Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2015. For more on America’s neighbor to the north, watch “United Shades of America” Sunday at 10 p.m. ET.
Stand on any corner in Montreal and pick a path. Chances are, you’ll run into a few like-minded individuals along the way.
Graffiti artists, world-renowned chefs, romantics and fashion lovers travel here and thrive alongside the city’s 1.65 million inhabitants.
In Montreal, Canada, it’s OK to get lost in the crowd.
If you love to feast your eyes on colorful street art, take a stroll on cobblestone streets under towering limestone buildings or revel in a chef’s use of local ingredients, Montreal may be just the destination for you.
Still not convinced? Perhaps you might recognize yourself in one of the people below.
The festival junkie
Their hands are tattooed with entry stamps, their arms decorated with neon wristbands from concerts, food festivals and art fairs.
The festival junkie flourishes in crowds and loves to dance to the beat of the hot new DJ mix or find a spot to stand among hundreds of people, sometimes for no reason at all other than to be able to say: “Yeah, bro, I was there!”
Montreal has more than 100 festivals each year, many of which draw an international crowd.
High above the city at Mount Royal, crowds groove to live music and check out local artists’ creations at Festival Chromatic.
While the Montreal Jazz Festival reels in music lovers from every part of the world, lesser-known festivals such as Magic of Lanterns in September features over 1,000 traditional Chinese lights that illuminate the city’s Botanical Garden.
The insatiable muncher
Addicted to phrases like “farm to table,” “craft cocktails” and “locally sourced,” the insatiable muncher is determined to please their palate, even if it means waiting three months for a restaurant reservation to do so.
Always looking to upload a perfect food photo on Instagram with the hashtag “foodporn” or craft a witty Yelp review, the insatiable muncher is not afraid to let food move him or her to tears or sheer rage.
There are nearly 4,000 restaurants in Montreal, including some true greats.
These include Restaurant Gus, where Chef David Ferguson takes dishes like foie gras nachos and a tender lamb sirloin buried in fresh mint to fuse the best of classical French cuisine with surprising twists.
For locally sourced flavor, there’s French Bistro La Recolte, where dishes include morel mushrooms, filled with fresh cheese curds and barley, and fresh peas and a white wine demi-glace sauce.
For a late night cocktail, Le Lab gets playful with the jerky lab jack: a whiskey concoction served with suspended sweet and spicy beef jerky.
The nostalgic romantic
Why think about the present when you can get lost in the past?
The nostalgic romantic revels in the relics of yesteryear and basks in the shadow of beautifully preserved buildings that echo tales of war and redemption.
Narrow cobblestone streets with cozy cafes that house lovers, baguettes and lively chatter make them come alive.
Old Montreal combines the best of old and new worlds.
Built in the 19th century, Notre Dame Basilica is a classic example of Gothic architecture and draws thousands of visitors each year.
After a long stroll, it’s worth stopping in for a cocktail at the historic Hotel Le St James. Built in 1870, it later became a favorite of Madonna and the Rolling Stones.
The eclectic art lover
Museums are cool and all, but why stand in line to see a painting when it can just be Googled?
The eclectic art lover is so over 15th century drawings of demure royals; a guided audio tour listing historical facts is the last thing on their list.
Instead, there’s the Montreal Mural Festival, 11 days of 50 street murals that decorate city buildings alongside live DJs and food.
For an urban gallery offering everything from local graffiti pieces to pop art portraits, there’s Station 16 (3523 Boul St-Laurent, Montreal; +1 514-849-8016) for a fix of cool contemporary art.
The smooth operator
Bless the child that’s got their own – own fashion sense complete with tattoos, that is.
The smooth operator lives to prove that style should be effortless but always seen.There’s a front row view of fashion, complete with scones to nibble on, at the people-watching Old Montreal favorite Olive et Gourmando.
The hipster haven in Mile End offers some great fashion finds, including local designer Denis Gagnon’s latest creations (170 Rue Saint Paul O, Montreal; +1 514-935-6360) and vintage jewelry at the eclectic Loft 9 (6011 Av du Parc, Montreal; +1 514-315-8492).
The Mile-End neighborhood is 40 some blocks and can be reached at the Mont-Royal, Laurier and Outremont Metro station.
The culture connoisseur
If the pulse of life can be found in its people, then the culture connoisseur is on an eternal quest to be the heartbeat.
Sterile tourist traps and comfortable downtown accommodations are a no-no.
It’s all about getting comfortable in local ethnic eateries and spellbound by small alleys with signs painted in foreign languages.
St. Laurent is the spine of Montreal. Immigrant populations have brought it to life with the colors, spices and languages from every corner of the world.
Chinatown offers some of the best pho in the city and outdoor stands that burst in color with bright fruits and exotic candies.
A lesser-known but important cultural neighborhood can be found in Little Burgundy, an area settled by working class black people in the late 1800s and the birthplace of Montreal’s jazz scene.
It also home to the Atwater Market, where flowers and baked goods sit on display.
Kristin Braswell is a Brooklyn-based journalist. She’s contributed to ABC News, NPR and Ebony, among others. Dominique DeLeon is a filmmaker, visual artist and the creative director of Special Boy Films.