Visiting Quebec City in Winter with a Baby or Toddler

Author: Christina and Celine Brewer

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We’ve been dreaming of a white Christmas and longing to take a trip across the pond to the European Christmas markets. But, alas, our Christmases have not been snowy, and extreme jet lag with a toddler did not sound appealing.

So, if you live in North America like us, and you’re longing for a small city to explore in the winter with lots of holiday charm, then look no further than Quebec City. We were in awe of how kid-friendly Quebec city is and how easy it was to get around.

Quebec City in Winter with Toddler

Not only did we love our time in Quebec City with a toddler at winter, but our toddler is still asking to go back.

Toddler at Christmas Market in Quebec City in Winter

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When to Visit Quebec City in Winter

If you are looking for the best time to visit Quebec City in the the winter, then both December and February are excellent choices. Quebec City is not only beautiful but also popular in both December and February.

Visiting Christmas Market in Quebec City with Toddler

If you plan a winter visit to Quebec City in December, you will get to experience Christmas Markets. Quebec City in December has German Christmas Markets spread across the old city (typically from late November to late December).

Visiting Quebec City in February gives you a chance to experience the famous Winter Carnival.

Dog sledding in Quebec with a toddler

How to Get From the Quebec City Airport to your Hotel with a Baby or Toddler

If you fly into Jean-Lesage Airport, you can take a train, taxi, or car service from the airport to your hotel.

Rental cars are also available, but unless you are driving to Quebec City, I’d recommend avoiding parking inside the walled city. The parking is limited in the city walls and valet parking comes at a high cost.

Where to Stay in Quebec City with a Baby or Toddler

If you want to be able to park your car, and walk around the city, then Old Quebec (Vieux-Québec) is the best place to stay for a short visit. This walled section of the city is dotted with hotels, restaurants, shops, and parks. Here are our recommended Quebec City hotels with a baby or toddler:

City view of Frontenac - Quebec City in winter

Fairmont Le Château Frontenac

Quebec City is home to the iconic Fairmont Le Château Frontenac. While this is a luxury hotel, we found that the Chateau Frontenac can be more affordable than other hotels in the Fairmont portfolio.

Chateau Frontenac at Night - Visiting Quebec City in winter

We recommend a winter stay at the Frontenac for a few reasons. This is one of the few hotels that has programming designed for families; there is a large pool, game room, and daily activities to entertain your children. There are also multiple on site restaurants, a Starbucks on the street level, and the hotel sits right above the Christmas market.

Rooms at Chateau Frontenac - places to stay in Quebec City with a toddler

In addition, the Château Frontenac looks out on the St. Lawrence River and it is right next to the 1884 toboggan (more on that later).

When we visited in December, there were Christmas trees all over the lobby; if you are hoping to get in the holiday spirit, then this is the place to go.

Lobby decorated for Christmas at Chateau Frontenac

Hotel Manoir Victoria

The Hotel Manoir Victoria is a four star hotel that’s also located inside the walled Old Quebec, just down the street from ice-skating and a smaller section of the Christmas Market.

We appreciated that this Quebec City hotel is very close to restaurants and shops plus it is located on a quieter side street.

While staying at Hotel Manoir Victoria with a toddler, you’ll appreciate the spacious rooms with two queen beds plus room for a pack and play or toddler travel bed. We also had a large mini-fridge that could store some drinks and yogurt pouches for our toddler.

A bonus for this hotel was the heated bathroom floors, which were lovely when we were coming back from the pool. In the basement level, you will find a gym, locker room, sauna, and shallow pool- perfect for kids to play, and just enough room for adults to swim a few laps.

If you like to stay with popular chain hotels, then there is also a Marriott at Place D’Youville (near the ice skating rink).

Apartment rentals in Quebec City with Toddler or Baby

Both AirBnb and VRBO boast many affordable listings for Quebec City. Many of the accommodations will be condos, but this can be a great choice if you want to be able to cook meals for yourself.

Getting Around Quebec City with Toddlers or Babies

Quebec City is small, and we never needed to take more than 15 minutes to get anywhere in Old Quebec.

When we had our first outing in Quebec City to the Christmas markets and dinner, I was sure that bringing our City Mini stroller out in the snow throughout hilly city streets would not be worth the effort, so we grabbed a soft-structured toddler carrier instead. Turns out we were wrong, as there were strollers and Thule chariots all over the city at the Christmas markets.

