Our family’s love for Québec is deep – the breathtaking landscapes, the gastronomy, the ‘joie de vivre’ culture, and the many affordable types of accommodations for our big brood have made it a top choice for us to vacation over recent years. On our way to some of the province’s popular getaway hubs – Mont Tremblant, Québec City and even passing through Ottawa, Ontario before them – we’ve quickly ventured through the region of Montebello, each time saying “we need to go there one day”. Just before Winter Break we finally made it happen and our hearts are filled with gratitude for it. We had a wonderful fam-venture and today share why Montebello would make a fantastic choice for your family’s wintry escape to slow the rush of life and carve out quality family time to connect. Here’s your Winter Family Fun Guide to Montebello, Québec: Where to STAY, EAT & EXPLORE!
Disclosure: House of Kerrs receives compensation and/or hosted travel experiences to facilitate our family travel reviews. This post was made in partnership with Tourisme Outaouais. As always, our review is based on our authentic experience. Some links will direct you to our travel booking partners which we may earn a small commission from that we use to keep our family travel content flowing. View our Disclosure for more information.
Disclaimer: Given the current COVDI-19 travel climate, always consult tourism/attractions websites for ever-changing travel advisories/entry requirements/safety protocols/capacity updates before you book & venture off. No doubts about it, family travel looks & feels different than in “normal times”. Every family’s travel-risk assessment will be unique, and with a little added preparation, family travel experiences can still be fantastic and enriching.
Article has been published on AllWaysTraveller.com
Where is Montebello, Quebec?
In May 1855, Louis-Joseph Papineau named his property “MonteBello,” and in 1878, the town was officially founded [Source: Outaouais]. Montebello is a municipality located in the Papineau Region of the Petite Nation territory in Outaouais Quebec on the north shore of the Ottawa River, at the crossroads between Ottawa, Montreal & Mont-Tremblant.
How to Get to Montebello, Quebec
By Car: Our preferred method of travel to Quebec is usually by car and a road trip from Toronto to Montebello is just under 500 km, with most of your journey along the Trans-Canada Highway. It will take you just over 5 hours to get there.
By Plane or Train: The closest airports to Montebello are Ottawa MacDonald-Cartier Airport (YOW) and Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL), which would require an airport transfer or car rental upon arrival. If opting for travel by train, the VIA Rail from Toronto Union Station to Ottawa Station would be the best route, and a car rental or transfer required thereafter.
Where to STAY – Montebello, Quebec
If you’re looking for an authentic Quebec chalet experience off the grid amidst the great outdoors where Wi-Fi signals are weak but family connection peaks, the accommodations at Kenauk Nature are spectacular! Immerse in Quebec’s wintry wilderness and enjoy moments of serenity and seclusion with your family while being beautifully close to amenity-rich Montebello Village (20-40 minutes drive depending on how deep into the Kenauk Nature reserve you stay).
Kenauk Nature is an exclusive reserve sprawling 265 square km, hugged by 65 private lakes. In fact, each luxury chalet within the reserve has its own private lake access, meaning your very own outdoor rink for your family’s winter retreat!
We stayed in the “Wilson” Chalet, and what a wonderful winter oasis it was. Here’s why your family will love it too:
- Imagine a new and spacious three-bedroom, 2-bathroom chalet with cozy-cabin touches and has more than enough space to comfortably accommodate a large family or group (up to 8 people).
- The chalet gives off a wintry wilderness feel with exposed wood beams, stone fireplaces (yes plural, there are 2 – one indoors, one on your screened in porch outdoors!), outdoor firepit, and being steps to Mills Lake amidst your own very quiet neck of the Kanauk Nature woods, with touches of luxe-y splendour, like a large wrap-around deck to soak in sunrises/sunsets, outdoor elements for cooking/entertaining, a Gambler’s loft and Kids’ hideaway on the upper level, and games room in the basement with a billiards table.
- Mostly off the grid, meaning minimal cellular reception and no Wi-Fi, to ignite real family connection without the distractions of tech (this was, admittedly, an adjustment for us at first, but what a gift stopping time is – seriously.)
