Since moving Zutano from New York City to Montpelier Vermont, founders Michael and Uli Belenky have gotten their big city fix by driving the quick 2-1/2 hour road trip to Montreal. Over the years, they’ve become major Montreal fans, and happily share their favorite places and tips for visiting the city.

Montreal Skyline

by Michael & Uli Belenky, founders of Zutano

First off, let me say that Montreal is a great choice for traveling with kids. It’s relatively safe, and it’s relaxed with an abundance of parks and outdoor cafes and cultural events galore. With Montreal being the second largest French-speaking city in the world, it’s like having Paris in your back yard. Everyone will have a great time, and… it’s never too early to expose babies to a second language.

Of course, you should go to the Montréal Biodôme Insectarium and Old Port but here are some other thoughts as well.

Where To Stay
We would recommend staying at Casa Bianca overlooking Mount Royal Park at the edge of the colorful Plateau neighborhood. It’s a grand historic white stone house that used to be the city’s first Jewish medical clinic. The rooms are quirky but elegant with high ceilings and a claw foot tubs in the middle of the rooms

Great for Biking
Montreal is one of North America’s most bicycle friendly cities. With over 350 Kilometers of trails, one of our favorites and a great trail to ride with kids is along the Lachine Canal (stretching 14.5 km from the Old Port to Lake Saint-Louis but of course any small part of it would be fun). Stop to shop for your picnic at the Atwater Market (photos at Flickr), which is a beautiful market with the best cheeses, organic veggies and bakeries. When you are tired of biking or if it starts to rain, just hop onto the Metro where the first car of every train is reserved for people with bicycles ( and a nice way to get up the hill).

After you master the Lachine Canal, check out Route Verte. Officially opened last summer, with over 4,000 km of bicycle trails throughout Quebec, Route Verte is among the ten best bicycle routes in the world, selected by the National Geographic Society.

Places to Eat
Byblos Café (1499, Laurier Est, Montreal H2J 1H8) is one of our favorite weekend brunch spots and very baby friendly. Join the artsy scene and enjoy the café’s wonderful Iranian cuisine. Everything is made with love. Try the feta and fresh herb omelet, Flatbread with rose petal jam and a bowl of café au lait.

For lunch, we love Le Petit Italien (1265, Ave. Bernard). Avenue Bernard is a quiet street with one open café after another. Very nice places to sit and watch the world walk by. Lots of babies in strollers and every place there is a winner.

After lunch just walk down the street and line up for the best ice cream in town at Bilboquet (1311 rue Bernard ouest, Montreal, H2V 1W1).

And let’s not forget … one of the best chocolate in Montreal… Geneviève Grandbois (162, Saint-Viateur Street West, Montréal H2T 2L3 Telephone (514) 394-1000).

Walking the Mile-End
Finally, read this cool article on Spacing Montreal about a walking tour of the intricate back alleyways of Mile-End. It could be a fun and car free place to explore with children. It’s also where neighborhood kids play street hockey and jump rope.

Love Fireworks and Other Festivals
The Montréal international Fireworks Festival is where 10 countries will compete every weekend of the summer for the most spectacular displays in the sky. One of the best Cheap thrills for sure. There are so many festivals celebrating the many cultures that make up the city …check out the Dragon Boat festival at the end of June and the Chinese Lantern Festival in the fall.

For more information, visit the Tourism Montreal website.