Walking in Quebec City with toddler in carrier

While many parents had baby-wearing coats for their infants, most of the toddlers were cozy inside a stroller or chariot. We recommend a stroller bag and a rain or wind cover, to help keep your baby or toddler warm and cozy.

However, if you are heading out to a restaurant, leave the larger stroller at your hotel as the sidewalks will be busy and you will not want to leave it outside.

1884 toboggan view from Chateau Frontenac

See all our recommendations for baby and toddler gear for traveling in winter

Eating out in Quebec City with Babies or Toddlers

There are three main streets in Old Quebec City that offer a plethora of restaurants: Rue Saint-Jean, Rue Saint-Louis, and Rue du Petit Champlain.

Palliards - places to eat in Quebec City with toddler

Here are some of our favorite places to eat with a toddler or baby in Quebec City.

Palliard’s

For breakfast, a coffee, and a quick meal, stop at Palliard’s. This boulangerie has pastries, breads, sandwiches, and coffee/espresso drinks. It’s a great spot for take out, and easy to send one grown-up out to collect food while the other stays at the hotel.

Pastries at Palliards

Les Trois Garçons

We saw at least 4 families here while we stopped in for an early dinner. The appetizers were delicious- the children’s menu included a hearty potion of poutine,

eating Poutine in Quebec City with toddler

Le Casse-Crêpe Breton

This is a cozy crepe restaurant that allows you to customize your meal. We found that it was great for our family because the toddler could indulge in a fruit crepe, while the grown-ups ate a more satisfying meal. They are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

toddler eating at restaurant in Quebec City

Restaurant La Bûche

Sugar shacks are popular all over Quebec, but if you’re looking for the sugar shack experience in December, your options will be limited. Enter, La Buche. A quirky, noisy, and tasty twist on traditional Quebec cuisine, right in the city (and just a few blocks away from Chateau Frontenac).

By the end of our three days, my daughter (3) was a little bored with eating out, but when we took her to La Buche, she was very excited. The kids menu even includes a maple candy treat, or you can request to make your own candy on a chute of ice.

Travel Tip: La Buche requires reservations, and they will charge you if you do not show up, so make sure you will be able to attend. We went when they opened at 5pm and were able to make the reservation all the way up until 3:30pm the same day.

Cochon Dingue

Cochon Dingue is a chain bistro-style restaurant with five locations. We appreciated the affordable menu, quick service, and tasty food. They also have a wonderful children’s menu for $9.95. If you are in a rush, want to order online, or have a hangry crew, then this is a great place to stop.

Best Things to do in Québec City with a Baby or Toddler

Au 1884 Toboggan (Dufferin Terrace)

If you have an adventurous toddler (or two) you can squeeze a family of four on a traditional toboggan. The Au 1884 Toboggan Slide is open from mid-December to mid-March. While it’s a quick ride, for $4 CAD per person, it’s an affordable and memorable activity.

1884 Toboggan

Our daughter squealed with delight during the ride and we saw many families sliding down the icy chute. For logistics, you buy the tickets inside the cafe at the bottom of the toboggan, wait in line to grab a sled, and then pull it up to the top yourself. From there, you will be guided on how to sit properly and secure everyone into the toboggan.

walking up 1884 toboggan in Quebec City in winter with a toddler

Travel Tip: We left our stroller parked at the bottom while we waited for our turn. There are no public bathrooms near here, except in the hotel, which is not easily accessible. Even though there is a cafe and a Starbucks, neither had public restrooms. Plan to stop by City Hall or at another restaurant on your way to the toboggan.

1884 toboggan with toddler in Quebec City in winter

Old City Funicular

Quebec City is known for its hills and many steps, so if you are out and about in the Petit- Champlain area at the bottom of those steps, you can take Le Funiculaire du Vieux-Québec up to Dufferin Terrace and end at Fairmont Le Château Frontenac.

The main entrance of the funicular is located at 16 rue Petit-Champlain. Children under 46 inches are free, and strollers are permitted, but they must fold flat. You do not buy tickets in advance, but rather pay $4 per person upon arrival.

