Montreal sparkles in winter

A view of Montreal, Quebec. (Shutterstock)

A view of Montreal, Quebec. (Shutterstock)

ILONA KAUREMSZKY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:33 AM ET

Q: I'm interested in visiting Montreal in late February and want to know about activities and economical ways to get there as I won't be driving.

-- G. Deutsch, Toronto

A: February is a nice time to visit as there are fewer tourists than in the summer when several big festivals and events take place. Montreal Tourism (tourisme-montreal.org) lists a host of fun things to do on their website. Even in winter, outdoor activities are popular and a great way to absorb the vibrancy of the city.

A local tour operator -- Fitz and Follwell (fitzandfollwell.co) -- has two cool snow tours: Winter in the Mountain (tubing, skating and snowshoeing in Mont Royal Park) and Winter in the Park (touring Le Plateau and skating in Fontaine Park). Winter gear rentals are also available. Call 514-840-0739 to book.

The non-profit Les Amis de la Montagne (Friends of the Mountain, lemontroyal.qc.ca/en) gives guided snowshoe tours of Mont Royal Park. On Saturday nights through March 10, the group has a 1.5-hour excursion for $17. Price includes snowshoes, guide and hot chocolate. Reservations are required. Call 514-843-8240.

I love meandering through the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (mbam.qc.ca), where more than 600 works of Canadian art are on display in the new Claire and Marc Bourgie Pavillon. Marc Bourgie is a music lover and visitors can listen to classical music on free audio headsets while touring the fabulous collection, which includes works from the Beaver Hall Group, including Prudence Heward, and rare pieces such as Jean Paul Riopelle's Gravity and Paul Emile Borduas' Black Stars. Admission to the museum's permanent exhibits is free. In addition, regular concerts will take place at Bourgie Hall, a new 444-seat concert venue (sallebourgie.ca) housed in the knave of a restored heritage church.

There are a variety of ways to get to Montreal but one of the most leisurely and cost effective is by train. Until March 31, VIA Rail is offering one-way tickets for $39 on selected departures by April 3 . For reservations, book online at viarail.ca or call VIA toll-free at 1-888-VIA-RAIL.

Q: We're staying with friends on an upcoming trip to Los Angeles and won't be renting a car. But we'll be on our own one day and I'd like to visit Getty Villa. Is it possible to get there without driving?

-- J. Guzman, Thornhill

A: Malibu's Getty Villa is a museum and education centre dedicated to the art and culture of ancient Greece, Rome and Etruria. The exquisite site -- inspired by a villa at ancient Herculaneum -- is at 17985 Pacific Coast Highway and easily accessible by public transit (Metro Bus 534). The bus stops at Coastline Dr., directly across the street from the Getty Villa entrance. You can plot the route from your departure point with the trip planner at the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority website, metro.net, or call 323-GO-METRO (323-466-3876). Admission to Getty Villa is free but an advanced timed-entry ticket is required. Parking is $15. See getty.edu for details.

Q: My husband and I have looked into the children's downhill ski camp at Blue Mountain but I'm more inclined to try some cross country skiing, and have our kids join us one afternoon. Do you know anything about trails in the area?

-- W. Rudics, Mississauga

A: When the kids hit the slopes at Blue Mountain, you and your hubby can explore the Georgian Triangle, which has ample cross country skiing options. In the immediate Collingwood area there are three Nordic ski areas: Scenic Caves Nordic Centre (sceniccaves.com), Wasaga Nordic (wasagabeachpark.com) and Highlands Nordic (Highlandsnordic.ca).

In addition to a range of groomed trails, a Ski Three pass ($35) will allow you to cross country ski at all three locations. Contact any of the ski centres for details. Highlands Nordic can also be reached by calling toll-free 1-800-263-5017 or 705-444-5017.


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