Queen Street West, Toronto

Toronto: Bargains, baseball and blue skies

Cover: West Queen Street West, Toronto
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


We originally planned to spend the month of September in Toronto and had booked and paid for a fabulous apartment between Queen Street West and King Street West back in January for our September stay.

Triad by Ted Bieler, Front Street West, Toronto
Triad by Ted Bieler, Front Street West, Toronto Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

September is a popular month to visit Toronto, with comfortable temperatures and bright blue skies in abundance. September is also when Toronto hosts one of the world’s most attended film festivals, the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). It would have been great – but the owner of the Airbnb canceled our booking in July and there were no good Airbnb options available for re-booking for the entire month of September, so we shortened our time in Montreal by a few days and opted for five days in Toronto.

Old City Hall inToronto on a fabulous late summer day
Old City Hall in Toronto on a fabulous late summer day Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

We’d been to Toronto multiple times in the past – mostly in winter – so, what to do in Toronto for our abbreviated five days in late August? Shopping, baseball and enjoying the perfect weather!

Boats at Toronto Harbourfront
Toronto Harbourfront Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Bargains in Toronto

We seemed to find bargains everywhere we turned in Toronto during our stay.  Soon after checking into our Airbnb at the corner of Spadina and Front Street, we walked a few blocks over to King Street West, where we found the first of our bargains.

King Street West

Kings West Street, Toronto
Kings West Street, Toronto Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

One of the oldest streets in Toronto, King Street dates back to Toronto’s beginnings and today is home to boutiques, large retailers, home goods and décor stores, restaurants, theatres, bars, and hotels. On our early evening stroll down Kings Street West, we happened upon The Red Tomato Bar, a basement level bar with a killer happy hour deal.

The Red Tomato Bar is downstairs below Fred’s Not Here. While the bar is located in the basement, the front of the building is open the upstairs and the street, allowing plenty of light and openness into the bar area. The reward for sitting at the bar – Tomato Hour prices. We each enjoyed Cosmopolitans from the $5 (2oz) martini options and a $5 personal (6″) mushroom pizza. The pizza was topped with King Oyster, Enoki, Shataki and Crimini mushrooms, caramelized onions, Fior di Latte (cheese) and truffle essence. The pizza was good, the drinks tasty, and our 4 martinis and 2 pizzas came with a price tag of $30 CAD, the equivalent of only about $24 USD. What a deal!

The Red Tomato on King Street West, Toronto
The Red Tomato on King Street West, Toronto Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

After dinner, we did a bit of browsing in the stores along King Street and stopped in an outdoor retailer with a “Retiring/Going out of Business” sale. The entire store was 40% off – everything included, with no exclusions.  It was at this spot we were also reminded that Toronto has 13% sales tax, so purchasing decisions took on a bit of a math exercise. In other words… take the price of the item, calculate the price with the discount, add on the anticipated tax, calculate the exchange rate, and then evaluate if a better deal could possibly be had in the U.S. or Europe. Since some outdoor brands and/or items are rarely discounted, we found a few items we felt made the conversion rate+tax cut and were worth the limited space in our bags.

Retiring/Going out of business sale, King St West, Toronto
Retiring/Going out of business sale, King St West, Toronto Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The next evening we once again found ourselves on King Street West for happy hour and this time found a martini deal at the swanky Luma on the 2nd floor of the TIFF Bell Lightbox. Luma holds Magic Hour every day (we were there on a Saturday) from 4 pm to 9 pm with $6 martinis and Manhattans (2 oz). We opted for a couple of classic martinis each and shared chips and dip and mixed nuts for $5 each for munching. Total: $34 CAD or about $27 USD.