Ice-skating at Place D’Youville

If you’re traveling with an older toddler in Quebec, or you just want to sit and enjoy the holiday atmosphere, then the ice-skating rink at Place D’Youville is a wonderful place to visit. Entrance to the ice-skating rink (patinoire) is free and there is a rental facility right next to the rink  (which includes lockers and a restroom).

toddler skating at Place d'Youville Quebec City

The cost of rentals for a parent and toddler, which included a helmet, was around $18 CAD. Once you are out on the ice, you can find skate trainers to keep you and your little one from falling down.

renting skates in Quebec City with toddler in winter

As a bonus, part of the German Christmas Market (Marché de Noël Allemand) is right next to the rink. The Christmas magic is further magnified by a multimedia animation that is projected on Le Diamant building. If you want to have an iconic early evening, then this is the place to be, making it an ideal thing to do in Quebec City with toddlers.

Ice skating with toddler at Place d'Youville - visiting Quebec in winter with toddler

Sledding in the City

Quebec City’s hills come in handy when you’re looking to go sledding without leaving the city. If you visit between January and March, many locations will be open.

There is free sledding on the banks of the Charles River at the Pointe-aux-Lièvres park. You can rent inner tubes, and sledding is free.

Benjo Toy Store

Benjo was a treat for us to visit; in fact, it’s the only toy store we’ve visited since our daughter was born. You can take a long stroller walk to Benjo from Old Quebec, but you could also drive if you have a car. If you visit before Christmas, this is also a great store to pick up gifts for friends and family.

We were especially impressed with their doll selection (and doll clothing) and their puzzles. If you miss iconic toy stores like FAO Schwarz, and do most of your shopping online, then this is a lovely place to visit.

Mega Parc

Mega Parc is a great indoor activity in Quebec City for toddlers. This indoor amusement park is attached to the mall and the movie theater.

Toddler skating at Mega Park

Inside, you will find a carousel, a ferris wheel, a soft play structure, and a large skating loop.

The skating is more expensive than Place D’Youville, but you will have more room to skate, and since it’s indoors, you never have to worry about being too cold. We went on a weekday afternoon and it was surprisingly busy with new and experienced skaters alike.

Aquarium du Quebec

Another fun indoor activity for toddlers in Quebec City is the aquarium, which is managed by Sepac. The Aquarium du Qeubec is open all throughout the winter and includes freshwater species as well as saltwater species from both the Atlantic and the Pacific. Arctic animals like polar bears, harbor seals, and walruses also have habits here.

Activities near Quebec City with a Baby or Toddler

If you have more time and a rental car, here are more fun activities near Quebec City with a baby or toddler.

Montmorency Falls

While this is more for parents, we saw plenty of babies and toddlers bundled up for a walk out to view Montmorency Falls (or Parc de la Chute-Montmorency in French). These falls are taller than Niagara Falls, but more accessible, since they are not nearly as wide, and they are located only 15 minutes from Old Quebec.

Once you park in the lot, head past the restaurant, down the stairs, to the trail. Then you will have a long, paved path that you can take to get to some of the viewpoints and look out over the St. Lawrence River.

Beyond the first major lookout, there are stairs, but we noticed many parents carrying their strollers up the stairs to take a walk across the falls on the bridge. Visiting Montmorency Falls with a baby or toddler is easiest if you have a car.

If you’re like us and have an occasional napper, then you can use the time to drive out to the falls and take turns exploring while your toddler sleeps.

Jacques Cartier National Park with a Baby or Toddler

We love national parks and we love them even more when they are not far from a major city. Parc national de la Jacques Cartier is less than 45 minutes away from downtown Quebec.

toddler sledding in Jacque Cartier National Park Quebec in Winter
Kicksledding with toddler - best things to do near Quebec City in winter with toddler

The park’s discovery and visitor’s center boasts clean bathrooms, a fireplace, lots of tables, a small store, and many options for gear rental. You can walk (or ski) right out the door and find yourself on a snow-packed trail. There is even one Thule Chariot Cross Country Ski Kit available to rent for 1 hour (when we visited this was available for free).

