All the reasons why Montreal had me saying YASSS in the summer

Dance group from Montreal

June to August is peak tourist season in Montreal for good reason. The weather is amazing (as in, temperatures in the mid-to high 70s = ZERO wind-chill factor); they have multiple outdoors festivals and events (many of which are free); good food abounds everywhere; and the city transforms into a pulsing hub of non-stop activity. Add pedestrian-friendly streets, a good public transport system, plus a Parisienne look and feel (with friendly locals) to that and you have a sure winner in my book.

These are some of the reasons Montreal is likely to win you over, too.

Multiple Festivals Busy street scene in Montreal, Canada

Although I was told the city is teaming with fun options year round, it seems things come to a glorious crescendo in the summer. Music lovers can rock to indie beats at Osheaga, a multi-day festival that happens across six stages at Montreal’s Parc Jean-Drape.au, or savor soulful sounds at the Montreal Jazz Festival, which was verified by Guinness World Record in 2004 as the largest jazz festival in the world. With 20 stages, and reportedly close to 3,000 artists from more than 30 countries and 650+ concerts, it’s hard to imagine any other saxophone-trumpet-trombone party rivaling that. Events on outdoor stages are free, but you pay for those held inside concert halls.

Are electronic music and digital arts more your thing? Don’t worry, Montreal has you covered with MUTEK, too. And if you enjoy bass-heavy rhythmic sounds of music with African and Afro-Caribbean roots, I have two words for you – Nuits D’Afrique.

If you take your humor seriously, plan to check out Just For Laughs. It’s a four-day comedy show that features the likes of sought-after performers like Jim Carrey, Trevor Noah, Howie Mandel, Girls Trip breakout star, Tiffany Haddish, and many more.

Street side performances Festival performers in MOntreal, Canada

I can’t tell you how delightful it was to be able to walk a few blocks from my hotel on rue Jeanne-Mance and run into both amateur and skilled artists giving spontaneous or scheduled performances. Whether it was high-flying acrobats from Montréal Cirque Festival or La Rue Complètement Cirque doing dizzying stunts, or outdoor entertainers of every age and genre dancing, or singing while strumming home-made and/or impromptu instruments, the city’s talented and unofficial emissaries always managed to capture and hold my attention.

A vibrant arts scene Outdoor art installation in Montreal Canada

From the visually and structurally diverse outdoor art installations to impressively curated art galleries and museums bolstered by a budding underground movement, Montreal’s thriving art scene is ripe to be explored. I snapped photos of arresting curbside sculptures, and snuck into the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal (casually described as the MAC) to while away half a day viewing interactive and engaging exhibits from some of the world’s top contemporary creatives. I wasn’t in town long enough to also check out the Museum of Fine Arts, but I heard it has an impressive permanent collection of classic and modern visual pieces that’s free for everyone under 30. Of course, to guarantee repeat business, they also showcase temporary exhibitions on a rotating basis.

The fusion food lovers’ dream Sample trays of poutine in Montreal

I read a GQ article that labelled Montreal ‘a contender for continental culinary champion’, and when I got there I realized the writer wasn’t exaggerating. The food tastes like a fresh take on French cuisine mixed with exotic flavors from around the globe, no doubt brought in by residents from this self-proclaimed ‘nation of immigrants’.

Signature dishes include sesame-seed coated bagels; poutine, a calorie-laden snack of cheese curds served on top of fries and covered with gooey gravy; and smoked-meat sandwiches. You can sample all this gastronomic goodness on several of the city’s food tours, at local food fairs, or by popping into one of their many restaurants. My cab driver recommended Schwartz’s Deli for sandwiches and my conference packet had tempting Two for One specials on marinated pig knuckles and smoked meat at Brisket Montréal – Salon Krausmann. I didn’t get to try either place, but I can tell you this: I didn’t have a bad meal anywhere.

The architecture, the floral blooms, and the strong sense of community Old Montreal Building and flower maple leaf

Whether you’re walking down the cobblestone streets of Old Montréal, meandering through Vieux-Port, exploring downtown and Little Italy, or hiking up to the Plateau Mont-Royal, you’ll be in for a treat. Expect to be blown away by the dramatic cityscapes, the beautifully landscaped parks and gardens, and the feeling of being an observer of something larger than yourself. Because deep-rooted history and culture are evident everywhere.

