Family Travel: Quebec City Fairmont Frontenac & Local Attractions
This past school year I helped my daughter study for Canadian History exams with a focus on the founding of Quebec and all of the European voyageurs who discovered and settled in the city. So when we were planning our summer travel plans it seemed only appropriate to bring her and the boys to this close-by destination for a weekend of exploration and fun. And what better place to call home base than the Quebec City Fairmont Frontenac hotel?
Where to Stay
Built over 125 years ago, the Quebec City Fairmont hotel is one of the chain’s most revered properties. A castle nestled atop a hill, Chateau Frontenac is just that, a castle that was used by French and English governors over 2 centuries ago.
Today, the hotel is a lavish combination of old world charm with modern updates. The stunning lobby features hand painted ceilings and my kids couldn’t get enough of the gold revolving doors. The hotel is massive with plenty of hallways for the kids to explore. Our room featured two double beds with a beautiful view of the river. We added a rollaway bed and it was just the right size for our family of five.
Family Friendly Accomodations
Chateau Frontenac is uber kid-friendly. Upon arrival, we were greeted with a daily list of activities which includes a treasure hunt that can be performed any time of day. The kids followed clues around the hotel to find their final prize. We also cooled off in the hotel’s indoor pool with a lovely terrace just outside to dry off.
Some of the mom-friendly activities included morning yoga on the terrace with breathtaking views, a mid-afternoon wine tasting and even a mixology class.
The staff at Chateau Frontenac went above and beyond to make our family feel welcome. There were treats for the kids in our room, upon arrival and the bellman quickly requested their sizes so that he could bring them each a bathrobe. Leo had a bit of car sickness and they went so far as to take our car seat and clean it for us, free of charge, no questions asked. I would have to say that the service is the #1 reason we’d visit the Quebec City Fairmont again!
Where to Eat
There are plenty of kid-friendly food options in Quebec City. For our meals, we stayed within the walls of the Old City so that dinner was within walking distance from the Chateau Frontenac. Our first lunch was at Spag & Tini, an Italian restaurant with a great kids’ menu. Aside from the engaging activities inside of it, the kids could choose from an appetizer, main, dessert and drink for just $7.95. For dinner that evening we went to Cochon Dingue, a chain with multiple locations in Quebec City. This restaurant also features a great kids’ menu (also $7.95) and plenty of fresh fish options like lobster rolls and poké bowls. Note: this restaurant only has air conditioning units and if you’re not sitting near one it can get hot!
We ate breakfast in the Place Dufferin restaurant at the Chateau Frontenac which was a decadent way to start the day with one of the most beautiful buffets I’ve ever seen. A Starbucks – open to the public – is located just next door for your daily caffeine fix and cake pops for the kids.
For dessert, the 15-minute drive to La Buche Glacée is well worth it for inventive cone options like lemon pie and campfire, as well as rolled ice cream delights.
What to Do
We only had two days in Quebec City but there is definitely a week’s worth of activities to keep a family busy! We decided to take autoroute 20 there so that we could stop at Madrid 2.0. This rest stop is more than a McDonald’s and St-Hubert, with an assortment of life sized dinosaurs to revel at during a pit stop.
Double Decker Discovery
Once we arrived at our destination, we decided to take the Old Quebec tour on a double decker bus. The station was just outside the Quebec City Fairmont and we listened to a very informative audio guide throughout the 14 stops including the Plains of Abraham and the Museum of Fine Arts. This was a great way to get an overview of the city without walking the kids to exhaustion in the heat.
After a quick swim in the hotel pool and a trip down the Funicular, we headed to the Montmorency Falls for a spectacular view of this amazing waterfall. A gondola runs from the bottom of the hill, up to the top and back again. Plus, there is a somewhat-scary suspension bridge just above the falls which makes for the perfect view. There’s a little playground and lots of green space here, making it the ideal place to bring a picnic.
On day two of our trip, we headed to the Quebec Aquarium. The indoor exhibits were quite beautiful with multi-level floors of sea creatures. One building featured deep sea animals and the other those that live in salt water. The kids especially loved the chance to pet sting rays. However, when we headed outdoors to see the seals and walrus I was a bit disappointed (being the animal lover that I am) by the poor and small conditions of the tanks. We got rained out shortly after cueing our timely departure. Two hours here is more than enough, although we probably could have spent more time if we visited the splash pad and park.
One Last Treasure
Our short journey was coming to an end so to head home we hopped on to autoroute 40 for a different bit of scenery. And most importantly, a visit to La Vallée Secrete. A 50-minute drive south of Quebec, this enchanted attraction in the forest is home to three different levels of treasure hunts. Themed by age, the kids were given a map, a set of 16 keys and one English translator (upon request) to uncover clues. After about 1.5 hours we cracked the code and made it to our treasure – a French puppet show. This was definitely a great stop and an engaging activity for all three of the kids.
Two days in Quebec City was short but we were able to see a lot, without feeling like we didn’t have a minute to rest. I highly recommend it as a family-friendly destination (among others) – any time of year!