This week, we wanted to do some special March Break activities to break out of our usual routine and make some fun new memories. One place that we have wanted to visit since we moved to Ottawa isn’t in Ottawa at all, but is a day trip away in Montreal. We visited the Espace Pour La Vie Biodôme on Monday and had a great time!
Driving from Ottawa to Montreal was no big deal for our kids, who are used to 5+ hour drives each way to visit their relatives. One tip: fill up your gas tank before you leave Ontario because gas was at least 13¢ more expensive per litre as soon as we crossed into Quebec. Finding the Biodôme was quite straightforward with our GPS, though I nearly had a few panic attacks due to the aggressive driving of the locals. I’m not cut out for Montreal (or Toronto) driving! I would also suggest trying to park off-site at the $15 parking fee is pretty steep.
The Biodôme is split into five Ecosystems of the Americas, each leading into the next. You start in the Tropical Rainforest, then go to the Laurentian Maple Forest, then the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Labrador Coast and finally the Sub-Antarctic Islands. I loved starting at the Tropical Rainforest because the warmth and humidity was such a lovely change from the endless winter we’re having. We loved wandering around and looking at the sloth, monkeys, birds and plants.
The Gulf of St. Lawrence was interesting because you can view the tank from the bottom and then go up top and see how different things look. The girls thought that the ducks were hilarious to watch from below, when you could only see their feet and bellies.
The penguins were highly anticipated and were a huge hit! Ashlyn and Rowan walked back and forth along the tank, ‘chasing’ the penguins who swam by. There is also the Naturalia Room which is a completely hands-on experience for kids to look at fossils, shells, animals and so much more!
After spending about 2 hours at Biodôme, we went downtown to Sainte Catherine Street to get some lunch. We went to Les 3 Brasseurs which I would not recommend. Neither the food nor the service was very good. There was a Ben & Jerry’s store nearby which, along with some retail therapy, salvaged the afternoon.
We would go back to Biodôme in a heartbeat and next time, we hope to add one of the other attractions, like the Botanical Garden and Insectarium (which was closed when we went) to our visit, as well as more exploration of Montreal. I’m thinking another day trip in the summer will be in order!