By STEVEN HOWELL Press-Republican
---- — MONTREAL — Boat trips, a balmy beach and a big birthday bash — Montreal’s Old Port is open for the season.
First up, Eco-Recreo lets visitors hone their Segway-riding prowess on a closed-circuit obstacle course. All ages are invited. The fee ($10 for 10 minutes) includes a training session and helmet loaner. Find it in front of Hangar 16.
All Aboard for an Old Port Promenade tour on the Trains-Trains. This new Old Port addition offers a vintage-style mini train that features an engine, coal car and passenger cars. It can hold up to two dozen passengers and tours the promenade with multiple daily rides beginning today through Sunday, Sept. 22. Tickets cost $4 per passenger. Passengers can board at Place des Vestiges.
Bonsecours Basin plays host to all things nautical with pedal-boat rentals as well as miniature remote-controlled sailboats or speedboat rentals from noon to 6 p.m. daily. Sailboat rentals cost $5 for 15 minutes, while the higher-octane speedboat rentals cost $10 for 15 minutes. Pedal-boat rentals cost $19.99 for 30 minutes and can hold up to two adults and two children. Visitors can even enjoy a ride under the stars as daily hours go from 10 a.m. to midnight.
After getting your feet wet (NOT literally) at the Bonsecours Basin, opt for a St. Lawrence River boat cruise with a number of Old Port departures.
Saute Moutons offers wet and wild jet-boat rides through the Lachine rapids. Visitors will not only get their feet wet (YES, literally), they’ll get a whole body baptism. Rides cost $67 for adults, $57 for teens or $47 for children 6 to 12. Call (514) 284-9607 or visit www.sautemoutons.com to learn more.
AML Cruises and Le Bateau Mouche offer St. Lawrence River tours as well, but these are more refined, and some cruises come with dinner or brunch. AML’s Maritime Excursion cruise costs $29 for adults. A 60-minute day cruise on Le Bateau-Mouche costs $24 for adults. Meal cruises are extra. For AML, call (514) 842-3871 or visit www.croisieresaml.com. For Le Bateau Mouche, call (514) 849-9952 or visit www.bateaumouche.ca.
Perhaps the most economical cruise is the commuter shuttle between the Old Port, Longueuil and Jean Drapeau Park. One-way fares cost $7.50. Visitors can even bring their bike. Call (514) 281-1000 or visit www.navettesmaritimes.com for more information.
In keeping with the Old Port nautical theme, the Montreal Science Centre goes for a big bite of fun with their new exhibit, “Planet Shark: Predator or Prey,” and their IMAX movie, “Great White Shark 3D.” Both continue through the summer at the King Edward Quay. Visit www.centredessciencesdemontreal.com for details.
Finally, where there’s port, there’s now a beach.
Inaugurated last year, the Clock Tower Pier plays home to a sandy beach complete with tables, umbrellas and beach chairs.
The space also offers a temporary art exhibit titled “Art in the Sand,” a free quick visit of three large-format sand sculptures created by professional artists. The artists make their temporary creations this weekend, and they’ll be displayed through Monday, July 1.
To find the beach, just look for the Old Port Clock Tower, which is located in the eastern end of the Old Port. Built in 1922 as a memorial to World War I sailors who perished at sea, visitors are invited to climb all 192 steps to the top for great views of the city and the St. Lawrence River. It’s open daily through Labor Day. Admission is by donation.
Speaking of July 1, that day is Canada Day, the country’s national holiday. If traveling to Montreal, expect a crowd, as it is a day off for our neighbors up north. That said, the Old Port will host a number of special activities to mark Canada’s 146th birthday. The agenda includes a stately protocol ceremony and marching band from 11 a.m. to noon, birthday cake — in the shape of the Canadian maple leaf flag — at noon, the firing of cannons from noon to 4 p.m., a Canada-day quiz show from 1 to 8 p.m., and live music and entertainment beginning at 9 p.m. A short fireworks display will the cap the evening at 10:15.
For more information on all of the Old Port activities, call (514) 496-7678 or visit www.oldportofmontreal.com.
Steven Howell is the author of Montreal Essential Guide, a Sutro Media iPhone travel app available at iTunes.com.