Guided Tour: Ãle Ste. Helene Playground and Aquatic Centre
If you’re looking for a great spot for a picnic with little people, you’ll find it on Île Ste. Hélène. This island – part of Jean Drapeau Park – is also home to La Ronde amusement park, the Biosphere (not to be confused with the Biodome), and the Stewart Museum.
For families with children who are too young to appreciate attractions like LaRonde, the playground area is reason enough for a visit. It has modern equipment for children under five, plus a super climbing web for older kids. It’s surrounded by trees, so there’s lots of shade, plus picnic tables and curious seagulls. The landscape and water view are immediately relaxing. For families with a baby or a toddler, a visit to the park and picnic may be enough activity before nap-time.
Families with older kids may want to tie in a visit to the aquatic centre, which is just across from the park. Or skip the park entirely, and just go swimming! The facilities, including the pavilion itself, are world class (upgraded in 2005 for the FINA competitions).
There are three heated pools, one of which is beach-style, with a gradually sloping area that allows even babies to splash safely. There’s no wading pool, but there is a water-play area with sprinklers.
Themed events are held on Saturdays throughout the summer. There is also an on-site snack bar, lockers and changing rooms. Note: There is no shade at the pool area, so bring sunscreen and hats.
Île Ste. Hélène playground (view map)
To get there: Once on Ile Ste. Hélène, follow the signs to the aquatic centre. The closest parking lot is P9. Parking costs $13 per day.
By metro: Jean Drapeau metro station is within walking distance of the park and aquatic centre.
Tips: If you go to the park, there’s nowhere in the immediate area to buy food, so bring your own. You can buy drinks at the vending machines in the aquatic centre pavilion.
Bathrooms: Ask to use the bathrooms in the aquatic centre.
Ile Ste. Hélène Aquatic Centre (view map)
Hours: June 15 to Aug. 23, 2009, open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Cost: free for age 5 and under; $3 for age 6 to 13; $5 for age 14 and up. Family (2 adults, 2 children age 13 and under) cost is $13.