We recently took a trip to Quebec City, and had such a great time. It’s amazing that you can hop on a plane for a quick 1-hour flight from New York City and find yourself in a completely different world. Quebec City is full of European style and cuisine, but also has the friendliness and quality of life that makes Canada one of our favorite countries. Here’s a look at everything you can do in Quebec City with kids!
Here’s our vlog from the trip:
Day 1: Exploring Old Quebec and Toy Shopping
We flew United Airlines out of Newark, as that was the only non-stop option from New York City. Since we were doing this trip to Quebec City with kids, we preferred flying direct. If you don’t mind connecting in Toronto, however, there are many more flight options from both United and Air Canada. The airport terminal we landed in at Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport was brand-new and sparkling clean. Seriously, the airport bathroom smelled like an upscale spa! Going through customs and immigration was very quick, and we were met by the lovely Caroline from Quebec Tourism and the Port of Quebec. She was our guide (and driver!) throughout the trip.
Checking Into Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac
We stayed at the iconic Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac, aka the beautiful fairytale castle on top of the hill that you see in just about every photo of Quebec City. We had two adjoining rooms: a king and a double, which gave us plenty of room to stretch out and store our things. The hotel has a fascinating history. It was built in 1893 by the Canadian Pacific Railway company, one of many grand railway hotels that were opened in that era with the intent of encouraging luxury travel across the country. Its iconic Rose Room was the site of several key meetings during the Quebec Conferences of World War II between Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and other key world leaders. The rooms were lovely and the service was great, so all in all I’d recommend this property if you’re traveling to Quebec City with kids.
Lunch at La Buche
After dropping our bags, our first stop was lunch at La Buche, which recreates a classic Canadian sugar shack in the middle of the city. The restaurant serves excellent Quebecois comfort food. We especially enjoyed our appetizer platter, which included some of the restaurant’s most popular starters like smoked salmon and croquettes. The rabbit wings were especially fantastic – even Sean and Ella couldn’t get enough of them! The girls were excited to try tire sur la neige, a Canadian delicacy fresh maple syrup is poured onto an ice block, then rolled up on a popsicle stick to eat as a taffy. The bathroom at La Buche is also a lot of fun. Instead of individual sinks to wash your hands, there’s a big bathtub in the middle of the room. The restaurant will also provide you with a Sharpie so you can add your tag to the much-graffitied walls and ceilings. Eating here is such a unique experience when in Quebec City with kids.
Petit Champlain and Dufferin Terrace
After lunch, we took a walk along the Dufferin Terrace boardwalk near Chateau Frontenac. In the summer it’s a great atmosphere because there are lots of street performers and artists. But it’s just as much of a draw in the winter because that’s when they open the giant toboggan slide and you can go all the way down on a sled, and enjoy some hot chocolate when you get to the bottom!
We then headed to the iconic Rue du Petit-Champlain, one of the oldest commercial streets in North America. The girls loved exploring all the little boutiques along this street, as they included many kid-friendly shops like candy and toy stores.
Place Royale is a must-see, as it’s the site of the very first French Settlement in North America – created over 400 years ago. It’s also where you’ll find the Notre-Dame-des-Victoires, the oldest stone church in North America, built in 1688.
Shopping for Toys at Benjo
The 1980s movie Big captured the magic of New York City’s legendary toy store FAO Schwarz. If they remade the movie, I’d love to see them shoot it at Benjo in Quebec City! This 25,000-square-foot toy mecca is filled with just about every kind of toy you can imagine. Whatever your kids are into — dolls, building sets, slime, puzzles — they are bound to find it here. The store has a dedicated workshop where kids can do arts and crafts activities like painting ceramics, and even a restaurant so you can take a lunch break from shopping without ever leaving the store! Benjo offers kids fun locomotive train rides around the store, and there’s even a life-size robot that will come out and say hi. (To continue the 80s movie trivia, the robot looks just like Johnny Number 5 in Short Circuit!)
Dinner at Sapristi
That evening we had dinner at Sapristi in Petit Champlain. If you’re craving Italian classics like pasta and pizza, this is a great place to go. The gorgeous terrace is a great place to people-watch!
