Saguenay is somewhat of an oasis, sitting on the Saguenay River in the rift valley of Saguenay Graben. It is quite picturesque that sits in the middle of Northern Quebec, and is an excellent place to get away from it all.
The city and its surroundings are made up of lakes, rivers, hills and valleys, making it peaceful place for a holiday destination. Plus, it is not as popular as other cities in Quebec, which adds to its charm. There are three boroughs in Saguenay, all of which have something to offer visitors. But all-in-all, these are the best things to do in Saguenay:
1. Tour a massive pulp mill
Once the largest in the world, the La Pulperie de Chicoutimi – Regional Museum is a must. Tour the massive pulp mill and get immersed in the history of the pulp industry.
Go on a guided tour of the pulperie and learn about the Chicoutimi trading post. There are over 26,000 items and works of art displayed at the museum.
La Pulperie de Chicoutimi – Regional Museum also often hosts special exhibits that are well worth checking out. Also check their schedule for cultural activities and programs for the kids.
2. Explore the outdoors
Saguenay is the gateway to the magnificent Fjord-du-Saguenay National Park, which is one of the best places to explore in Quebec. Not only does is there lots to do, but the scenery is spectacular.
Feel like you are right in the pages of a National Geographic as you hike, ski, sail or kayak through the park. Take in the incredible scenery at any time of the year.
Fjord-du-Saguenay National Park is also a great place to go bird watching or look for other wildlife. Things you could see while exploring the park are moose, beaver, porcupine and even beluga whale.
3. Stare at marine life
You don’t have to go fishing to do this. You can head to the aquarium at the Musée du Fjord.
The aquarium is dedicated to the Ha! Ha! Bay and all things living in it. Stare at the marine life or touch them in its touch pool.
There is also an interactive screen where you can ask questions to and have a conversation with some of the fish. For something truly special, visit during feeding time.
4. Touch insects
This can also be done at the Musée du Fjord thanks to its vivarium. The vivarium displays both exotic insects and those native to Quebec.
There are both naturalized species and live specimens to look at and even touch at the museum. See big hairy spiders, beautiful butterflies, stick insects and grasshoppers.
Other species you can see at the vivarium include hermit crabs, frogs, salamanders and even scorpions
5. Head to the mountains
Adventurists will definitely want to head to Mont Lac-Vert while visiting Saguenay. This winter wonderland is on the southwest outskirts of the city at the foothills on the Laurentians.
Skiing, snowboarding, tubing, snowshoeing and fat biking are all offered at Mont Lac-Vert. The ski resort also hosts special events.
The ski resort features 240 metres of vertical drops, 20 slopes and designated snowshoe trails. It also boasts the highest tube slide in the region and is known for its fantastic night skiing.
6. Enjoy a park
At any time of the year there are things to do at Parc de la Rivière-du-Moulin. And no matter when you visit, you can enjoy hiking or walking around this lovely park.
There are 35 kilometres of maintained trails at Parc de la Rivière-du-Moulin, 7.2 kilometres of which are open in the winter. If you would prefer to cycle, mountain biking is also allowed.
Visit with the family and enjoy a picnic while watching the kids play in the playground. You can also hire a boat and go canoeing or kayaking, or visit in the winter for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and ice skating.
7. Snap photos of jet fighters
If you are interested in aviation and jet fighters, visit the Air Defence Museum. The museum happens to be the only aviation museum in the province!
Snap photos of jet fighters like the North American F-86 Sabre, CF-116 Freedom Fighter, Avro Canada CF-100 Canuck and Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23. Or look at the Piasecki H-21 helicopter or Canadair CT-133 Silver Star jet trainer.
You can also wander around the museum to learn about Quebec’s military aviation history. If you are lucky, you can go on a tour of the base itself, which is still active.
8. Visit a pyramid
It is not even close to the pyramids in Egypt, but Pyramid of Ha! Ha! is still an interesting monument to visit. The pyramid was built to commemorate the Saguenay Flood that took place in 1996.