Martinis at Luma, TIFF Bell Lightbox‎, Toronto
Martinis at Luma, TIFF Bell Lightbox‎, Toronto Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Queen Street West

Queen Street West, Toronto
Queen Street West, Toronto Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Queen Street West is a trendy district filled with boutiques, galleries, restaurants, bars and a fabulous spot to spend an afternoon. On our visit to the neighborhood, we stopped for lunch in b.good, which sources local, fresh ingredients for its offerings. We opted for the house-made veggie burger with mushrooms, caramelized onions, smoked gouda, and bbq sauce and a power bowl, with kale marinated in lemon, canola oil and Kosher salt, carrots, brussel sprouts, roasted chickpeas, pepitas and topped with tomato vinaigrette and a local egg.  Both were delicious and the flavors in the power bowl were amazing – great food and it didn’t break the bank.

b.good on Queen Street West, Toronto
b.good on Queen Street West, Toronto Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

After lunch, we shopped Queen Street West down to Trinity Bellwoods Park, then looped back the other side to Spadina. Along the way in the West Queen Street West section, we found an incredible sale in a clever little boutique named Logan & Finley. Already discounted items had an additional 20% off and we picked up Prana and Woolrich items at deep discounts – one of the Woolrich tops had a regular price of $45 and we got it for $8 CAD.

Logan & Finley, Queen Street West, Toronto
Logan & Finley, West Queen Street West, Toronto Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Uptown Yonge

Uptown Yonge, Toronto
Uptown Yonge, Toronto Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

While we’d found some great bargains, we were still in search of a good deal on a couple of waterproof shells. A bit of research turned up Sporting Life in the Uptown Yonge district that looked like they had a good selection of outdoor apparel. We hailed an Uber and headed north.

Sporting Life, Toronto
Sporting Life, Toronto Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

A good selection of outdoor equipment was an understatement and the best bargains of the trip were quickly uncovered. We picked up a Canada Goose black label waterproof shell and a Fjällräven waterproof shell, each for 50% off.

Bargains purchased, we strolled back towards downtown reveling in our good finds until we reached Terroni at Yonge and Price in Rosedale and decided we’d saved enough with our bargains to splurge a little. Terroni had been recommended to us by a friend so we headed in for a couple of Aperol spritz and some appetizers. Great bar, excellent food and they have a rooftop patio with views of downtown Toronto.

Aperol Spritz at Terroni, Toronto
Aperol Spritz at Terroni, Toronto Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

And, now for some baseball. Bluejays vs. Redsox

Our apartment was about a block from Rogers Centre, making it extremely convenient for catching a ballgame – and we caught two while the Redsox were in town.

“The Audience” sculpture at Rogers Centre, Toronto
“The Audience” sculpture at Rogers Centre, Toronto
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Originally named the Sky Dome, the Rogers Centre is located in downtown Toronto near the northern shore of Lake Ontario and next to the CN Tower. It has been the home of the Toronto Bluejays since June 5, 1989, and was the first stadium with a fully retractable roof. The roof is closed if the temperature is forecasted to be below 10° C/50° F, if the wind is predicted to be in excess of 64 km/hr, or if the risk of rain at start time is 75% or greater.

Game 1 was on a Monday evening. Monday was the one day out of five that was cloudy most of the day and, even though rain wasn’t in the forecast, I must confess I was hoping a few showers might come through so we could see the roof close. Didn’t happen.

Redsox vs Bluejays, August 28, 2017, Redsox win 6-5, Rogers Centre, Toronto
Redsox vs Bluejays, August 28, 2017, Redsox win 6-5, Rogers Centre, Toronto
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

The Redsox had been in a bit of a slump before arriving in Toronto having lost their last four games. The pitching matchup was Pomeranz for Boston and Stroman for Toronto and the over 35,000 fans showed up to cheer on their teams (ok, it was almost all Toronto fans, so team). The game went down to the wire, but in the end, Boston was victorious, winning 6-5.

Nick Cafardo, National baseball writer
Nick Cafardo, National baseball writer for The Boston Globe. NESN and MLB Network at Rogers Centre, Toronto Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

On Tuesday, Sale took the mound for the Redsox and Anderon for the Bluejays. The Redsox once again took the win 3-0. It once again was a great game on a beautiful evening and Greg Hull evening walked a way with a souvenir.

Redsox win again and a souvenir for Greg Hull, Rogers Centre, Toronto
Redsox win again and a souvenir for Greg Hull, Rogers Centre, Toronto Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Toronto in late summer: Know before you go

Canoes stacked at Toronto Harbourfront
Canoes stacked at Toronto Harbourfront Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Temperature. The average high temperature in Toronto in August is 75°F / 24°C and in September is 72°F / 22°C.  Bring a sweater or a jacket and dress in layers in the evening as the average low in August is 63°F / 17°C and in September is 55°F / 13°C.

