Located on the banks of the Saint Lawrence River is Quebec City and it’s bursting with bucket list experiences. From visiting Quebec City’s famous Carnival de Quebec to relaxing at a luxury spa, there is something for everyone’s bucket list. It’s an especially beautiful place to visit during the winter months. From November until March, Quebec City is one giant, enchanted winter playground. Here are our favorite winter activities for your Quebec City winter bucket list.
Quebec City Winter Bucket List
Rush Down a Toboggan Slide
Easily one of the most unique attractions, Quebec City boasts a toboggan slide right in the center of town. After buying a ticket, visitors pull a wooden toboggan up the ramp, then settle onto it before the operator releases the latch, and the sled rushes down the icy track, reaching speeds of up to 70 kilometers an hour.
We picked up tickets and pulled the sled to the base of the slide. When we reached the top, we were given time to get ourselves situated. As I sat on top of the slide with Athena in front of me, I almost cried with overflowing happiness. Every parent dreams of creating memories like this with their children. I wanted to pause time so I could live in that moment just a little bit longer. The rush awaited though and we were thrust forward into a thrilling ride. We’d planned on just doing one slide but we were so excited that we rode four more times in succession.
Check Out the Hotel de Glace
Visiting the Hotel de Glace in Quebec City is a must, especially since it’s one of only a handful of ice hotels in the world. The impressive hotel is completely rebuilt every year with a different theme. You can visit the hotel without staying or get more adventurous and book a room for the night. You can also tie the knot in the frost-covered chapel on site.
The hotel’s architecture is entirely built of snow and ice and it’s as magical as it sounds. There are cocktails served in a glass made of ice and there is a giant ice slide inside the hotel. With 45 themed rooms and suites it’s a lot bigger than you’d anticipate.
Celebrate Carnaval of Quebec
No winter trip to Quebec City is complete without celebrating Carnaval de Quebec. The annual event features massive snow sculptures, a canoe race, family-friendly rides and activities, street parties, and an ice palace. Carnaval of Quebec runs every year from the end of January to mid-February and it’s one of the best things to do in Quebec City.
Stroll Through the Winter Wonderland of Old Quebec
Designated a World Heritage treasure by UNESCO, Old Quebec is the only walled city north of Mexico. From early December to mid-March, Old Quebec is like a fairytale Christmas village with lights, decorations, snow, and delicious smells that draw you into every shop.
Head to Montmorency Falls Park
Open year-round, Montmorency Falls Park is a splendid winter landscape. The waterfall is 272 feet tall and you can take a cable car up the cliff to the top of it. Following the footpath along the top of the cliff, you can walk to the suspended bridge, giving you panoramic vistas of the area. Additionally, you can walk to the base of the falls and stand before it’s towering beauty.
Channel Your Inner Child at Valcartier Winter Playground
Located about 20 minutes from Quebec City, Villages Vacances Valcartier is known as North America’s largest winter playground. It’s the largest winter playground in North America. It has 35 snow slides, skating paths, snow rafting, a children’s playground, 5,000 inner tubes, and 17 mechanical lifts. And it’s home to the highest accelerating slide in North America, Everest!
Reaching speeds of up to 80 km/h, riders speed down slopes like the Himalaya while enjoying views of the surrounding Jacques-Cartier river valley. The most unique area at Valcartier Winter Playground is the Tornado and Rafting area. On the Snow Raft, you speed down the slopes riding in one of their 12 passenger rafts, while the Tornado accommodates up to 8 people and is equipped with a special mechanism that makes it swirl. Even when you stop, it keeps on spinning.
Dogsled with Chenil La Poursuite
Dogsledding in Quebec City seems to go hand-in-hand. You already have an unbelievable outdoor winter playground and a pack of over 250 beautiful Malamute Husky sled dogs await at Chenil La Poursuite. It’s one bucket list item that the whole family can enjoy. The only down side is that you’ll want to take all the dogs home with you.
Swim in an Outdoor, Heated Pool at Valcartier Aroma Spa
Valcartier Aroma Spa is open to families on Saturday and Sunday mornings. You can schedule one of their personalized services in the morning while your partner takes care of the kids in the baths and pool area and then swap for some time with the kids while your partner has their own personalized spa time.
The spa area includes 8 care rooms, a steam bath, a Finnish sauna, an outdoor hot bath, 2 cold baths, an indoor/outdoor pool, and a relaxing area with fireplace and tea bar. We opted for a relaxing Swedish massage, which made the outdoor hot tub even more inviting when we finished.
Splash Your Way to Fun at Bora Parc
Everything about Bora Parc screams Quebec City winter bucket list and there are options for all age and adventure levels. Save plenty of time for Bora Parc because there is a 4,000 sq ft wave pool, more than 14 slides, a family pool, a river, a double surf wave, and a restaurant-terrace. Although we did stay at the hotel, Bora Parc is open to the public so you don’t need to stay to play.
Our favorite family experience in Bora Parc was the river. The temperature was comfortable and there were unique surprises around every corner.
Where to stay in Quebec City
Fairmont Chateau Frontenac is considered one of Canada’s most iconic hotels. You can’t beat the location, service, or epic views.
Hotel 71 isn’t as central as Fairmont Chateau Frontenac but it’s just steps away from Quebec City’s Old Port. This urban hotel offers 60 guest rooms and suites with riverside views. The penthouse is remarkable and provides the best view of Fairmont Chateau Frontenac. While the rooms are lovely and the services are great, it is the staff at Hotel 71 that really make it bucket list worthy. I hope you have the pleasure of meeting Matthew while you’re there because he’s worth writing home about.
How to Get There
Driving around Quebec City’s narrow streets can be a tight squeeze sometimes and the hills are steep, but it’s worth the adventure. We drove the 2019 Mazda CX-5 crossover SUV and it was the perfect match for our Quebec City winter bucket list. It’s stylish, safe, and comfortable, and it’s large enough for two adults and a child yet it offers excellent fuel economy. With the freezing temperatures, the heated seats were a treat and the i-ACTIV AWD, automatic emergency braking, and G-Vectoring Control made us feel safe even when the roads were icy.
You could fill an entire winter bucket list at Carnaval of Quebec, Villages Vacances Valcartier, or Montmorency Falls Park. There is so much to do in Quebec City in winter that it’s my favorite time to visit. There’s plenty more to discover but these items should make it to the top of your Quebec City winter bucket list.