10 Things to do in Quebec City with Kids

People have always told me that a visit to Quebec City is like visiting Europe without leaving North America and they were right. We spent a long weekend in Quebec City in February and we were completely charmed. It is easy to see why Quebec City was voted a Reader’s Choice Award for 2014 from Conde Nast Traveler, and what makes it one of North America’s most walkable cities.

Set high above the St. Lawrence River, Quebec actually means “the narrowing,” because it was established where the river narrowed, making it defensible and essentially controlling the entire trade route in and out of the Great Lakes. For that reason, many battles have been fought for its control, putting the city under siege six times in its history. While wandering the streets of Old Quebec, you may feel as if you are in a small French city, but the abundance of maple products and moose souvenirs remind you that you are in French Canada. (Note: Quebec produces 70-80% of the world’s maple syrup.)

No matter what season you are visiting, there are plenty of things to do in Quebec City with kids. Of course we loved how the Quebecois show their zest for winter with amazing family-friendly events like the Winter Carnival and outdoor activities like skiing, ice canoeing, and snow tubing. In the summer, there are even more outdoor adventures to enjoy like biking, boating, rafting, canyoning and sliding. But here is a look at what you can do with kids within the city.

10 Things to do in Quebec City with Kids

10 Things to do in Quebec CIty with Kids, a photo essay exploring Old Quebec City.

The famous Chateau Frontenac

1. Plains of Abraham

The Plains of Abraham, once the scene of the 1759 battle between the French and the British during the Seven Years War (also known as the French Indian War), is now one of the world’s largest urban parks. Just steps from the Parliament Building and just outside the fortified walls of the Old City, the Plains of Abraham offers up 243 acres for residents and visitors to enjoy. In addition to hosting Summer and Winter festivals, the park is used for cycling, cross-country skiing, walking, running and picnicking. In the Discovery Center you can find exhibits that talk about Quebec’s important history.

10 Things to do in Quebec CIty with Kids, a photo essay exploring Old Quebec City.

Parliament building

2. Walking on the walls of the Old City

Quebec is a fortified city, with intact stone walls still surrounding the Old City, contributing to making Quebec City a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can walk around most of the 4.6 km walls and see the city from a new perspective, but you can’t make a complete loop as the river facing side doesn’t have a wall. The most popular section is between the St.Jean gate at Place D’Youville and the St.Louis gate, about a 15 minute walk. Just take care with young children.

3. Exploring Old Quebec

A walk through Old Quebec can begin at Place d’Youville, where you might be able to enjoy outdoor ice skating or a summer concert. Continue along Rue Saint Jean for some shopping at boutiques, chain stores, and souvenir shops. You might want to make a pitstop at Paillard, one of the best bakeries in town, for some flaky, ultra-buttery croissants, pastries and coffee (they also offer soups, salads and sandwiches for lunch.) Then head down Rue Fabrique towards the Notre Dame cathedral. Walk toward the river down de Buade to Parc Montmorency for a view of the Lower Town and the St. Lawrence River. Next, head over to the famous Chateau Frontenac and the Dufferin Terrace to catch the funicular to Lower Town.

10 Things to do in Quebec CIty with Kids, a photo essay exploring Old Quebec City.

The shops along Rue St. Jean

10 Things to do in Quebec CIty with Kids, a photo essay exploring Old Quebec City.

10 Things to do in Quebec CIty with Kids, a photo essay exploring Old Quebec City.

Notre Dame Cathedral

4. Take the Funicular to Lower Town (or walk down and take it back up)

Whether it is in Capri, Montemarte, or Puerto Rico, my family has always been fascinated by the funicular, a small cable car that operates on a track at a very steep incline. Just in front of the Chateau Frontenac, you can catch the funicular down to Lower Town. Tickets are $2.25 CA per person each way and it operates from 7:30 am to 11 pm or 12 am depending on the season. If you decide to walk down the steps and take the funicular back up, just look for the sign along Blvd du Petit Champlain and enter through the t-shirt shop.

10 Things to do in Quebec CIty with Kids, a photo essay exploring Old Quebec City.

10 Things to do in Quebec CIty with Kids, a photo essay exploring Old Quebec City.

10 Things to do in Quebec CIty with Kids, a photo essay exploring Old Quebec City.

Lower town from above

5. Shop in Petit Champlain

The Lower Town’s Petit-Champlain District is like a trip back in time, with narrow, cobblestone streets and quaint shops featuring local goods and artisans. Here you can enjoy boutiques, art galleries and restaurants. While you may find some souvenir shops, you will also find quality local goods featuring fur, wool, and other regional specialties. We found some lovely, warm hats and gloves at Charlevoix Pure Laine and had fun exploring the toy store / gift shop of Brin de Folie.

