Quebec City with Kids in Summer
Heading to Quebec City this summer with your family? Are you researching kid-friendly tourist attractions in Quebec City? Does exploring an archeological crypt sound intriguing?
I was recently in Old Quebec for the Women in Travel Summit at the famous Chateau Frontenac and signed up for a tour called “Under the Terrace.” Unbeknownst to me, the hotel was sitting above Chateau Saint-Louis that was only recently uncovered. I mean, people knew something was buried there, but they didn’t realize how extensive the site was. This site is officially called the Saint-Louis Forts and Châteaux National Historic Site.
If you’d like to see what remains of Chateau Saint-Louis, head under Dufferin Terrace on the Promenade. It’s a museum and archeological site run by the Parks Department. You can explore its lower court, outbuildings and culinary complex. Plus, you can see lots of artifacts that help show what life was like between 1620-1834.
One of the first things you’ll see is an icehouse. It kind of looks like a small swimming pool. Actually, it would be really fun to ask your kids what they think it is. I bet they won’t guess it’s an icehouse.
Here’s a photo that shows how this icehouse was used around 1800:
In terms of archeological sites, this one is pretty new and is ongoing. The archeological research project began in June 2005 and the final exploratory campaign was conducted in the summer of 2007. These three digs confirmed the site’s historical significance.
Some of the coolest items on display featured luxury items. For more than 200 years of French and then English rule in Quebec, the Saint-Louis Forts and Châteaux served as the official residence and seat of power for most governors. That means, a lot of wealthy people lived here who had the means to get world-famous items shipped to them.
One of the most unusual items (in my opinion) was a larding needle. Never heard of it? Apparently, cooks used to use this to add pieces of fat to meat to make it more tender and juicy.
You can either do a self-guided tour, or sign up to have someone from the Parks Department guide you. Personally, I’d recommend doing a guided tour. Our guide Sebastian was really funny and he brought this place to life! Not knowing much about Canadian history, it was nice to have someone set the scene.
Something else I have to mention is that there are several skylights in this underground museum. The skylights are shaped like little pyramids and people walking on Dufferin Terrace can stop and look in at the ruins. That also means that guests can look up at the tourists looking down on them!
So, if you thought that exploring an old chateau might be a boring activity for your kids, prepare to be wrong. There’s a rack of historical costumes where kids can use imaginative play to pretend they are people who used to live and work in this chateau.
There’s also a designated area where kids and parents can dig for artifacts. Families can grab buckets and tools and step inside their own archeological dig site. This activity lasts about 30 minutes and would be perfect for kids of any age.
Plus, there’s a scavenger hunt to encourage kids to explore the entire museum.
5 Reasons Kids Will Love Exploring Under Dufferin Terrace
- It’s underground. That adds a whole other level of “coolness” to any museum.
- There are kids activities. Children can dig for their own artifacts, dress up in costumes, and go on a scavenger hunt.
- They will love the skylights. Kids can try to surprise tourists peaking in the skylights by making silly faces or doing a crazy dance.
- Most of the artifacts were found in toilets. If your kids are as into toilets as mine, they will think it’s hysterical that so many of the items on display were found in latrines.
- There’s an ice cream shop nearby. Before/after your explore the site, grab an ice cream cone and peak in the skylights!
5 Reasons Parents Should Visit Saint-Louis Forts and Châteaux National Historic Site
- It’s cold. After exploring the beauty of Old Quebec, you’ll probably want a chance to cool down.
- Kids under 18 years old are FREE. I really don’t need to say anything else.
- Adults are cheap. As of 2018, adult admission is only $3.90CAD while seniors re $3.40CAD. When it comes to tourist attractions in Quebec, that’s really affordable.
- There are benches. If you want to sit back and soak up some cool air, you’ve come to the right place!
- This counts as an “educational” part of your vacation. If you want to feel really good about yourself as a parent, you can tell the other parents at home that you took your kids to an archeological site during summer break!
How to Get There
The Saint-Louis Forts and Châteaux National Historic Site is located in Québec City, the capital of Quebec. The city is easily accessible from Montréal in under three hours by highway and public transit.
To access the Saint-Louis Forts and Châteaux national historic site, come to the Frontenac Kiosk, located on the Dufferin Terrace (at the corner of St. Louis Street and Du Fort Street). You’ll be able to purchase tickets there.
BUSIEST TIMES FOR SAINT-LOUIS FORTS AND CHATEAU NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
Summer is the busiest time to visit Chateau Saint-Louis. And holidays can make for even bigger crowds in Quebec City with kids. So, the following dates might be busier than others:
- St-Jean-Baptiste Day (June 24)
- Canada Day (July 1)
- Event: Festival d’été de Québec (July 5 to July 15, 2018)
- Labour Day (first Monday of September)
BEST DAYS/TIMES TO VISIT
If your schedule allows, plan to visit the Saint-Louis Forts and Châteaux National Historic Site in the spring or fall. In 2018, they will be open from May 19 until October 8.
I was part of a press trip. All opinions are my own.
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