Day 2: L’Ile d’Orleans
Breakfast at Place Dufferin
One of our favorite aspects of staying at Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac was the amazing breakfast buffet. Place Dufferin is the hotel’s buffet restaurant, and it’s a large, airy dining room with great views of the Dufferin Terrace. All the food is great, but be sure to try the maple bacon. It’s got a smoky, slightly sweet flavor and melts in your mouth. All four of us were obsessed with it!
Chocolaterie de l’Ile d’Orleans
We spent almost the entire second day at l’Ile d’Orleans, a small island that’s part of Quebec City, where lots of farmers and artisans produce foods and products unique to the region. Our first top was Chocolaterie de l’Ile d’Orleans, a European-style chocolate shop that produces all its products in-house and uses only quality raw materials imported from Belgium. If you’re coming to Quebec City with kids, you have to be sure to try the sweets!
Ferme Léonce Plante
You’ll pass many fresh produce stands while driving through l’Ile d’Orleans, but our guide Caroline’s favorite is Ferme Leonce Plante. You can purchase gorgeous fruits and vegetables like the strawberries and asparagus that were in-season when we were there. But the stand also sells some delicious canned and jarred goods like maple syrup. The girls loved getting to pick their own strawberries, and marveled at how much smaller and tastier they were than the hormone-filled gargantuan strawberries we get at the supermarket in Brooklyn!
La Confiturerie Tigidou
Owner Vincent Paris grew up on l’Ile d’Orleans and spent summers picking strawberries for his family’s neighbors. After spending some time in the corporate world, he decided that his true calling was creating small-batch jams. Together with his wife Catherine, he opened La Confiturerie Tigidou, where they produce all types of jams, jellies, compotes, and syrups made with fruit grown on the island. These days Vincent is known as the “sorcerer” of jams. We had a great time doing a 5-part tasting, and we loved the jams so much that we decided to buy several jars to bring home, which meant we’d have to break our “fly carry-on only” rule and check a bag. Yup, that’s how good they were. This is a fun place to come when visiting Quebec City with kids.
Cassis Monna & Filles
If you’re coming to l’Ile d’Orleans, a great place to grab lunch is Cassis Monna & Filles. Crème de cassis is a sweet red liqueur made from black currants, traditionally produced in the Burgundy region of France. When Bernard Monna moved from France to l’Ile d’Orleans in the early 1970s, he realized the island had a great climate for growing blackcurrants, and started his blackcurrant business. Today, Cassis Monna & Filles produces more than 40,000 bottles of crème de cassis each year, along with many other blackcurrant products like jams, compotes and wines.
The reason Cassis Monna & Filles is a must-do when in Quebec City with kids is the abundance of activities. We started with lunch at the restaurant, which serves a variety of dishes the incorporate blackcurrants, whether it’s through dried fruit or salad dressing. The sangria, made with their blackcurrant wine, was absolutely phenomenal. The restaurant has a play area perfect for kids, including a foosball table, and some puzzles and toys.
After lunch, Serge and I did a wine andliqueur tasting downstairs, while the girls played in the expansive outdoor area. One of the property’s chickens somehow escaped its cage, so they had a great time chasing it around the lawn!
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
Another must-do when you visit Quebec City with kids is seeing the Montmorency Falls. These gorgeous waterfalls are over 270 feet tall, nearly 100 feet higher than Niagara Falls. We viewed the falls from the base, but you can take cable cars all the way to the top of the falls, and if you’re thrill-seeker, you can even zip line across them!
The Old Port
Another great neighborhood to explore in Quebec City with kids is the old port. If your kids love boats and ships, they’ll enjoy seeing the massive cruise ships that dock here. In the summer it’s especially pleasant, as there’s a large splash pad that’s a lot of fun for kids to run around in (just bring a change of dry clothes!). There’s also a series of wading pools where they set up an annual beer festival. We saw a lot of families enjoying a sunny afternoon here.
