Families seeking fun and active adventures will delight in visiting the hidden gem that is Laval, Quebec. Located only a 20-minute Metro ride from downtown Montreal, this surprising destination will give even the most thrill-seeking family a run for its money. Coupled with a great family-friendly hotel and loads of restaurants, it’s easy to enjoy exhilarating family adventures in Laval.
Ready to catch a wave? The surf is always up and the water warm at Maeva Surf! This indoor surfing centre in the vast Centropolis complex is the perfect place to learn surfing and body-boarding. Or perfect your riding technique year-round, in a warm, temperature-controlled environment. The Flo-Rider wave action machine controls the water flow at an even rate that is safe and consistent.
Stepping into Maeva (which means welcome in French Polynesian) Surf transports guests to a warm, tropical oasis. It feels like summer on a tropical beach, even though it might be -20C outside. A surf or body-boarding lesson includes a technical briefing by an instructor, who reviews safety protocols, proper positioning, and tricks to try on the boards. A few warm-up stretches to get ready, and with one push of the button, the water begins to flow, and the fun begins.
Riding the waves is quite physical. It’s good to rest in between sessions as everyone takes a turn. Once the surfing session finishes, relax at Maeva’s excellent cafe, with kid-friendly menu items like pizza and chicken strips, or more elevated (and delicious) fare like tuna tartare and fried halloumi cheese. Those content to watch can enjoy a glass of wine or sangria, and toast those who stay upright on their boards.
Escalade Clip ’n Climb
Parents needing to let the monkeys loose indoors can find no better place than Escalade Clip ‘n Climb. This bustling indoor climbing facility features more than thirty themed climbing walls, some as high as ten metres (30 feet). The facility uses automatic belay devices on its walls, eliminating the need for tying ropes or having staff hold each line. Climbers can enjoy non-stop safe and secure climbing at their own pace, and rappel down in a measured fashion once they’ve reached the top of each wall.
There are walls for every kind of climber, including a dark tower with lighted handholds, an ice-climbing style wall, and neon-lighted wall. Switch it up and try the Vertical Drop slide for a freefall experience if you want another kind of thrill.
Launch into outer space at the only exclusively space sciences museum in Canada. At Laval’s Cosmodome, guests can take part in one of three exciting space missions involving virtual animation and interactive games. You can travel through time, go on a mission to Mars, or man the space probe as it moves through the galaxy. A scale model of the solar system will excite those dreaming of exploring space, as will the model of Space Shuttle Endeavor and the Canadarm.
Experience real astronaut training in one of six simulators at Cosmodome. If you’ve ever wanted to know what it feels like to tumble in a dryer, you can test it yourself in the Multi-Axis, built to measure spatial disorientation. Or experience weightlessness with the O-G Wall. Super space keeners can sign up for a fantastic Space Camp program, complete with dormitories for weekend family stays or week-long summer camp stays for kids. To infinity and beyond!
For more amazing aerial adventures, check out the AeroSim Experience. Founded by a former airline pilot, this flight simulator facility features the opportunity to learn how to fly a variety of aircraft, including a Boeing 737 and an F16 fighter jet. This is the real deal – pilots can log flight hours as part of their training, and members of the public can take the controls in a full cockpit replica of the Boeing 737 airplane. Take off and land in 20+ airports, with visual video accompaniment of airport and runways. Imagine successfully lifting off in Montreal, and landing in Hong Kong and St. Maarten, two of the most challenging runways in aviation!
This is a thrilling and nerve-wracking experience, where you need to concentrate and focus on the task at hand. Luckily, you’re not alone, as a professional pilot instructor is your co-pilot, teaching you the ropes. You can also work the throttle on an F16 or Mig fighter plane. AeroSim has side by side fighter jet simulators, perfect for teenagers and competitive people who enjoy flying against each other. It’s a lot harder than it looks in Top Gun!
Defy the law of gravity at SkyVenture. Experience the free fall sensation of a parachute jump, without having to leap out of an airplane. This indoor skydiving facility features a powerful vertical wind tunnel, 14 metres in height, that keeps you flying in midair, or doing tricks if you’re really advanced.
The sensation of floating and flying like a bird is just incredible. The key is to relax and stretch out your body to maximise stability. Every little hand movement can alter course and spin you right or left during your flying session. Kids as young as four years old can fly, accompanied at all times by a qualified instructor. If you’ve never flown before, this is your opportunity!
Centropolis Outdoor Skating Rink
In winter, the large Centropolis complex roundabout features a free, outdoor skating rink for the public. Visitors can rent skates or bring their own to go round and round the refrigerated ice sheet. Sip hot chocolate in the warming huts, and watch the mini Zamboni clean the ice for each new round of winter play in the outdoors.
In summer, the roundabout hosts fountains, organic vegetable gardens, and outdoor yoga classes. The area is surrounded by restaurants with busy outdoor patios packed with activity.
If you still have energy
Wander the well-maintained, brightly-lit walkways of Carrefour Laval. This is a shopping mall to sate every fashionista’s retail dreams.
Where to Stay
The newly renovated Hilton Laval has a lock on location, style, comfort and convenience. It’s minutes from all of the best Laval attractions, and in addition to its 148 guest rooms, has 42 suites with fully equipped kitchens, dining areas, and a choice of one or two bedrooms – perfect for families.
There’s a 24-hour indoor fitness facility, hotel shop with necessities and snacks, as well as a newly renovated pool and hot tub. The hotel also caters to business guests during the week with a spacious co-working space but offers fabulous weekender stays for those who come to play and enjoy all that Laval has to offer.
Disclosure: The writer was hosted by Tourism Laval and the Hilton Laval. As always, her opinions are honest and her own.