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Enjoy a scenic day out in the city of Montreal. (Hayley Mortin / McGill Tribune)

Chill Thrills: How to entertain visiting parents in the dead of winter

a/Chill Thrills/Student Living by

It’s not often parents come to visit, with temperatures constantly dropping, and plane ticket prices always on the rise. Without summer festivals, it may seem like there is nothing to do. So if parents do eventually decide to come visit in the middle of the school year, make sure to give them an experience worth remembering.

  • Mile end neighbourhood

    Students who live in the Mile End neighbourhood area can take their parents to a hip part of town without going far. The first suggested stop of the day is brunch. The Mile End is filled with delicious brunch places, from rival bagel companies to vegan coffee shops. However, for the brunch place with the most flavour and the fairest price, check out Le Sparrow (5322 Boul. Saint-Laurent). A delicious meal of a full Turkish Breakfast with a pot of tea (or a fresh mimosa) is the perfect start to a lazy afternoon. Follow that by walking down Saint-Laurent and across Mont Royal, checking out all the local shops. Despite the bitter cold, there are enough stores to step into to stave off any frozen toes.

  • Golden square mile

    Take a trip to the west side of campus and spend an afternoon in the Golden Square Mile, which essentially includes the entire McGill campus and the area between McGill and Concordia. Start the day with a tour around campus; parents can see the building that you passed that one really hard exam in, maybe point out your favourite library to spend all-nighters in, then head down to the Ritz Carlton (1228 Sherbrooke Ouest) for high tea. Although that may be too pricey for a regular drop-in, your parents deserve to be pampered, and who can turn down four different types of finger sandwiches, assorted scones, and a tray of pastries? After tea, head just a few blocks down to the Montreal Musée des Beaux Arts (1380 Sherbrooke Ouest). There are always great exhibits, and on a snowy day, there’s nothing nicer than walking around a warm building as the storm rages on outside.

  • Old Montreal

    If your parents are only coming for a day, Old Montreal is the place to go. A heavy layer of beauty, history, and restaurants makes this the go-to place for anyone visiting. There is enough to do at Old Montreal that you can go more than once and still be entertained. While Old Montreal is littered with pricey, high-end restaurants, sometimes sticking to traditional French-Canadian cuisine is just what you need. Marche de la Villette (324 Saint-Paul Ouest) is a full boucherie charcuterie, and its French onion soup is incredible. Afterwards, spend the afternoon walking around the neighbourhood and make sure to schedule a stop at the Notre-Dame Cathedral. It’s always covered in lights when there’s snow on the ground, and serves as a great background for a family photo.

  • Chinatown + Quartier Latin

    For a more culturally eclectic experience, Chinatown and the Quartier Latin lend themselves to an afternoon full of beautiful architecture and a taste of Montreal’s diverse population. Similar to that of the Mile End, the focus of both of these neighborhoods is the various boutiques littered throughout the streets. If shopping really isn’t your parents’ thing, take them to a show at Le Maison Théâtre (245 Ontario), or if no one in your family speaks French, go talk a walk in the Grande Bibliotheque (475 Maisonneuve Est), it’s indoors, warm, and provides a beautiful view of the city. Without a doubt, your day won’t be complete without at least one meal in Chinatown, so if the line isn’t too long, feast on what the Montreal Gazette calls “the best dim sum in Montreal” at La Maison Kam Fung (1111 Saint-Urbain).

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