This year has been one for the books.
Between a full-time freelance life, a 2-year-old baby girl who’s discovering the art of saying “non” to everything, a new school era for Nico and a husband with business trips and a demanding job, I knew it was time for a little family staycation in the city, escaping from our normal day-to-day.
Sometimes you just need to erase, rewind and be ready for the new season.
During this weekend in our city, our mission was to discover and experience the best spots Montreal has to offer right now, in partnership with a company we have admired, followed and used for a long time, Airbnb.
If you love this city as much as we do, you’ll have a blast exploring, enjoying a good coffee, the sights, its colors, and the happy corners I keep visiting over and over with my little ones.
We included our top 5 activities you need to experience, in your next staycation.
The key to a perfect staycation? ALL the good food!
If you need plenty of ideas about what to visit and where are the best spots in the city, we created this curated list of la creme de la creme you need to try, at least once in four of our most visited neighborhoods.
O L D M O N T R E A L
Olive & Gourmando: one of our top places in Old Montreal for breakfast, lunch or snacks. Try the lemonade.
Venice: California meets healthy heaven with the cutest decor and best poke bowls. Hello, Tofu poke lover.
Ssense Cafe: The new kid on the block in the upper floor of the SSENSE store. This place will be your ultra-stylish pit stop to get a coffee.
Le Cartet: A classic in Old Montreal, a contemporary bistro with a creative brunch menu. We love visiting with our little cuties, they are so special with kids!
Melisse: The hip, chic spot of the area, serving a lovely healthy menu, coffee all day, and creative cocktails. Try the bourbon lemonade.
Tommy Cafe: with two locations, a historical architecture and decor, both Tommy’s will be a must-visit for coffee, brunch all day, or a quick snack.
Un Po di Piu: The latest trendy spot from Olive & Gourmando, brings a delightful piece of Italy to our city, and your next apéro will be as chic as you can imagine here.
G R I F F I N T O W N
Meatball House: a place where you’ll eat JUST meatballs? sign me up! You need to try the goat cheese crusted and yes, you’re welcome.
Bird Bar: Montreal’s best-fried chicken, and proudly using local and organic ingredients with an industrial, trendy ambiance you’ll love.
Grinder: Our special spot to celebrate big life achievements. Hello, dreamy meat menu and dreamy tartare menu!
Le Vin Papillon: owned by one of the most well-known restaurants in the city, Joe Beef. Le Vin Papillon is the perfect spot to grab a wine and a quick bite.
The Burgundy Lion: Just try their British brunch. and the beers. and their Canadian bacon. okay, just go here.
S T H E N R I
Sumac: Middle Eastern heaven serving the best Falafels in the city, fresh salads and healthy homemade hummus.
Arthurs: Always here at least once a month, one of Montreal’s best Nosh bar. My go to: gravlax, latkes and the caesar.
Tejano BBQ: Hands down the best burritos in town.
Elena: The pizza, meatballs, salads are out of this world. Extra points for the lovely logo and colorful decor.
September Cafe: My hood coffee spot, serving a brand new snack menu all day long. God bless their avocado toast.
Adamo Pizza: The only NYC style pizza in St-Henri, we love to stop and get some slices to go, especially the ricotta one.
Torteria Lupita: There’s nothing a good torta can’t fix, right? Lupita is our favorite Mexican place in St-Henri. Ask Sandra for two flautas with a Michelada.
M I L E E N D
Dinette Triple Crown: If you’re lucky and can visit this place during summer time, take their to-go basket and have a picnic at the park across the street.
Lawrence: This refined British spot is in our top for brunch during the weekends, so please do me a favor and go one day.
Larrys: Best cappuccinos (now that I’m into oat milk, they have the best one), and small bites that I love when I need to do a quick pit stop.
Magpie Pizza: Artisanal pizza in the heart of Mile End and the essential place to visit for a good wine and a classic wood-fired pizza menu.
Guillaume Bakery: THE place. Everything Guillaume does is fresh, extra delish and incredibly good. Try all their brioches, we can diet right after, promise.
St-Viateur Bagels: The most iconic bagels, 24-hour store in the city. Get some cream cheese and wood-oven baked bagel bag to go and be happy!
