The beautiful city of Sherbrooke sits at the confluence of the Saint-François and Magog rivers. The city has a rich history, with known inhabitants dating back some 8,000 years. But it wasn’t until the 20th century that it really came to prominence.
As the economic, cultural and institutional center of the region, Sherbrooke is nicknamed the “Queen of Eastern Towns”. It is a queen, with its urban core and numerous green spaces, surrounded by mountains, lakes and rivers.
Sherbrooke is a city of heritage, cultural and natural attractions that make for a great holiday destination. If you find yourself spending time in the city, be sure not to miss 15 of the best things to do in Sherbrooke:
1. Get your adrenaline pumping
Whether you’re visiting in winter, spring, summer or fall, there’s bound to be something to get your adrenaline pumping at Monte Bellevue Park. The 200-hectare park is the largest in the city and reaches its highest point at 333 meters above sea level.
The park has about 30 kilometers of trails where you can go hiking, mountain biking, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. You can also play pipes in the water in summer, or go downhill in winter.
If you’re a skier or snowboarder, head to Mont Bellevue Park in winter. If you enjoy hiking and wildlife watching, head there in spring or fall to see beautiful flowers and plenty of wildlife.
2. The Art of Gaze
In 1982, local art lovers founded the Sherbrooke Museum of Fine Arts. Today, it houses a prestigious permanent collection that showcases the work of artists from towns throughout eastern Quebec.
Visit the gallery and gaze at the art displayed on its three levels. The first two floors feature traveling exhibitions, while the third is dedicated to artists from the region.
The gallery is located in a historic 19th century building in downtown Sherbrooke. The former bank was converted into an art gallery with a collection of more than 4,600 works.
3. Learn about the city’s natural diversity
This can be done indoors year-round at the Sherbrooke Museum of Natural Science. The museum has more than 65,000 objects and specimens that showcase the province’s diverse flora and fauna.
The museum displays animal and plant fossils, minerals, scientific instruments and animal specimens. Archaeological artifacts can also be seen.
In addition to the permanent collection, the Sherbrooke Museum of Nature and Science hosts special exhibitions. After exploring the museum, be sure to stop by its boutique for some unique souvenirs.
4. Watch the castle
Or a castle-like home in an urban Rock Forest neighborhood. The former countryside is now home to some of the city’s most elite residents.
Stroll along some of the area’s streets and marvel at the magnificent houses. There is also a large entertainment centre with tennis, squash, volleyball and restaurants.
Rock Forest is primarily an English-speaking community in a predominantly French-speaking city. Residents are friendly and visitors who move around are welcome.
5. Visit the Armory
Sherbrooke Armory is home not only to the Sherbrooke Hussars, but also the Canadian Army Sherman Tank. The building is also a national monument.
The Sherbrooke Armory has a low gabled roof and a large bore hall space. It is also home to the museum Les Fusiliers de Sherbrooke Regimental.
The museum promotes the military history of Sherbrooke and the rest of the country. It displays material related to the regiment as well as others.
6. Drink tea
Enjoy an authentic English traditional tea at the Highlands Cultural and Heritage Centre. Afternoon tea is served every weekend throughout the year and weekdays in summer.
Tea, scones, Devonshire whipped cream and homemade strawberry jam are always available, as well as cucumber sandwiches and pastries in summer. Go for a full afternoon tea, complete with quiche and savoury snacks.
Depending on the season, you can enjoy tea in the garden, on the terrace or in the stately house. The house itself is also worth looking around, as its showroom is decorated to match the period of the house.
7. Go to the theatre
Although the Granada Theater is now a National Historic Site, it also has performances. It was originally built as a movie theater, but few movies are shown here today.
The Granada Theatre opened in 1929. Constructed in Spanish Revival style, the building’s interior was designed by Emmanuel Briffa, a well-known local theatre decorator.
The city owns and operates the theater to ensure the building and its history are preserved. Check out the show on the website and buy tickets for the show.
8. Hanging out in jail
Winter Prison closed in 1990, but today it is a major attraction. Built in 1865, the prison is one of the oldest buildings in the city.
The prison is now completely abandoned and is said to be haunted. It used to hold some of the worst criminals in the province.
The Winter Prison can be visited, although most don’t actually enter the gates, opting instead to admire the historic building from the street.
9. Enjoy the holidays
As the cultural heart of the region, Sherbrooke hosts many wonderful festivals. The festival can be enjoyed almost any time of the year.
If you’re visiting in summer, be sure to check out the Fête du Lac des Nations. Held every July, the six-day festival features music, fireworks and rides.
Take part in the World Heritage Festival, also held in summer, and get a glimpse of the city’s cultural diversity. Visit Sherbrooke in winter and enjoy the Sherbrooke Carnival.
10. Hike through the forest
The Bois Beckett Forest is unlike any other forest in the region. This is a forest of old maple and beech trees.
Hike through 70 hectares of forest, admiring ancient trees and wildlife. More than 100 species of birds live in the forest, and if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to spot some of them.
There are 8 marked trails in the forest for a total of 6.1km of hiking to enjoy. In winter, the Bois Beckett Forest is a great spot for cross-country skiing.
11. Sip wine
Wine tasting at La Halte des Pèlerins, an award-winning vineyard in the northeast corner of the city. You should also visit the beautiful vineyards.
La Halte des Pèlerins offers three different tours; Péché Mignon, Péché Gourmand and Péché Mortel. All of this includes learning about the history of wine and the different stages of winemaking, as well as tasting.
If you want to eat with wine, take a Péché Gourmand or Péché Mortel tour. You can also buy a few bottles at their store.
12. Visit the mill
The Windsor Powder Factory is not in Sherbrooke itself, but north of the town of Windsor. Visit the Gunpowder Factory and learn about the history and making of gunpowder.
Take a tour and learn how to make the powder yourself with your guide serving as the foreman. Afterwards, head to the old factory for a multi-sensory show that showcases the lives of factory workers.
A summer excursion to stroll the grounds with 25 km of hiking trails. On the way, visit the remains of 56 historic buildings.
13. Try local beers
The Boquébière microbrewery is the perfect place to sample local beers. Tastings are available on-site, allowing you to discover and enjoy local beers.
You can also grab a few pints at their on-site bar. The microbrewery also hosts special events such as swing dancing and love music.
Boquébière’s beers are served straight from the barrels, as is the British tradition. This means the taste and aroma are more effective.
14. Take a walk by the lake
The Lac-des-Nations promenade is an ideal place for this activity, especially on a sunny day. Take a stroll around the lake and enjoy the view.
If you don’t feel like walking, rent a bike or inline skates. Go for a walk, bike ride or ice skating by the lake, stopping at rest points to enjoy the surroundings.
The Lac-des-Nations promenade is a 3.5 km loop and is open all year round. In summer, continue along the Marché de la Gare and enjoy local cheeses, meats, sausages, ice cream and more at the outdoor farmers market.
15. Dining on the train
Travel through the magnificent eastern country countryside on the Orford Express tourist train. Board the train and enjoy the food while admiring the view.
Trains run between Sherbrooke, Marg and Eastman from May to December. Book your breakfast, lunch or dinner itinerary.
For a special treat, board the Orford Express in summer for an overnight outing. This includes dinner and breakfast, leaving Sherbrooke at 6pm.
Where to Stay: The Best Hotels in Sherbrooke, Canada
Lowest price guaranteed.