The Montréal Tower, the world’s tallest inclined tower, offers spectacular views of the city and a fun funicular-type elevator to bring you to the top three observation floors.
Then it’s a short stroll to one of Montréal’s most popular family attractions, the Biodôme, which recreates four eco-systems of the Americas. Trek through lush tropical rain forest, see lynx and beavers in the Laurentian forest and auks in the Antarctic. The Biodôme is home to crocodiles and bats, penguins and parrots — more than 4,800 animals from 230 species and 750 plant types.
Next, we stopped into the Botanical Garden’s Insectarium, the leading museum devoted to insects in North America, where my little naturalist lined up to learn about ant farms and honeybee hives and to see some 160,000 living and naturalized insect specimens.
But by far, the city’s surprising highlight came in the St. Lawrence River.
“Wide open! Let’s get ready to rumble,” guide Todd Gatien called into his megaphone as we sat in the back of an oversized jet boat, powering past seagulls and shore birds and into the exhilarating white waters of the Lachine Rapids.
“This is eppp-iiiic!” a 10-year-old boy in the seat ahead yelled, as we 40 or so poncho-clad passengers, sporting goofy grins and soaked hair, giddily waved our arms in the air and careened into the next big swell.
We were aboard Saute-Moutons – “the ship that jumps the rapids,” translated owner Jack Kowalski — and I was totally and pleasantly surprised at how much fun we were having in these historic and mighty rapids, the first major obstacle for the early French explorers.
“I’ve been telling locals and visitors alike that we became the top attraction in Montréal the day we opened 30 years ago, and we have never given up the title,” Kowalski said.
Saute-Moutons, or in English, Lachine Rapids Tours Ltd., leaves from the Clock Tower Pier in the Old Port. Guides narrate city history as passengers glimpse Montréal by water and the boat makes its way towards the rapids.
Expect to get wet. We were hit by what felt like a bucket of water and we couldn’t stop grinning. Water dripped through our black fleece sweaters and yellow jumpsuits, sopped into our rubber boots and formed a puddle on our seat. We couldn’t be happier.