Montreal is an incredible Canadian city and was designated a UNESCO City of Design back in 2006. It's one of the top cities for international events in the entirety of North America and has an abundance of leisure and entertainment options. With the most restaurants per capita and the biggest amusement park in the whole country, plus an entire Underground City filled with shops, museums and more, Montreal is prepared to welcome foodies, history lovers and fashionistas at any time of year. Known for its undying love for hockey, this city is also the perfect place for sporting events and fans.
Montreal experiences four distinct seasons throughout the year and has a drastic change in temperature between the winter and summer months. Snowshoeing, tobogganing, picnicking and swimming can all be enjoyed throughout the seasons, and these activities plus many more often take place in all of the wonderful parks around the city. The parks are always being used by both tourists and locals alike so whether you're someone who lives here or is just visiting temporarily, discovering these green spaces is a must-do activity.
Spending the morning shopping underground? Your next step should be to head outside to explore the best parks in Montreal. Drop your shopping bags with Bounce luggage storage in Montreal and choose a park below for fresh air under blue skies.
Mount Royal Park
Did you know that Montreal was named after the Mount Royal mountain that it was built around? Montreal Mount Royal Park is situated on Mount Royal, or Mont Royal as it's spelled in French. It's one of the most famous and recognizable parks in Montreal covering 200 hectares of space right in the heart of Downtown. Parc Mont Royal has been a favorite among locals and a popular place for visitors to spend time outside since it opened back in 1876. Fun fact; it was made by the same designer who created the famous Central Park in New York!
Mount Royal Park offers a variety of things to do with shaded spaces on the grass that are perfect for picnicking as well as footpaths to wander and even a couple of landmarks to find. Make sure to stop by the huge cross that sits at its summit, which is actually the tallest point in the entire city. As you can imagine the views are spectacular from here. The best place to take it all in is the scenic lookout area situated on the terrace in front of the Mount Royal Chalet.
The chalet itself is worth visiting as well, and by wandering inside you'll see historic photographs detailing the city's life as well as beautiful architecture. The Smith House is another must-see, providing useful maps of the park plus displays of the different stages of development it has undergone over the years. Whether summer or winter you will see active parkgoers enjoying Beaver Lake. This busy area is the ultimate picnic spot during the warm months and a marvelous place to go ice skating during the colder season. If you visit on a Sunday in the summer you'll hear the sound of Tam-Tams playing in the distance; make your way to the north end of the green space and join in on the drum circle.
La Fontaine Park
Parc La Fontaine, or La Fontaine Park, is one of the best parks in the Plateau neighborhood of the city. It's often said to be one of the most beautiful green spaces in Montreal, boasting a large pond with a fountain in the summertime. In the wintertime, go cross-country skiing on trails or ice skating on the water as this park makes spending the day outside fun at any time of year. As you make your way around the walking trails that circle the park's pond you'll find several landmarks, including the Dollard statue.
The spacious grounds, which span 40 hectares, are a wonderful place to go walking or for playing boules. During the warmer months, the Theatre de Verdure amphitheater often hosts free shows for everyone visiting the park to attend. La Fontaine Park even has its own bistro called Espace La Fontaine. It's a trendy spot to grab a coffee and have a meal, or you can take the food to-go and find yourself a nice picnic area.
Plenty of people come here to play soccer or other sports in the fields, and there are also tennis courts and baseball diamonds often used for games. This park welcomes the entire family with a wading pool suitable for kids and even an off-leash dog park situated in the park's northeast corner.
Jarry Park is a large park that offers an easily accessible place for people on the northern side of the island to escape city life and spend time in nature. Here, you'll find Montrealers taking in the sunshine on the grass, having a barbeque with friends on the picnic tables, or even hosting jam sessions for everyone else in the green space to enjoy.
You'll appreciate the swimming pool which is open to the public during the summer and offers somewhere to cool off from the heat. Like many of Montreal's parks, this space is the ideal place for sports with baseball, basketball, cricket and soccer facilities on site. This much-visited park hosts the annual Rogers Cup tennis tournament which many Montrealers like to stop by and watch. In the wintertime, Jarry Park is a top destination for cross-country skiers and skaters, with a hockey rink set up for the cold season.
The children's playground and wading pool make this Montreal park a favorite among families. If you stop by in the summer you may catch reenactments of Shakespeare plays, held in the on-site Repercussion Theatre. There are many trails that you can walk along and if you follow them you'll eventually find yourself at an off-leash dog park. It's the perfect location for your furry friends to get out some energy or make new doggy friends.