Rainfall. Rainfall in August and September averages 40mm-50mm, compared to the rainiest month of July at 60mm.

Bring the sunscreen. Toronto averages 9 hours of sunshine per day in August and 8 hours in September.

Getting to Toronto. Toronto has two airports – Toronto Pearson International Airport and Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. If arriving by train, Union Station is conveniently located in the middle of downtown.

Union Station, Toronto
Union Station, Toronto Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. We received no compensation for this article. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

Boutiques, galleries, bars, and restaurants along Rue Crescent, Montreal, Quebec

Eating (and drinking) in Montreal

Cover: Boutiques, bars, and restaurants along Rue Crescent, Montreal, Quebec
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


During our month long visit to Montreal in August, we sampled our way through quite a few dining and drinking establishments around the city. From quick and simple to celebratory fare, we found Montreal’s dining scene to be tasty and satisfying, with some excellent patio options. Here are a few are our favorites…

L’Avenue

L’Avenue Montreal Eggs Benedict, Montreal, Quebec
L’Avenue Montreal Eggs Benedict, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The first time we walked by L’Avenue we thought the long line out front was waiting for a bus (it was mid-week and there’s a bus stop there, so it was plausible.) Nope. It was the for the awesome food in this quirky eatery with a great staff. They bring skewers of fruit to munch on while you wait for your food to arrive and the Eggs Benedict is worth the wait.

L’Avenue
Time of day visited: Brunch
Location: The Plateau, 922 Mont-Royal Ave E

L’Avenue Montreal fruit skewers
L’Avenue Montreal fruit skewer, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Vegetarian/Vegan

General Copper Bowl at Copper Branch, Montreal, Quebec
General Copper Bowl at Copper Branch, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

It seems like hipsters and vegans/vegetarians seem to have a relationship that falls somewhere between dislike and hate, so the amount of vegan/vegetarian restaurants we found in the Plateau and Mile End was a pleasant surprise. We eat 70%-80% plant-based, so we gave quite a few in the neighborhood a try. Two of our faves – Copper Branch for quick, tasty options and Aux Vivres for a great selection of creative dishes.

Time of day visited: Lunch
Locations:
Copper Branch, multiple locations around Montreal
Aux Vivres: Mile End, 4631 St Laurent Blvd

Ikanos

Greg Hull, Ikanos, Montreal, QuebecWhen looking for a place to celebrate Greg Hull’s birthday, we chose Ikanos and were extremely pleased. Great service, comfortable atmosphere, and superb Greek seafood cuisine. We went early and had a couple of martinis at the bar, then moved to the dining room for dinner. Excellent flavors and the best grilled Octopus we’ve ever had.

Ikanos
Time of day visited: Evening
Location: Old Montreal, 112 Rue McGill #1

Pikolo Espresso Bar

Pikolo Espresso Bar, Montreal
Pikolo Espresso Bar, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Montreal has no shortage of coffee shops and we sampled our fair share of espressos and cappuccinos throughout the month. Our favorite was recommended by a friend that had been in Montreal just before us – Pikolo Espresso Bar. Small, pleasant and unique.

Pikolo Espresso Bar
Time of day visited: Afternoon
Location: Just off Sherbrooke West at Park Avenue, 3418b Park Ave

Les 3 Brasseurs

Beers at Les 3 Brasseurs, Montreal, Quebec
Beers at Les 3 Brasseurs, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

We came across one of the four Les 3 Brasseurs at St Catherine and Crescent on a Sunday afternoon and stopped for a beer (we eventually found all four Montreal locations). The last time we’d been to a Les 3 Brasseurs was almost 20 years ago in Tahiti, so it was a bit nostalgic. We didn’t eat, but it has a nice patio to enjoy a beer or two.

