The only true city on the Bay of Fundy, Saint John in New Brunswick is a vibrant, up-and-coming hub, with a thriving food and drink scene, fabulous architecture, a fascinating maritime history, and more than its fair share of natural beauty. Here are just a few of the city's highlights.
One of the largest urban parks in Canada, Rockwood is part of the Stonehammer UNESCO Geopark. You can observe a billion years of history, recorded in the rock formations found here. Go boating, swimming, fishing, and (in winter) skating on the park's lakes. Explore one of the 50+ walking trails, relax in the spa, go kayaking or rock climbing, or play a round of golf – there is no end to the activities to enjoy in this beautiful, tranquil park within the city.
Saint John City Market
Butchers, fishmongers, greengrocers, bakers, great coffee, and equally good bagels plus some fabulous craft stalls can all be found at Saint John City Market – the oldest market in North America. After it was built in 1876, it soon became the heart of the community and just a year later, when a devastating fire raged through the city, the citizens won the fight to save the market despite the loss of over a thousand surrounding buildings. Today, the market is open throughout the year every Monday to Saturday. Fancy a coffee? You’ll find an excellent brew at JavaMoose. Feeling peckish? Grab a tasty bagel or burger from Slocum & Ferris.
The Reversing Rapids Skywalk
Having re-opened earlier this year, the Reversing Falls Restaurant makes a welcome return to Saint John and it is here that you can, if you dare, step onto the skywalk above the Reversing Rapids. Thanks to the mighty tides of the Bay of Fundy, the highest found anywhere in the world, twice a day the Saint John River is forced to flow backwards, and the newly opened Skywalk offers the best views of this phenomenon. Are you brave enough to step out over the mighty Reversing Rapids?
The Saint John Zip Line
An even more hair-raising way to observe the Reversing Rapids is by flying through the air on a wire suspended above the river. Saint John Adventures operate a series of five adrenalin-inducing zip lines, the fifth one taking you over the river itself. Thanks to the extreme nature of the tides in the Bay of Fundy, during the lowest tides the zip line is about 100 feet above the water while at the highest tides you’ll be nearer 50 feet above it. There couldn’t be a more exciting way to see the Saint John River and the Reversing Rapids.
Irving Nature Park
This 600-acre park protects no less than six fragile eco-systems. While preservation is key, the park has been designed for the public to enjoy, with plenty of educational opportunities. Eight walking trails of varying lengths wind their way through primordial forest. A circular road allows access for the less mobile, while a wheelchair-accessible boardwalk over saltmarshes is a popular spot for birdwatchers. Watch seals languishing on the rocks, before diving into the waves. Climb the Lookout Tower for 360° views over the treetops. Enjoy a family picnic or barbecue. Visit the new Children’s Forest with its playground and two cedar-hedge mazes.
New Brunswick Museum
Discover remarkable stories of New Brunswick’s cultural heritage and natural history at this city centre museum. Exhibitions include a wonderful introduction to the area’s exceptional geology as well as its fascinating maritime history. In the Hall of Great Whales, you can learn about the local marine life and marvel at the life-sized model alongside an actual skeleton of a North Atlantic right whale hung from the ceiling.
The Bay of Fundy
Saint John makes an excellent base from which to enjoy the Bay of Fundy, well-known for having the highest tides on earth – higher than a four-storey building. You’ll also find the rarest whales in the world here, the right whale. Other species seen here include humpbacks, finbacks, and minkes. It’s a fabulous location for whale watching from July until early September.
The Fundy Trail
Less than an hour’s drive from the centre of Saint John, the recently-opened Fundy Trail makes one of the last stretches of previously inaccessible coastline accessible for all. Depending on the time of year and your inclination, you can hike, kayak, drive, bike, or ski through this magnificent untamed wilderness. Admire the breath-taking views, discover secluded beaches or join a guided walk.
Using the freshest of ingredients from local fishermen and farmers, there are many fabulous restaurants to discover in Saint John. Head to one of the oldest businesses in Canada, Slocum & Ferris in Saint John City Market, for a satisfying breakfast bagel with scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, topped off with a portion of dulse (the local salty seaweed), with diced potatoes on the side. For a succulent giant lobster roll head to Saint John Ale House or for a scrumptious sweet treat don’t miss a slice of lemon sour cream pie at Urban Deli. That’s barely the tip of the iceberg of edible treats that await you.
The region’s drinkable offerings are equally as impressive. At the Queen’s Square Farmers’ Market, held each Sunday throughout the summer, be sure to try the thirst-quenching homemade lemonade from Tall Tom’s. However, if you are after something stronger, with 18 wineries, 28 breweries, and 3 distilleries in the province of New Brunswick you’re spoilt for choice. On a chilly night opt for a hot glass of Red Rover’s Fire Cider, made with fresh ginger and a touch of cayenne pepper. If mothers’ ruin is your tipple of choice, don’t miss the award-winning gin from the Fils du Roy distillery. For a pint of refreshing, locally-brewed craft beer, pop along to Big Tide Brewing, one of three great local breweries in downtown Saint John.
Uncorked Tours offer a great range of walking tours that make a perfect introduction to Saint John’s food and drink scene.