Think Like A Montrealer: 5 Things to Do in Montreal

Think Like A Montrealer: 5 Things to Do in Montreal

Sometimes, it’s less about what you see and do in a city than how the city makes you feel, and Montreal is the type of city people fall in love with. There’s a certain energy to the streets – whizzing bicycles, excellent street style, a bohemian, laissez-faire attitude about partying – that makes it come alive.

There are plenty of guides that will tell you to visit the Museum of Fine Arts, the Botanical Garden, and Old Montreal. And they aren’t wrong – I highly recommend all three. But for a more authentic Montreal, you’ll have to go a bit deeper. Don’t just do as a Montrealer does – think like they think.

After a long winter, who isn’t in the mood for outdoor brews with friends at the first sight of sunshine? In a city pulsing with diversity, what beats a meal made by someone born halfway around the world? And is there anything better than wandering a neighborhood bursting with energy, slipping into fripperies – secondhand clothing stores – carefully curated by vintage devotees, finding tucked-away parks to rest weary traveling feet, and eating like a vegan king – er, queen?

After a long winter, who isn’t in the mood for outdoor brews with friends at the first sight of sunshine?

Here, to add to your list of Montreal’s traditional must-sees, are five more things to do in Montreal for travelers who want to soak up the city like a true Montrealer.

A quick note on addresses – all east/west streets in the downtown core are numbered starting at Boulevard St Laurent, or as locals sometimes refer to it, The Main. “West” after a street address denotes that it’s west of St. Laurent, as most of these addresses are.

Think Like A Montrealer: 5 Things to Do in Montreal

1. Tam tams

If you are lucky enough to be in Montreal on a spring or summer Sunday, there’s no better way to take the pulse of the city than a visit to the tam tams in Park Mont Royal, on Park Avenue. Based off West African and Caribbean custom, each week a large drum circle gathers near the center of the park, and everyone is welcome to come dance, slackline, LARP, join with instruments, or just have a picnic and smoke sesh on the grass.

On particularly warm days the whole city comes out – hippies, families, students.

On particularly warm days the whole city comes out – hippies, families, students. I recommend that you bring a blanket, a snack, and a crew; the drumming typically starts around noon and continues until sunset.

2. Ethnic eating

Montreal is rumored to have more restaurants per capita than any other city in the world, so it can be tough to choose where to eat dinner. What always stood out to me was its excellent ethnic food – according to Census Canada, nearly a third of Montrealers are visible minorities.

I never got enough of Chinese food at Noodle Factory (1018 Rue Saint-Urbain), Ethiopian at Nil Bleu (Blue Nile) (3706 Rue Saint-Denis), and Indian Bombay Mahal (1001 Rue Jean-Talon West – a hike but well worth it).

3. Terrace drinking

The great thing about living in a city where it’s winter for roughly eight months of the year is that when warm weather rolls in, everyone makes it their mission to enjoy it to the fullest. Cue terrace drinking. There’s nothing quite like parking yourself and your friends in a streetside haunt for sunshine, people watching, and some killer local brews (extra points for happy hour pricing).

My favorite spots are the Sainte Elisabeth (1412 Sainte-Élisabeth), Dieu de Ciel (29 Laurier Ave West), and the divey and lively Saint Sulpice (1680 Saint-Denis Street).

4. Mile End

The Mile End, my home for three years while I studied at McGill, will always have a special place in my heart. But I’m not alone! The Mile End is bursting with art, green spaces, and delicious hole in the wall eateries – what’s not to love? An ideal Saturday morning?

Have brunch at the unparalleled Aux Vivres vegan restaurant (4631 Boul St-Laurent), and then weave along the beautiful boulevards sandwiched between Avenue du Parc and Boulevard Saint Laurent, making sure not to miss the adorable Mile End library, a snack at Cheskie’s bakery (359 Rue Bernard O), a microbrew at Dieu de Ciel (so nice I mention it twice! – 29 Laurier Ave West) and the requisite blind taste test between St. Viateur (263 Rue Saint Viateur West) and Fairmount (74 Avenue Fairmount West) bagels.

5. Jean Talon

Head up towards Little Italy for this gem: the farmer’s market is boxed in between Jean-Talon Street to the north, Mozart Ave. to the south, Casgrain Ave. to the west and Henri-Julien Ave. to the east. It’s where the locals grab their weekly produce and you can catch the freshest crops as they come into season.

Think Like A Montrealer: 5 Things to Do in Montreal

Related Reading

Montreal Homestay: How to Experience the City Like a Local
Five Days in Montreal
4 Things to Love About Montreal
Traveling with Kids to Montreal
What to See in Montreal in Just 48 Hours

Have you traveled to Montreal, Canada? What were your impressions? Email us at editor@pinkpangea.com for information about sharing your experience and advice with the Pink Pangea community. We can’t wait to hear from you.

Think Like A Montrealer: 5 Things to Do in Montreal photo credit: unsplash

About Anna Nathanson

Anna NathansonAnna Nathanson is a Peace Corps Volunteer in the South West of
Cameroon. In Cameroon, she spends a lot of her time working with local
counterparts to develop strategies for generating income, eating well,
and loving Mother Earth. She originally hails from New Jersey, started
a love-hate relationship with development at McGill University in
Montreal, and blogs at Anna Does Pangea.

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