Les 3 Brasseurs
Time of day visited: Afternoon
Location: 1356 St Catherine West

Sea Salt and Ceviche Bar

SeaSalt & Ceviche Bar, Montreal, Quebec
SeaSalt & Ceviche Bar, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

We had a very late lunch at Sea Salt and Ceviche Bar, which is located just across from Alexandra Pier in Old Montreal. Great patio with comfortable teak furniture and a nice view. After cocktails – they only serve Grey Goose vodka, so that simplified things in the vodka selection process – we started with ceviche. We were a bit surprised at the limited ceviche offerings given the restaurant name, but it was quite good. Next, we both had the Citrus Salad which consists of kale, spinach, Mujol dates, Kalamata & Cerignola olives, grapefruit, oranges & toasted black rice. Spectacular! We whiled away the rest of the afternoon with a bottle of rosé wine, which made for a pretty nice finish to a relaxing, enjoyable lunch.

SeaSalt & Ceviche Bar
Time of day visited: Late afternoon
Location: Old Montreal, 351 Place Royale

Dirty Pizza

Dirty Pizza on Mont-Royal, The Plateau, Montreal, Quebec
Dirty Pizza on Mont-Royal, The Plateau, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Our apartment was located directly across from Dirty Pizza on Mont-Royal and after watching the sheer volume of people that frequent the place, we decided we needed to indulge in a pie. We were pleased to find creative combinations and opted for the Angry Goat which is topped with goat cheese, roasted red peppers, pesto sauce, a balsamic reduction. Great crust and super tasty pizza.

Dirty Pizza
Time of day visited: Late evening
Location: Plateau-Mile End, 25 Mont-Royal Ave E

Taverne Gaspar

Taverne Gaspar, Auberge du Vieux-Port, Montreal
Taverne Gaspar, Auberge du Vieux-Port, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Located at Auberge du Vieux-Port, Taverne Gaspar is casual, comfortable and has a great patio in Old Montreal. We had cocktails and dinner on the patio and then moved inside to the bar for after dinner drinks. Service was good both inside and out, the food was ok, but it’s a really great spot to meet for drinks.

Taverne Gaspar
Time of day visited: Evening
Location: Old Montreal at Auberge du Vieux-Port, 97 de la Commune St E

Mange Moi

Cocktails in the Plateau, Montreal, Quebec
Cocktails in the Plateau, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Mange Moi was the first place we visited after arriving in Montreal. Great patio for martinis. Inside is very nice and rustic, with lots of wood. The nachos are good and abundant. The place is continually busy.

Mange Moi
Time of day visited: Late afternoon
Location: Plateau-Mile End, 35 Mont-Royal Ave E


Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. We received no compensation for this article. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

Old Montreal, Quebec

August in Montreal

Cover: Strolling through Old Montreal
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


What’s Montreal like in August? Rainy, breezy, muggy, sunny, cloudy … and that’s all before lunch. Weather fluctuations aside, Montreal is beautiful in August, with average daytime temperatures peaking at 81°F / 27°C and lows averaging 57°F / 14°C. So, for those wanting to escape the hotter summer temperatures of the U.S., August in Montreal is the perfect cooler getaway.

Hôtel de Ville de Montréal / Montreal City Hall, Quebec
Hôtel de Ville de Montréal / Montreal City Hall, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

August is also peak tourist season so, in the areas of the city where tourists are prevalent, such as Old Montreal and Downtown, it can be very crowded. Both districts are fun areas to visit, but preferring a less touristy neighborhood for daily life, we selected the Plateau for our home while in Montreal.

View of Downtown Montreal from Hôtel de Ville de Montréal / Montreal City Hall
View of Downtown Montreal from Champ de Mars, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The Plateau and Mile End

Cocktails in the Plateau, Montreal, Quebec
Cocktails in the Plateau, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The Plateau is the hipster, artsy neighborhood filled with color, life, and attitude. Our apartment overlooked Mont-Royal near Saint-Laurent Boulevard – a perfect perch above the bars, cafés, specialty boutiques, and resale shops that line the streets in abundance.

Morning, Mont-Royal in The Plateau, Montreal, Quebec
Morning, Mont-Royal in The Plateau, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Mont-Royal divides the Plateau and Mile End districts, so technically we stayed in the Plateau and looked across Mont-Royal to the Mile End neighborhood, both of which are part of the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough.

The best thing to do in the Plateau? Wander. Stroll the streets, have a coffee, take in the daily life, and admire the colorful buildings and the fabulous street art.

