The Best of Autumn in Montreal

Autumn in Montreal is bliss for most Montrealers; the weather is slightly crisper, the leaves are changing colors, and the city is, quite simply, in its lovely state. Apple-picking, Mont-Royal hiking, park hopping and coffee shop exploring are perfect autumn activities as far as Montreal is concerned.

138 Atwater Avenue
The whole province of Quebec takes its agriculture very seriously, and consequently you can find some incredibly fresh, tasty products. The vendors at Atwater Market are passionate about what they sell, and they are more than happy to talk all things food. From sweet and tangy strawberries to ice wines, cheeses, and maple creations, the Atwater Market leaves very few unimpressed. A true staple of the Montreal culinary scene, this is a must for all foodies.
4101 Rue Sherbrooke E, Montréal, QC H1X 2B2, Canada
The Lantern Festival is without a doubt my favorite festival—ever, in the world. I’m not even sure why. It’s not star-studded. It’s not particularly big. It’s not in the warmest conditions. But damn it if it’s not the prettiest thing. The pathways of the Chinese Gardens are lit up at nightfall, illuminating hundreds of lanterns scattered around the pond. Some are animal-shaped, others are human-shaped, and together they create this amazing scenery that seems to have traveled halfway across the world. Which isn’t that far from the truth, technically. The lanterns are designed by Chinese artists in China and assembled in Montreal over the summer. If you are visiting Montreal in the fall, this event is a must-do. Until November 3rd at the Montreal Botanical Gardens.
Dunham, QC, Canada
Few other places near Montreal can offer rolling hills, quality products, and incredible fall foliage like the Eastern Townships. Just under an hour from downtown, the Dunham area boasts some of the best views and hiking opportunities in the entire province, as well as dozens of wineries (including a wine route for more motivated visitors), cycling paths, locally-sourced eateries, and all-around beauty. The Townships really are the best and most accessible way to appreciate the beautiful panorama of autumn. If the weather is nice, rent a car and head south for a taste of what the Quebecois hospitality really is about, in a setting so lovely you won’t want to leave.
Ville-Marie, Montreal, QC, Canada
Where North American meets Europe, and where history meets today. Old-Montreal could fool visitors into believing they’ve traveled halfway across the world! Cobblestone streets and old, intricately ornate buildings abound—thanks to Montreal’s heritage as a wealthy fur trade capital—as well as picturesque chapels and most importantly, scenic al fresco opportunities (like a meal at Jardin Nelson, or drinks at Suite 701 and Terrasse Nelligan) that will be perfect complements to a romantic night out. With some landmarks dating back to the the 17th century’s New-France era (Saint-Paul Street and Notre-Dame-du-Bonsecours), cuddly strolls in the New World just don’t get quainter than this, especially when a horse-drawn carriage is part of the plan.
22 Chemin Macdonald
Those seeking adventure and a hair-raising experience should beware: La Ronde goes big. The amusement park, located a quick bus ride from downtown Montreal, raises the dead, so to speak, for the most frightening festival in the province: Fright Fest. In addition to the world-class white-knuckle rides, La Ronde also offers terrifying sights and surprises that redefine “scared to death.” Vampires, witches, zombies, werewolves... who knows what’s hiding in the dark? Amid thousands of pumpkins, cornstalks, and hay bales, visitors can roam around the park and meet oversized creatures from the “Thrills by Day, Fright by Night” surprises. The month-long celebration runs Saturdays and Sundays through October.
2291 Boulevard Perrot, Notre-Dame-de-l'Île-Perrot, QC J7V 8P4, Canada
Few things characterize autumn in North American more than apple picking, apple pies, and apple cider. If you feel like connecting with nature and experiencing a Canadian tradition, head to the western tip of the island and the Labonté Orchard for a wee session of apple picking. There is a small admission fee of $2, and you are free to stay on site for as long as you like. If you don’t go for the apple picking, go for the heaven-sent desserts at the on-site café. The apple crumble will make you a believer.
1260 Chemin Remembrance, Montréal, QC H3H 1A2, Canada
Mount Royal Park starts at the edge of the city just beyond the McGill campus and runs alongside neighborhoods like Plateau before rising to the top of 764-foot-tall Mount Royal (Mont Réal), the hill that gives the city its name. The twisting roads and paths of this crown jewel of Montréal’s park system were initially laid out by Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed New York’s Central Park. While Olmsted’s plan was not followed in all its details, the final result was true to his vision of a woody park that takes advantage of the site’s hilly topography. There are two belvederes with views of the city skyline and the St. Lawrence River, and one of Montréal’s iconic landmarks, a 103-foot-high cross, sits at its northern end. The park is most popular in summer, but residents flock here in every season, to enjoy the colorful foliage in the fall and the cross-country ski trails and toboggan runs in the winter.
1365 Rue Ontario E, Montréal, QC H2L 1S1, Canada
As if the Montreal restaurant scene weren’t exciting enough, 125 restaurants decided to come up with a special fall menu and draw people out of their houses in defiance of the weather. The concept behind Restaurant Week is fairly simple but oh-so-fantastic: 125 restaurants, one pre-set menu, and 3 price points ($19, $29, or $39 per head). This is a great way for Montrealers to experience restaurants that they wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise, and a way to discover new flavors. Make sure to look at the event’s website to consult the menus and pick your favorites. Reservations are strongly recommended. Also good to know: Many restaurants offer a special $19 menu for late-night orders, after 9:30pm. Bon appétit!
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