Other rental options include:

  • Children’s sleds: free
  • Kicksleds (aka chair sleds, or Finnish chairs): $11 per hour
  • Cross country skis $16 per hour

We ended up always taking a sled and a kicksled out on our outings. Rentals are by the hour, and as one smart park ranger said “an hour is enough” with little kids. She was right; we found that after an hour, we were a bit chilly and worn out. But these were such fun activities with a toddler.

toddler kicksledding at Jacques Cartier National Park

If you’re driving to Quebec, or willing to fly with a pile of sleeping bags, you can spend the night in one of their cabins, available for booking via Sepaq’s website. (While the EXP cabins have full kitchens and bathrooms, they do not come with linens.)

Snow covered cabin in Jaques Cartier National Park
Outside of Cabin in Jacques Cartier National Park

Dog-sledding near Quebec City with a Toddler

We spent a lot of time researching reputable and family-friendly dog-sledding outings near Jacques Cartier National Park. We settled on Aventures Nord Bec Stoneham because they offer a family-friendly package that includes a short lesson and safety briefing, a 15-minute guided ride through the trails, and treats with hot beverages afterwards.

While 15 minutes may not sound like a lot, we found it was perfect for us, especially since the person driving the sled is standing and has to work hard.

Toddler inside at Aventures Nord - Quebec City

Aventures Nord Bec is located just a few miles from the national park, and less than 40 minutes from Quebec City, not far from highway 73. The White Fang package in low season was $49 for each adult. Children under 2 and women who are pregnant are not allowed, so this only works for older toddlers.

You also need to have two adults participate: one to drive the sled and one to hold your toddler. This was perfect for our family of 3, but may be more complicated for larger families.

dog sledding with toddler in Quebec City in Winter

Valcartier Vacation Village

If you’re looking for more winter adventures outside of the city, Village Vacances Valcartier is reported to be the largest winter park in America. This park features snow tubes and rafts which can hold up to 12 people. There is also an indoor waterpark at the same location.

If you’re traveling with children of varying ages, or on a multi-generational trip, this could be a wonderful place to spend a day outing.

However, if you have a sleepy baby or toddler who can only handle a couple hours of excitement at a time, then this may not be the best use of your time or money. We ultimately opted to skip it and save it for a return visit.

What to Pack for Winter in Quebec City with a Baby or Toddler

All around the city, we saw families wearing their snow pants, especially while they were enjoying the Christmas markets. While at first we felt strange doing this (as we are not from a land of snow), we soon realized that going out without them was too risky for our toddler.

toddler petting dogs while dog sledding Quebec City in winter

You will inevitably have a kid who wants to sit on a wall that is covered with snow while they eat a snack, so plan accordingly. We would recommend packing and wearing the following:

If you get to Quebec City and realize that you need more winter gear, there is a large MEC store about 15 minutes outside of the downtown area.

And to be honest, as Americans, we always visit all the MEC stores we can find because the selection for children is more diverse and affordable than the REI stores in the states.

Where to Shop in Quebec City for a Baby or Toddler

If you need to restock on supplies for your baby or toddler, you will probably need to venture outside of the Old City. There are two IGA grocery stores, a smaller IGA Deschênes that is walking distance (with a stroller) from the old city.

If you have a car, IGA Poulin is located outside of the town, just across the St. Charles River. There is also a Walmart on boulevard Lebourgneuf near the mall/ Mega Parc amusement center.

More Toddler Travel Tips

Visiting Quebec City with a toddler in winter

This post was written & edited by:

Hiking with Baby in Acadia National Park
Christina
Website | + posts

Christina and her husband, Justin, were raised on the east coast of the U.S., but have an affinity for the west, and especially America's National Parks. When they welcomed their baby girl into the world they wanted to introduce her to many National Parks in her lifetime, both in the US and abroad. They continue to travel with their (now) toddler in tow, and introduce her to as many parks in the United States and abroad as possible.

info@babycantravel.com | Website | + posts

Celine Brewer is the owner of Baby Can Travel. Not only does she have years of experience traveling with babies & toddlers, but she's helped millions of new parents travel with their babies and toddlers for over a decade. In addition to writing on her baby travel blog, she has shared her expertise on traveling with a baby or toddler by contributing to articles about traveling with a baby with the Washington Post, USA Today, the Lonely Planet magazine and Pregnancy & Newborn magazine.

Celine also writes about family travel on the site FamilyCanTravel.com, which she co-owns with her husband. Being from the Canadian Rockies, she shares her passion about her home and travel to Banff National Park and area on their site TravelBanffCanada.com.

Read more about Celine Brewer.