When you think about crossing the border into Montréal—whether by car or a quick flight—chances are you only think about venturing there in the summer (we get it—you want to get there before winter’s frigid temps hit). What you may not realize is that there are a ton of amazing things to do in Montréal in the fall, including sipping on homemade hot cider at an outdoor market, catching a seasonal exhibition at the botanical garden, or enjoying an all-out harvest feast at a local sugar shack (we’ll explain more later).
Yes, we may have already given you the rundown of some of our favorite things to do in Montréal, but we’re back with the ultimate long-weekend itinerary, specific to this time of year. Seriously, all you need is 72 hours, a pair of walking shoes to navigate the cobblestone streets, and a sense of adventure. Here is the ultimate guide to spending three autumnal days like a real Montréaler. Allons-y!
No matter how you got across the border, you’re here. If you didn’t drive, we suggest picking up a rental car before checking in at Hôtel William Grey, gorgeous luxury accommodations smack in the middle of Old Montréal. There’s nothing quite like pulling up on cobblestone streets. You’ll feel like you’ve been transported to Europe. Once inside the lobby, hydrate with spa-level fruit-infused water while you pick up your signature Millennial Pink room key.
For a little jolt of energy, grab an espresso drink at Café Olimpico, a few turns off the lobby toward the back of the hotel (its java is a local staple). Drive to Kampai Garden for lunch, a fast-casual eatery downtown that has four different “moods” that vary as you walk from room to room—like Cali cool and opium-den chic (yes, that’s how the restaurant describes it). This is some of the freshest food you’ll get in town—much of the produce is sourced from the Jean-Talon market (see below). Must-order items on this Asian-inspired menu include the edamame, shrimp tacos, and any of the pitcher cocktails (they go up to 60 oz.).
Now it’s time to plug Summit Circle into your GPS. On your way up the mountain, you’ll get a mini tour of some of the most beautiful houses in the city, but the real view is at the top where you can see the entirety of Montréal, colorful leaves and all.
Start your trip out with a buzzy dinner at Liverpool House in Little Burgundy. You’ll order everything from meat to oysters off a chalkboard menu, so be sure to have your waiter help if you don’t speak French (no English descriptions here). Prime Minister Justin Trudeau just dined at this restaurant with Barack Obama, so we’d suggest making a reservation as soon as you know you’ll be in town. You’ll be tired after a long first day, so head home after dinner. Wind down with the dreamiest of showers—with four jets and Le Labo bath products.
Once you’re awake, lace up your walking shoes, and drive to Mile End. This hip neighborhood is basically the equivalent of New York’s Williamsburg, and it’s not lacking in things to do or see. Grab a famous bagel at Fairmount Bagel, where you can watch the breakfast treats being fired up in a wood oven—they’re different from New York–style bagels in that they’re denser and its classic is topped with sesame seeds. Keep an eye out for rainbow-hued benches and street art amid classic architecture as you stroll up and down the main drag. For the best vintage finds around town, it’s worth taking a browse inside Annex Vintage and Citizen Vintage.
Continue on your Mile End stroll with a bite to eat at Wilensky—an old-school Jewish deli. You can smell the pastrami wafting throughout the place as soon as you open the door. Sit for lunch at the counter if you have some time and just people-watch. Next up? Well, you’re on vacation, so grab a midday cocktail at The Emerald (formerly Le Bar Sans Nom), a chic speakeasy with signature red velvet sofas, green walls, and a total lounge vibe.
You are in for a major treat if you’ve been able to score a reservation to the much talked-about Prix Fixe Harvest Meal at Cabane à Sucre Au Pied de Cochon about 45 minutes outside of the city. Basically, sugar shacks are where maple syrup is tapped from trees, and many have accompanying restaurants. This is true at Au Pied de Cochon, where prominent chef Martin Picard will whip up a several-course food marathon filled with maple-infused everything (including cocktails). Come hungry, and bring home leftovers—the restaurant gives you takeout boxes for that reason. Once back in the city, finish the night at Apartment 200 on Boulevard Saint-Laurent, a chill bar with a basement vibe and tons of arcade games. If you want to experience a nightclub, try Soubois (a restaurant that turns into a dance party after 11 p.m.) or Flyjin (an all-out mini rave complete with sparkler-topped bottles that just so happens to be close to the William Grey).
Today, you’re going to venture about an hour and fifteen minutes outside of the city to Frelighsburg to visit a family-run apple orchard called Verger Au Coeur de la Pomme. Go at a leisurely pace, picking your own fresh apples from a selection of eight varieties. Then, grab some more goodies at the country store on the premises, and have a (light) picnic near the barns or along the Pike River—if you can even eat anything after last night’s feast.
It’s going to be later than noon once you get back. On your way, stop at Jean-Talon market, an open-air food market where locals get their produce. Wander the rows of fruit and veggie stalls that are total Instagram ops (all the signs are in French). Don’t forget that there are tons of shops inside the market itself that sell everything from fresh spices to fancy cheese to even pizza (make sure to bring cash, American or Canadian). As you wind your way outside the maze, stop for a hot cider or yummy gelato (the caramel flavor happens to be divine).
Finish out your weekend excursion with the stunning Gardens of Light exhibition at the Botanical Garden, which is only on display in the fall. All three gardens—Chinese, Japanese, and First Nations—are lit up in the night sky (think elaborate dragons and lanterns along the water and colored lights hitting the trees just so).