10 Things to do in Quebec CIty with Kids, a photo essay exploring Old Quebec City.

6. Take the Ferry Across the St. Lawrence

When in NYC, the cheap way to get a look at the Statue of Liberty is to take the Staten Island Ferry from Manhattan to Staten Island and back. Similarly, in Quebec, a ride on the ferry is an inexpensive way to get out on the river and enjoy a snack and the view. Stop by the Petit Cochon Dingue for something to eat to bring on the boat, or Beavertails on Blvd. Champlain for a sweet treat. In the winter, head to the front of the boat to watch the ferry break the ice in its path. The round trip takes about 45 minutes.

10 Things to do in Quebec CIty with Kids, a photo essay exploring Old Quebec City.

Ferry crossing the St. Lawrence River

10 Things to do in Quebec CIty with Kids, a photo essay exploring Old Quebec City.

10 Things to do in Quebec CIty with Kids, a photo essay exploring Old Quebec City.

The shops of Lower Town

7.  Visit Musée de la Civilisation

Located not far from Parc Montmorency on Rue Dalhousie, Musée de la Civilisation is the most popular museum in Quebec City. With a focus on interactivity, it takes a fresh look at local cultures and other societies, with a large exhibit on local First Nation peoples. The museum is open 10 am to 5pm but is closed on Mondays. Tickets are $10 CA for adults, $3 for ages 12-16 and 11 and under are free.

8. Learn about Quebec at Musée du Fort

Musée du Fort offers a 30-minute sound and light show that walks through the foundation of Quebec and the six military sieges that shaped its history. Shows in English are usually presented on the hour. The museum is closed for most of December so check the website for hours before you go. Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for students.

9. Take a Ghost Tour of Citadelle de Québec

The Citadelle and Museum are open every day to explore the largest British military fortifications in North America, which is still in active use. The official residence of the Governor General of Canada and home to the Royal 22nd Regiment, you can take guided tours year-round and in the summer, you may even get to see the Changing of the Guard. If you enjoy a little spookiness, try the Night Tour / Ghost Tour of the Citadelle.

10. Meet the 10,000 creatures of the Aquarium du Quebec

Just 15 minutes from downtown, the aquarium is home to nearly 10,000 specimens representing mammals, indigenous and exotic fish, invertebrates, amphibians and reptiles. Covering the Boreal to the Arctic regions, their marine mammals include polar bears, walruses and seals. Tickets are $17.50 CA for adults and $8.75 CA for kids 3-17 (2 and under are free.)

While you are visiting, be sure to try some of the local food specialties like maple crepes, beavertails, poutine, and maple sugar pie. We had fun sharing three courses of cheese, meat and chocolate fondue at Le Petit Chateau, located just around the corner from Chateau Frontenac. It wasn’t cheap, but it was yummy.

10 Things to do in Quebec CIty with Kids, a photo essay exploring Old Quebec City.

Enjoying cheese fondue

Plan this trip!

  • Check rates for the iconic Le Chateau Frontenac
  • If you are looking for something less extravagant, the Hilton Quebec offers amazing views of the city, comfortable rooms, and full amenities in a convenient location just outside of the Old City and around the corner from Parliament Hill and the Plains of Abraham.
  • If you are going in winter, you really should go to the Quebec Winter Carnival
  • If you are very adventurous, you can stay at the Hotel de Glace (Ice hotel)
  • Try getting out of town for a day of snow tubing!

Get Help Planning This Trip

10 Things to do in Quebec CIty with Kids, a photo essay exploring Old Quebec City.

The view from the Hilton Quebec

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10 Things to do in Quebec CIty with Kids, a photo essay exploring Old Quebec City.

Want a little help exploring Quebec City? Download the Quebec mobile app for iOS or Android.

Note: Our visit to Quebec City was hosted by Tourism Quebec and Quebec City Tourism, along with the Hilton Quebec.

Have you visited Quebec City? What was your favorite thing to do with kids?

4 Comments on “10 Things to do in Quebec City with Kids

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  1. I haven’t been to Quebec City in years, and this post and the photos definitely make me want to go back and visit again!

    We went to Paillards in Old Quebec City this morning and are big foodies, plus had 4 adults and 4 kids with us. It was AMAZING!!! So good we are going back for breakfast again tomorrow! Thank you for this recommendation!~

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