Top 10 Outdoor Family Activities!
If nothing appeals to you among these suggestions for outdoor family outings, you’d better put on an extra layer—clearly you’re over-sensitive to fun!
My life goal: to try all these activities before the kids get too old.
Skiing, snowshoeing and other winter delights
1 Aladdin would be envious: Mont Cascades has the longest magic carpet ski lift in the region, for a nice easy ride to the top of the slope. The dedicated area for novice skiers has been expanded this year, and 15 runs are lit up for night skiing. And for the snowshoers in the family, there are 25 km of groomed snowshoe trails.
2 The Air Eau Bois outdoor centre isn’t just for summer holidays: it’s also open on winter weekends after the holidays, for those who enjoy cold-weather activities. This lovely spot offers a 200‑metre tube slide, a skating rink, and trails for cross-country and off-trail skiing and snowshoeing. Want to try Hok skiing (a cross between cross-country skiing and snowshoeing)? You can rent Hok skis on the spot! The centre also offers a full week of March break activities (Quebec and Ontario). No screens, just snow. Where do I sign?
3 I’ve promised myself that this is the year I finally get to Duhamel to try out the municipality’s amazing snowshoe trails. They even have a dedicated snowshoe festival on February 24, the Festival Duhamel en raquette! For a family-friendly excursion, try the Route des Zingues. For the Julie Trail, start from the P1 parking area, and if the kids are up for a challenge, take the Des Pins Trail, which leads to a scenic lookout with a spectacular view of Lake Gagnon. Allow about two hours. As dusk is falling in late afternoon, stop in at the local restaurant, Au Rendez-Vous du Chevreuil (“where the deer meet”). The name says it all: keep an eye out for these charming woodland visitors!
4 If you plan to spend more than a day in the Petite-Nation, you can stay at the Centre touristique du Lac-Simon, also in Duhamel. This tourist centre offers cabins, tube sliding, ice fishing on De la Ferme Lake, and snowshoe and cross-country ski trails. The Winter As Far as the Eye can See package is ideal for families.
Lace up your skates for two very different and equally magical experiences on ice.
5 Skating through the forest in the heart of Lac-des-Loups is spectacularly beautiful. As you follow the ice trail winding among snow-covered evergreens, you often get the feeling that you’re alone in the world. After your skate, enjoy a hot chocolate at the main lodge.
6 Hear ye, hear ye: the picturesque village of Chelsea has a new skating rink! It’s right across from Biscotti et Cie (by a happy coincidence, the PERFECT place for a hot chocolate). We’re betting the new rink will be very popular this winter!
Calling all mushers!
7 This is another one on my bucket list: an unforgettable dogsled ride with the Meute Tanwen (the Tanwen Pack). The company offers a range of experiences, from one-hour rides to excursions lasting several days. This year, the one-hour ride takes you around scenic Lake Dupuis. The two-hour ride (available after the holidays) leads to the family sugar shack, which can be rented for a rustic getaway for up to 6 people. For older children (say, kids whose voice has changed), the company offers a February camp with accommodation in a huge army tent. The Meute Tanwen also maintains a network of snowshoe trails. Explore the Petite-Nation by dogsled and see things from a new angle!
All-inclusive and worry-free
8 & 9 The world’s largest log building is a must for families—ALL families, from fireside loungers to Energizer bunnies. You can pack light: at the Fairmont Le Château Montebello, all equipment is provided! Cross-country skis, snowshoes, skates, and even curling stones are available. While you’re in Montebello, visit Parc Oméga wildlife park, open all year.
10 When my kids get a little older and are still, I hope, just as keen to try new things, I plan to visit the Papineau-Labelle Reserve, which has 11 wood-heated shelters along the hiking trails. You can’t get there by car; it’s strictly leg power! The shelters are between 6 and 17 km from the trailhead. If you feel faint at the thought of carrying your gear all that way, a snowmobile luggage transfer service is available.