Québec City, Canada, sits along a fork in the magnificent St. Lawrence River a few hundred miles north of New Hampshire and west of Maine. Once you cross the border, your family will be transported to a French hamlet that feels thousands of miles away and discover there are lots of great things to do in Québec City with kids.
Endless activities, stellar restaurants, and lovely hotels provide plenty of things for families to do in Québec City. Québec City is the perfect “first international trip” destination for American families because it feels European in many ways, but is close and still easy to navigate as an English speaker. Here are our top picks for families.
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The Best Things to do in Quebec City with Kids on a Family Vacation
Check out the Iconic Views
From its cobblestone streets to its walled ramparts, statues, and sculptures, you likely won’t find a bad view of Québec City no matter where you look.
To get a lay of the land, consider taking a ride to the top of the Observatoire de la Capitale. Here, kids can learn facts about local landmarks while enjoying a 360-degree view of the city and beyond.
An alternative option is for families to take the Québec City – Levis Ferry ride across the St. Lawrence to Levis. On the boat, you’ll enjoy the spectacular backdrop of the city, including the famous Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac. Considered the most photographed hotel in the world, the Chateau Frontenac is the perfect backdrop for a family photo!
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Ride the Historic Funicular to the Streets of Petit Champlain
The charm doesn’t stop in Petit Champlain. This adorable shopping and dining region of Old Québec that features bright-colored flags, flowers bursting with color, and crowds of adoring people is the perfect place to explore Québec City with kids.
You can walk down to this neighbourhood on the city’s water level, but taking the Old Québec Funicular down the 195 feet is a much more fun and historic option. The funicular, the only one of its kind in North America, has been operating in Québec for more than 135 years. We think this is definitely consider this one of the best things to do in Quebec City with kids.
Travel Back in Time at the Plaines d’Abraham
The city of Québec has a storied history going back more than 500 years, beginning with its 1535 settlement by Jacques Cartier. In addition to the Parks Canada sites that help the history of the city come alive, museums help bring the story of Québec to life.
Visit the Plains of Abraham Museum (Plaines d’Abraham), a historic site where the Battle of Quebec took place in 1759. This battle was a pivotal moment in the Seven Years’ War between Britain and France when the British forces uccessfully captured Quebec City from the French, eventually leading to the British gaining control of New France.
This musueum is filled with immersive and interactive experiences, delving into the historical events that took place on the battlefield. You can walk on the battlegrounds, explore hands-on exhibits (everything in the exhibit is touch friendly!), and and take guided tours.
Have Your Kids Become XPlorers While Visiting Parks Canada Sites
Similar to the Junior Ranger program in the U.S., Parks Canada features the XPlorer program, designed to get kids learning about and interacting with their national parks and historic sites.
Admission to all Parks Canada sites is free for kids 17 and under making a visit to the Parks Canada sites one of the most affordable things to do in Quebec City with kids! The city of Québec features three opportunities to become an XPlorer:
- Fortifications of Quebec National Historic Site where you can learn about the building of the city’s walls while climbing on them, hurray! The Ramparts of Quebec are the only remaining fortified city walls in North America.
- Saint Louis Forts and Chateaux takes you underground to a recently discovered inner portion of the wall where royal families lived and worked centuries ago.
- Cartier-Brébeuf National Historic Site where you can follow the Jacques Cartier trail on bike or foot and explore the unique ecosystems that the St. Lawrence Iroquois called home.
Tip: You can also visit the Levis Forts National Historic Site located about 30-minutes outside Québec City.
Learn Something New (or Old) at the Museum of Civilization
Québec’s Museum of Civilization (Musée de la Civilisation) is one of a dozen museums located within the city. The museum features a regular lineup of family activities and workshops that get kids involved with the exhibits.
The popular “Once Upon a Time” Youth Zone allows kids to step into their favorite fairy tales with costumes, props, and backdrops. In addition to works of art, historical exhibits, and a rotation of traveling exhibitions, the museum also features a huge collection of toys making this a favorite on our list of things to do in Québec City with kids.
Good to Know: Kids five and under enter the museum for free and special family pricing is available for families of four.
Let the Kids be Kids
Although parents often have a whole list of must-see attractions when traveling, kids often need a break to stop and play. On our list of things for to do in Quebec City with kids these are the best places to let kids be kids.
First and foremost, Benjo Toy Store is world famous and one of the most loved things for families to do in Quebec City. Kids can enter the store through a kid-sized door, play with the toys before purchasing them, take a free train ride, make crafts, and of course, purchase unique toys.
At the Quebec Aquarium, families can visit aquatic exhibits from around the world including the Boreal area, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Amazon rainforest, and the St. Lawrence Estuary. One of the highlights is the aquarium’s beluga whale observation area where families can see these white whales up close.
The pirate ship-themed UNESCO Park & Playground (Parc de l’Unesco) and the free Chocolate Museum (Choco-Musée) are two more kid-friendly options.
Feel the Mist at Montmorency Falls
Located only 15 minutes from Old Québec, Montmorency Falls (Chutes Montmorency) is an impressive waterfall that can’t be missed, especially during late summer when the runoff produces a very impressive flow of water. Plummeting 272 feet down into the Saint Lawrence River, the falls are actually almost 100 feet taller than Niagara (though significantly less wide).