Street art in the Plateau, Montreal, Quebec
Street art in the Plateau, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Getting downtown from the Plateau is simple – it’s just a straight walk down Saint Laurent Boulevard. The journey from Mont-Royal to Rue Sherbrooke is about a mile / 1.6 kilometers.

A walk along Sherbrooke Street West

Queen Victoria statue, MISQA, Pollack Concert Hall, Montreal, Quebec
Queen Victoria statue, MISQA, Pollack Concert Hall, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Rue Sherbrooke / Sherbrooke Street a major Montreal thoroughfare, with Saint Laurent serving as the divider between east and west. A stroll along Sherbrooke Street West is a beautiful way to spend an afternoon.

Musee des Beaux-Arts de Montreal
Musee des Beaux-Arts de Montreal Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

In addition to numerous hotels located along the street, including the Ritz Carlton Montreal, Sherbrooke West is home to galleries, boutiques, McGill University and the Musee des Beaux-Arts de Montreal museum.

Ritz Carlton Montreal on Rue Sherbrooke, Montreal, Quebec
Ritz Carlton Montreal on Rue Sherbrooke, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

From June 5 -October 29, 2017, Sherbrooke is also the site of a public art exhibition in celebration of Montreal’s 350th anniversary, the 50th anniversary of Expo 67 and Canada’s 150th anniversary.

Flags from the 13 Canadian provinces and nearly 200 countries flutter above Sherbrooke Street during the exhibition, named La Balade pour la Paix: An Open-Air Museum. The kilometer-long exhibition features 72 works of art from artists from around the world.

Art along Rue Sherbrooke Montreal
Pumpkin by Yayoi Kusama, La Balade pour la Paix in Montreal along Rue Sherbrooke Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Even if you can’t make it to Montreal during the exhibition, permanent works of art can also be found in the Sherbrooke West area, such as Ugo Rondinone’s Human Nature, which evokes the Inukshuk, a symbol of Canada’s Inuit peoples.

Ugo Rondinone, Inukshuk amongst the buildings along Rue Sherbrooke, Montreal, Quebec
Ugo Rondinone’s Human Nature, evoking the Inukshuk, along Rue Sherbrooke, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Another interesting installation just off Sherbrooke on Avenue McGill College is The Illuminated Crowd by Raymond Mason. The work is said to represent the flow of man’s emotion through space.

The Illuminated Crowd by Raymond Mason, 1985, Montreal, Quebec
The Illuminated Crowd by Raymond Mason, 1985, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Downtown Montreal

Avenue McGill College, Downtown Montreal, Quebec
Avenue McGill College, Downtown Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Heading along Avenue McGill College towards the heart of Downtown Montreal, the buildings turn into skyscrapers and the shopping begins.

Shopping in Downtown Montreal, Quebec
Shopping in Downtown Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

In addition to the thousands of outdoor, above-ground retail stores located in Downtown Montreal, one can head inside to malls such as Complexe Desjardins on Rue Sainte-Catherine or underground to access the 30+ kilometers of interconnected areas and passageways leading to hotels, shopping centers, and businesses.

Complexe Desjardins on Rue Sainte-Catherine Montreal, Quebec
Complexe Desjardins on Rue Sainte-Catherine Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Chinatown

Chinatown, Montreal, Quebec
Chinatown, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

A vibrant area near La Gauchetière Street, Le Quartier Chinois de Montréal / Montreal’s Chinatown, is home to many Asian restaurants, import stores, and food markets. A great spot to grab a bite or take a stroll, Montreal’s Chinatown is one of the oldest Asian communities in North America.

Old Montreal

Hôtel de Ville de Montréal / Montreal City Hall at night
Hôtel de Ville de Montréal / Montreal City Hall at night, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Dating back to 1642, Montreal, or Ville-Marie as it was first known, was established in the area that is now referred to as Vieux-Montréal / Old Montreal.  A major tourist attraction, Old Montreal is one of the oldest urban areas in North America.

Countless restaurants, cafés, bars, hotels, galleries, and shops line the winding, narrow paths of Old Montreal. Popular attractions include the beautiful Hôtel de Ville de Montréal / Montreal City Hall, quaint Saint Paul Street, the lively Bonsecours Market, and the stunning Notre-Dame Basilica.

