15 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in New Brunswick
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With wonders that include the world's highest tides, some of the best whale-watching anywhere, and the warmest saltwater swimming north of Virginia, New Brunswick may surprise tourists. The province, which borders Québec, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and the US State of Maine, has other attractions that will appeal to all interests, budgets, and travel styles. Miles of hiking trails, campgrounds, and exciting sea kayaking waters attract those who enjoy being outdoors; historic houses and entire museum villages appeal to history lovers; and the abundant natural wonders are favorites with everyone.
The largest cities are Saint John, Moncton, and the provincial capital, Fredericton. Forests cover much of the interior - more than three-quarters of the province - and most of its top attractions are close to the coast. Fredericton sits nearer the center, alongside the St. John River, which flows southeast through beautiful, rich farmland to join the Bay of Fundy in Saint John. Remember that this city's name is Saint John, always spelled out in full; St. John's is the city in Newfoundland.
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1 Bay of Fundy and Fundy National Park
Many of the attractions that make New Brunswick so appealing to tourists are directly related to the Bay of Fundy and its tides. The highest tides in the world, which can measure up to 19 meters (10 fathoms) deep, occur twice daily in this funnel-shaped bay, and over the millennia, these rushing waters have carved a coastline marked by dramatic cliffs, sea caves, and fantastic rock formations. As they rise and fall each day, the tides create natural phenomena that include Moncton's tidal bore and Saint John's famous Reversing Falls. Along the irregular shore, lighthouses crown the points, and picturesque fishing villages lie snug in its coves. The powerful tides also bring an enormous amount of plankton and fish into the bay, making it prime feeding waters for whales; as many as 12 species are found here in the summer.
The New Brunswick forest meets the tides in Fundy National Park, a stretch of undeveloped coastline roughly midway between Moncton and Saint John. Visitors can enjoy this wilderness year-round. Hiking trails lead along the coast and through the forests, and in the spring and autumn, birders come to see migratory species feeding on the tidal mudflats. One of the favorite things to do in the winter is ski on the park's 40 kilometers of trails that are groomed for cross-country skiing. Three of the most beautiful waterfalls in New Brunswick are near Alma, a village within the park: Dickson Falls; Laverty Falls; and Third Vault Falls, the tallest at 16 meters. Park facilities include campgrounds, swimming, and a golf course.
Accommodation: Where to Stay near the Bay of Fundy
2 Hopewell Rocks
The Hopewell Rocks look quite different at high and low tides. When the tide is in, they appear as tree-clad islands, which you can view from a series of platforms connected by stairs. At low tide, they become giant, deeply-eroded sea stacks towering above a rocky beach, and you can descend the stairs to the ocean floor to walk among them. Park rangers are here to answer questions and to be sure the beach is cleared before the tide comes rushing in. Interpretive signs and the visitor center displays explain the formation of these sculptured cliffs and pillars. At high tide, the best way to appreciate these rocks is to kayak among them on a guided kayak excursion with Baymount Outdoor Adventures.
Address: 131 Discovery Road, Hopewell Cape, New Brunswick
3 The Fundy Trail Parkway
The Fundy Trail Parkway is a scenic coastal drive that lies northeast of Saint John. It starts near St. Martins, once a bustling shipbuilding community, and continues along the coast. It's a slow-paced route, where scenic lookouts and picnic areas provide views of coastal cliffs, isolated beaches, marine wildlife, and a Flowerpot Rock. A 10-kilometer pedestrian and bicycle trail parallels the drive, and some of the overlooks have trails to secluded cobble-strewn coves. The interpretive center at Big Salmon River has an interesting video and displays that fill in the background on the former logging community here, and old lumbering equipment is displayed at the Heritage Sawmill. Kids will like the nearby 84-meter (275-foot) suspension footbridge across Big Salmon River. A road also crosses the river, to climb the steep headland and continue along the clifftops and down to a long beach. Parking areas at the lookouts are served on weekends by a shuttle that returns walkers to their cars.
The Fundy Trail Parkway is accessed from the village of St. Martins, where you'll find two covered bridges, sea caves accessible at low tide, craft shops and an outfitter for kayak tours of the caves and Fundy coast. St Martins and the parkway are an easy day trip from Saint John.
Address: 229 Main St, St. Martins
4 Whale Watching from St. Andrews-by-the-Sea
The Bay of Fundy attracts as many as 12 species of whales and other marine animals, who gather here in the summer to have their young and to feed on the abundant krill and fish brought in by the Fundy tides. Minke and Finback wales arrive in the spring, along with Harbour Porpoises, followed by Humpback Whales and White-sided Dolphins in June. By midsummer more specias have returned, including the rare North Atlantic Right Whale. So the season runs from June through October, with the highest concentration in August. The chances of seeing not just a whale, but numerous whales and other wildlife are very high here, and on the way to the best sighting waters you'll enjoy cruising past lighthouses and islands where sea birds nest.
