If an international weekend destination feels impossible, allow me to plant the following seed: Montreal is a short hour-long flight from New York—but it feels like another world. In the Old Port, limestone-faced buildings recall a maritime past, while in the city’s incomparable Plateau neighborhood, brightly trimmed townhomes and green parks speak to a European sensibility. In Montreal, you can travel far without covering much physical distance. Montreal is a food-lover’s paradise. And it’s right here on the eastern seaboard.
Where to Stay
Opt for a hotel that’s centrally located, like the Hotel Bonaventure, which offers not only prime access to the city but also a year-round, rooftop heated pool. On cooler days, the steam rising from the pool—which is visible from the lobby—creates a mystical ambience.
Where to Eat
You came to Montreal to eat, and eat you shall. You can dine on top of the world at Les Enfants Terribles, which serves classic Quebecois cuisine amplified by an incredible view of the city. At sunset, wraparound glass brings the outdoors inside. Order the foie gras au torchon to begin and the charred, tender octopus to follow. Few meals are as endlessly impressive as dinner at Candide, which changes its menu monthly (they offer a single set menu, featuring only foods from Quebec, with apologies to black pepper). If you’re lucky enough to visit while the weather is still cooperating, sit outside, under a pergola strung with Edison bulbs. A September menu featured a chewy, crusty homemade bread; sugar snap peas bathed in butter; charred broccoli and shiso with puffed rice; and guinea fowl atop summer-sweet corn.
Of course, no trip to Montreal could possibly be complete without a trip to St-Viateur Bagel Shop for bagels. I conducted an unofficial bagel-off, comparing the warm sesame specimens of St-Viateur with its neighbor, Fairmount Bagel. You should do this, too. Also in the Mile End neighborhood is the essential Schwartz’s Deli, where you’ll find the Montrealer version of pastrami on rye: The famous smoked meat. Order yours slightly fatty. Stacked high on bread and topped with yellow mustard, this is a sandwich for the ages. For warm weather cocktails, visit the Canal Lounge in the Little Burgundy neighborhood. This canal-dwelling boat has been converted into an adorable bar with coveted water views from every available vantage point.
What to Do When You’re Not Eating
The list of things to do in Montreal truly is endless. On a recent trip, I hopped on a bike for one of Spade & Palacio’s scenic tours, where we visited Mount Royal Park, the rooftop garden and commissary at Santropol Roulant, and the legendary Jean-Talon Market (a go-to for anyone looking to bring home a bottle of maple syrup or can of foie gras). Actually, you could spend an entire afternoon shopping at Jean-Talon, which is open nearly every day of the year, and where the vendors sell everything from fresh produce to foraged mushrooms to raw goat cheese. Sweat out your feasts at Bota Bota, a spa built into a stationary boat right on the St. Lawrence River. An oasis within the city, Bota Bota boasts stunning indoor and outdoor pools, steam rooms, saunas, and plunge pools—including, for the cold-blooded, a swim platform above the St. Lawrence.
So book your tickets now. Your next adventure is just a little to the north—and it’s waiting for you.