Out on the Town, Student Life

Having fun in Montreal without spending a penny

With spring fast approaching, many McGill students are braving the outdoors for the first time in months, finally getting the chance to explore the city. However, it can sometimes feel impossible to experience all that Montreal has to offer, with the costs of popular student activities like going to restaurants, cafes, and bars adding up before you know it. Luckily, The McGill Tribune’s suggestions will help you forge long-lasting spring memories in Montreal, without taking a hit to your bank account.

1. Check out a local museum

Montreal boasts 40 different museums, making it an ideal city for a museum tour. With attractions ranging from historical artifacts to modern art exhibits to scientific demos, there is a venue for all interests. Among these museums is the Musée des beaux-arts, located a mere 10-minute walk from McGill’s downtown campus in the Golden Square Mile. This renowned gallery features Quebec and Canadian art, international contemporary art, and even a sculpture garden. Students wanting to check out this attraction are in luck—the Musée des beaux-arts offers free admission to those 20 and under. If you are 21 or over, don’t worry—you can enjoy free admission on the first Sunday of every month at this artist’s paradise. Alternatively, Musée McCord, conveniently located across the street from McGill’s Royal Victoria College, includes exhibitions in Canada-based fashion, photography, and more. This student-friendly locale offers free admission on Wednesday evenings and on the first Sunday of every month.

2. Host a potluck picnic

For the foodie, planning a picnic is an ideal way to socialize with friends and indulge your taste buds in some new dishes this spring. And luckily, Montreal is the perfect city for a homemade picnic—just invite some friends and choose one of the city’s numerous parks as a destination! Perhaps the most popular picnicking spot in the city is Parc La Fontaine. This sprawling green space offers prime picnic real estate, with glowing lawns and tall trees that will shade you from the sun. If you’re looking to host your picnic closer to campus, try Parc Jeanne-Mance, or even Parc du Mont-Royal if you’re willing to brave the hike up the hill. To avoid depleting your budget, make your picnic a potluck. With each of your friends bringing a dish, you can each prevent additional trips to the grocery store and still enjoy a hearty meal. It’ll also be a great opportunity to try out a new recipe and impress your friends. 

3. Go on a walking tour of the city

Though often regarded as mere tourist attractions, walking tours of Montreal can be a great way to explore new parts of the city without spending a cent. Free Montreal Tours offers a walking tour of Old Montreal for people of all ages at absolutely no cost. Beginning at Metro Place d’Armes, this trek takes just over two hours to show participants attractions such as Place Jacques-Cartier, Notre-Dame de Bonsecours Chapel, and the Rue Saint-Jacques West, with stories and anecdotes from knowledgeable guides. Alternatively, you can try a free walking tour of Montreal’s Chinatown, starting at the Champ-de-Mars metro station. If you are looking for a more self-guided experience, try picking a new area of the city from a map and simply go explore it. Taking a walk in other neighbourhoods can help you get out of the student bubble while learning more about Montreal’s rich and diverse history. 

4. Visit a public library

While McLennan may have us all clasped firmly in its grip, challenge your friends to venture outside of their routines this spring by going to one of Montreal’s public libraries. The city is home to 45 library branches and holds upwards of four million books. Not only do these branches provide study materials, but they also offer great options for a light spring read, perfect to enjoy on a sunny day. In particular, La Grande Bibliothèque located between Quartier des Spectacles and Gay Village is embellished with glass walls and spiral staircases, making it a stunning backdrop for a quiet spring study session.

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