Our East Coast road trip continues! We left our tiny home in Hinesburg to make the short, snowy trek to Burlington, where we stayed for a few nights before driving to Montreal. Burlington has so much charm. Unfortunately, we visited at an awkward time, right in the middle of the transition between fall and winter. The leaves had fallen, leaving it bare, and it was snowing, making it cold but not cold enough to ski. I could see why the city is worth visiting any other time of the year, and Will and I promised ourselves we would return.
In Burlington, we did the Ben & Jerry’s Factory tour (fun, family-friendly activity that included free ice cream samples), explored the cute shops on Church Street (Will’s favorite was Outdoor Gear Exchange – no surprise there!), and ate at the Skinny Pancake (quirky restaurant with lots of crepe dishes). We enjoyed our time in Burlington, but we were pretty excited to get on the road to Canada.
On the busiest travel day of the year, we left for Montreal and saw a total of 5 cars and hit zero traffic as we drove through quiet backcountry roads. The most stressful part of the trip happened when we pulled up to the border crossing and Will told me to grab my passport. I reached into his backpack and grabbed his passport and my passport… case. My actual passport was in D.C., eleven-hours away and safely tucked in our files back home. My darn passport case is so thick that Will grabbed it by mistake (not your fault, babe!). Thankfully, we had a digital copy of my passport on file and the kind border patrol officer let us through. (Getting back was a different issue, but we took this trip one challenge at a time and determined we would figure it out on Saturday.)
Passport stress aside, we loved Montreal! It felt a lot like San Francisco with its skyscrapers, great shopping, and climbing hills overlooking the city. It snowed the few days we were there, but we both had so much fun exploring that we didn’t mind walking in the wet snow. However, I quickly learned that my trench coat was not going to cut it for an East Coast winter.
If you’re visiting Montreal, here are a few things I recommend:
Walk (or drive) to Mont-Royal, which offers a beautiful view overlooking the city.
Stay at the Auberge les Bon Matis, a B&B whose funky decor and delicious breakfast made this a steal at less than $85 USD/night. Parking was easy and we were right by the metro, though we opted for walking everywhere because it was in such a great location.
Visit the Notre-Dame Basilica. Will and I both agreed that the interior is breathtakingly beautiful. We also had a wonderful tour guide. The 20-minute tour is included with your ticket, so don’t skip this!
Experience a Montreal Canadiens hockey game. We spent Thanksgiving evening in the stands of the Bell Center, underdressed for such an authentic Montreal experience. I’ve been to a hockey game before, but this was unlike my previous experience. The fans were such a fun crowd, singing, drinking, and dancing for the two-hour event. The Habs won! Fun fact: “Habs” is the the informal name given to the Les Habitants, the original settlers of New France, so the nickname is commonly used to refer to the the French-Canadian hockey team.
Eat at Schwartz’s Deli, the oldest deli in Canada. If you go during lunch hour, expect a long line out the door for Schwartz’s famous smoked ham. (Don’t worry — the line will move quickly!) The staff were so friendly and insisted on taking our picture before we left. We left satisfied and smiling.
Walk along St. Paul Street. Located in Old Montreal, this quaint street is well-known for its European atmosphere and charming restaurants, coffee shops, art galleries, and shopping.
If you’re traveling to Montreal soon, To Europe & Beyond also has a wonderful city guide. Have a happy Friday!