Reasons to Visit Québec

Reasons to Visit Québec

9 Reasons You Should Visit Québec Right Now By Teresa Bitler

Canada turns 150 this year, and with free admission to its national parks, there are lots of incentive to head north. With its breathtaking natural sites, buzzing cities, and unique cultural heritage, there are even more reasons to head to the province of Québec. Here are just a few reasons to visit.

There’s Always Something to Do in the City

Québec’s two major cities, Montréal and Québec City, are alive with activity all year long. That’s especially true this year as Montréal celebrates its 375th anniversary with more than 175 events, including multimedia shows at the Notre-Dame Basilica, at the Jacques Cartier Bridge, and on the waters of the St. Lawrence River this summer. Québec City isn’t to be outdone in this regard. Forty tall ships will sail into the Port of Québec and remain docked July 18-23. And of course, you can always stroll the city’s brick-paved streets, lounge on the Plains of Abraham with hundreds of other locals, or catch one of the city’s many other festivals.

The Outdoors Is Everywhere

This year, to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary, all parks managed by Parks Canada are free. At La Mauricie, Forillon, Gaspésie and Mingan Achipelago national parks in Québec, you can see everything from waterfalls to towering sea cliffs, and do everything from hiking to snow-shoeing. Saguenay - St. Lawrence Marine Park, a sprawling ocean reserve, is also free.

Adventurers will also find plenty to explore in Québec, where they can try canyoneering all year long in the Charlevoix region (ice canyoneering was invented here). Or, they can test their nerves on a suspended glass platform overlooking the town of Percé at Géoparc de Percé.

A Major Canadian Waterway Is Yours to Explore

You can experience the St. Lawrence River a number of ways, including a classic whale-watching tour. Thirteen species inhabit the river between May and October, including blue whales, the largest animals on the planet. Intrepid travelers may want to try a zodiac excursion, an exploration by sea kayak, or a trip to one of the world’s longest fjords, the Saguenay-Lac St. Jean.

The Bright Lights of the Future Are On Display

The company Moment Factory is known for designing eye-popping multimedia experiences all over the world. This year, it’s presenting a number of its signature shows in Québec. Foresta Lumina takes you through an enchanted forest with mysterious creatures, while Nova Lumina invites you on a nocturnal journey by the sea. Anima Lumina treats you to an after-dark tour of the Saint-Félicien Zoo. Another high-impact video presentation, Cité Mémoire (created by well-known scenographers Victor Pilon and Michel Lemieux), displays the history of Montreal with more than 20 tableaux projected onto buildings each night. 

There Are Food Trails to Follow

Its cities are jammed with world-class restaurants, but Québec is also home some unique food experiences. Head to the Saint-Benoît-du-Lac Abbey, a monastery in the Eastern Townships. On a guided tour, where you’ll learn about the day-to-day life of the monks and how they make their cheeses, including Bleu Bénédictin. How about a little wine with that cheese? Nearly 30 vineyards along Québec’s Wine Routes produce a variety of wines, including ice wine. Or, travel the Montérégie Cider Route, sampling sparkling, still, and ice ciders along the way.


The Festivals Will Keep You Celebrating Day and Night

The Festival International de Jazz de Montréal (Montréal Jazz Fest) kicks off at the end of June. This 10-day extravaganza includes 1,000 concerts held at 15 indoor and 10 outdoor venues. For more music, head to Le Festif!. Now in its eighth year, the July music fest features musicians on 20 stages. Or, check out the Festival de la Poutine, a three-day celebration of the much-loved Canadian dish of French fries and cheese curds with brown gravy. In addition to plenty of poutine, the festival features live music and activities.

It’s Road Trip Paradise

If you’re idea of a vacation involves a road trip, plan a trip to the Laurentian mountains, just 45 minutes north of Montréal. You can make your way through the mountains or along country back roads, discovering the area’s towns and villages. Or, opt to drive the Route des Belles-Histoires. The historic drive tracks the route used by early settlers from Saint Jérôme to Mont-Laurier. Along the way, stop at any of the more than 60 points of interest, including the Laurentian Ski Museum. There’s also the Navigators’ Route, which follows along the St. Lawrence river through the area around Québec City, and continues through the Chaudière-Appalaches and Bas-Saint-Laurent regions. These areas are known for their picturesque villages, diverse ecology, and beautiful river and island views.

Relaxation is Top Priority

Spend a weekend relaxing in the Québec countryside. At Balnea Spa, you can soak in thermal waters, enjoy a sauna with a panoramic view, or indulge in a Turkish bath. The spa also offers massages and activities like stand-up paddle boarding. The Auberge du Lac Taureau is another option, especially if you love the outdoors. Rent a pontoon, fish, play golf, mountain bike, kayak, and more. Then satisfy your hunger with a gourmet meal of cattail hearts, fiddleheads, and sea asparagus.

Wildlife

If you’ve ever wanted to see a moose in the wild, Québec is the place to do it. The Parc de la Gaspésie boasts the highest density of moose in Québec plus caribou and white-tailed deer. Or, visit Refuge Pageau, which cares for orphaned and injured wildlife. Whenever possible, the refuge returns animals to the wild, but when they can’t, the refuge offers them a permanent home. 

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