Ȋles-de-Boucherville: A family-friendly oasis 20 minutes from Montreal
Just a hop skip and a jump (a.k.a across the bridge) from Montreal’s bustling Hochelaga-Maisonneuve neighborhood is an island oasis you won’t believe is city-adjacent.
Parc National des Ȋles-de-Boucherville is a peaceful sanctuary of five small islands right in the middle of the Saint Lawrence known for its white tailed deer and kilometers of breathtaking nature trails, many which are bicycle-friendly, and some reserved exclusively for walking.
We’ll get to the numerous activities available in a moment, but what makes Ȋles-de-Boucherville truly unique is that one of the islands – l’Ȋle Grosbois – is home to an archeological site and reconstructed Iroquoian village. The site is about a 45 minute hike, or 20 minute bike ride, from the main parking area, so plan for a trek, but it is well worth it.
Now, a lot of people visit the area to hike or bike, enjoy nature and have a peaceful picnic with (hopefully) some deer spotting. But there are actually a whole host of activities available year round including canoeing, kayaking, rabaska (those extra long canoes that fit 12-20 people), beach volleyball, standup paddling and more during the summer. In the winter, there is snowshoeing, skiing, kicksledding, winter hiking and even those awesome fatbikes that are designed for biking through snow or sand.
If you’re like many Montrealers, the thought of a tranquil lakeside vacation sounds like heaven. Battling traffic and hours of driving to get there… not so much. This is what makes Ȋles-de-Boucherville even better. There is a gorgeous, secluded campground where you can pitch your own tent, or reserve one of the ready-to-camp Huttopia tents. It’s riverside instead of lakeside, but if you spend most of the year alley-side… po-tay-to, po-tah-to, right? (Not really, but you know what we mean.)
Do be aware that the campground is not accessible by car – only on foot or by bike – but that just adds to the tranquility of the place. No traffic noises!! You will also take a river shuttle to get there, which is about as charming as it gets.
If you’re bringing the family, Ȋles-de-Boucherville is incredibly family friendly. So, while you can’t bring everything your car can hold (since cars can’t get to the campsite), there are several necessities available on site including booster seats, highchairs, changing tables, strollers and trailers, playpens and even children’s dishes. Huttopia tents even come with microwaves. And everything for kids aged 17 and under is free.
If you’re the RV type of camper, there are a few RV spots available as well, but obviously in a different area. One that’s accessible not only by car, but by massive tenement on wheels.
Ready for an island escape? Check out the Ȋles-de-Boucherville site!