Drogheria Fine: This quaint family-owned gnocchi little restaurant serves take-out boxes filled with fresh pasta for only $5. Nonna knows best!
|Our stunning and spacious kitchen
|Montreal is great in every single season, and if you want to enjoy a wide selection of free, outdoor activities during your next staycation, this is your guide and you are in luck today. Here’s what we love to do with our kids or just you and your bff:Mont-Royal park: A quiet walk along the biggest city park is a must for us. We usually explore one of the belvederes, enjoy the view and the trails.Rue St-Paul: You can rent or bring your own bike and tour the oldest cobblestone street of the city, home to a ton of restaurants, coffee shops and art galleries.La grande roue de Montreal: The new tallest observation wheel in the city, and a must-see outdoor destination you need to visit.Marche Jean-Talon & Marche Atwater: These two markets have been making Montreal and our family happy the past years. We come here to get fresh produce, eat delish food and get pretty flowers.Old Port of Montreal: A must-outdoor visit any season, the Old Port is home to many iconic and historical sites in the city, including the Notre Dame Basilica and Bonsecours Market. If you feel adventurous, take a bateau-mouche and enjoy cruising the St-Laurence river with a drink or two.Chinatown: I love our little Chinatown. It’s such a perfect pastime, walk the cute alleyways, spend a few hours eating and shopping the little gems you only find in here.
|Indoor time can be fun and it doesn’t mean you need to stay home to enjoy the city at its best. Here are a few ideas in case it’s raining, windy, snowing or you are just in the mood to chill somewhere cozy in your next staycation.Bota Bota: It’s my place when I want to unplug, relax and do something a little out of the ordinary. This spa is an actual boat, yes, a boat docked in the St-Laurence river. Get a massage and do the water circuit.Espace Pepin: A curated shop with an effortless, chic collection of lifestyle products in the heart of Old Montreal. It’s a one-stop shop for your home, bath, and your life.Petit dep: a lovely mix of a convenience store or “depanneur” with a coffee shop serving food, local delicacies, and excellent coffee.Montreal Science Center: Need a family activity asap? Our favorite, the Montreal Science Center is a must for everything interactive, educational and fun with the kids. From creativity labs, Imax theatre, and a big playroom, perfect for kids any age.Do a Museum visit: We recently visited the Pointe-a-Calliere Museum of History and Archaeology’s Pirates or Privateers and the memory collector exhibition, our kids loved both! This archeo-adventure is the perfect interactive exhibition you need to see.
|There’s always something special about the home that you stay in, the host that makes an exceptional job when you feel like home, and the memories you create when we curate our trips, including a staycation in your own city. I adored discovering this year how Airbnb expanded its product offering including experiences, empowering people all over the world offering activities, courses of things they love to all Airbnb users. It’s the new hub of shared hobbies, skills and expertise that will inspire us to live our day-to-day vacations inspired by local cultures.From meeting interesting people, connecting with a brand new community of travelers, sharing a common passion or making friends with a chef, an artist or a DJ, you’ll have a blast as much as we did in our first experience in Montreal.Our experience with the kids was a Ravioli workshop, hosted by Alexandra (70% of Airbnb hosts in Canada are women, yay! girl power!). She’s an ultra-sweet chef that worked in 1-star, 2-star and 3-star Michelin kitchens in Chicago, New York, and London. We learned how to make the pasta dough, the filling, and how to cook homemade ravioli. Alex was a fantastic host and had the patience to teach both Nico and Oli how to do their own ravioli, even if we were a bit messy at the end.
Did you know one in 10 hosts in Canada are part of the creative industry and that Airbnb allows them to share their passions and interests, and even have their passions act as a source of primary income? Honestly, we are SO proud to support this movement.Our menu that night? Sweetpea ravioli, tomato, and ricotta salad and of course we forgot the wine because parenting happened. If you are a pasta lover, this is workshop you need to do, as soon as possible. We ended up our night making plans when to do our next recipe together, hugging Oli all night long and eating all the pasta we could. One of the best activities we’ve done so far as a family.
|My sweet big boy, pasta maker and eater!
|He was so excited as soon as he understood we were making real pasta, my sweet big boy!!!
|So happy to see these pictures and always remember how fun this night was for all of us.
|Endless thanks to Airbnb for sponsoring this staycation in the city and experience.All comments, opinions expressed in this post are entirely mine.