Notre-Dame Basilica Montréal

Notre-Dame Basilica, Montréal, Quebec
Notre-Dame Basilica, Montréal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Notre-Dame Basilica Montréal was dedicated in 1829 and is located at the corner of Saint Sulpice and Notre Dame West across from Place d’Armes Square. Notre-Dame was the first Gothic Revival style church built in Canada and was designed by New York architect, James O’Donnell. O’Donnell is the only person buried in Notre-Dame’s crypt.

Notre-Dame Basilica Montréal interior, Montreal
Notre-Dame Basilica Montréal interior, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Intricate wood carvings are set against a backdrop of gorgeous hues of blues, purples, and golds inside the grand cathedral. In 1982, Notre-Dame was raised from a church to the status of a minor basilica by Pope John Paul II.

Notre-Dame Basilica pipe organ, Montréal
Notre-Dame Basilica pipe organ, Montréal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The Casavant et Frères of Saint-Hyacinthe pipe organ dates back to 1891 and has 7,000 pipes, 92 stops distributed over four keyboards, and a pedalboard.

Candles in Notre-Dame Basilica Montréal
Candles in Notre-Dame Basilica Montréal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

St Lawrence River Cruise

View of Montreal from the St. Lawrence River, Montreal, Quebec
View of Montreal from the St. Lawrence River, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

After walking miles and miles exploring Montreal, we felt we needed a break and decided to relax aboard a river cruise on the St. Lawernce River.

City of Montreal viewed from the St. Lawrence River
City of Montreal viewed from the St. Lawrence River, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

While there are multiple companies offering different cruise options, we opted for a late afternoon cruise that departed from Alexandra Pier in Old Montreal. Food and beverages were available with waiter service aboard the boat allowing us to sit back and enjoy the views while sipping on a lovely Viognier. Cheers!

Enjoying wine aboard Montreal river cruise, Montreal, Quebec
Enjoying wine aboard Montreal river cruise, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Olympic Park

Statues of adolescents wearing sports jerseys at Pie IX-Sherbrooke, near Olympic Stadium in Montreal
Statues of adolescents wearing sports jerseys at Pie IX-Sherbrooke, near Olympic Stadium in Montreal. The statues represent 1608 (founding of Quebec City), 1642 (founding of Montreal), 1967 (Expo 67) and 1976 (the Montreal Olympic Games). Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Montreal hosted the 1976 Summer Olympics, with 6,084 athletes participating from 92 countries. During the games, Nadia Comăneci scored the first perfect 10 in gymnastics and Bruce Jenner won a gold medal for the decathlon, setting a world record of 8,634 points.

Today, visitors to Parc Olympique de Montréal / Olympic Park can ride a cable car to the Observatory at the top of Montréal Tower, attend one of the many events held throughout the year, or visit the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium, Botanical Garden, Montréal Insectarium, or the Biodôme.

Biodôme at Olympic Park

Originally used as the velodrome (cycling stadium) during the Olympics, the building was converted to the Montreal Biodôme and opened to the public in 1992.

Penguin swimming at Biodôme, Olympic Park, Montreal
Penguin swimming at Biodôme, Olympic Park, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Visitors to the Biodôme de Montréal explore four ecosystems found in the Americas – the Tropical Rainforest, the Laurentian Maple Forest, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and the Sub-Polar Regions.

Atlantic Sturgeon at Biodôme, Olympic Park, Montreal
Atlantic Sturgeon at Biodôme, Olympic Park, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The Montreal Biodôme replicates the different eco-systems, providing visitors an up-close encounter with over 4,500 animals from over 220 different species and thousands of plants. 

Jellyfish at Biodôme, Olympic Park, Montreal
Jellyfish at Biodôme, Olympic Park, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Fish at Biodôme, Olympic Park, Montreal
Fish at Biodôme, Olympic Park, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Eating in Montreal

Boutiques, galleries, bars, and restaurants along Rue Crescent, Montreal, Quebec
Boutiques, galleries, bars, and restaurants along Rue Crescent, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Montreal has a vast selection of dining options with cuisines from around the globe and available at all prices. We dined on excellent Greek, Italian, seafood and vegetarian fare, along with finding some fabulous spots for coffee and cocktails. Check out a few of our favorites in Eating (and drinking) in Montreal »

Know before you go to Montreal in August

Bring your walking shoes. While Montreal has good mass transit, it is a highly walkable city. If visiting during the warmer months, bring a good pair of shoes and enjoy the sites while getting some exercise.