Three different companies in St Andrews -- Island Quest Marine Whale and Wildlife Cruises, Fundy Tide Runners and Jolly Breeze Tall Ship -- offer a variety of whale watching experiences that range from zodiacs to a fully rigged sailing ship. Jolly Breeze is, with costumes and on-board activities, is especially popular with younger children. All are located around the main dock off Water Street.
There are a lot more things to do in this pretty town: a replica of a blockhouse from the War of 1812, the Huntsman Marine Science Center, Kingsbrae Garden and streets of lovely historic homes, some of which we floated across the bay from Maine by Loyalists during the American Revolution. Ministers Island Historic Site accessible only at low tide by causeway, is a 50-room summer home that once belonged to visionary railway builder Sir William Van Horne, who also built the landmark St Andrews hotel, The Algonquin.
5 Roosevelt Campobello International Park
Campobello Island is accessible mid-June through September via ferries from mainland New Brunswick to Deer Island and on to Campobello, and by bridge year-round from Lubec, Maine. Though part of Canada, it has strong cross-border connections, including the historic Roosevelt summer estate that's the centerpiece of Roosevelt Campobello International Park. The property's main structure is a 34-room cottage, where the Roosevelts summered with their children from 1905 until 1921. Franklin and his parents had summered on Campobello since he was a child. Many of the furnishings are original to the family, and well-informed guides offer details about the rooms and the Roosevelts during their stays here. Visitors often remark on the servants' rooms, which are mixed with those of the family on the second floor, and are as large and well-furnished. Even though they had both grown up in aristocratic families, this was something both Eleanor and Franklin felt strongly about.
Along with the Roosevelt Cottage, there are several other summer homes on the extensive grounds overlooking the bay. In one of them, visitors can join the "Tea with Eleanor" program, enjoying tea and cookies while staff members relate lively and personal stories about the former First Lady and her many activities and initiatives. Pick up the guide to wildflowers and plants in the park, or take a geological walking tour, a self-guided bog tour, or follow trails through the various ecosystems. Near the Roosevelt park, Herring Cove Provincial Park has camping, golf, hiking trails, and beaches, and at the northern tip of the island is East Quoddy Lighthouse.
Address: 459 Route 774, Welshpool, New Brunswick
6 Reversing Falls, Skywalk, and Stonehammer Geopark
The Bay of Fundy has such an extreme tidal range that sea level is four meters below the river at low tide, but four meters above the river at high tide. The tide rises so fast and so powerfully that it forces water back into the mouth of the St. John River, causing it to flow backward. As water rushes through the narrow gorge at the head of the harbor, it is forced over a ridge of rock, creating a waterfall that flows upstream. As the tide recedes 12 hours later, the river resumes its natural flow, pushing water over the ridge to create a falls in the downstream direction.
The best views are at Reversing Falls Bridge, where the river narrows through a deep gorge, and at the new Skywalk Saint John, at the end of the bridge. This rooftop observation platform extends more than eight meters beyond the edge of the cliff above the falls, and glass floor panels in the stainless-steel structure provide a clear view of the cliffs, falls, and whirlpools 30 meters below. Video and interactive displays explain the falls and the geology of the cliffs enclosing them.
Another viewpoint for the intense rush of water is at the nearby Fallsview Park, home to the Stonehammer Geopark, the only UNESCO-listed global geopark in North America. Here, you'll discover that there's more to see and do at the Reversing Falls than watch the force of the tides at work. The walls of the gorge are a good place to see where 1.2-billion-year-old Precambrian marble from South America collided with 500-million-year-old igneous rock from the African plate, and to witness the work of glaciers as they carved the river's path. These and other phenomena are explored at the Stonehammer Geopark, where you can also take a boat ride into the gorge or zipline above the rushing waters.
Address: 200 Bridge Road, Saint John, NB E2M 7Y9
7 Fredericton's Garrison District
A British garrison was stationed at this site alongside the wide St. John River from 1784 to 1869. Today, two blocks of heritage buildings and grassy lawns lie between Queen Street and the river, becoming the center of summer festivals, walking tours, and historical reenactments. The Changing of the Guard, when guards in period costume perform a drill ceremony to the accompaniment of drums and bagpipes, takes place two or three times daily in July and August. Children can don red uniforms of their own to take part in "A Day in a Soldier's Life" activities, or families can play croquet together on the lawns. The Garrison District is the venue for several festivals, including the internationally known Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival each September.
