Ask Ainsley: How can I enjoy Montreal safely this summer?

Dear Ainsley,

These days, I feel a mixture of excitement and sadness about the upcoming summer. On one hand, I’m glad to have a break, but on the other, I know I won’t be able to do many of the things I usually would. I miss travelling and enjoying Montreal’s summer offerings and I don’t know how to face another summer in lockdown. How can I enjoy Montreal this summer while still being safe?

Sincerely, 

Missing Travel in Lockdown (MTL)

Dear MTL,

I hear you! Much like last year, this summer will certainly look different from the Montreal summers we’ve come to love. With a 9:30 p.m. curfew currently in place, restaurants closed to dine-in guests, and gatherings in private homes banned, it is understandable to miss the freedom we had in the past. That being said, although the lockdown may limit your activities this summer, there are still safe ways to have fun.

There are plenty of outdoor activities you can do while socially distanced this summer. Try exploring The Botanical Gardens—a signature Montreal attraction—with a walk through the Japanese Garden or their collection of bizarre plants, such as elephant’s foot and living stones. The classic Mont Royal hike is also a great way to enjoy the beauty of the city while keeping a safe distance from others. Try visiting Beaver Lake or climbing to the top in the evening to enjoy the sunset––just be mindful of the raccoons.

You can also look forward to safely meeting up with a few friends from a distance. Try having a socially-distanced picnic in Square St. Louis while enjoying a pastry from Mamie Clafoutis. You might even consider exploring a new part of the city, such as the Lachine Canal, where visitors can stop and enjoy the sights and smells of the Atwater Market. Make sure to follow the provincial guidelines by limiting the amount of people you’re with, keeping your distance, and wearing a mask.

One of the coolest things about Montreal is the number of museums the city is home to. This summer, pay a visit to The Museum of Fine Arts or explore a lesser-known museum such as the Écomusée du fier monde, a museum of grassroots and working-class history. But be sure to reserve your place well in advance, because they are in high demand. 

While it’s nice to leave the house, the summer is also a great time to acquire some new skills. You can start learning a language you’ve always wanted to speak, or consider devoting a part of the summer to your own hobbies. There are so many possible projects to take on, such as knitting, baking, or even creative journaling––you can even take the opportunity to prepare some birthday or Christmas gifts in advance. Some great options include knitted scarves or Origami, which are always a joy to receive. 

Finally, another great way to spend summer is by volunteering in the Montreal community. There are so many organizations doing important work: You may want to consider Meals for Milton Parc, Santropol Roulant or Habitat for Humanity Quebec. Additionally, the summer break is a great time to start working on your resume, and beginning to think about future job prospects. Getting a head start and thinking about what you want to do post-graduation will only benefit you in the long run. 

It’s normal to be feeling apprehensive about another summer spent in lockdown—this summer likely won’t allow for any trips, nor will it be possible to take advantage of Montreal’s bustling nightlife like we used to. However, Fall 2021 carries the promise of in-person classes and reunions with friends. In the meantime, there are still plenty of ways to soak up the sun and enjoy the city. 

Warmly,

Ainsley

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