- A fully-appointed kitchen and family dining area to enjoy meals together.
- Kenauk Nature is proud to maintain sustainable tourism standards – each chalet is self-sustaining, operating off a propane/solar powered infrastructure.
- The drive in to your chalet is rugged and quite dark if arriving by night as we did. If possible, time your arrival when there’s still daylight, and also ensure the vehicle you’re travelling with handles well in wintry conditions and has sufficient gas in the tank.
- Kenauk Nature’s reception desk closes early evening. If arriving by night, you can request your keys/package be left in the hut in-front of the swipe-access lift gate.
- There is the option to have Wi-Fi service at select chalets in Kenauk Nature.
- You are very secluded once you settle into your chalet. Read the reserves emergency services will be included in your registration package.
- You are staying in the wilderness – stay mindful of animal populations that inhabit the area and set up a notification system if hiking in the sparsely marked woods.
- There are no restaurants or places to buy food at Kenauk Nature. Definitely stock up on your family’s favourite snacks, drinks, groceries before you settle into your chalet. You are about a 20-40 minute drive from Montebello Village, and can pick up groceries at Bonichoix before/during your stay. Kenauk Nature can also arrange to have partially prepped meals and beverages stocked in your chalet fridge before you arrive through the catering services of Signé Toqué.
- Our stay was in the Deluxe series of chalets. Kenauk Nature also offers classic log cabins and more traditional chalet style accommodations, as well as Glamping.
- The resort operates year-round, and in Summer months, canoes, paddle boats, and kayaks would be included with your private lakefront retreat.
- Guests of Kanauk Nature have free access to some of the family-friendly activities of Chateau Montebello, such as the indoor pool & sports complex (*currently closed for maintenance until Spring 2022). More on that below.
If your family is looking for more opportunities for winter adventure and exploration, Kanauk Nature also offers dog-sledding (booked via a 3rd party), cross-country skiing, snow-shoeing & hiking.
To book your family’s rural winter escape off the grid, reservations can be made HERE.
Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello
Welcome to the world’s largest log cabin and one of Canada’s favourite luxury family resorts – Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello! We opted for the more secluded, private quarters of Kenauk Nature for our 2-night stay in Outaouais, but had the opportunity to explore the grounds and amenities of Chateau Montebello during a day visit.
We completely understand why this resort is beloved by families looking for that all-encompassing experience with tons of activity options that suit all-ages (*see Where to PLAY*). Visiting during the holiday season is a fabulous time to go – the hotel decks the halls and drapes the main areas top to bottom with gorgeous, festive décor, glistening accents, and all things twinkly. Holiday time is a very special time to stay.
Chateau Montebello has a Winter Fun Package for families, and CAA members can also enjoy savings. Discover all promotions HERE and give your family the gift of travel!
Where to EAT – Montebello, Quebec
Quebecois fare is among our family’s favourites, and with excellent casual to fine family-friendly dining options in Montebello, you’ll have no trouble finding a great spot to nourish your brood and connect over great food during your winter getaway.
Here are noteworthy places to eat in Montebello for foodie families:
Le Bistro Montebello
A popular spot for locals right in the center of Montebello Village on rue Notre-Dam, Le Bistro Montebello was a fabulous spot to dine and unwind for our first family dinner on our getaway. Best known for its wood oven-fired pizzas, upbeat vibe and being very family-friendly, it’s high-demand come dinner time and reservations are strongly encouraged. Take-out is also available, and there was a steady stream of patrons doing pick up for the duration of our dinner.
The Arugula Salad & Calamari were enjoyable starters, followed up with a family pizza party – La Paysanne, Italian Sausage, Margherita and Le Bistro Special – all verified delish by our pizza-loving crew! Parents may enjoy the nice selection of wines (the Torres Cab Sav was a smooth sipper), and Shirley Temples all around were a hit for our kids. For-fee parking is available in the lot across the street from the resto or along Rue Notre-Dame. You may want to extend your parking time a bit to enjoy a stroll through Montebello Village after dinner, especially during holiday season when lit up with festive street décor and the Christmas market just steps away!