There are a few activities and adventures in Montmorency Falls Park (Parc de la Chute Montmorency) including a cable car, suspension bridge over the crest of the falls, a double zipline (kids that weigh 90 pounds or more can ride), a Via Ferrata climbing trail, multiple viewpoints, picnic grounds, restaurants, and hiking trails.
After getting misted at the viewing area near the bottom of the falls, we decided to climb the nearly 500 steps to the top of the falls instead of riding the cable car. We were tired, but it sure was a fun achievement!
Trekaroo Tip: Parking at the falls can be crowded and it is strongly recommended you purchase your daily access and parking online in advance of your visit.
See the Only French Language British Changing of the Guard
Outside of Buckingham Palace, there are only a few places to see the royal changing of the guard. Luckily, for visitors visiting Québec city with kids, Québec City is one of them.
Visit the Citadel (La Citadelle/Musée du Royal 22e Régiment) any day of the week to observe this special ceremony. It is the only Canadian or British changing of the guard spoken in French – how’s that for a fun combination of cultures?
Trekaroo Tip: Although the ceremony is in French, there is an occasional translation into English over a loudspeaker. The ceremony is also quite long. Don’t feel bad about arriving late or leaving a tad early.
Become a Festival-goer at one of Quebec’s Famous Festivals
Québec City is known for its festivals and celebrating the joie de vivre. Every season of the year brings a celebration to Quebec.
Summer brings Summer Festival (Festival d’été) with face painting, games for children, and lots of fresh produce. There is also a solid music lineup with big bands like Foo Fighters and Imagine Dragons.
The New France Festival (Les Fêtes de la Nouvelle-France) is the biggest history festival in North America, and takes place every August. Visitors are immersed in living history reminiscent of 17th and 18th century life in Québec.
Winter plays host to the ever-popular Winter Carnival (Carnaval de Québec) with canoe ice races on the St. Lawrence River, lots of children’s activities, an ice palace, and even an ice hotel.
Stroll Through Old Québec
Although Québec City offers a variety of attractions and activities to experience, my favorite activity is to simply stroll through the streets of Old Québec. Passing through the city’s gates is like stepping back in time.
During the spring through autumn months, you’ll find street performers at various outdoor venues, a tradition that has long roots in the city and it is heralded as art. Whether it is juggling, magic, comedy, music, or theater, a live street performance is around the corner.
As you stroll through the streets of Old Québec, you’ll be enticed by dozens of restaurants and a wealth of shopping opportunities, from tourist shops selling everything Québec to quaint and charming kitschy shops.
My family especially enjoyed one small shop selling unique odds and ends. It featured candy for the kiddos and everything related to the French children’s classic, “The Little Prince”.
Be sure to stop by the Old Port Marketplace (Le Marche de Vieux Port) during the summer months to grab a few pieces of locally-grown produce to snack on as you stroll.
Where to Eat in Quebec City with Kids
Families won’t go hungry while visiting Québec City. Within the walls of Old Québec, Trekaroo families heartily recommend families stop at Chic Shack, with lines out the door begging for burgers and poutine but a walk-up counter with to-go food (and shakes!) that will get you in and out faster.;
You will also find Le Veravin, serving up vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options for those traveling with food allergy issues. For dessert, head to Chocolato, an ice-cream and chocolate lovers dream destination that is the perfect stop after a day of exploration.
Where to Stay in Quebec City with Kids
Fairmont Chateau Frontenac – For many, the ultimate dream accommodation in Québec City is a stay at Fairmont’s Chateau Frontenac. An iconic castle-shaped hotel that welcomes families visiting Québec City with kids.
Families will love the gorgeous pool, the incredible kid’s menus featuring local dishes and the friendly canine ambassador who works in the lobby that is always ready for a cuddle or a walk.
Hilton Québec – Located just outside Old Québec’s city walls, a 5-minute walk from shops, restaurants, and museums, the Hilton Québec offers amazing views of the city landscape.
We found ourselves situated near the top floor of this hotel in a large, multi-room suite. Our view overlooked the city’s lights, buildings, rivers, and amazing scenery and it remains one of my favorite hotel stays of all time for the views alone.
There’s a lot more to love here, including the sprawling breakfast buffet (look for packages that include breakfast!), the top-floor bar and lounge that opens for families for brunch, and the outdoor pool for cooling off on hot days.
Read a full review of the Hilton Québec to discover why this hotel is perfect for families visiting Québec City with kids.
Day Trips From Quebec City with Kids
Whale Spotting from the St. Lawrence River
Thanks to the St. Lawrence’s direct line to the Atlantic Ocean, Maritime Quebec and the St. Lawrence River are home to unique marine life, including beluga whales. Just a few hours outside of Québec City, families can kayak to see these beauties during the summer months while they visit the river’s waters or climb aboard a whale-watching boat.
Explore the Mountains
The mountains that surround Quebec City are ripe with exploration opportunities. The Charlevoix Region, located just a couple hours outside of the city, is home to a variety of year-round adventures including kayaking, a flavor trail of local artisan cheeses and plenty of shopping.
When winter hits the region, there are lots of ski and snow activities. Families visiting Québec in the winter can hit the slopes at four local ski resorts, the closest being just 15 minutes from Old Québec.
Lead Image provided by Québec City Tourism.