Mountains, forests, beaches and small towns. These are a few of my favourite things. And it just so happens that all of these things can be found in the Laurentian Mountains.
This beautiful region is near the Quebec-Ontario border, making it the ideal weekend getaway from Montreal or Ottawa. If you don’t mind a scenic drive, you can easily visit from Toronto too.
When looking up things to do in the Laurentian Mountains, you will no doubt come across Mont Tremblant. It’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in Quebec.
I wrote an entire guide about things to do in Mont Tremblant, so check that out here. But truth be told, there is WAY more to the Laurentian Mountains than just Mont Tremblant. There are many other small towns, hiking trails and hidden gems to visit.
Just last month, my boyfriend and I spent 4 days exploring the Laurentians and I am here to share with you our favourite finds. From where to stay to the best things to do in the Laurentian Mountains, I’ve got you covered. Let’s get started!
Where to Stay in the Laurentian Mountains
Being such a popular winter vacation spot, there is no shortage of places to stay in the Laurentian Mountains. From ski-up chalets to yurts in the woods, it’s all here.
But when I visit a new place, I like to stay in unique accommodation that reflects the local culture and vibe. Like when I stayed a the hybrid museum-hotel in Quebec City!
That’s why during my first visit to the Laurentians, I opted to stay at the Stonehaven Le Manoir.
This historic mansion turned boutique hotel sits on the foothill of a small mountain overlooking the lake in Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts. The location is truly breathtaking, but trust me when I say the interior is even better.
Stonehaven Le Manoir Review
Imagine old-world charm meets modern comforts. You can tell that the owners have taken great care to preserve the history of the property, with many of the original features still in-tact. The rooms rival the modernness of a luxury high rise hotel, even though you’re in a quiet and intimate setting.
There are so many cozy and inviting spots to sit and relax around the hotel. You can curl up by the fire in the old chapel, read a book from the library, sit by the windows to watch the turkeys or pull up a stool at the bar to try one of their famous cocktails.
The hotel features one of the best restaurants in the Laurentian Mountains, with a five-star dining experience. Although we didn’t stay for dinner, we did eat breakfast here in the mornings and I can’t tell you how delicious the pancakes are. It’s something you have to taste for yourself!
Perhaps my favourite feature was the outdoor spa, complete with a swimming pool and hot tub. It’s free for all guests to use and open late, which I love. Is there anything better than relaxing in the hot tub at night and watching the stars? I don’t think so. There are some other activities too, like a private hiking trail (ask for a map) which leads you to a beautiful view up a small mountain. It’s beautiful in the fall.
We stayed in the Panoramic Suite, which is arguably the best room in the entire hotel. It features sweeping views of the property and lake in Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts. The bathroom is absolutely gorgeous, but the best part was the bed! I have never slept on pillows so soft. It made it hard to get up in the morning that’s for sure.
If you’re looking for a romantic weekend getaway in the Laurentian Mountains, the Stonehaven Le Manoir is the perfect spot. Be sure to check out their packages before you book!
Things to Do in the Laurentian Mountains
1. Visit the Small Towns
Beyond Mont Tremblant, there are so many cute small towns in the Laurentian Mountains for you to visit during your stay, like Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts and Saint-Donat-de-Montcalm.
Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts is where you will find the Stonehaven Le Manoir. It’s a beautiful lakefront town with a host of boutique shops, restaurants and cafés along the main strip. Be sure to pop into Couleur Café for a latte and a snack. There is also a nice trail along the lakefront with plenty of places to sit and enjoy the view.
Saint-Donat-de-Montcalm is 30 minutes north of Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, but definitely worth a visit. There are some shops, a gorgeous little church and a nice little café called Ohana. Overall, we found the town itself to be very quiet and slow-paced, but I think the true beauty of Saint-Donat-de-Montcalm lies in the outdoors. It’s a popular destination for hiking, biking, snowshoeing and skiing.
If you really want to experience the best of the Laurentians and ALL of the small towns this region has to offer, consider following the Route des Belles Histoires.
2. Drive the Route des Belles Histoires
This tourist driving route encompasses the best small towns and sights in the Laurentian Mountains. If you have more than one day and are looking to get to know the region on an in-depth level, the Route des Belles Histoires is for you.
The route starts in Saint-Jérôme, ends in Mont-Laurier and is nearly 285km in length. It will guide you through the various touristic and patrimonial sights. For the less ambitious (like myself), you can also just pick and choose the places that seem the most interesting to you. Based on the route, we decided to visit Saint-Adele, Val-David and a few of the neighbouring villages.
