Watch bees make honey, tour maple groves and see a skilled blacksmith shape metal.
What do you get when you combine a museum, a shop, a craftsman’s studio and a factory tour? In Québec City, you get an economuseum, the kind of museum every kid likes. Add some local color and a bit of education and entertainment to your shopping by visiting some of these, right in the city and in the nearby Île-de-Orléans. Though most of these are more appropriate for the preschool and older set, toddlers will enjoy the first two.
Musée de l’Abeille. Kids and adults alike will be buzzing over this museum, where the whole family goes on a “bee safari.” The highlight (for any age) is watching the hive, where bees interact and create their confection behind the glass walls. Visitors can search for the queen bee and learn about the process of honey harvesting. But, the best part is enjoying the end result, made into cookies, pastries, and other tasty goodies The museum is open daily mid-March to mid-October, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (from mid-June until September, their hours extend to 6 p.m.) and Friday-Sunday November to mid-March, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free. 8862 Boulevard Sainte-Anne, tel. 418-824-4411, www.musee-abeille.com
Érablière le Chemin du Roy. This maple house and museum sits on the St. Lawrence River, close to the city. In addition to tours of the maple grove and demonstrations of the sugaring process, families are invited to use the hiking and cross-country skiing trails through the maple groves. For the most authentic experience, book a table for the “sugar camp” meal accompanied by live folk music. It’s a traditional Québécois outing. Visitors can also enjoy maple products made here, as well as other local specialties from the kitchen. Open January through April, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and May through October, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 237 Chemin du Lac, tel. 418-878-5085 or toll free 877-876-5085, www.erabliere-cheminduroy.qc.ca
Aventure Leclerc. Little cookie monsters will enjoy the samples as well as the outstanding multimedia exhibit explaining the history and each step of manufacturing cookies. Open weekends February through mid-December, and daily during March, July, and September. 91 Rue de Rotterdam, tel. 418-878-1000 or toll free 888-878-1400, www.aventureleclerc.ca
Choco-Musée Érico. Everybody likes chocolate, so a visit here is sure to be popular. The history of making chocolate unfolds in the tiny museum and the family watches the most modern process through the huge window into the kitchen. Of course there are samples! Admission is free. 634 Rue de Saint-Jean, tel. 418-524-4558, www.chocomusee.com
Atelier Paré. Celebrating its 65th anniversary in 2008, this family-run workshop actively engages visitors in the process of woodcarving, as they watch sculptures emerge from wood while the artists work. Open daily mid-May through mid-October, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. In the off-season, open Wednesday through Sunday 1-4 p.m. Admission is free. 9269 Avenue Royale, tel. 418-827-3992
Forge à Pique Assaut. Be transported back in time by the rustic craftsmanship of blacksmithing at this interactive museum, which explains the origins and tools of the trade. Watching the kids’ amazement at seeing metal become pliable and take new shapes on the anvil made the nominal demonstration charge well worthwhile. Admission is free; demonstrations $4.75 per person. 2200 Chemin Royal, tel. 418-828-9300
A chocolate museum? That's my kind of museum!