Tourism is one of the largest industries in Quebec, meaning its capital city is often teeming with visitors drawn to its European charm and fascinating history. But for those in the know, there are plenty of ways to escape the crowds – try these local’s secrets.
Go on a Nature Walk to Marais du Nord
Immerse yourself in the wilderness of the Marais du Nord, only 20 minutes away from the city center. In these tranquil northern marshes near Lake St. Charles, where land and water intertwine, you can observe almost 160 species of birds, take a walk along five miles of nature trails, and partake in activities such as geocaching, renting a kayak, or going on a guided tour in a rabaskaw birch bark canoe.
Take the Quebec City-Levis Ferry
For a completely different perspective of Quebec City and spectacular views of its surroundings, take a trip on the year-round Quebec City-Levis ferry. From the water, you’ll get to see Old Quebec City, Cap-Diamant, the Château Frontenac, and Dufferin Terrace. The night-time views are especially stunning, as the city skyline is reflected in the St. Lawrence River.
Visit North America’s Oldest Grocery Store
Explore the deep recesses of JA Moisan Epicerie, the oldest grocery store in North America, established in 1871. The well-preserved interior will take you on a fascinating trip back in time. Located in the Saint Jean neighborhood, where locals do their shopping, the store offers everything from 50 varieties of mustard to a killer spread for a picnic, including charcuterie, salads, and sweets to your heart’s delight.
Visit a Jail-Turned-Library
Venture into sinister jail cells and balconies from which prisoners were once hanged – in the largest and most magnificent English-language library in Quebec. Today, the Morrin Cultural Centre explores the history of English-speaking culture in the area, but it was first constructed more than 300 years ago as a military barracks. It was then used as a prison, before its transformation into Quebec’s first English-language college, which eventually became one of the world’s most beautiful libraries.
Let Your Inner Child Out
You don’t have to be a kid to have a blast at Benjo, a magical toy store and café in Quebec City’s lively Saint-Roch district. On your tour of 25,000 square feet of awesomeness, check out the life-sized robot, Monsieur Bidule, watch out for the indoor electric train for smaller visitors, and take a few hours to discover the vast array of toys and surprises in more than 20 departments. There’s also an in-house restaurant and a candy store where you can customize your own pixie sticks with the sugary powder of your choice.
If you book a stay at Hilton Quebec, you’ll be only steps away from the heritage and culture of the city’s Old Town, but there’s also plenty to do in the hotel itself when you’ve had enough of tourist crowds. Spend some quality time relaxing at the rooftop swimming pool, or take advantage of the hotel’s babysitting service for a night out.