Many students are at a loss for places to catch-up with friends and maintain a social life while staying safe during the ongoing pandemic. Parks are the perfect place for students to ensure their safety and enjoy the fall in Montreal. While the sun is still shining and the leaves are beginning to change shades, the many beautiful parks throughout the city allow for easy social distancing, whether used for studying, resting, or simply mingling with friends. Here’s The McGill Tribune’s list of no-brainer spots to chill that are close to campus, along with a couple of hidden gems.
1. Mont Royal Park
Although this might seem like an obvious first choice, this Montreal namesake is incomparable. Overlooking the city, Mont Royal has both beautiful vistas and sprawling green space. Mont Royal boasts many unique attractions, including Beaver Lake, a sculpture garden, the Montreal Cross, and an observation deck. The hike up the mountain is also a great way for students to exercise, with the added benefit of allowing people to socially distance themselves from their friends. A sunrise hike to the top of Mont Royal is a must before graduating from McGill. Other than the standard Kondiaronk Belvedere and Colline de la Croix lookouts, students can access the Camillien-Houde Boulevard lookout by car for a more accessible route with an equally beautiful view.
2. Parc La Fontaine
For those looking to venture into the Plateau or for students who live nearby, Parc La Fontaine is a must-visit. Spanning 84 acres with two connected ponds and, as the name suggests, a fountain, this park is waiting to be explored. Perfect for socially distanced picnics, walks with friends through the gardens, or as an addition to a running route, Parc La Fontaine is teeming with weekend potential. While the onsite restaurant and chalet are closed due to current public health recommendations, there are still sport courts free to use throughout the park.
3. Rutherford Park
This park is ranked third solely on its spectacular view, available without the effort of hiking up a mountain. Located at the top of McTavish Street, this easily-walkable park looks over McGill, downtown Montreal, and if you look carefully enough, Old Port. Additionally, the park has a soccer field free of charge when the field is vacant. For availability, check out the McGill Athletics Calendar.
4. Parc du Portugal
This park is small, but mighty. Located off of St. Dominique and St. Laurent Blvd, Parc du Portugal consists of a quaint gazebo surrounded by walkways and several tiled benches. Parc du Portugal was also one of Leonard Cohen’s favorite spots in Montreal. Right off the bustling St. Laurent Blvd, this safe escape is great for enjoying takeout meals with friends or relaxing after visiting the nearby stores and restaurants. While the park is lovely in and of itself, the street artwork that adorns the surrounding area is also worth the visit.
5. The Playground at Old Port
This park is located in Old Montreal, overlooking the St. Lawrence River and the Montreal Observation Wheel. While there are many lovely squares and parks throughout Old Montreal, The Playground at Old Port made the list due to its picturesque river view and its vacation-like feel. Located right on the water and often full of tourists, this park can help trick students into thinking they are on vacation for the day. With a playground and ample space to sit along the river, this beautiful location is perfect for socially-distanced gatherings. Additionally, the walk from McGill down to the river is a great escape from the monotony of student life.
6. Jeanne Mance Park
While most students have probably either been to or passed by Jeanne Mance Park, this is nonetheless a beautiful spot to visit all year long. With scenic views of the sunset and trees ready for autumn’s glow, this park is a central meeting spot between the Milton Parc neighbourhood, the Plateau, Outremont, and the Mile End. Additionally, the park has many sports courts that the public can reserve.
7. Dorchester Square
This downtown park is a short walk off of St. Catherine Street, at the corner of Peel Street and René-Lévesque Boulevard West. Whether students are back-to-school shopping and need an outdoor break, or just looking for green space in downtown Montreal, Dorchester Square is the place. Flanked by renaissance style buildings, including the Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral, this spot is great for catching up with friends or simply enjoying the fresh air.
Great article. Really practical and written with a painterly expression.