The pyramid is named after the Ha! Ha! River and actually sits right near the banks of it. The 21 metre high pyramid was built by the citizens of the La Baie borough.
In the summer, climb the stairs inside to the observatory to enjoy sweeping views of the bay and the river. There is also a surrounding park that offers live entertainment for the entire family.
9. Go back in time
Visit The Val-Jalbert Historical Village to go back to 1927. The town seems to be frozen in this time, complete with staff in costumes.
It is a genuine company town complete with a post office, convent school, general store and pulp mill. After wandering around the village, jump on the cable car and go to the top of the mountain.
Discover what it was like to live in the village and work in the pulp mill in the 1920s. Enjoy the views of the breath taking Ouiatchouan Falls, or go on a bike along the Canyon Trail.
10. Walk along a boardwalk
Enjoy the views and the breeze while walking along the boardwalk at Chicoutimi’s Port Area. The one-kilometre long boardwalk is lined with restaurants and bars, but it also just a nice place for a stroll.
In the summer, there is often live entertainment and even a park with a cooling off area for the kids. Visit in June and enjoy the Beauce Carnaval or in July for the Saguenay Beer Festival of the World.
The port also has some historical significance and is home to some historic buildings. It has been refurbished and re-landscaped, making it a top landmark.
11. Gaze at animals
Although Zoo Sauvage de St-Félicien is nearly a two-hour drive outside of the city, but it is well worth visiting. It is one of the largest zoos in the province and is a great place to gaze at animals.
The zoo is predominately dedicated to conservation of wildlife of the boreal climate, though there is a plethora of other animals living here. One of the main draws is its polar bears, where you can view these amazing creatures underwater.
There are around 80 species of animals at the zoo, including wolverines, Canadian lynx, grizzly bears, northern elk, Amur tigers and Siberian ibex. You can also see caribou while canoeing around Lac Montagnais.
12. Spend a day at the beach
Drive around one hour west of the city to the Pointe-Taillon National Park. The park is a fabulous place to enjoy a day at the beach.
Pointe-Taillon National Park sits along the north shore of Lac Saint-Jean. Spend the day lounging at the beach or enjoy swimming, paddle boarding, canoeing or kayaking.
If you are a cycler, the park has a 45 kilometre cycling network that runs along the lake and the Péribonka River. If you want more beach time, there are 72 campsites, some of which can only be reached on foot or by bike.
13. Have fun at a theme park
The Parc Mille Lieux de la Colline is fantastic for the whole family. The theme park lies within the foothills of the mountains and is a fun place to spend an afternoon.
Slide, climb or roll down the Montagne or hop on the Loco le Train and go for a ride around the park. If you want a little bit more adventure, find your way through the natural cedar tree maze or race on the Piste de Course race track.
There is also a water park, which is great on a hot summer day. Parc Mille Lieux de la Colline also features a village with shops and places to eat.
14. Go on a cruise
Get on board a ship and cruise around the Lac Saint-Jean. The lake is extremely picturesque, as is its surrounding scenery, and a cruise is the perfect way to take it all in.
Boat cruises around the lake are offered in the afternoon and in the evening. A dinner cruise is highly recommended, which lasts two-hours and ends with a comedy performance.
Cruises are also offered along the Saguenay River where you can enjoy sweeping views of the 350 metre high cliffs that surround you. This is a magnificent way to enjoy the Saguenay Fjord.
15. Enjoy local food
Saguenay is all about cheese and is actually known for it. Discover this local delicacy by going to local markets and cheese shops or by ordering cheese and crackers at a local café.
Grab some cheese and a French baguette and enjoy a picnic lunch. Don’t forget to all add a blueberry pie to your basket, which is another local treat.
In August, be sure to sample chocolate covered blueberries, while in the winter try tourtière (meat pie). There are plenty of ways to surprise your taste buds in Saguenay.