Dinner at a Rotating Restaurant: Ciel! Bistro-Bar
If you want to enjoy some really spectacular views of Quebec City with kids, have dinner at Ciel! Bistro Bar. This rotating restaurant is on the roof of one of the city’s tallest buildings, and takes about 90 minutes to do a full rotation – just enough time to take in a delicious meal! Tip: Look up on Google what time the sun will set in Quebec City that day and make your dinner reservation for an hour before that. That way you’ll be able to enjoy incredible views of the sunset. I wasn’t expecting the food to be very good, based on my past experiences with rotating restaurants, but this ended up being one of the best meals we had on the trip. My favorite dish was my turnip, fennel, Jerusalem artichoke salad with pork head cheese and beef heart appetizer. But our entrees were excellent as well. The seafood is cooked impeccably.
Day 3: Marine Life and Fun Rides!
Aquarium of Quebec
Kids love aquariums, so if you’re coming to Quebec City with kids, a trip to Sépaq is a must! We loved exploring all the exhibits, especially the jellyfish room. The girls had fun touching anemone, star fish and stingrays in the shallow tanks. But the highlight for us was definitely our backstage experience with the seal trainer. Caroline had made special arrangements for us to get our own turn at training seals. Not only did we get to make that jump up to touch their nose on the ball, but we each got to pet them. They were just as smooth and squishy as you’d imagine.
Lunch at Le Cochon Dingue
If you love Parisian bistros, you’ll enjoy dining at Le Cochon Dingue. This popular restaurant chain in Quebec City has five different locations around the city. We ate lunch at the one on Boulevard Lebourgneuf. The restaurant is bright and airy, and very kid-friendly, so it’s a great choice when you’re in Quebec City with kids. Serge and I had the lobster roll and salmon tartare, respectively, but the heavier dishes like burgers and fish and chips looked great too.
Indoor Amusement Park Fun at Mega Parc
As you can imagine, Quebec City gets extremely cold in the winter. That’s why it’s so clever that they have an indoor amusement park that kids can go to all year round! Mega Parc is a lot of fun, definitely a must-do when in Quebec City with kids. There are 18 different attractions including a carousel, an ice skating rink, bumper cars, a roller coaster, and all kinds of rides. When you get hungry you don’t even need to leave because there’s a great snack stand that sells crepes and other local favorites.
Dinner at Bistro Le Sam
On what should have been our final dinner in Quebec City (I’ll explain below), we dined at Bistro Le Sam, an upscale but casual restaurant at our hotel, the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac. It’s a great place to eat in Quebec City with kids if you’re looking for fine cuisine in an atmosphere where kids are not out of place. All four of us began with the restaurant’s signature cocktail, the Jam’ Le SAM, made of vodka, pink pepper & cranberry jam, lime juice and maple syrup — virgin versions for the girls of course! The warm chips basket is a great starter to share while you review the menu. The yogurt ranch dipping sauce is delicious. Everything we had was great, but the Highland Beef tartare and Atlantic halibut fish and chips were particularly good.
Dinner at Spag&Tini
We were supposed to fly out on the morning of our 4th day in Quebec City, but due to a situation at Newark airport the day before, our flight was canceled! We ended up staying an extra night. Caroline was kind enough to take Sean and Ella out for the day with her own daughter. They spent a fun day exploring Petit Champlain and Place Royale while Serge and I caught up with some work on our laptops. That evening, we had a final goodbye dinner at Spag&Tini, a casual Italian family restaurant with a great patio for people-watching.
The next morning we flew out of Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport. The airport terminal is very clean and modern, and not at all crowded. I love that there was even a little playground for kids to let out some energy! There is a lounge in the terminal, which you can access for free if you have a Priority Pass membership. It’s gorgeously designed, with a transparent fireplace in the middle of the space.
All in all, Quebec City has been one of our favorite trips to date. If you’re looking for a destination with European style and Canadian friendliness, with lots of historic sites of interest, and incredible food, you’ll love visiting Quebec City with kids.
About Carmen Sognonvi
Carmen Sognonvi is a luxury family travel content creator at Top Flight Family, named a top 10 family travel Instagram account by Time Out New York and Brit + Co. Her insights on travel have been featured in The Washington Post, INSIDER, Huffington Post, Wanderlust Travel Magazine, TravelPulse, HOTELS Magazine, and more. Carmen firmly believes that you can (and should) travel with your kids from a young age. She offers families practical solutions for travel, as well as tips on how to travel in luxury for less. She lives in New York City with her multiracial and multicultural family of four. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
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