toboggan Slide Au 1884. Riding the wood toboggans, we zipped down the icy hill at 44mph. Tickets are relatively inexpensive and the runs are usually open from mid-December to late March (weather permitting). Winston loved it!
Meanwhile, the girls joined the Company of New France to live the frontiersman’s fur-trapping life:
After exploring the upper city, we made our way down the steep roads to the lower city along the St. Lawrence River. There, we enjoyed exploring the European-style shops, eating poutine for lunch, and trying frozen maple-syrup pops for dessert:
2. Ice Skating
We went ice skating at the Patinoire de la place D’Youville. It’s not easy to ice skate with a baby in an Ergo, but we managed to do it. And Winston had tons of fun!
The rink is open from from mid-October to mid-March and features a great view of the old city wall. Fun fact: Québec City is the only walled North American city north of Mexico. The gates of Porte St. Louis (seen behind us) dates back to 1694, but was demolished in 1791 because of its poor condition and rebuilt. This gate lasted until 1823 when it was replaced.
Josh REALLY wanted to go dog-sledding while in Canada, so we went near Saint-Jean-de-l’ile-d’Orleans with Expédition Mi-Loup tours. It was so fun! I loved seeing the huskies performing the task they were bred to do—you could tell they enjoyed their jobs! The dog who led our team was named Martín.
The kids also really enjoyed spending time with the puppies afterward.
Now would be a good time to mention that we also brought #ourdogWilber on his first international trip. We did not, however, bring him on our dog-sledding venture. I don’t think this type of work would suit him very well…
4. Cross-Country Skiing
It has become somewhat of a family tradition to go cross-country skiing whenever we’re in Québec. This time, we went to Mont-Sainte-Anne, the largest cross-country ski center in Canada. With 124.3 miles of trails, there’s plenty of terrain for everyone.
Josh and I both strapped a kid onto our back with an Ergo and took off for a fun day. The extra weight sure is a good way to get into shape!
One of our favorite parts was hearing a moose bugle in the distance. Winston told us the moose was asking, “Where’s my breakfast?”
5. Tubing Like You’ve Never Seen Before
As if we hadn’t done enough Winter sports, we drove to Valcartier for a day of tubing. This tubing was unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. The tubing hill had tons of runs of varying difficulty, and “lifts” to pull you and your tube back up the hill. Winston (age 3) was able to ride a tube on his own as well as on our laps, and Ella (age 1) was snugly in her Ergo. Unfortunately, we didn’t get any pictures because we were having too much fun, but you can get an idea of what it was like on the website.
Also, next time we go, Josh wants to stay in Valcartier’s Hôtel de Glace—the only ice-constructed accommodation of its kind. I guess that’s a reason to return!
6. Montmorency Waterfall (Chutes Montmorency)
Finally, we visited Montmorency Falls, which thunder 272 feet down to the St. Lawrence River below. It’s a bit of a trek in the snow, but we made it out and back with little difficulty.
So that’s was our Québec City this year… What are your top recommendations for visiting Québec in wintertime? Let us know in the comments!