You know what? I was originally going to compare the West Island to the East End of Montreal, but as I was researching, I came to the conclusion that these neighborhoods deserve their own articles.
For context, I grew up all over the West Island. I spent my childhood in Kirkland, Beaconsfield, and Dollard-Des-Ormeaux, and ventured all over the West Island on a regular basis. While I now live in the city, I think back on my time living in the West with nothing but cheerful memories.
While it is not technically true that the West Island is a "neighbourhood" itself, I would like to simply list some highlights of this area in one place. Let's begin!
This is typically the biggest drawback for people living in the West Island. While there are numerous bus lines running through the area, and frequent train stops all over, it is rather difficult and time-consuming to get to the city.
The city is currently building a high-speed train line to make transportation easier, but if you're currently driving into the city on a regular basis, you can expect an enormous amount of traffic. Moreover, public transportation usually takes 1-2 hours to get into the city, depending on where you are situated. It's certainly a major drawback for the area, but here's hoping the high-speed train line solves many of these problems.
The West Island has some of the most underrated restaurants on the Island of Montreal. My personal favorite is Chalet Thai in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue. Their peanut butter dumplings are the best I've ever tasted, and it's directly on the water so you can enjoy your food with a wonderful view.
Smoke Meat Pete has some of the best smoked meat on the island, and Bistro 1843 is a tiny and luxurious restaurant with some incredibly tasty food. Jukebox Burgers is also a family-favourite in Dollard-des-Ormeaux with a really fun throwback atmosphere.
There are plenty of local restaurants in pockets of the West Island, and there are plenty of chain restaurants located all over as well. While it is not filled with the same magnitude of unique restaurants as the city, it still has plenty of gems.
The West Island has one of the best malls in Montreal: Fairview. It is consistently clean and well-managed, and features a huge array of stores and services. I grew up going to this mall, and even saw a performance of the remaining members of Styx in their parking lot. Weird story, but I digress.
Marché de l'Ouest in DDO is always a favourite, and usually features an outdoor market for you to buy produce and other food!
There are plenty of local artisan stores all around as well, mostly in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue and Pointe-Claire. Finally, there is an abundance of chain stores you would find in the city also located around this part of the island.
The West Island has become a rather unpredictable area for real estate over the past year. While homes in the West Island are still less expensive than in the city, land has been bought up at an increasingly rapid pace, and prices have been surging. The pandemic has also accelerated people's desire to move to the suburbs, as larger space and more silence have become increasingly alluring.
My personal favourite ice cream place on the entire island is Wild Willy's in Pointe-Claire. All of their ice cream is homemade and it's perfect for any date or family outing by being so close to the waterfront. Just be warned, lines can be excessively long on especially hot summer days.
The West Island is also home to the only zoo on the island: The Ecomuseum. I grew up going to the Ecomuseum and I highly recommend it for any families! It's not your typical zoo, as all its animals are either injured/sick and recovering, or were born into captivity.
The area also has some excellent parks, from Angel Woods in Beaconsfield, to Bois-De-Liesse Nature Park, to Centennial Park in DDO. Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue also has one of the best boardwalks in all of Montreal, and it's an absolutely gorgeous date spot.
While real estate prices in the West Island are skyrocketing, the area proves to have some wonderful restaurants and quiet scenic areas, with some spots for amazing family excursions! While getting into the city may be difficult, the benefits of living in this area far outweigh the drawbacks.
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