Along with the garrison's Guard House military office, prisoner cell block, and restored Barracks room, which you can visit, several museums are in the district. The Fredericton Region Museum focuses on area history (its most famous resident is a giant frog), and the School Days Museum shows period classrooms, clothing, and artifacts, such as toys and lunchboxes. The NB Sports Hall of Fame features sports heroes, and the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design has a gallery showing the works of its talented students and graduates. Just down the main street is New Brunswick's premier art museum, Beaverbrook Art Gallery, with its new wing opened in 2017. A highlight of the new wing is Salvador Dali's monumental painting, Santiago el Grande.
Address: Queen Street, Fredericton, New Brunswick
8 Kingsbrae Garden
New Brunswick's premier botanical garden enjoys a climate tempered by the Bay of Fundy to grow more than 50,000 perennials in a series of themed gardens. The floral displays are breathtaking, but beyond the gardens' beauty are the horticultural lessons it teaches about organic and sustainable practices, garden design, and how gardens fit into their landscapes and ecosystems. Strolling through the gardens, you'll find a windmill, two beautifully detailed historic playhouses, a cedar maze, peacocks, ponds, an apple orchard, woodland trails, a garden for the senses, a heather garden, and formal terraces. An entire section for children features small playhouses, a castle to climb, rabbits, and an adjacent corral with alpacas and goats. Works of contemporary sculptors are placed throughout the gardens, and a separate Sculpture Garden showcases dozens more in settings designed for each one. A tea room spreads onto a terrace overlooking the manicured lawns.
Address: 220 King Street, St. Andrews-by-the-Sea, New Brunswick
9 Boyce Farmers Market
Each Saturday morning, a steady stream of Fredericton residents head to Boyce Farmers Market, one of Canada's top 10 community markets, and it's worth some advance trip planning to join them here. Spread over two large market halls and the surrounding outdoor area are more than 250 local farmers, food producers, and craftspeople from along the St. John River region and across New Brunswick. While locals chat with neighbors and shop for vegetables, meats, dairy products, and breads from several bakeries, tourists find wild blueberry jam; wood crafts; maple syrup; handmade soaps; hand-knit socks and mittens; stylish felted wool hats; pottery; jewelry; and ready-to-eat foods of all kinds, from local cheeses and warm pretzels to samosas and sizzling grilled sausages. Stand in line for a sit-down breakfast in the market or grab a croissant and coffee and head for one of the picnic tables outside. Look here for bags of dulse, a traditional local seaweed snack.
Address: Brunswick Street, Fredericton, New Brunswick
10 Historic Saint John
Prominent among the early settlers of Saint John were supporters of the British Crown, who arrived on two fleets of ships from Massachusetts, families escaping the American Revolution. These and subsequent Loyalists shaped the character of the city, as they did much of southern and central New Brunswick. Perhaps even more influential in shaping the present appearance of the city's uptown commercial and residential district was the Great Fire of 1877, which completely destroyed more than 21 entire streets. The buildings that rose from the ashes were all in the style of that period, leaving Saint John with some of Canada's best Victorian architecture.
Prince William Street is designated a National Historic Site of Canada for its rare concentration of distinguished buildings designed and decorated in the styles of one period. Farther up the hill are entire blocks of townhouses reminiscent of Boston's Back Bay and Beacon Hill, not surprising, since many of the architects who came to help with the rebuilding were from Boston. You can explore these historic neighborhoods with downloadable maps and apps detailing the Loyalist Trail, the Victorian Stroll, and the Prince William Walk.
One of the few buildings to escape the fire was St. John's Anglican Church, built in 1825 and a National Historic Site. Another spared was the City Market, Canada's oldest continuing farmers' market, completed just the year before. The block-long building houses local vendors, who display fresh produce, seafood, and other edibles, as well as crafts and art. Fine handcrafts and art are highly valued in Saint John, as you will notice from the number of galleries and studios you'll pass. You can pick up a map of these from the visitors center at Market Square, which is filled with sidewalk cafes and inhabited by the colorful, larger-than-life people sculptured by John Hooper.
11 Grand Manan Island
Accessible only by ferry from Blacks Harbour, the island of Grand Manan is a tiny fishing community near the mouth of the Bay of Fundy. A road follows the sea along its 35-kilometer length, with a few side roads leading the 10 kilometers to its precipitous western shore. Birders come to spot some of the more than 240 species found here, including the Atlantic puffin, and the island is also a popular base for whale-watching and to spot other aquatic animals, including the Atlantic white-sided dolphin, harbor porpoise, and four species of seals. Artists find inspiration in its rugged cliffs, lighthouses, and fishing villages, and you'll find a number of studios and galleries on the island.
