Top 10 Things To Do in New Brunswick
The Bay of Fundy is arguably one of the world’s best places to whale watch. The world’s highest tides bring in an abundance of food such as plankton and krill, and this combined with the sheltered nature of the bay which allows the whales to feed, give birth and raise their calves, means that this is a near perfect habitat for whales.
On a whale-watching tour you will not only be able to spot any number of species, as Fundy is home to finbacks (the second largest whale in the world), humpbacks (the most playful of the bunch), minkes, and the rare, endangered Right whale, but you’ll also probably spot porpoises, seals, and seabirds.
Known as “The Craft Brewery Capital of Atlantic Canada’’, in Fredericton you can treat yourself to a brew at one of the many innovative and inviting craft breweries and cideries along the Taproom. Soak in summertime vibes on a taproom outdoor terrace or head out on a ‘bikes and brews’ tour for the full experience.
Canada’s oldest independent brewery, is located in Saint John, it’s not surprising that New Brunswick continues to enjoy a booming beer industry, with microbreweries across the province gaining a strong reputation.
Wide Open Spaces
There are two national parks (Fundy National Park & Kouchibouguac National Park) and ten provincial parks located throughout the New Brunswick province. Sugarloaf is the furthest north of the parks and if you hike to the summit you can see as far as the Gaspe Peninsula in Quebec, but there are also more relaxing but still picturesque trails winding around the base of the mountain.
There are over a thousand waterfalls in New Brunswick, many which can be reached with a short stroll. The highest is Fall Brook Falls at 100 feet and perhaps the most impressive is Walton Glen falls and gorge nick-named “The Grand Canyon of New Brunswick”, where the water falls down sheer rock walls. However the unique Reversing Falls Rapids are the must-see, in the city of Saint John this unique natural phenomenon is created by the collision of the powerful tides from the Bay of Fundy and the mighty Saint John River.
With sweeping sandy beaches and dunes, salt marshes, and beautiful Acadian forests, the Kouchibouguac National Park, should be included in any road trip, stretching along the Acadian Coastal Drive and just an hour from Moncton.
At Fundy National Park there are over 75 miles of walking trails, where you can discover the richness of the Acadian forest, learn the secrets of the Bay of Fundy's giant tides and find hundreds of different plant species, including the rare bird's-eye primrose. You can also rent a canoe and explore beautiful Bennett Lake.
Fundy Trail Parkway was just recently completed and is a don’t miss experience! Carved out of one of the last remaining coastal wilderness areas along the entire eastern seaboard, the Fundy Trail Parkway hugs the southern corner of New Brunswick, comprising 19 miles of dramatic cliffs, waterfalls and secluded beaches. With stunning views of the world-renowned Bay of Fundy, the trail forms part of two UNESCO designated sites: the Fundy Biosphere Reserve and Stonehammer Global Geopark. And not to mention, it is the beginning of the Fundy Footpath, one of the top 50 hiking trails on the planet.
With 12 parks and a beautiful coastline, there is an abundance of hiking trails for all ages and abilities through New Brunswick. One of the most challenging is the Fundy Footpath, with rugged terrain across a dozen ravines and across two tidal rivers that can only be crossed at low tide – so it’s not for the faint-hearted. Its more likely that you pick up the trail by The Hopewell Rocks, where you can stroll to the long sandy Demoiselles Beach, where you can see Sepody Mountain looming on the horizon.
There are some beautiful nature walks to experience at either the Sackville Waterfowl Park or Ecological Park of the Arcadian Peninsula, where you can take the boardwalk which stretches across the estuary and into the forest to see myriad species of birds and trees.
There is also a wide range of trails around all the provincial parks. At Mount Carleton Provincial Park taking in lovely lakes, waterfalls and forests, with the easiest being the ancient “Portage” trail used by the Maliseet and Mi’kmaq for centuries and by early explorers and missionaries in the 1700s and early 1900s, which takes about 1.5 hours.
Indigenous peoples have inhabited the region for thousands of years and the province is home to the Mi’kmaq, in northern and eastern New Brunswick; the Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet), along the Saint John River Valley; and the Peskotomuhkatiyik (Passamaquoddy) in the St. Croix River watershed.
Kouchibouguac National Park lies within Mi’gma’ki, the traditional hunting and gathering territory of the Mi’gmaq. The earliest archaeological evidence of Indigenous peoples inhabiting and harvesting the natural resources in Kouchibouguac dates back approximately 4,000 years and there are 26 known Indigenous archaeological sites in the park.
Walk in the footsteps of ancient travellers on the Nepisiguit Mi'gmaq Trail, a 150 km portage route between the highest point of the New Brunswick Appalachian mountains in Mount Carleton Provincial Park, to Daly Point Nature Reserve in Bathurst.
Acadians are descendants of French settlers who arrived in New Brunswick during the 17th and 18th centuries. Today, they’re most easily identified (aside from their unique French accents) by their love of life. The Village Historique Acadien, located near Bathurst, brings to life the ancestral customs and traditional trades of Acadians from 1770 to 1949. Help with farm chores, take an Acadian cooking class, or explore more than 55 historic buildings to learn from costumed interpreters.
New Brunswick has a deserved reputation as a culinary centre, particularly for seafood. Shediac is known as the Lobster Capital of the World, but no matter where you go in the province, you’ll be able to enjoy the bounty of the sea. Traditional seafood delights like lobster rolls (hotdog bun or roll, mayo or butter); chowder (each restaurant has their own recipe); and fried clams, the ultimate coastal road trip treat. You’ll find it all on the menu at seaside shacks, roadside diners, and urban bistros.