Also known as Parc Maisonneuve, this large green space is 63 hectares in size and has everything that you need to spend a nice day outside. You'll find playing fields for sports and other activities, as well as attractions like a nine-hole golf course. Hiking trails and biking trails cover the area giving you plenty of pathways to explore.
By far one of the most impressive parts of this park is the Montreal Botanical Gardens and Insectarium where you can go to see and learn about a variety of plants and bugs. The Rio Tinto Planetarium, Biodome and Olympic Stadium are located nearby as well. Inside the park, there's a skating rink once the weather is cold enough as well as beautiful gardens, including the Chinese and Japanese Garden, which bloom in the spring and summer.
Aside from people, you'll also see sheep happily roaming around the public green space. Most summers the city will bring in a herd of these adorable animals to help mow the lawns and they are a popular addition to the park, especially for those traveling with kids. The park is often host to festivities and celebrations, like the Ice Bike Race during the colder months and the annual Saint-Jean Baptiste event during the holiday weekend.
Cap-Saint-Jacques Nature Park
You might hear locals referring to this park as the Parc-Nature du Cap-Saint-Jacques. This spacious park covers 330 hectares in size and is mainly made up of forests, although there's plenty of space left for sports facilities and other amenities. It's situated on the banks of the Prairies River, also known as the Rivière des Prairies, and offers water activities on top of all of the other fun things that the space has to do.
On a hot summer day, the best thing to do is rent a pedal boat, kayak or canoe and get out onto the water. By the water, you'll find a sandy beach where you can sun tan or play beach volleyball. When the weather is colder there's still lots to keep you occupied, like cross-country skiing. The walking and hiking trails are maintained year-round so you can stroll through the forests and meadows of the park at any time of year.
There are a few other parks, like the Morgan Arboretum, located close to this one and the entire combined area is a marvelous place to go for a walk, although the nearly 12 kilometers of paths and over 6 kilometers of biking routes in Cap-Saint-Jacques offer plenty to discover. When the snow comes, a 14-kilometer cross-country ski course is maintained, where you'll be brought past two chalets. The Ecomuseum Zoo is found close by as well, and at the eco-farm located inside of Cap-Saint-Jacques Nature Park, you'll catch sight of cute animals and buy fresh produce at the same time.
Lachine Canal National Historic Site
The Lachine Canal is the waterway that flows through the city and it received its name from the European settlers who used it to ship goods to China. The river is and always has been an important part of the city, although today it's used for recreation and relaxation as opposed to commerce.
From the canal, you can admire stunning views of Montreal and it's a nice place to have a picnic; try street food from the nearby Atwater market. Go ice skating here in the winter and boating in the summer with rentals available. If you just can't get enough of the park, why not stay overnight? Camping facilities are available including Otentik, which offers luxurious cabins set by the water.
Along the canal is one of the longest biking paths in the whole city, spanning all the way from Old Montreal to the Promenade Pere-Marquette and Parc Rene-Levesque. Follow it all the way and you'll end up at the open-air Lachine museum and sculpture garden. In total, the biking path continues on for 14.5 kilometers and is highly recommended if you're up for the journey.
Westmount Park is smaller than some of the other green spaces on this list at only 26 acres but is a lovely park nonetheless. It's an excellent place to go bird watching or for a short walk, plus it's home to plenty of sports and recreation facilities.
Inside the park, there are baseball diamonds and tennis courts for those who want to be active, plus a wading pool and playgrounds for activities loved by families. The Westmount Recreation Centre is worth visiting during your time here as well as the Westmount Public Library. Bring some friends to use the ping pong tables and chess tables, but make sure that you bring your own pieces.
This is quite a beautiful space with tall trees that flower during the springtime and early on into the summer. Aside from being nice to look at, they also provide shaded areas where you can set down a blanket and relax. Some of the species that you might recognize include catalpa trees and Japanese lilacs.
The best places to spend time outside in Montreal
As you fly over Montreal Airport, you have a wonderful view of the city and its uniqueness. Montreal is a lively city with festivals, celebrations, an active nightlife and plenty to do for every kind of person. Although it's fun to explore a city, it's also important to take a step back and relax now and then, and spending time in nature is a great way to clear your head and ground yourself. The next time you feel as though city life has become too much, or you're just looking for somewhere that you can enjoy nature, try visiting one of the parks mentioned above.
Montreal is surrounded by lush greenery and national parks, and those who are looking for an outdoor adventure might be interested in these Best Hikes in Montreal. If you liked the beach at Cap-Saint-Jacques, you'll also want to visit these Beaches near Montreal.