As the pandemic stretches into the 14-month mark, one can’t help but starting to feel restless. I know I am.
Since last fall, Montreal has entered various stages of shutdowns to stem the spread of COVID-19. Restaurants and cafes are limited to takeout, bars have been shuttered and other businesses have gone through cycles of opening and closing over the winter months.
Social interactions, with the exception of outdoor activities, have mostly been limited as the city tries to keep the virus at bay.
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But as the milder temperatures start to set in and health restrictions remain in place, maybe it’s time to try new things or activities — all with safety in mind.
Here are a few ideas on how to beat the boredom (and change it up from your usual walk) in the city.
Take a walk on the other side of the mountain
As Montrealers, we are so lucky to have the beautiful, vast and free green space that is Mount Royal. That being said, sometimes it can draw many visitors on weekends so that be intimidating during the pandemic.
Why not try exploring Summit Circle on the other side of the mountain? It’s accessible through Westmount and makes for a great hike and workout.
There is also the lookout, so you can take in a different view of the city that overlooks downtown — and it’s quite pretty.
Hit up the Botanical Garden
For those looking to spend time outside, there is a lush and colourful series of gardens sprawled out over 75 hectares in the city’s east end.
The Botanical Garden boasts 10 exhibition greenhouses and almost 30 thematic gardens to explore — so there is plenty of space to physically distance and stay safe while also taking in nature.
Espace pour la vie, which oversees the gardens, recommends booking tickets in advance since space is limited and health measures are in place.
The outdoor gardens are open all week and they are free until April 30, by the way. Book your visit on the Espace pour la vie website.
Indulge at an ice cream shop
This is a personal favourite pastime during the pandemic, so please bear with me.
There are tons of local ice cream stores so there is no shortage to choose from this spring. As the warmer weather sets in, though, get ready for long (and physically distanced) lines.
Looking for gelato? Walk along the Main (St-Laurent Boulevard) in Montreal’s Little Italy district and take your pick. Want to taste new flavours? Go to neighbourhood favourite CA LEM in NDG and try the black sesame ice cream.
Take a trip to the Ecomuseum
Need a family-friendly activity? There is an outdoor zoo nestled on the western tip of the island.
Bears, foxes, eagles and wolves — just to name a few — all available to the public eye at the Ecomuseum Zoo.
Due to the pandemic, all visits take place outside and masks are mandatory. Handwashing stations are available on site as well.
After being shuttered for months, the Ecomuseum reopened in February. It is open every day and tickets must be purchased in advance.
Montreal’s Ecomuseum reopens amid coronavirus pandemic
Take in the Museum of Fine Arts
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is open and has plenty of exhibitions online and in-person to take in during this pandemic spring.
In line with sanitary measures, the downtown mainstay has a new set of COVID guidelines. There is a limit on how many people can be inside at once so tickets must be booked online prior to arrival.
For those who prefer to stay home, there are also virtual tours and other offerings such as workshops available.
Explore, hike or camp at one of Quebec’s provincial parks
If you’re getting bored of doing the same loops around the neighbourhood, hitting up a provincial park is a good way to outside.
There are dozens of protected, vast green spaces in Quebec to explore — and some of them are very close to the city.
As with most other activities, tickets have to be bought in advance because space is limited. Adults can expect to pay a little under $9 for a day pass while admission is free for children under 17.
Book a staycation
For those who aren’t sure what to do with their vacation time, there are many hotels offering package deals out there for a close-to-home escape.
Why not book a night at an Old Montreal hotel, get some takeout and explore the area before curfew?
If you want to escape the city, there are other accommodations and campgrounds up for grabs too — just make sure you’re not breaking COVID restrictions by entering a yellow-designated zone.
Kalina Laframboise is an online producer with Global Montreal.
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