If you get the chance, I highly recommend driving north past the Laurentians to Rivière Rouge and Mont-Laurier. We passed through on our way to Val-D’Or and wished we had the chance to spend more time in these regions.
3. Bike or Hike the P’tit Train du Nord
The Route des Belles Histoires follows almost exactly the P’tit Train du Nord linear park. This trail was actually used by early settlers of the Laurentians, which is why it connects to all of the various train stations and towns. These days, it’s a popular multi-use trail that you can explore by bike, foot, snowshoe or snowmobile!
The trail is one of the easiest places to hike in the Laurentian Mountains. It’s flat, free and fun for the whole family. You can come for a couple of hours or a couple of days! There are plenty of facilities available to users, like free parking, bike rentals, shuttle buses and accommodation along the way.
4. Indulge in Some Local Eats & Treats
There are over 1,300 places to eat in the Laurentian Mountains. Here are some of the best spots:
- Cotard Chocolatier Glacier in Saint-Saveur. They were once named Canada’s BEST chocolatier. Need I say more? This is the best spot to come for chocolates, truffles, candies, ice cream and souvenirs for all of your friends & family back home.
- Boulangerie Le Caveau in Saint-Agathe-Nord. Over the last 40 years, this place has grown from a fruit stand on the side of the road to the best bakery in the Laurentian Mountains. If you enjoy crispy bread, fresh pastries and pizza, this is the place for you! Prices are reasonable, the menu changes weekly and they also sell a variety of local products to bring back home.
- Restaurant Patate Ben-Venue in Mont-Tremblant. One of the many reasons that I love the Quebecois is that they know how to snack. You can find snack-bars or “cases-croute” just about anywhere in the province. The Patate Ben-Venue is arguably the best casse croute in the Laurentians. You can enjoy hot dogs, cheeseburgers, onion rings and the famous poutine.
- Au Petit Poucet in Val-Morin. This is the best place to come for authentic Québécois and Canadian eats. It’s been around since 1945 and still has that old-timey, cabin vibe. The portions are huge and the prices are quite reasonable. They close kind of early, so it’s best to come for breakfast or lunch. Don’t skip out on the maple pie!
- Les Têtes de Cochon in Saint-Adèle. A restaurant, grocery store and butcher shop all rolled into one. If you’re a fan of charcuterie boards, fresh local beef, fine wine and sweet desserts, then I think you’ll love this place. The ingredients are high quality and local, so you will find this is reflected in the prices, but it’s worth it, trust me!
5. Try a New Outdoor Activity
Beyond the small towns, historic routes and amazing places to eat, the Laurentians are home to some of the best landscapes in Quebec. This region is a nature-lovers paradise and there is no shortage of outdoor activities to partake in while you’re here.
In the warmer months, you can head to one of the many parks like Domaine St. Bernard, Mont Tremblant National Park or Parc de la Rivière Doncaster for some hiking, canoeing, kayaking, biking or mountain climbing. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try the Via Ferrata (it’s like a cross between hiking and mountain climbing) that takes you along the edge of a mountain with amazing views below.
In the winter, you have even MORE outdoor activities to choose from! Most notably, skiing the famous slopes in Mont-Tremblant, which is consistently rated as one of the best places to ski in Canada. If skiing isn’t your thing, rent snowshoes, fat tire bikes or cross-country skis to access the hundreds of snowy trails in the area.
But perhaps the best thing to do in the Laurentian Mountains during the winter is dog-sledding. This is a classic Québec activity. There are a few places for you to book a dog-sledding tour in the Laurentians, like Expedition Wolf and Laurel Adventure Nature.
For a list of more outdoor activities in the Laurentian Mountains, check out my Mont-Tremblant guide here.
The Laurentians are one of the best places to visit in Québec. Although this was my first visit to the area, it definitely won’t be my last. I’ve already booked a trip to come back in December and experience the sights again. If you haven’t been before, I hope this post gives you the push you need to get out there and explore! Or at the very least, some inspiration on things to do, where to stay and more.
Think I forgot something? Have tips you’d like to share? Leave a comment below and let me know!
And don’t stop here. There are plenty of beautiful places to visit in Quebec. Take a look at some of my other posts:
- 13+ Things to do in Mont Tremblant
- The Ultimate Guide to Québec City
- Weekend Getaway to Trois-Rivières
Thanks for reading!