There are many ways of looking at Montreal.
Canada’s second-largest city (about 1.6 million people to Toronto’s 2.6 million) is rich in history and architecture, offers world-renowned festivals and has a nifty antiquing scene.
This city where French and English mingle freely has something for visitors on any budget.
Stay: The Best Western Plus Montreal Downtown Hotel Europa and the Best Western Ville-Marie Montreal Hotel and Suites are located in one of the busiest shopping and nightlife areas. Other options near the heart of the city are the Hilton Garden Inn Montreal Centre-Ville and Embassy Suites by Hilton Montreal.
Do: Wander the Old Port for scenic views of the St. Lawrence River, then visit Notre-Dame Basilica for a guided tour. On certain dates, you can sit near the cathedral’s massive Casavant organ. If you visit the city in midsummer, keep an eye to the sky for the International Fireworks Competition.
Dine: A smoked meat sandwich is one of Montreal’s gastronomic mainstays. It’s similar to a pastrami or corned beef sandwich, but the meat is rubbed with spices, marinated and smoked. It’s traditionally served on rye bread with french fries. Schwartz’s Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen is a great place to try one.
Stay: Among many AAA Four Diamond hotels are the Hotel Place d’Armes, a luxury spot in Old Montreal, and the hip W Montreal, which left one AAA inspector feeling like a high roller. The rooftop pool at Hotel Bonaventure and the skyline views from Hotel Omni Mont-Royal are unforgettable.
Do: Thrill-seekers can enjoy a jet boat tour of the Lachine Rapids or the roller coasters at La Ronde, a Six Flags park. Those looking for a dose of culture should check out Pointe-a-Calliere Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History Complex or the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
Dine: Try a AAA Four Diamond Rated restaurant. Options range from the glowing chandeliers and stained-glass windows of XO Le Restaurant at Hotel Le St-James to the innovative cuisine of Restaurant Toque! Or sample fresh seafood dishes and foie gras at the small and stylish La Chronique.
Stay: The Ritz-Carlton Montreal is one of just four AAA Five Diamond hotels in Canada. Elegant rooms with polished walnut floors and custom furniture make it a hotel for “that special occasion,” according to a AAA inspector. You’ll want to take a dip in the saltwater pool overlooking the city.
Do: Relax and rejuvenate at Spa St. James, inside the Ritz-Carlton Montreal, or Bota Bota, a river ferry turned floating spa. Purchase high-end tickets to premier acts at the Montreal International Jazz Festival, in early summer, but enjoy the many free performances, too.
Dine: Led by acclaimed chef Jerome Ferrer, Restaurant Europea is among the world’s best. A 10-course tasting menu includes braised veal cheeks and Macadamia nut-crusted halibut. A 10-course vegetarian dinner includes items like parsnip cooked in breakable clay.
What do you like most about Montreal? Tell us in the comments section.
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