Quebec City Part 2: Aquarium du Quebec and Tubing at Valcartier

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Valcartier Village in Quebec
Just a few of the 32 tube runs at Valcartier. Photo by Brad Moon

My family recently traveled to Quebec City for the kids’ March Break. In my first post about the trip, I covered the Chateau Frontenac hotel and Old Quebec. This second part features the Aquarium du Quebec and a day of snow tubing, including a 50 mph tube run.

Valcartier Village
Other than my wife, we aren’t skiers, but one of the goals of this March Break was to enjoy the outdoors in winter. Valcartier Village (about a 20 minute drive from our hotel) was an awesome way to do just that.

Billed as “the largest winter playground in North America” here’s what the resort offered:
•    35 snow slides
•    5,000 inner tubes
•    17 mechanical lifts
•    Snow rafting
•    Ice karting
•    Multiple on-site eating options including a cafeteria and full-service pub-style restaurant

We picked the day we went based on weather and lucked out with blue skies and temperatures just a few degrees below freezing. Cold enough that nothing was melting but warm enough that no-one was complaining. We chose a weekday for reduced crowds and because our March Break is a week or two after Quebec’s the line-ups were virtually non-existent.

In other words, a perfect day.

I’m not good with speed or spinning, and the first trip down the hill on a snow raft nearly did me in. Everyone else loved it. I took a 30 minute time out, then continued with individual tube slides. The “moderate” to “smooth” ones were more my pace (actually, riding the tubes back up the hill on the mechanical lifts was the best), but everyone else craved more speed.

Everest tube run at Valcartier Village
Everest — a 50 mph tube run at Valcartier. Photo by Brad Moon

So they went on the Everest which is claimed to be the “highest accelerating slide in North America.” It’s the tower you see in the photo. Built on top of what is already a considerable hill, Everest adds 110 feet of elevation so tubes reach speeds of up to 50 mph.

The boys also did a round of ice karting. Basically, go-karts on ice, which resulted in almost non-stop spinouts.

It wasn’t exactly a cheap day. Passport + Rafting goes for $31.31 Cdn each for 12 and over, the ice karting added another 10 bucks or so, and we spent most of the day there so there was a full meal as well. Call it about $220 US for our family of five, but it was well worth it.

Aquarium du Quebec
We also had the opportunity to visit the Aquarium du Quebec. (Thank-you to the Aquarium, who provided media passes.)

A leisurely 10 minute drive from the Chateau Frontenac, the Aquarium du Quebec is located on the St. Lawrence River. It’s a family-friendly facility with family group rates, a nursing room, water fountains, stroller and wagon rentals, picnic options (in season), and healthy food choices including sandwiches and salads.

Walrus at Aquarium du Quebec
That water looks COLD but the walrus seems to be enjoying it. Photo by Brad Moon

The Aquarium actually stretches over several buildings and outdoor exhibits. Even though it was a pretty chilly -13 F when we arrived, we stayed out long enough to meander to the Walrus exhibit where a pair of the big aquatic mammals (looking very comfortable and well-adapted to the cold) were waiting for feeding time. There was a polar bear exhibit too, but these guys didn’t look so relaxed. A very big bear in particular was pacing restlessly–I suspect he would have been happier on one of the massive ice chunks flowing by on the river.

Sea Dragons at Aquarium du Quebec
Sea Dragons. Photo by Jody Moon

The indoor exhibits were extensive, with many focused on aquatic life indigenous to the St. Lawrence and surrounding regions. But there were also more exotic sea creatures including these sea dragons, many jellyfish tanks, and a 92,000 gallon tank with a glass tunnel that was brimming with sea life. It’s not on the same scale as that shark-filled tunnel at Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto, but still pretty cool. There were also multiple locations for kids to interact hands-on with creatures such as starfish and skates. In all, there are over 10,000 specimens on exhibit.

92,000 gallon tank surrounds visitors
Surrounded by aquatic life in the glass tunnel at Aquarium du Quebec. Photo by Jody Moon

If you visit the Aquarium du Quebec, rates are quite reasonable including a $54 Family Pass.

This wraps up the account of our four days in Quebec City. We’re definitely going to do it again, but next time in the summer so I can enjoy those cafes and patios.

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