The Québec maritime Blog

What to See and Do on Vacation in Rimouski
  • Promenade de la mer in Rimouski
    Bertrand Lavoie / Tourisme Bas-Saint-Laurent

What to See and Do on Vacation in Rimouski

Located on the banks of the St. Lawrence and offering both urban and nature experiences as well as a vibrant cultural life, Rimouski is an appealing vacation destination. To get to this city by the sea, take a road trip along the majestic St. Lawrence on Route 132 or Highway 20 from Montréal (540 km / 340 mi.) or Québec City (320 km / 200 mi.).

Wildlife Observation

Diverse wildlife between sea and mountains

Birds of prey fly along the cliffs of Pic Champlain, which dominates this area. The Murailles trail, which will take you along a rocky crest to the lookout, is accessible by road from Saint-Fabien-sur-Mer or via Parc national du Bic. Below the lookout, the St. Lawrence Estuary teems with seabirds, which are often curious about human activity. Along the river, you may encounter seals; further inland, you are likely to see white-tailed deer or spot their tracks. Keep your eyes peeled!

National Parks and Natural Sites

Parc national du Bic

Located about 20 km (12 mi.) from downtown Rimouski, Parc national du Bic offers breathtaking scenery as well as a wide range of activities: hiking, Zodiac excursions, interpretive activities, camping (tent, ready-to-camp tent or yurt), shows and nature awareness activities. Be sure to explore the magnificent Cap à l’Original trail. The path is fairly challenging but it’s more than worth it for the rugged beauty of the view. Kayaking excursions on the St. Lawrence are also offered in the park.

An island rich in history

Saint-Barnabé Island has witnessed many shipwrecks all along its shorelines. Located off the coast of Rimouski, the island sheltered smugglers during Prohibition and was the home of a famous hermit, who used to cross the channel at low tide to attend Mass on the mainland. Information panels along the island’s trails will tell you more about these stories. A boat excursion will take you to the island; to add to the experience, you may even want to camp there.

Nature getaways outside the city

The Rimouski area offers lots of opportunities for nature getaways. For example, you can visit the Canyon des Portes de l’Enfer (Hell’s Gate Canyon) where the waters of the Rimouski River run through a rocky channel that’s 90 metres (295 feet) high in some places. You can also walk across the highest suspension footbridge in the province—an unforgettable experience! Hiking trails offer superb views and access to the river.

Are you craving more time in the forest? Head to Domaine Valga, which offers a host of outdoor activities, including treetop trekking in an aerial adventure park (not to mention the opportunity to stay in Eastern Québec’s largest log inn). The park contains courses for all levels as well as a thrilling zipline that is 365 metres (1200 feet) long.

If gardens are more your speed, the Reford Gardens are a charming site where flowers reign. On a piece of land that borders the sea next to the mouth of the Mitis River, Elsie Reford created immense and beautiful gardens, which her descendants opened to the public. Today, the gardens welcome artists from all over the world for the International Garden Festival and are an integral part of the cultural heritage of this region. Don’t miss visiting this outstanding horticultural attraction!

Culture and Discoveries

Pointe-au-Père Maritime Historic Site

Built on a point east of the city of Rimouski to guide boats entering the estuary, the Pointe-au-Père Lighthouse is now open to the public and offers a spectacular view of the immense St. Lawrence. Right next door, a museum retells the story of the shipwreck of the Empress of Ireland in 1914, a tragedy that has been called “Canada’s Titanic.” The museum was expanded in 2017 and presents a new interactive exhibit about the ship. The Pointe-au-Père Maritime Historic Site also includes the impressive Onondaga submarine, where you can even spend the night!

Music for all tastes

The Rimouski Festi Jazz International is a high point of the year for both visitors and residents. The festival takes over downtown Rimouski for four days, generally over the first weekend in September. Earlier in the summer, Les Grandes Fêtes TELUS is a pop music festival that welcome crowds to Parc Beauséjour in July. Concerts aux Îles du Bic, on the other hand, is a unique chamber music festival in August that features talented performers in beautiful venues in Le Bic, Saint-Fabien and Saint-Fabien-sur-Mer. These concerts will offer you transcendent experiences!

Rimouski is a land of contrasts, a dream destination where you can lose yourself in new cultural discoveries or find yourself in nature!

Author Nathalie Le Coz

Nathalie Le Coz has been hiking and canoeing throughout Québec with boundless curiosity and enthusiasm for over 20 years. Her training in anthropology has shaped her view of the world, her reading of old texts and her interest in people and their ways of life. She has worked in museums as well as in the fields of arts and crafts, history and archeology. Since 2007, she has published three books about Québec’s rich natural and cultural heritage.

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