Rainfall. August is typically Montreal’s most rainy month, with a historic average of 100 mm of rainfall over 15 days of the month. Comparably, the least rainy months are January-March, with an average of 60mm of rain each month.

Bring the sunscreen. Montreal averages almost 8 hours of sunshine per day in August.

Language: Montreal is a bilingual city, with French spoken as the primary language, but 56% of the population speaks both English and French.


Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. We received no compensation for this article. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

July in Vancouver

Cover: Downtown Vancouver at night
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


View the Vancouver photo gallery


After 45 days of roaming around England, Scotland, and Ireland, we were ready to settle in one spot for a month. Seeking cool temperatures to avoid the summer heat and some good dining options, where better than Canada?

We found a great Airbnb in the heart of Vancouver with stunning views and settled in for a month of relaxation. We arrived the last of June, and with a little over a month to explore the bustling, diverse city that frequently makes livability top five lists, we planned on taking it slow, simply experiencing Canada’s west coast jewel at our leisure.

Downtown Vancouver at sunset
View from our balcony in downtown Vancouver at sunset Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Vancouver International Jazz Festival

The Vancouver International Jazz Festival was running the weekend we arrived, with the main stages in Robson Square, which our balcony overlooked. While the sounds faintly wafted into our apartment along with the breeze, we decided to pay the festival a visit for a closer look and headed downstairs.

Vancouver International Jazz Festival
Vancouver International Jazz Festival Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Produced by the Coastal Jazz and Blues Society, the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival actually occurs over two weeks each year at venues in and around Vancouver, with free public performances and paid shows at clubs throughout the area. While it was unseasonably warm during the event, the cool sounds and cold beverages kept the crowds chilled out and entertained throughout the event.

Happy 150th birthday Canada!

Canada 150 celebration

Canada celebrated its 150th birthday on the 1st of July with country-wide festivals, fireworks, events, and exhibitions.

The second largest celebration in Canada was held in Vancouver at Canada Place, with music, food, parades, and fireworks. Vancouver’s official celebration, named “Canada 150+,” recognized the much longer history of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations peoples of the area. Proud Canadians turned out in red and white attire and Canadian flags were in abundance throughout Vancouver during the celebration.

Canada Day 150, Vancouver, Canada
Canada Day 150, Vancouver, Canada Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Vancouver’s neighborhoods

As the most densely populated city in Canada and the fourth most in North America, towering skyscrapers loom above in much of the downtown area – yet tree-lined streets below soften the city and beckon strolls. We spent hours walking in the beautiful city under bright blue skies, enjoying the summer days.

Holy Rosary Cathedral
Holy Rosary Cathedral Vancouver Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Along the way, we’d pop into an antique shop, grab a coffee, or stop to admire the flowers, gardens, and fountains so abundant throughout Vancouver.

Fountains in Yaletown, Vancouver
Fountains in Yaletown, Vancouver Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

All that walking can work up an appetite and Vancouver’s diversity provides the backdrop for a dynamic food scene. From high-end restaurants to sidewalk cafes to a vast amount of food cart options, we found creative, tasty dining in each neighborhood we explored.

Downtown Vancouver

Downtown Vancouver is filled with restaurants, bars, theatres and a wide-range of shopping options. From Gucci to independent boutiques to department stores – you’ll find it in Vancouver. CF Pacific Centre is several blocks long and offers indoor shopping and a good food court that even has some healthy options like Living Foods, which offers fresh, creative salads.

Robson Street, Vancouver
Robson Street, Vancouver Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Robson Street is a vibrant, three-blocks of boutiques, restaurants, and bars. A great spot to spend a few hours and grab a bite and/or a beverage, we liked the Robson Street Cactus Club – especially the patio for great happy hour fish tacos, cocktails and people watching.

