New Brunswick is one of those rare destinations that draws you in and keeps you wanting more. There are dense forests, mountains and river valleys, charming Acadian villages, and larger cities. This Canadian province has so much to offer, yet it seems undiscovered. We had long drives where we would not see another soul. Maybe that’s what draws you in; the peace and quiet. Throw in the endless natural beauty and you’ll see why a New Brunswick, Canada road trip is something everyone should have on their bucket list.
*This trip was sponsored by Destination New Brunswick, but all opinions are 100% our own.
Fredericton is the capital of New Brunswick, and as such, makes for a convenient departure point for a road trip through the province. The lovely St John River meanders through the downtown and past the historic Garrison District where you won’t want to miss the Changing of the Guard ceremony. The city also offers summer festivals, art galleries, the University of New Brunswick, and provincial parks to explore. We didn’t have a chance to visit, but thankfully we have a friend who shared her favorite things to do in Fredericton for our next visit.
St. Andrews by the Sea
Located on the Bay of Fundy, just over an hour and a half from Fredericton and just across the water from Maine, is the charming seaside town of St. Andrews by the Sea. The Bay of Fundy has the highest tides in the world and attracts many species of whales from June to October. With its location, St. Andrews is the perfect place to set sail on a whale watching cruise. We went out on a Jolly Breeze tall ship during July, and not only did we see quite a few finback whales, we saw seals, dolphins, and bald eagles. It was quite a memorable voyage!
In town, we enjoyed wandering through the charming shops, but really enjoyed our stay at The Algonquin Resort. The kids loved the indoor waterpark, the outdoor swimming pool, and the private beach. They never wanted to leave. I loved the Victorian charm of the place with its huge front porch and the ability to walk to town from the resort. It’s definitely a place we want to return to for a longer stay.
Saint John is a lovely place to stop along the Bay of Fundy because it’s a fairly large city. It’s home to the Saint John City Market, the oldest continuous farmer’s market in Canada. The city evokes old Europe mixed with a waterfront town. There are beautiful parks, charming restaurants, and during the summer, concerts on the Market Square boardwalk. It’s the largest city on the Bay of Fundy and a worthwhile stop on a road trip.
My kids loved exploring the New Brunswick Museum with its exhibit detailing the history of New Brunswick. This was a great way to learn about the early settlers and industry of the area. They also loved the Hall of Great Whales with its full size whale specimens and interesting facts of these marine animals. Their favorite part may have been the virtual reality exhibit where they could pretend to be in an airplane or World War I trenches. They couldn’t stop talking about everything they saw in the goggles.
For dinner we enjoyed a lovely meal at an Irish pub followed by some traditional BeaverTails. (Not a typo). BeaverTails are fried dough (we call it Indian Fried Bread where I grew up in Arizona) covered with a sweet topping. My kids were skeptical at first, but after the youngest tried a vanilla frosting with Oreo sprinkles, they were sold. There are other toppings such as Chocolate, Peanut Butter, and Reese’s Pieces (we might have tried that) and Nutella with Banana. They’re available in a food truck down by the waterfront. You’re welcome.
St. Martins Sea Caves
This is something to definitely experience at low tide and high tide. We drove to St. Martins in order to arrive early in the morning at low tide (for the time just Google low tide Saint Martins NB and it’s the first link). When we arrived around 10 a.m. the caves were empty (very few people and no water inside them). The kids loved going inside the main cave, climbing on the rocks, running out into the water (yes, bring a towel and/or change of clothes), and skipping stones. We stayed for about an hour while more people continued to arrive and the water was rising. I took pictures from the moment we arrived, so we could track the progress.
After awhile, we decided to eat lunch at the on-site restaurant, The Caves. The food was surprisingly good. The tide was coming in, so we decided to head over to the Fundy Trail Parkway which is about 5 minutes up the road. We came back to the sea caves after we explored the parkway and it was amazing to see the difference. The empty stretches of sand were now filled with water and the caves were no longer empty. People were kayaking where we were walking just hours before. The kids thought this was one of the highlights of the trip and a must see. I would agree.
Fundy Trail Parkway
I love scenic drives and Fundy Trail Parkway does not disappoint. We pulled up to the visitor’s gate and did not know what to expect. The map we were given showed the main points of interest, so I handed it over to my “navigator”, and let the kids choose. They wanted to see Flowerpot Rock, Fuller Falls, and the suspension bridge. The route itself is only 12 miles long, but there are many scenic viewpoints along the way to pull off and take in the stunning coastline.
We went hiking at a couple of spots and the trails were well marked and not difficult. Fuller Falls was easy to reach, but we needed to navigate a pretty steep ladder for a closer view. The walk to the suspension bridge was fairly easy, but if kids want to go down by the river know that it is surrounded by rocks. We spent several hours exploring the Fundy Trail Parkway, but we could have easily spent longer had we packed water, a picnic, or snacks. It’s a beautiful part of New Brunswick, and it shouldn’t be missed.
Fundy National Park
Fundy National Park offers more than 75 miles of trails to explore, and each trail offers a variety of terrain and vistas. The park has over twenty five trails with waterfalls, and we explored Dickson Falls, one of the easier hikes. It was beautiful and peaceful to walk through the woods and find the water streaming over the rocks in the middle of nowhere.
Other areas offer views over the Bay of Fundy, and there are unique accommodation options with the park. Visitors can book yurts with skylight domes or oTENTiks, a mix of a tent and cabin with beds and furniture. Nearby Alma is a great place to stay for serious hikers or stop for a bite to eat. We would highly recommend An Octopus’ Garden Cafe with it’s tasty pasta dishes and desserts.
Cape Enrage is worth exploring because the drive to get there is quite scenic. We were met with a foggy day, so it was slow going on the road, but we wanted to visit Cape Enrage for its zip line experience. Don’t miss the beach covered with inukshuk (stone sculptures) along the way and take time to add your own. At Cape Enrage there is a 600 foot zip line and rappelling on the cliffs is also available. There’s also a lighthouse that is 140 years old. It’s a fun way to spend a couple of hours.
Hopewell Rocks is one of the top attractions in the Bay of Fundy. To have the complete experience, plan to visit at low and high tide. This is THE place to see the highest tide in the world. We went at low tide and walked on the bottom of the ocean. It was very muddy, and in hindsight we should have brought a change of clothes and towels. It was quite a sight to see the massive flower pot stone formations covered with algae and the muddy ocean floor. Visitors that return at high tide can see water levels up to 50 feet higher and even kayak through the area with a local tour company.
Moncton is the largest city in New Brunswick, but it feels like a small city by American standards. Main Street runs through the charming downtown area and bars and restaurants are very lively any night of the week. One of the fun attractions in Moncton is Magnetic Hill, where a car can drive backwards uphill on its own! I still haven’t wrapped my head around it, but check out the video!
The Residence Inn Moncton is centrally located and perfect for families with large rooms with kitchens, a swimming pool, and breakfast every morning. We had a couple of good meals at the Pump House Brewery (great pizza and beer) and Tide and Boar (fantastic ribs and atmosphere).
If you’re a street art fan keep your eyes peeled in Moncton. Off the beaten path there are some fantastic murals to discover, and my kids loved making it a scavenger hunt as we explored the city.
New Brunswick was surprising in a good way and we can’t wait to return. Have you been?
If you want to hear about our trip, check out our interview with Amateur Traveler!