Crossing the Border into Canada
Montreal is a great city, only 2 hours from Keene and if you simply avoid the big I-87 border crossing at busy times of the year, you will find it a much better experience. Don’t let the border deter you from enjoying this fine city or using its excellent international airport. And don’t forget that Canada really is another country and you need your passport or what is called an enhanced drivers license at the border.
This website shows current wait times for the Champlain (I-87) crossing coming into the US; scroll down to find Champlain. Also, avoid going on major holiday weekends or go early or late rather than at prime times.
Getting back into the US is faster if you have a US Global Entry Card or a Nexus card. If you do, then use the main I-87 crossing.
The Border Crossing We Use (St. Bernard de Lacolle)
Lacolle is east of I-87 but not as far as Rouses Point. Route 276 in New York turns into 221 in Quebec. We have never waited in a line going into Canada here. Coming into the US we usually don’t wait but there can be 30-45 minute lines at certain times on nice summer weekends and holidays. This is about a 10 minute detour off the main route. Exit I87 at exit 42 Rt. 11 East. Drive until NY Rte 276 and turn left. You will come to the border in a few minutes. Once in Canada, continue until you reach Canadian route 202 and turn left. This brings you back to the expressway which is called Autoroute 15 in Canada.
The Hemmingford/Moors Crossing
Hemmingford is west of I-87 and is a bit longer drive but friends use it and say they have never, ever, even once, waited in a line in either direction. Again, exit I-87 at exit 42 but go west on Rt. 11 until you reach Rt. 22, turn right (north). Route 22 in New York turns into Route 219 in Quebec. Once in Canada, turn right on Rt 202 and follow it back to Autoroute 15, the expressway. I used it recently and didn’t wait. Check this map carefully before going as it is a little more complicated than Lacolle. If you get it right this is about a 15 minute detour off the main route.
There is also bus service between Montreal and Plattsburgh that is inexpensive and only takes 2 hours, far far faster than using the train from Westport.
The is Amtrak from Montreal to Westport. The good news is you can reserve a shuttle bus to Lake Placid on the Amtrak site. Just select Lake Placid as your destination. The bad news that it is very slow.
Charter a Plane from Lake Placid
To get to/from Montreal (or anywhere within about 350 miles) chartering a plane for a family or small group can be a reasonable option.
Traffic and Getting Around in Montreal
For information about traffic around Montreal check out this site. The bridges over the St Lawrence can be slow during rush hour times. Traffic around the Montreal Airport is a bit complicated and gets quite slow during rush hours. During the summer, the city loves to put on street fairs which are great fun but bad for inner city traffic.
The Montreal subway is a great alternative to using your car in the city and in winter it is by far the most pleasent way to get around; you may be surprised to find that Montreal has a vast underground city.
Finally, Montreal has an excellent public bike system called Bixi and I highly recommend it.