If you are looking to spend a day outside of the historical city, there are a variety of different sights that will keep you busy.
You can drive to a stunning waterfall, cross the St. Lawrence River to an island for home-made ice cider, walk through a vast canyon and even visit a towering cathedral.
Stopping at the Falls and Driving Île d'Orléans
From Québec City drive fifteen minutes to Parc de la Chute-Montmorency where you will be welcomed to an amazing 275ft. waterfall called Montmorency Falls. We arrived in mid-May and the water volume was extremely high due to the melting of snow.
You can choose to go up the 500 steps that are adjacent to the falls or use the cable cars which will take you directly to a footpath running along the top of it.
Immediately facing the waterfall, across the highway, you will see an extensive bridge called Pont de l'Île-d'Orléans. It is the only way to travel back and forth to the picturesque Île d'Orléans which sits in the middle of the St. Lawrence River.
You can circle its famous Chemin Royal (Royal Road) and make various stops along the way. The island is best known for its agritourism and visitors are invited to sample its locally grown food, visit its farms, numerous restaurants and shops.
Tip: During our visit, we felt content after spending close to 3 hours in the island, however, some of the farms and it stands were not yet open because May is not a high tourist season.
Exploring the Gorge and The Sanctuary
From Île d'Orléans, drive thirty minutes to Canyon Sainte-Anne, a spectacular gorge where the river Sainte-Anne-Du-Nord forms a waterfall that drops 243 ft. into the canyon.
There are three suspended bridges which allow you to cross above the river and zip lines are available during tourist season. We arrived thinking it would be a pleasant activity, but were blown away by the brute force of the water and the natural beauty of the area.
If you enjoy visiting churches, while on you way back to Québec City, make a quick stop at the Sanctuaire Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré. This catholic sanctuary receives millions of pilgrims each year and its stunning interior is comprised of two rows of colonnades lifting an ornate mosaic ceiling high above ground.
KEEP IN MIND
The Wrap-Up: During our drive, we spent the day going from one spot to another not truly knowing how many sights we would be able to see. I recommend driving at your own pace, seeing what you can and relishing the area.
The Chocolate Shop: Chocolaterie de l'Île d'Orléans is located along the Chemin Royal and has a great selection of home-made chocolates.
The Ice Cider Shop: Domaine Steinbach in Île d'Orléans has free tasting of jams, mustards and relishes. They offer a demonstration of their self-produced and distinct bottles of desert hard cider wine.