Quebec City Attractions for the Whole Family

Tour an 18th-century European old town, water parks, zoos, monuments and the river — Quebec City attractions that are fun for families in all four seasons.

Seated atop cap Diamant and overlooking the Saint Lawrence River, Quebec City has long been influential in North American history. Samuel de Champlain recognized its potential and founded a fur-trading post there in 1608. The city grew to be a valuable prize, sought after in the colonial wars of the 17th and 18th centuries. When Québec City finally fell to the English in 1759, New France (as it was then called) became a British colony and, in 1791, a part of Canada. It is this era, so well preserved in the Old Town, that makes Quebec City attractions such a visual treat for every age.

Now that the history part is out of the way, here’s the fun stuff for the family visiting Québec City. Bring your French dictionary and your best manners. Quebec’s friendly people with their charming traditional ways are worth getting to know. For more information, contact the Québec Department of Tourism.

Ice Castle during the Quebec Winter Carnival
Ice Castle during the Quebec Winter Carnival

Great Fun For the Kids

(Toddler to Age 8)

Aquarium du Québec
1675 avenue des Hotels
Sainte-Foy, Quebec G1W 4S3
This top Quebec City attraction has thousands of fish, reptiles, invertebrates, and marine mammals on view. In summer, plan ahead for various educational cartoons, special children’s exhibits and, finances permitting, a scuba session with a trainer. An outdoor splash pad boasts water jets and interactive water canons for hot days. Walk under the Pacific Ocean to see the marinelife indigenous to that region. Greet jellyfish, rays and sea horses in their own pavilion. Feel wet in the Immersion projection room. The aquarium is close to the Québec Bridge and has its own zipline. Best value for admission here is the Family Pass.

Quebec City Ferry, Vieux-Port du Quebec
Below the ramparts guarding Old Quebec is the Vieux-Port, or 400-year-old city harbor. Here’s the place to learn where trade and commerce flourished among Quebec City attractions. Walk down and around to see the many visiting yachts, market, bike path and outdoor shows in summer. Stroll along the Promenade Samuel de Champlain for a closeup view of the tidal river. If you take the Funicular down, you’ll arrive at the Ferry building, with its frequent service across the mile-wide river to Levis. This is the cheapest skyline and river tour in town — a must-do in winter when the ice floes make the crossing very exciting.

Skyline Balloons, Ltd – Quebec Montgolfieres.
450 rue Champlain
Vieux-Québec, QC G1K 4J3
Give your children an unforgettable (but not cheap) experience by taking them for a ride in a hot air balloon. As you drift over the city and villages of Québec, kids (ages 6+ and taller than 1.20m/46″) will enjoy seeing it all from a bird’s eye view. Assist with takeoff preparations and inflating the balloon. Then, you and the seasoned pilot will set off on an extraordinary hour-long journey. 

Château Frontenac Hotel in Quebec City
Château Frontenac Hotel in Quebec City

Fun For Older Children

(Up to Age 18)

Stoneham Vacation Village
1420 avenue du Hibou
Stoneham, Quebec G0A 4P0
800/463-6888, 418/848-2415
Spend some time outdoors at this popular ski resort, 20 minutes north of other Quebec City attractions. They offer year-round outdoor activities along with breathtaking views of 300 acres of terrain spread over four mountains. Throughout the day, sports activities are offered for different age groups. After winter skiing or summer hiking, visitors have the choice of two outdoor heated pools, tennis courts, volleyball, archery, mountain biking, summer theatre (in French), a simple chair-lift ride to absorb the beautiful countryside, or an indoor game room for rainy days. In winter, the night skiing makes it a popular hangout for local students.

Village Vacances Valcartier
1860 boulevard Valcartier
Valcartier, Quebec G0A 4S0
888/3VILLAGE, 418/844-2200
This popular summer water park and winter snow resort is a favorite of kids as well as the young at heart. It’s also located surprisingly close by, just 20 minutes outside of Québec City. The ride-oriented park is open daily (call for closing dates) and offers 35 waterslides, a wave pool, rafting, horseback riding, family river tours and much more during summer. In winter, it’s great for snow rafting, snow tubing and skiing, both day and night. Slide right up and read all about it here.

Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church, Basse-Ville
Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church in Basse-Ville, the lower town of Old Quebec.

Fun For the Whole Family

The Old Quarter (Vieux Ville) of Québec City
Quebec, Quebec G1R 2G6
Declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1985, Old Quebic (or Vieux Ville) is the only fortified city in North America. It is divided into an upper and a lower town connected by 11 staircases. Traverse between them using a funicular (an inclined railway) if you want to avoid stairs. Walk around and get delightfully lost within the 4.6 kms of wall still standing. The winding maze, narrow streets, and ancient rooftops can be seen from atop the ramparts. To commemorate the best Quebec City attractions, take a selfie from Dufferin Terrace promenade outside the Fairmont Chateau Frontenac. Nearby, Rue du Tresor showcases public artwork and street performers in a square surrounded by small galleries. In the lower town, the stone buildings at Place Royale, center of the Petit-Champlain District, date to the early 17th century and house stylish boutiques and cafes. Pick up the free Quebec City and Region Official Tourist Guide for thorough walking tours.

Artillery Park
2 rue D’Auteuil
Quebec, Quebec G1K 7A1
Located near the St. John gate of the Old Quarter, Artillery Park has played an important role in defending Québec since the 17th century. It is one of the few remaining Quebec City attractions dating from the French regime. Military buffs will want to tour the Musee du Fort and see its son-et-lumiere show about Quebec history. Many other small museums and fortifications tell the tale of over three centuries of Québec’s military past. This site, along with the Citadel of Québec, the Martello Towers, and Fort No. 1 at Pointe de Levy National Historic Site, commemorate Québec’s historic defensive system.

Musées de la Civilisation
85 rue Dalhousie
Quebec City, Quebec G1K 7A6
866/710-8031, 418/643-2158
This museum, located near the Saint-Lawrence in Québec’s historic Old Quarter, presents its guests with thematic exhibitions concerning civilization, art, and society. A permanent youth-oriented Discovery Zone offers children interactive science and how-things-works exhibits, and a costume shop geared to ages 3-10 for dress up. Besides its excellent location, the museum also draws repeat visitors with a very contemporary interactive approach to historical exhibits.

Carnaval de Quebec
290 rue Joly
Quebec City, Quebec G1L 1N8
866/422-7628, 418/626-3716
Each year during three weekends at the end of January and early February, Quebec City hosts the biggest winter carnival in the world. It’s one of the top Quebec City attractions, for sure. Come for snow tubing, ice fishing, dog sledding, snowmobiling, old-fashioned horse-drawn sleigh rides, and all other manner of snow fun. Also, see the amazing international ice sculpture exhibit, enjoy music and entertainment, visit with Bonhomme (Carnaval’s loveable mascot) and sample more QC Carnaval family fun like our reporter did.

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