Address: Grand Manan Island
12 Kings Landing
A unique combination of untraditional museum and historical village experience, Kings Landing brings the history of rural New Brunswick to life for all ages. Begin a visit with the series of lively, interactive exhibits that draw from the collection of more than 70,000 artifacts to lure visitors into the past. Following various themes and including plenty of active experiences (maybe try on period clothes or play a vintage musical instrument), the exhibits set the historical stage for a period that begins with the arrival of the Loyalists from the just-forming United States and ends with the technological advancements of the early 20th century. Here, too, are free workshops where you can learn 19th-century skills and crafts, such as embroidery or rope-making, or perhaps make your own candles.
Once you cross the bridge, you step into a country village of people going about their daily lives. Costumed interpreters may invite you to pitch in and help with household and kitchen tasks or tending gardens, and they always have time to explain what they are doing and how it relates to their lives and work. Stroll through the village homes and farms, and catch a wagon ride to visit the printer, a blacksmith, and a working sawmill. US visitors may be surprised to learn as much about their own history as they do about Canada's.
Address: 5804 Route 102, Prince William, New Brunswick
13 Village Historique Acadien
This museum village represents the lives of a different group of New Brunswick's settlers, the Acadians, who arrived from France in the 1600s and 1700s. Their French-speaking descendants live in northeastern New Brunswick, along the coast north of Moncton and throughout the region known as the Acadian Peninsula. Village Historique Acadien represents the lives of Acadians between 1780 and 1949, told through 40 preserved and replicated homes, shops, and workshops. Costumed interpreters demonstrate the household, farm, and craftsmen's skills that were found in villages during those periods. You might arrive at a farmhouse kitchen in time for a few tips on early 19th-century cooking or to taste bread fresh from the oven. Elsewhere villagers are busy with seasonal tasks: drying fish, carding and spinning wool, cutting hay, forging tools and horse shoes. You can sample Acadian dishes in the restaurant and even stay overnight in an authentic hotel replicating an actual one that was operating in 1907 in nearby Caraquet. Known especially for its seafood, especially oysters (there's an oyster museum in town), Caraquet is a good base for exploring the Acadian Peninsula and beautiful Miscou Island.
Address: 14311 Road 11, Riviere du Nord, New Brunswick
14 Parlee Beach and Kouchibouguac National Park
Fine sands and warm waters that can reach 20 degrees Celsius make the beaches along the Northumberland Strait, north of Moncton, some of the finest on the Atlantic coast. Along with its long white sands and gentle surf, Parlee Beach Provincial Park has a campground and changing facilities, catering to the many families that visit in summer. The nearby Acadian community of Shediac is known as the lobster capital of the world, and displays its pride with a bus-sized lobster statue near the visitor information center.
Farther north along this same coast, Kouchibouguac National Park includes a variety of ecosystems in addition to its long, wide beaches and sandbars. These, plus tidal lagoons, high sand dunes, and salt marshes stretch along nearly 30 kilometers of shore, and forests extend inland. These habitats support a variety of plants, including more than 20 orchid species. Birdlife is just as rich, and you'll often see seals on the offshore sandbars. Along with campgrounds, public beaches, and picnic areas, canoe and bike rentals are available, as well as snowshoes and ski equipment in the winter.
Address: 186 Route 117, Kouchibouguac National Park, New Brunswick
15 Cape Enrage
A tiny lighthouse dating to 1838 sits atop rugged cliffs at Cape Enrage, providing a panoramic view over the Bay of Fundy. Though light stations are fairly typical on the Atlantic Coast, Cape Enrage also has an outdoor activity center, where enthusiasts can learn to rappel, zipline, rock climb, and kayak. On a walk along Barn Marsh Island Beach, safe only at low tide, you can see fossils that have fallen off the 40-meter cliffs that extend for four kilometers behind the beach. The fossils in the layers of sedimentary rock eroding from the cliff are about 320 million years old.
Address: 650 Cape Enrage Road, Waterside, New Brunswick
More Places to Visit near New Brunswick
After you have explored the Bay of Fundy and the New Brunswick cities of Saint John, Moncton, and Fredericton, you'll want to cross over the Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island to explore its lively capital of Charlottetown, known as the Birthplace of Canada. You can take a ferry from Prince Edward Island to Nova Scotia, or you can drive there from New Brunswick across a narrow isthmus near the Confederation Bridge. You'll find plenty of things to do in Nova Scotia: visit the lovely Annapolis Valley, the capital city of Halifax, Cape Breton Island, and the towns of Lunenburg and Mahone Bay on the southern coast. North of New Brunswick, in the province of Quebec, is the Gaspé Peninsula, with one of eastern Canada's most beautiful coastlines. South of New Brunswick, across the US border, is the state of Maine and Acadia National Park.