By Amy Suski
To escape the summer heat, this July our family headed north to the Laurentian Mountains for a 4-night stay at the Tremblant resort in Mont Tremblant, Québec. After a lot of road-tripping this past year, it was a luxury to just park the car and forget it. By staying at the Westin in the pedestrian village at the base of the mountain, everything from the summit to the beach was in walking distance. We were able to give our kids wilderness adventures during the day and in the evening relax in the ambience of a french-speaking lakeside village with fine dining, street cafes, and live music. Although there is too much to do in one trip, we packed a lot in!
The Apprentice Falconry program was one of the neatest things we've ever done on a family vacation. During the hour long program, a Tremblant falconer and Onyx, a Harris Hawk, took us for a walk in the woods that we'll never forget. Embarrassingly, I've always been afraid of birds so I wasn't sure how I'd react to a flying predator landing on my arm, but I ended up loving it. We learned so much about birds-of-prey and have a much deeper appreciation for them now. Each of us took turns holding a piece of food for Onyx while he swooped down to grab his prize. The program is limited to 6 people at a time, so you're guaranteed a personal, birds-on experience. If you'd rather not get that close, try the Birds of Prey Show at the summit of Mont Tremblant, which you can reach via the Gondola (a must-do ride for the best view of the region).
Feeding Bison and Ziplining
Bison feeding and ziplining are not usually two things you associate with one another, but at Kanatha-Aki, you'll find all kinds of outdoor adventures including horseback riding, wilderness survival training, fishing, camping, sled dogs and more, [This was the one activity that we drove to, but transportation is available from the resort if you make arrangements from the Activity Center at Tremblant.] The special feature of this family-run nature center is the herd of woodland bison that live there. These majestic native forest dwellers are just incredible to see. We chose a package that allowed us to meet them during a mid-day feeding as part of a ziplining tour, but you can also take a ride on horseback through the area where the bison roam. We were especially excited to see several calves in the herd!
After feeding the bison, we stepped back into the forest for an 18-zipline course between treetops and down a mountain stream. Some of the ziplines were quite high, so I would recommend this course for brave school-age kids and adults. The harness system is extremely safe, but you need to be on your toes to make the connections between trees and slow yourself before hitting the platforms. My 11-year old daughter managed it brilliantly!
Tremblant Beach and Tennis Club
This was the first time we visited the Beach and Tennis Club, a short walk from the pedestrian village. There is more than enough to do on the lake: you can take a pontoon boat tour, rent a boat, kayak, SUP, wakeboard, or waterski. Our kids especially liked the floating Iceberg with its slides and climbing walls. [My husband bet our son a tidy sum of money that he couldn't climb up the concave side, so of course that's the first thing he did (and easily). Never underestimate a teenager when money is involved.]
Of course, if you just want to relax, the chairs, umbrellas, and beachside bar make that easy too. Oh, and did I mention there is a massage table there too?? Here my oldest is enjoying the rays while the younger ones and I splash around on SUP boards and a kayak.
Food and Fun in the Pedestrian Village
The base of the mountain is the headquarters for kid fun at Tremblant. There you'll find bungee jumping, climbing walls, and the luge. A little further downhill within the pedestrian village is mini-golf, laser tag, and Aqua Club, an indoor water playground. The luge is a perennial favorite for all ages: you can't help but have fun while zipping down the mountain!
Little climbers can stretch their legs on smaller walls, but big kids enjoy the rock climbing tower. For even bigger challenges, you can plan a family rock-climbing excursion at the Activity Centre.
Food choices in the village range from BBQ to sushi and pretty much everything in between. For a treat kids love the La maison de la crepe, ice cream at Oh La Vache!, and specialty popcorn at Pop Therapy. Personally, I enjoyed mid-afternoon margaritas and nachos at SoCal Kitchen.
Over the weekend Tremblant hosted an International Blues Festival which meant that there were free outdoor concerts all weekend. One of the great pleasures of the vacation was strolling the pedestrian village at night, listening to music, shopping, and stopping in cafes for drinks and desserts. On our last night at Tremblant we enjoyed an outdoor table at La Forge (great place for steaks), just steps away from the fun and interactive Banzai family show.
After the show we made our way over to the Flying Mile chairlift for a nighttime ride up the mountain to experience Tonga Lumina. Taking a walk in the woods at night is neat enough, but now try to imagine entering an Avatar-like world where leaves in the trees twinkle, green lights glow and float overhead, and illuminated forest spirits appear on cliffsides. Far from being a splashy light show, this is a thoughtful tour through the woods with gentle messages about respecting the Earth.
Tonga Lumina was an unexpected highlight of the trip -- even my jaded teenagers thought it was cool. I would recommend this unique experience for all ages, just be aware that the woodland walk is steep and uneven in some places (not for strollers) and smaller children may need to be carried by the end. There are restrooms along the way. Without being rushed, the walk and descent took us about an hour.
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The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and do not reflect those of Tremblant. We did not receive any compensation or special deals on lodging for this trip; however, each member of our family did receive a complimentary Activity Card. All copyrights reserved to Kid Trips.
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