Incentives for families to holiday at home

As more Quebecers plan staycations this summer, families can take advantage of an annual National Parks card

Parc national des Îles-de-Boucherville

Photo credit: SEPAQ

Thanks to a $5 million investment from Tourism Quebec, Sépaq — the organization that manages the province’s 24 national parks — is offering an annual Québec National Parks card to encourage families to spend time in nature, and close to home.

Sépaq has been offering this National Parks card for the last 15 years. The card, which costs $80.25 for those 18 and older,  gives you unlimited access to 24 Quebec national parks for a year and offers card holders one night of free camping, a free pass for a friend, 25 per cent off parking fees at the Oka, Mont-Orford, and Yamaska beaches, 15 per cent off on a daily admission pass at the Quebec Aquarium, and 15 per cent off on cross-country skiing day passes and at any Sépaq boutique. Access to the parks is free for those 17 and under.

The national parks across the province are gradually reopening so families can enjoy outdoor activities. In the Montreal-area, families can enjoy the hiking trail and playgrounds at the Mt. St. Bruno National Park on the south shore, for example.

At the Oka National Park, the biking and hiking trails are open, as well as the Oka Beach and its outdoor bistros and food services. Its camping sites are also available for the summer, as well as cabin stays for a minimum of two nights.

At Iles-de-Bourcherville National Park, the playgrounds and camping sites are also open, as well as its picnic area for barbecues. Biking, hiking and fishing trails are open and bike and outdoor equipment rentals, as well as fishing and sailing equipment rentals, are also available this summer.

One advantage of buying the annual card, says Sépaq’s Simon Boivin, is that you don’t need to be an expert in hiking or fishing, for example, to enjoy the national parks. The activities are meant for even beginners to enjoy. Another, he adds, is that connecting with nature can allow you to better not only your physical health, but your mental health, especially in these pandemic times. “It has been proven again and again by scientific studies that people who play outdoors have better concentration, better sleep, they are less stressed out and less anxious,” he says.

Safety measures at all of Quebec’s National Parks have been put in place. The parks will limit the number of people allowed in common areas and hand-washing stations have been put in place throughout the parks. One-way walking trails have been created and there will be an increase in cleaning of bathrooms and common areas in each park.

For those who don’t want to buy an annual pass, daily passes are available for $8.90.

Tourism Quebec has also offered  “Attraction Passports” to encourage local tourism during the pandemic. In Montreal, families are offered several types of passports, such as the “Summer Family Fun Musts” passport that offers 20 per cent off attractions like Granby Zoo, or the “Space for Life” passport that offers discounts at attractions like the Botanical Gardens or the Planetarium.

A mobile version of the passes will be available. For more information, or to purchase the annual pass, click here. You can also buy your annual pass at any of the 24 national parks.

For more information on the Attractions Passports, click here.