Weekend Destination: Quebec City

weekend destination quebec city composite

By Julie Madsen

Why: Architecture, food, culture.

How far: Just about six hours.

If you found that you fell in love with the culture of Quebec in Montreal, why not visit the capital of the province...

Getting there

The trip should take no more than six hours from Albany with a stop for gas. It's about 370 miles in total. Head north on I-87, pass the border into Canada (don't forget your passport or enhanced license!), skirt around Montreal, then turn northeast to parallel the Saint Lawrence River until you reach the capital.

Walking tour of Old Quebec

Wear a good pair of shoes for the cobbled roads and many staircases that link Upper Town and Lower Town. Enjoy architectural elements such as silver roofs, stone structures, and spiral staircases along with the rich history of a city settled in the 1500s.

Weekend Destination Quebec Chateau Frontenac

Château Frontenac
Perhaps you are lucky enough to be staying at the fancy and iconic Château Frontenac hotel in the heart of the city. Regardless of your accommodations, don't miss at least passing by what's said to be the most photographed hotel in the world. Ride the funicular for an interesting trip to the shops and restaurants below.

Museum of French-speaking America
Strengthen your understanding of the French influence in Canada at the Musée de l'Amérique francophone -- it's the oldest museum in Canada.

Weekend Destination Quebec Fortifications of Quebec Artillery Park

Fortifications of Quebec Artillery Park
Head under massive stone gates, along the armored walls, and around the city's oldest barracks built by the French in the 18th century.

Hôtel du Parlement du Québec
Admire the second empire-style architecture and many historical sculptures outside the Parliament building, or take a free guided tour to learn more about the government within.

Plains of Abraham
The Plains of Abraham were the site of a confrontation between the British (led by General Wolfe) and the French (the Marquis de Montcalm) during the French and Indian War. Various museums are located within the green space including the Plains of Abraham Museum and the National Museum of Fine Arts.

Get your cardio in by taking the steepest set of stairs in the city, Escalier du Cap-Blanc. When you get to the bottom of the 398 stairs there is a nice waterfront park across the street, but remember you'll have to climb back up!

Promenade des Gouverneurs
Take in the views along the Promenade des Gouverneurs, a scenic boardwalk linking the Plains of Abraham to the Dufferin Terrace beneath the Chateau Frontenac where you started, approximately 2.5 miles ago.

Food

Weekend Destination Quebec Poutine at Chez Gaston

Poutine
Chez Gaston is a hole in the wall known for its epic rendition of Quebec's most famous comfort food. Get the classic fries, cheese curds, and gravy -- or add meat such as bacon and hot dog into the mix.

Crepes
Le Billig is a cozy yellow café offering incredible sweet and savory crepes.

Weekend Destination Quebec tire d'erable maple taffy

Maple taffy
In the heart of Old Quebec is a little sugar shack, La Petite Cabane à Sucre de Québec, where there is always snow no matter the season. Watch a batch of tire d'erable whipped up fresh, the hot gooey maple syrup cooling over cold shaved ice.

Pastries
Paillard is a large bakery popular with tourists. You won't regret hopping on line and ordering whichever pastry catches your eye. It's crowded for a reason, the food is delicious.

If you prefer a spot more off the beaten path, La Boite a Pain is a quieter artisanal bakery. The pear and dark chocolate pastry is as tasty as it is beautiful.

Weekend Destination Quebec L'Affaire Est Ketchup mushrooms
Local mushrooms at L'Affaire Est Ketchup. (The name of the restaurant is Quebecois slang for something along the lines of "it's all good."

Fine dining
L'Affaire Est Ketchup and Le Renard Et la Chouette are micro-restaurants with superior service, local ingredients, and passionately prepared food. Reservations are recommended.

Drinks
+ MacFly Bar has a dive vibe with old school pinballs set on free play and local cider on tap.
+ La Korrigane is a local brewery with funky art on the walls, a foosball table, and a great big patio.

Markets

Weekend Destination Quebec Marche du Vieux-Port de Quebec macaron

Marché du Vieux-Port de Québec
The Marché du Vieux-Port de Québec is loaded with meal options, little snacks, colorful produce, heavenly-scented flowers, and souvenirs.

Épicerie J.A. Moisan
If you are a foodie specifically looking for ingredients to cook with during travel, head to the gourmet grocery store Épicerie J.A. Moisan, which has a long history. (It's said to be maybe the oldest grocey store in North America.)

Day trips

Weekend Destination Quebec Montmorency Falls

Montmorency Falls
A waterfall standing taller than Niagara Falls, Montmorency Falls is just a few minutes drive from downtown Québec City. You can take a cable car or walk the stairs to get to the suspension bridge over the falls - either way, be sure to bring a rain jacket for the huge trail of mist.

Weekend Destination Quebec Ile d'Orleans

Ile d'Orleans
If you want a vacation from your vacation, cross the bridge to Ile d'Orleans, an island in the middle of the Saint Lawrence River. Drive the perimeter road, stop at a sugar shack, count the red roof churches, and enjoy the countryside. Don't miss Cassis Monna & Filles to try black currant wine and Espace Félix Leclerc Arboretum for a lovely walk.

Weekend Destination Quebec Levis ferry view

Lévis
Take the Quebec City-Lévis Ferry and explore what lies on the banks of the other side of the Saint Lawrence River. The view on the journey is amazing!

Weekend Destination Quebec Jacques-Cartier National Park

Jacques-Cartier National Park
Thirty miles north of the city is a magnificent glacial valley, ripe with activity for nature lovers. Jacques-Cartier National Park includes rafting, fishing, biking, hiking, and more. (You can even camp overnight in a yurt.) A drive through this rugged landscape is worth the trip alone.

Language

French is the official language of Quebec. But if you don't speak French -- or it's been a few years since your last class -- many people in Quebec City speak English. Your best bet is to greet people with a friendly "Hello!"

More weekends in Canada

+ Weekend Destination: Ottawa

+ Weekend Destination: Montreal

+ Weekend Destination: Toronto

Julie has got the travel-bug. Whether it's day trips, weekend getaways, or wandering around the world -- she's always up to something. Read more about her adventures at juliejourneys.com.

Comments

We went there last September for 3 days. Not enough time and we're going back for a week. A very European feel without the flight.

We plan to spend 4 days in Ottawa next month : we book a hotel in Hull across the Rideau River in Quebec and enjoy easy access to downtown Ottawa and the ambience of “La Belle Provance”

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