OmegaBon Restaurant – Parc Omega
Offering popular, simple eats like burgers, salads and tapas with family dining overlooking Bird Lake, our family lunch at OmegaBon Restaurant was an enjoyable way to refuel after the excitement of experiencing Parc Omega (*see Where to PLAY*).
OmegaBon also offers a dinner menu, with more entre options like Fillet Mignon and Cod Fillets. After you dine, grab some artisan-made sweets and treats in the gift shop sharing the same space. More dining options at Maison du Parc, Parc Omega (including Café, grocery and sit-down dining).
Aux Chantignoles – Le Chateau Montebello
Family dining at Aux Chantignoles inside Le Chateau Montebello is one of our favorite memories of our winter getaway, and is a full-sensory experience your family should absolutely add to your Montebello itinerary. The ornate elegance of the Chateau’s main dining room, a delectable gourmet family menu offering crafted by Chef Yann Gauthier prepped with fresh local ingredients, and friendly service all made this fine dining family experience so special without being pretentious.
Our dinner selections comprised of the Homemade Bread and Gem Salad as appetizers, followed by the Filet Mignon and Seafood Pappardelles for adult entrees, Spaghetti with Meat Sauce & Pizza Bello from the Kids menu, and Crème Brûlée to share for dessert – all delectable…kudos to Chef Yann! My mouth is watering just reminiscing. Parents will love that kids under 5 dine FREE from the kids menu, while 6-12 year old diners get 50% off.
NOTE: Dining at Aux Chantignoles is exclusive to Chateau Montebello guests. Dinner reservations are highly recommended. Our family does not have any dietary limitations, but I did see that gluten-free & dairy-free options are available and some menu selections can be modified for vegetarian guests. Breakfast, lunch and Sunday Brunch are also offered at Aux Chantignoles.
Pour l’amour du fromage (for the love of cheese!), a stop into Montebello’s Fromagerie was a must! The wood-wrapped Adoray cheese suggested by the shop manager was as wonderful as explained. This is also where the locals shop for Quebec’s famous cheese curds! Try this authentic poutine recipe!
Where to EXPLORE – Montebello, Quebec
Whether embracing the cold among the natural elements outdoors, having up-close encounters with the wild, immersing in a unique experience indoors, or enjoying some of the seasonal events of Montebello Village, there are so many ways to have fun in the region suitable for all-ages.
Here are some suggestions on where to explore in Montebello for your winter family fun getaway:
Bison, and Elk and Wolves, oh my! Head into the wild at Parc Omega for a surreal, heart-stopping 12 KM drive-thru experience that takes your family up-close (REAL CLOSE!) to Canada’s animals of the wilderness (a collective family fave on our Montebello getaway!).
Turn your radio dial to the English/French channel provided at registration to discover more about Canadian nature, animal habitats, wildlife history and culture of Quebec’s First Nations to enhance this highly edu-taining family experience!
Noteworthy for a Family Visit to Parc Omega:
- Admission prices range from $14 – 33 CAD (plus tax), and there’s a family discount of $10 (based on 2 adults, 2 kids). Tickets can be pre-purchased online HERE, and the Park Map can be downloaded HERE.
- Parc Omega is about a 6 minute drive from Montebello Village and Chateau Montebello and 10 minutes from the entrance of Kenauk Nature (add 20 minutes from The Wilson Chalet).
- Grab some carrots at the boutique near the entrance before you start your tour to feed the very friendly Elk & Deer you’ll encounter along the way.
- Seasonality may affect which animals you get to see – the bears, for instance, were already in hibernation for the winter during our early December visit.
- If nature calls & your family needs restroom facilities along your tour, visit the Trading Post in Zone 11, which is also adjacent to the souvenir shop.
- The Wolf Observatory is temporarily closed due to COVID-19 protocols.
- The safari tour of Parc Omega is enough in and of itself, but if your family wants to hop out of the car and engage in more activities, the grounds also offer free ice skating, dog-sledding, tubing, horse-drawn sleigh rides & more.
