With temperatures falling far below zero for months and snow covering the ground for at least four months of the year, Montreal undergoes a long winter season that can be challenging even for long-term residents of the city. When cabin fever starts to get you down, here are some fun indoor activities that you can enjoy to break the winter routine.
Even in the midst of a snowstorm, you can head over to the greenhouses at Montreal’s Botanical Gardens for a reminder of summer’s warmth and lush greenery. The gardens are part of a complex of interconnected natural museums under the name of Espace pour la vie (Space for Life), which includes the Insectarium, Planetarium, and Biodôme. Explore the natural wonders of the world and the universe beyond through the varied collections and interactive exhibitions, as well as fun and educational events and workshops.
New and seasoned skaters can enjoy the indoor rink located in the office building Le 1000 De La Gauchetière, which is the tallest of its kind in Montreal. The rink, which is open year-round, is an excellent alternative to the city’s outdoor skating options, which require more bundling up against the snow and wind. Surrounded by a food court, skating here is a great afternoon activity when you want a little bit of winter exercise without the chilly weather. Additionally, general admission is reduced to $5 every Wednesday.
Exploring Montreal’s many world-class museums is another activity that is perfect for the winter months. You can choose an institution based on your particular interests du jour, from art history to Canadiana, archaeology, local and global histories, and cultural exhibitions. Be sure to visit the fascinating Pointe-à-Callière Museum of Archaeology and History, which was built on important archaeological sites, and the Musée d’art contemporain (MAC), which has been exhibiting some of the best contemporary art from around the world since 1964.
For indoor fun that energizes the entire body, you can head over to one of iSaute’s locations on the Island of Montreal, in Anjou or Kirkland, for some bouncy trampolining. There are options for Kid Jump, Free Jump, or Family Jump, encompassing different days of the week. Although walk-ins are welcome, you might want to check ahead of time or make online reservations to make sure you get a spot.
With Montreal’s Aerosim Experience, you can get into the cockpit of a thrilling full-scale flight simulator that offers a choice of thousands of destinations, vistas, and weather conditions—along with a professional pilot instructor as copilot. Friends or family members can be your passengers. Alternatively, you can try some skydiving without actually jumping out of a plane at SkyVenture Montréal, which is an indoor wind tunnel that simulates the experience of a free-fall.
If you want to combine an indoor activity with tuning up your depth perception reflexes, and aiming skills, head over to Tir du Soleil. As Montreal’s only recreational airgun sport center, this urban shooting range welcomes all levels, and the well-trained staff provides professional instruction to ensure a 100% safe experience with a variety of different name-brand airguns, pistols, and unlimited targets.
To give your body an indulgent break from Montreal’s bracingly cold winter weather, you can take some downtime at one of the city’s indoor spas. In Old Montreal, you’ll find Scandinave, an eco-conscious spa that will give you the Nordic experience without having to face the wind and snow. Alternatively, there is Spa Ovarium in Petite-Patrie, which was Montreal’s first floatation bath center when it first opened in 1982.
Depending on your preferred domestic pet, you can add a cuddly twist to your afternoon coffee experience by trying either Le Doggy Café or Café Chat L’Heureux in the Plateau. The former has only vegetarian/vegan fare in addition to its selection of coffee and tea, and the latter also features vegan options. There are also events and workshops that cater to animal lovers and offer the opportunity for zootherapy among different community members (children, the elderly, and those with special needs).
Montreal’s Science Centre can be found in the Old Port, and it offers a fun and informative respite from the cold through its variety of innovative exhibitions and programming. Currently, you can explore a temporary exhibit featuring Indigenous Ingenuity, as well as the permanent displays that include interactive investigations of the human mind and body, windmills, and creative industrial work. There’s also the IMAX® theatre, which showcases fascinating glimpses into the natural world and beyond.
Getting in some physical activity is important at any time of the year, but especially in winter—when it can be difficult to get in the time or energy. A fun alternative to the gym routine, which can also involve groups of friends or family, is to head over to one of Montreal’s indoor rock climbing gyms. Allez Up is a popular option, welcoming of all climbing levels as well as the elite climbing crowd.
Escape rooms are another good way to get the most of your evenings indoors, and Montreal is home to several popular escape room facilities. A/Maze Montréal and Escaparium offer distinct experiences, with the former creating scenarios of three survival and problem-solving challenges (Prison Break, Mad Scientists, and Lost Temple stories) and the latter leaning toward logic and strategy games.
Laser Quest Montreal has five labyrinthine levels of futuristic adventure thrills to be had, incorporating a mix of hide-and-seek, strategy, and tag with special effects, fog, and music. Fun for children and adults alike, it’s an especially good time if you get together with a group of friends and stave off the winter blues together through an adrenaline-powered afternoon.