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8 Reasons to Visit Montreal for Spring Break

Montreal is definitely the hottest spring break destination at the moment. Although not hot in terms of the weather, it’s becoming an increasingly popular travel destination for families and young adults alike. It’s an easy trip for Boston students in particular; it’s an hour and fifteen-minute flight and a five-hour drive, with plenty of options for cheap hostels, hotels, and cool Airbnb’s. The fact that 18 is the legal drinking age is also a big draw, and Montreal hosts some of the nightlife in Canada. It’s an amazing city full of history and culture, perfect for classy museum trips and cute brunches during the day, with nights spent clubbing and bar hopping. I’ve compiled a list of some cool spots that you should add to your itinerary if you’re interested in heading to Montreal this spring break, or already planning for next year! Bon Voyage!

1) Biodome

The Montréal Biodôme recreates some of the most beautiful ecosystems of the Americas. This huge facility was originally created for the for the 1976 Olympic Games and has since been converted into an incredible exhibit showcasing the beauty and magic of our natural world.  You can walk through replicas of four vastly different ecosystems found in the Americas, including a Tropical Forest modeled after the South American rainforest, the Laurentian Forest which serves a replica of the North American wilderness, The Saint Lawrence Marine Ecosystem, modelled on the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, and last but not least,The Subpolar Region, a habitat that is divided into Arctic and Antarctic. Not only do these exhibits showcase the plants and flowers that adorn these ecosystems, but they house the native animals, too; there are penguins living in the polar regions! Either way, if you appreciate the natural world at all, (which you should!) this is definitely a must-see!

2) Biosphere

Not to be confused with the aforementioned Biodome, the Biosphere is a museum in Montreal dedicated to the preservation of the environment. You can view its amazing exhibits to get a better understanding of major environmental issues such as biodiversity, climate change, water preservation, and sustainable development through various eye-catching displays and hands-on activities. Originally built as the American contribution to the 1967 World’s Fair, the United States hired Buckminster Fuller to create something eye-catching and innovative to display in Montreal. And eye-catching it was;  the dome’s steel skeleton was fitted with a clear acrylic covering, making the dome look like a massive, glittering jewel. However, said acrylic caught fire a few years later, engulfing the entire sphere in a spectacular ball of fire. While the acrylic burned away, the steel skeleton of the dome remained. The dome was closed to the public for over fifteen years, but later reopened as the environmental museum it is today. If you care about or appreciate the natural world in any way, which of course you should, this is an important museum to visit.

3) Good eats!

For all the foodies out there, Montreal certainly has some good eats. St. Viateur Bagels is a must; they have an extensive menu of fresh-made bagels, my top two being the Sesame Seed Bagel or the Rosemary and Sea Salt Bagel. If your someone like me who loves carbs, this is the place for you! Or, check out a new take on the infamous Canadian Poutine and order some Poutine Grilled Cheese at L’Gros Luxe. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a grilled cheese sandwich stuffed with french fried, gravy, and cheese curds.

4) Gibeau Orange Julep

The Gibeau Orange Julep restaurant, affectionately nicknamed OJ or The Big Orange by locals, is a hilarious and wacky roadside attraction/fast food restaurant. It is absolutely massive; the giant orange stands approximately three stories high and has a diameter of forty feet. It exclusively serves its trademark drink, Gibeau Orange Julep, and poutine.  Whether you want a fun photo opp, a delicious and refreshing drink, or a taste of Canada’s most famous french fry concoction, this restaurant is a must if your on the hunt for all things wacky in Montreal!

5) L’Auberge Saint-Gabriel

If your a history buff and love a good ghost story, make sure you have time on your trip to stop by L’Auberge Saint-Gabriel. L’Auberge Le Saint-Gabriel is the oldest inn in North America, founded by a French fur Trader in 1688. Also notable is the fact that it was the first inn to receive a liquor license. Along with its rich history, this inn possesses a touch of the supernatural. L’Auberge Saint-Gabriel is allegedly haunted by a young girl who died in a fire, and guests swear they see her wandering the grounds. Aside from the history and ghost stories, the Auberge is a super trendy spot in with great food and drink!

6) Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

As an art aficionado, visiting a city that has good museums is crucial to me. Thankfully, Montreal has two amazing ones; the Museum of Fine Arts and the Musee d’art Contemporain. The Museum of Fine Arts,  located in the beautiful blank district, has an incredible collection of everything from ancient arts and to more modern art, with a lot of the works created by Canadian artists. You can stroll five multiple pavilions to view a vast collection of oil paintings, watercolors, and sculptural pieces. The museum doesn’t come without a bit of mystery and intrigue, so if your one who likes conspiracy and true crime, this is the museums for you. The museum has had two major thefts in its history: the first happened September 4, 1972, where fifty objects were taken, including extremely valuable paintings by famous artists Peter Paul Rubens and Rembrandt, that were never recovered. In 2011, a day before the 39th anniversary of the 1972 theft, a Roman marble head was snatched from its display. While the culprit initially escaped, eventually, the police caught up to the thief. In 2013, Simon Metke was apprehended and charged with the crime. Either way, this art is cool to check out for both the art and the mystery surrounding it!

7) The Musée d’art Contemporain de Montréal

If contemporary art is more your speed, make sure to check out The Musée d’art Contemporain de Montréal (MACM). It has an incredible collection of over 7,000 works of art by more than 1,500 artists and is the only museum in Quebec dedicated solely to contemporary art. Four rooms are reserved for exhibitions of the collection, featuring works reflecting the significant trends of contemporary art, including contemporary paintings, photos, and sculptures. Many of the pieces are created by Canadian born artists, but they have a good amount of international artists as well. The other four rooms in the complex are dedicated to temporary exhibitions that change from time to time.

8) Tam Tams

This amazing outdoor drumming circle happens every Sunday (weather permitting) at the Mount Royal Park near the monument of Sir George-Étienne Cartier. Although it started simply as a drumming circle, now all sorts of characters gather at the weekly festival. appearances at the park including artisanal vendors, DJs, performance artists, exhibitionists all make appearances at this park. Due to all the commotion, the surrounding area is generally quite popular on Sundays and is perfect for a lazy afternoon of people watching. The Tam-Tams typically start around 10:30 in the morning and continues until sunset. Although not an officially sanctioned nor sponsored event, it plays a large part of Montreal’s culture.

Traveling can be difficult on a college student budget, but Montreal is definitely doable. It’s got awesome historical attractions, cool cultural monuments, amazing museums, and incredible restaurants. It may not be Mexico or the Bahamas, but it certainly makes for a unique and fun spring break trip. If you’re looking for somewhere to go this break, Montreal is a super cool spot to put on your travel bucket list.

 

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