Go visit Notre Dame Square to see the famous cathedral where Celine Dion got married, which is surrounded by a combination of neoclassical, art deco and Gothic revival building styles all in one place. And while you’re out and about, check out the colorful west side where stately gas lamps that never go off line some streets. Or, as you get closer to the International Quarter, step inside the World Trade Center to see a piece of the Berlin Wall that was donated to the city for its 350th anniversary. Of course, everywhere you turn you’ll also be able to revel in the city’s colorful summer blooms.

There’s a perfect Instagram opportunity around every corner

In today’s world, you haven’t truly gone on vacation if there’s no evidence of it on social media, right? HA. Well, you can read about some of my top recommended spots for photos here:

8 Made-for-Instagram spots in Montreal, Canada

When you go, I hope you have a good trip!


Now about this post. If you like it, you better put a PIN on it, okurrr.  Why are you raising your brow like that? Look at you looking like you didn’t know I was a  lil crazy (lol).

Easy hotel room hacks you need to learn and bookmark right now

Did you know your hotel room key card, which we’ve been taught to place and leave in a slot on the wall to power the lights in our room, may not be needed for that purpose after all? Neither did I. At least not until earlier this year when I read about London resident Katyagar Moonagon who showed her Twitter followers that using another card with the same shape and size was possible. She came up with this innovative solution when she wanted to charge her battery pack while eating dinner (downstairs), but needed her keycard. Naturally, her tweet went viral. 

Cool, huh? That bit of news got me wondering if there were other hotel room hacks (i.e. tips and insider tricks) I could be unaware of that could change everything I thought I knew about vacation stays. So, I did some research and put this short list together.

Convert your AC unit into a room humidifier.
You can add moisture to the sometimes unbearable dry air in these no-open-window-allowed rooms (that can parch your skin and make your nostrils burn) by placing a wet towel near the room’s air conditioning unit and waiting for a little breeze to kick in. Give it a few minutes to circulate and you’ll soon be breathing easier.

No iron? No problem.
Whether your room lacks an iron, or you just lack the energy to pull out a board and press that rebellious, wrinkled shirt or dress into submission, don’t despair. All you have to do is hang your creased item of clothing near to where you’re living your best life (while singing and dancing to Despacito)) in your piping hot morning shower and— ba ba boom — the mist acts as a natural steamer that zaps the crushed look in no time.

The heated towel rack (or A/C) moonlights as a clothes dryer.
If you’re away from home for more than a week and did not travel with two or more suitcases, at some point you’ll have to do laundry. Before you spend a fortune using the property’s dry-cleaning service, throw yourself into a little light hand washing party and then use the heated towel racks to dry your clothes. If there are none, hang them by the a/c instead and crank it to almost frigid.  That works like a charm!

Want to binge watch a few movies? Well, go big or go home.
Did you know you can use an HDMI cable to connect your laptop to your in-room television to get that big screen experience without the on-demand movie cost? Just sign in to your Netflix account and hook yourself up to that flat screen, baby! After all, their tag line doesn’t say “watch anywhere” without good reason.

Make your own curtain claps.
Are you one of those people who can’t sleep well if there is even a slither of light filtering into the room? If that’s the case, grab a few pants/skirt hangers from the closet and use them to clip the edges of the drapes together to get the room to your acceptable level of dark. Many people vouch for this trick to get a night filled with satisfying zzzs.

A simple trick of plastic proportions.
Ever notice there’s a plastic bag in your ice bucket and a free shower cap on the bathroom counter that you may not use? Both of them can come in handy if you need to wrap up a wet swim suit before stowing it in your suitcase, or if you need something to act as a divider between your clothes and dirty shoes. Having access to that plastic makes you a better packer, my friends.

Use your television as a charging station.
When you travel internationally you often see power outlets that look nothing like the ones we’re used to at home.  If you don’t have the right plug adapter with you (keeping in mind there are about 15 types of electrical outlets in use worldwide), things can get a little tricky.  Fortunately for us, manufacturers are now making televisions with a USB slot on the back we can use to charge small devices like phones and camera battery packs.  All you have to do is take off the plug, attach the cord, turn on the TV, and…VOILA, the power juice will flow.


What hotel room hacks do you use? Please share them in the comments section below.

Easy hotel hacks you need to learn and bookmark right now