Montreal is a bustling city with some of the best food, music, shops, and art in North America. Many students spend most of their time in the areas surrounding McGill and the Plateau, which offer no shortage of places to see and things to do, but there are so many other destinations beyond these frequented neighbourhoods. Inspired by the New York Times’ ‘36 Hours’ series, here are a few of The McGill Tribune’s suggested activities for students in need of a staycation and those looking to make the most of their time in Montreal before the semester ends.
Brunch at Café Parvis
Situated in the heart of downtown Montreal, Café Parvis is a hidden gem with a rustic, cozy ambiance and an abundance of indoor plants. The café serves coffee, pastries, pizzas, salads, and other tasty brunch options and is conveniently located near some of the most popular shopping destinations in the city, featuring easy metro access to other neighbourhoods such as Old Port and the Gay Village.
Lunch at Chez José Café
Stop for a midday bite to eat and try a taste of local culture at this quirky Portuguese café located on Avenue Duluth in the Plateau. Chez José serves pastries, crêpes, sandwiches, and coffee at affordable prices, but remember that the restaurant accepts cash only. It is also vegan and vegetarian friendly, so there are plenty of options for everyone.
Fine dining at Perles et Paddock
Located between Griffintown and Little Burgundy, this modern French restaurant specializes in craft cocktails and creative dishes, including a variety of small plates for sharing. The space has a minimalist, fresh ambiance. The surrounding Griffintown is a hip, creative neighbourhood bordered by the Lachine Canal, which is perfect for post-meal exploration.
The Phi Centre
Most art enthusiasts visit the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts or the Musée d’art contemporain (MAC), but a lesser-known venue is the Phi Centre. Located in Old Montreal, the Phi Centre is an arts and culture venue dedicated to showcasing work addressing timely socio-political issues, and it hosts a range of performances, film screenings, and interactive exhibitions. A virtual reality exhibition entitled The Horrifically Real Virtuality is currently open to the public. The display is a unique, immersive experience that combines virtual reality, cinema, and audience participation.
Montreal Botanical Garden
Enjoy summer weather early by touring the Montreal Botanical Garden, an oasis buried in the city. The garden is recognized as one of the best botanical gardens in the world and showcases plants from every corner of the planet. Located in the Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie neighbourhood near station Pie-IX, it is easily accessible by metro. The garden has a range of thematic greenhouses and gardens, and, as a bonus, it’s situated near the towering Olympic Stadium.
This giant, orange-shaped fast-food restaurant is located in the Côte-des-Neiges area and is within walking distance of the Namur metro station. The Gibeau Orange Julep is known for its greasy eats and its famous orange cream drink, making it the quintessential roadside destination.
Tour the Quartier des Spectacles
There is always something new to see in the Quartier des Spectacles, whether it’s a festival, a performance, or an interactive outdoor art installation. The Montreal Digital Spring, which encompasses various shows and immersive art pieces inspired by the digital age, and the International Festival of Films on Art, which showcases a rich variety of films on art from around the world, are two current exhibitions on view. Known as the arts and entertainment district, the must-see Quartier des Spectacles is conveniently located in the eastern section of downtown Montreal.
Attend a dance party at the Satosphère
The Satosphère dome is the main attraction at the Société des arts technologiques (SAT), a futuristic venue located near Chinatown. The SAT hosts regular gatherings open to the public under the dome. During the events, they showcase spectacular, 360-degree creative experiences with projected graphics. Some of the events are designed to be more relaxed while, at others, a live DJ is present, and dancing is encouraged.