And what to enjoy along with that lobster dinner? Well, it only makes sense to pair a locally-produced food with a locally-crafted drink. New Brunswick’s wine industry is young, but diverse and growing, like so many grapes on the vine. The scenic wine regions stretch from coastal shores to fertile valleys, producing complex cool-climate grape and fruit wines.
New Brunswick is now the second largest maple producer in Canada (third in the world), with a production of over four million kilograms of maple syrup per year, some of it exported in 35 countries. Indigenous peoples were the first to collect maple sap and boil it to create syrup. French settlers learned from them how to tap trees, collect the sap in buckets, and boil it to reduce it to sweet syrup—or sugar slabs to be stored for later use. Today, large sugaring operations use tubing to connect tapped trees. During the season (late winter into spring), one tree can produce about 40 litres of sap, which equals one litre of maple syrup. If you want to experience New Brunswick culture, then tasting maple syrup is a must.
The Warmest Beaches in Canada
New Brunswick is not just home to the warmest beaches in Canada, but the warmest north of Virginia USA. There are over 50 saltwater and freshwater beaches to discover, and the warmest beaches are along the Northumberland Strait on the Acadian Coast, from Kouchibouguac to Murray Corner.
Kellys Beach in Kouchibouguac National Park has over 15 miles of golden sand dunes and a 3 mile long boardwalk. It’s a great place for either a lovely stroll or a lazy day, with plenty of picnic areas and amenities.
Murray Beach Provincial Park is an ideal spot to relax if you’re touring of the southeastern portion of New Brunswick's Acadian Coastal Drive. You'll want to take in the breathtaking views of sunrises and sunsets over the mighty Northumberland Strait, enjoy stunning vistas of the world-famous Confederation Bridge and visit the nearby Cape Jourimain Nature Centre. There are lots of activities and attractions nearby, including sea kayaking, farmers markets, lighthouses, covered bridges, festivals and historic sites.
Neguac Bird Sanctuary at Ile-Aux-Foins Park is a paradise for bird lovers. Travel a narrow causeway to the most spectacular ocean view imaginable! At Île-Aux-Foins Park, boardwalks and floating decks connect you to sandy beaches jutting into the ocean waves. This is a true eco-tourism site, which means you'll find interpretative signs to fill you in on the flora and fauna native to the area. An observation tower stands at one end of the beautiful beach, where you can gaze out to Portage Island National Wildlife area.
Cities & Quaint Coastal Communities
Moncton Is a wonderful mix of outdoor adventure and urban experiences. The tidal bore—when the power of the Bay of Fundy tides reverses the flow of the Petitcodiac River—is just one of the ways you’ll enjoy the outdoors here. Parks, trails, golf courses and cycling are all popular. You will find some of the regions best restaurants in Moncton, and you can get your arts and culture fill at the Capitol Theatre, Aberdeen Cultural Centre, and Dieppe Arts Centre
Saint John is the only city on the Bay of Fundy, and this combined with the narrow streets of 19 century architecture and historic city market, makes the city unique. This is Canada’s oldest incorporated city. The stunning architecture makes a perfect backdrop to stroll along Market Square, watching the cruise ships dock in the harbour and taking in the fine restaurants, galleries and shops along the way. The Saint John city market is the oldest continuing farmers’ market in North America, with its roof that looks like the inverted hull of a ship is a don’t miss experience!
Fredericton is the capital of New Brunswick, built on both sides of the meandering Saint John River, it has a special connection to the water. Kayaking, rowing, canoeing, and stand-up paddleboarding are all common pastimes. There is also the highest concentration of craft breweries and tasting experiences in the Maritimes. Take in one of the many national historic sites, taste an array of craft brews, bask in the beauty of its nature, and tap your toes at the award-winning Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival or experience the Indigenous Festival. If you are looking for a prestigious art gallery, The Beaverbrook Art Gallery, in Fredericton, features impressive exhibitions and a world-class collection that includes Salvador Dali’s masterpiece, Santiago El Grande.
St Andrew by-the-sea is a charming resort town, where you can shop in the charming downtown filled with artisan boutiques, enjoy a whale-watching excursion, drive on the ocean floor to Minsters Island to visit its historic house and enjoy this haven of fine dining.
The Hopewell Rocks
Also known at The Flowerpot Rocks, these are New Brunswick’s best known landmark, and rise up 40 to 70 feet above the seabed. It is these rocks which clearly demonstrate the power of the Fundy Bay. At low tide you can walk on the ocean floor, explore coves, and look upwards to the distinctive sandstone formations topped with trees. Then just six hours later at high tide, the enormous rock formations that once towered over you are now barely peeking out above the surface.
The Interpretive Centre is well worth a visit, where you’ll find friendly interpreters who can lend a hand and answer your questions. There is a self-directed multimedia exhibit on geology, tides, and wildlife, plus you’ll find information on walking trails and panoramic look-offs.
New Brunswick is a great province for a road trip, with its impressive coastline and beautiful interior landscapes, combined with perfectly positioned charming cities in which to overnight and special evenings sampling the renowned cuisine and regional beverages.
Packing a punch is Fundy Coastal route, travelling east to west from the top pick Hopewell Rocks to charming St Andrews via historic Saint Johns, or vice versa.
If you’re looking for beautiful sandy beaches, delicious seafood feasts and an exploration of the stunning Kouchibouguac National Park, then pick up the route of the Acadian Shores.
If you’re short on time and would rather enjoy day trips from a single hub, then Moncton is a great base being in in between the Fundy and Acadian coasts. It’s a great little city with big culinary scene, for you to enjoy when you return each evening.