Autumn in Montreal

If you’re looking for a fall vacation, Montreal is a great place to go, and here’s why…

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Trees on Mount Royal

It’s close to everywhere — a short plane hop from NYC and the northeastern states, and a totally doable — and picturesque — train ride from Ottawa (1 hour) and even Toronto (4 and a half hours, if you play your cards right). The province of Quebec borders New York State, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, so you can even drive there if you’re lucky. It makes a great weekend getaway.

On the train between Toronto and Montreal

On the train between Montreal and Toronto

But it makes you feel like you’ve been somewhere else. There’s the prevalence of French, of course (though you can certainly get by without it), but not only that — Montreal has its own distinctive architecture, fashion, and cultural scene. And good public transit, too.

(Hit the jump to see more fall foliage photos and more reasons to go…)

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Quebec’s signature dish is just made for fall. If you’ve ever had poutine, you’ll know what I mean. If not, imagine a bowl of French fries, topped with squeaky cheese curds and doused in gravy. (That’s the essential version, but there are many variations. I’m partial to curry poutine.) Sound weird? Just try it. Especially on a chilly day…yum.

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Best of all, Montreal has gorgeous fall foliage, and some great parks to enjoy it from. The most famous is Mount Royal Park, home of the tall hill that gives the city its name, which features open green spaces, sculptures, walking trails through glorious forest, and a fabulous lookout point over the city. On Sundays you may catch a giant drum circle, a Renaissance faire, or even a staged battle put on by the Society for Creative Anachronism. For more park recommendations, see here.

Trees on Mount Royal

More trees on Mount Royal

But really, at this time of year, any park will do! All of the unlabelled photos in this post were taken at a random neighbourhood park — nothing special, just a playground, picnic tables…and the most beautiful maple trees.

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After a visit to Montreal, I always feel as if I’ve been to the countryside and to a charming and unique city, all in one fell swoop. I was there last weekend for Canadian Thanksgiving, and as you can see, the weather was just perfect.

Your turn! What’s your favourite place to see fall foliage?

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