- If your family loves illuminated, drive-through experiences, visit Parc Omega La Nuit for the after-dark experience!
- Families who wish to pack their own lunch, there are indoor picnic facilities at Omega Parc during winter, as well as outdoor areas in warm-weather months.
- For safety reasons, open roof and open-door vehicles are strictly prohibited.
- The park is considered accessible to people with reduced mobility, except on some hiking trails which may make throughways impassable. Foot paths that can accommodate strollers and those with reduced mobility are in zones 4 and 11.
- If you want to add another one-of-a-kind experience to your fam-venture, consider an overnight stay with up-close encounters with the wolves! A stay in their Wolf Lodges gives you complimentary admission to Parc Omega.
Family Activities at Fairmont Chateau Montebello
Chateau Montebello has tons of family fun options for all seasons. Here’s what we loved about our day visit to the property in Winter:
- Wandering the natural beauty of the property, including taking time for reflection and family photos by the Ottawa River, going for a wintry stroll along the hiking trails, visiting the Manoir Papineau National Historic Site adjacent to the Chateau’s grounds, and taking a family pause at the red Adirondack chair warming station;
- Warming up by the stunningly grand, six-sided fireplace in the Chateau’s main lobby and soaking in the rustic-elegance of the interior, the ornate and twinkly Christmas décor and rich history of the property;
- Enjoying après time outdoors with a round of drinks for the whole family from the lobby bar, followed up with a gourmet family dining experience at the elegant and delectable Aux Chantignoles dining room (*more on that below under Where to EAT*)
While not yet open during our early-December visit, there are opportunities for ice skating and horse-drawn sleigh rides families can enjoy in Winter at Chateau Montebello. Guests also have access to Kenauk Nature’s cross country and snowshoe trails.
Le Marché de Noël de Montebello (Montebello Christmas Market)
Visiting Montebello in December has another shiny perk – you can experience a touch of Christmas market magic at Le Marché de Noël de Montebello in front of the gorgeous Notre-Dame-de-Bonsecours Church (just a few minutes walk from most of the spots in Montebello Village!).
Shop local artisans and producers, grab a drink or treat, gather around the warming station or visit one of the other fun family activations.
Head to the town’s chocolate-making factory and gift shop – Chocomotive – in the old Montebello Train Station. Catch a glimpse of the sweet chocolat decadence being made on-site and grab some take home treats for loved ones (or yourself 😉).
Family Skating Ring, Village of Montebello
Go for a free family glide on the outdoor rink located behind the Tourism Information Center in the Village, open until 10 p.m. daily. There are no rentals, so make sure you pack your family skates!
When to Book Your Winter Getaway to Montebello
Our winter family escape to Montebello fell within the first week of December – typically an excellent time for travel given it’s after American Thanksgiving and before the peak, high-season travel block of late December – early January. Booking outside of school breaks in the calendar is always a great way to save and also benefit from less-crowded dining and attractions experiences all around.
Our stay was for 3 days, 2 nights, which felt like an ideal duration to enjoy the bests of the region. A family stay in Montebello is a fantastic way to spend a short family getaway on its own, or as stopover on your way to or from another destination along your road trip (on route to Mont Tremblant, Montreal, Quebec City, Charlevoix or more territories in the fun-tabulous Outaouais, for instance).
Family Fun Savings in Outaouais
If you’re looking to save some bucks for your Outaouais Family Getaway, check out the latest promotions throughout the territories HERE.
If our winter getaway to Montebello had a theme it would be “Rural Meets Family Winter Wanderland” and it was just the kind of fam-venture we all needed. If you have any questions about our suggestions, drop them in the comments and I’ll answer as best I’m able.
In the meantime, if you needed a sign to go offline and slow the return to the rush of life by investing in the gift of quality family time, this is it! A winter family getaway to Montebello, QC in Outaouais is calling, and our family thinks you should go 😊 Merci beaucoup to the wonderful team at Tourisme Outaouais for helping our family create some incredible memories.
Keep well, travel safely,
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