Fish tacos at Cactus Club, Robson Street, Vancouver
Fish tacos at Cactus Club, Robson Street, Vancouver Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Yaletown

If you want to eat, drink, get your hair styled or do a little shopping, head to Yaletown.

Yaletown, Vancouver
Yaletown, Vancouver Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

In a former warehouse and railyard district, Yaletown is located between Homer Street and Robson Street, along the north side of False Creek. A fun area, Yaletown is a great spot for lunches, with an abundance of restaurants with patios.

Wildtale Coastal Grill in Yaletown, Vancouver
Friday Fish special at Wildtale Coastal Grill in Yaletown, Vancouver Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

After a leisurely lunch, a walk along the waterfront is a perfect way to work off those extra calories. A multi-use path runs right along the water, with splendid marina views, and access to David Lam Park and George Wainborn Park along the way.

False Creek waterfront Yaletown, Vancouver
False Creek waterfront Yaletown, Vancouver Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Granville Island

Downtown Vancouver at nightHome to the massive Public Market, restaurants, shops, galleries, artist studios, theatres, waterfront activities and boat tours, Granville Island is a must visit when in Vancouver.

Vancouver Fish Company, Granville Island, Vancouver
Cioppino, West Coast Super Salad, and Sockeye Salmon Burger, Vancouver Fish Company, Granville Island, Vancouver Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

We arrived in time for a late lunch  – the only issue was choosing which restaurant. Public Market has a large selection of vendors and an outdoor dining area for enjoying the food along with some sun, and there is also a huge variety of restaurants ranging from casual to upscale within the community. We decided on the beautiful patio of Vancouver Fish Company and enjoyed a fabulous lunch overlooking the harbor.

Farmers Market, Granville Island, Vancouver
Farmers Market, Granville Island, Vancouver Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Following lunch, we wandered through the Granville Island galleries and stores and shopped at the Farmer’s Market, which is held on Thursdays in the summer, with plants, fruits, vegetables and local artisan crafts, before heading into the Public Market.

Double smoked salmon, Granville Market
Double smoked salmon, Granville Market, Vancouver Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

A foodie’s dream destination, Granville’s Public Market is internationally recognized as one of the top markets in the world. Aisles and aisles of fresh produce, baked goods, gourmet items, meats and fish of every type are available. Our favorite find – double smoked salmon. Absolutely heavenly.

To get to Granville Island on foot, head down the end of Hornby or to David Lam Park in Yaletown and take the Vancouver Aquabus across False Creek.

Gastown

Gastown clock, Vancouver
Gastown clock, Vancouver Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Vancouver’s oldest neighborhood, Gastown, dates back to 1867 when “Gassy” Jack Deighton began pouring drinks in a tavern there. Today, the district is one of the most popular destinations in the city.

Unique boutiques, souvenir shops, jewelry designers, galleries, artisans, bars and tasty restaurants line the streets, some of which are still cobblestone, in Gastown. The centerpiece of the community is the musical steam clock, which draws tourists every quarter hour as it comes to life steaming and whistling.

Hungry? Head across the street to the Water Street Cafe on the corner and grab a table on the patio. Start with the warm Mediterranean olives, then move on to the Linguine Alle Vongole. Splendid dining – and you’ll have a front row seat to watch the clock and the Gastown happenings.

Linguine Alle Vongole at Water Street Cafe, Gastown, Vancouver
Linguine Alle Vongole at Water Street Cafe, Gastown, Vancouver Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Know before you go to Vancouver in July

Temperature: The average temperature in Vancouver in July is 17°C / 64°F, with an average high of 21°C / 70°F and an average low of 13°C / 55°F.

Rainfall. July is typically Vancouver’s least rainy month, with a historic average of 40mm  of rainfall over 9 days of the month.

Plenty of sunshine. Bring the sunscreen – Vancouver averages 13 hours of sunshine per day in July.

Watersports. Water temperatures average 14°C / 57°F in July.

Air-conditioning (or lack there of). As with many locations where the highs are generally pleasant, unseasonably warm temperatures may occur, as they did during the first two weeks of our stay. Many apartments do not have air conditioning. When booking an Airbnb, check if fans are available in case you need them.


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