To celebrate my 40th birthday, I’m sharing the 30 best food and dining experiences I had during my thirties covering Europe, Asia, and the Americas!
The following are a few of the many fun facts about New Brunswick; a province that is home to many ‘world’s largest’ and ‘world’s firsts.’
Coat of Arms
Black-Capped Chickadee – Official Bird
One other fact about New Brunswick is so integral to the province it deserves its own section. NB is the only officially bilingual province in Canada, despite the country itself having two official languages, English and French. In most Canadian provinces, the primary language is English, except Quebec (primarily French) and Nunavut (although the official language is English, Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun, two closely related Inuit languages are widely spoken). New Brunswick, however, has its bilingual status listed in both provincial and federal law.
Although Anglophones make up roughly two-thirds of New Brunswick’s population, just over 30% of the population is Francophone. These French communities are found in the north-west and along the northeastern coast. The Francophones of the northeastern coast, centred around Bouctouche, are primarily Acadian, while the northwestern French, around Edmundston, identify as Brayon, a mix of Quebecois, Acadian, English, Scottish, American, and First Nations, founded in the Madawaska region.
Less than 1% of New Brunswicker’s claim one of the First Nations’ languages as their mother tongue and another 1% of immigrants claim their home language, the top three being Chinese, Korean, and German.
Language in New Brunswick is always a hot-button issue, with some Francophones feeling under-represented and some Anglophones believing they give too many concessions. Despite this political animosity, 33.2% of the population claim they are bilingual.
The list of things to do in New Brunswick is only limited by your imagination. There are countless activities and attractions for all tastes and styles of travel; from adventurous outdoor activities to discovering the rich history and cultures of the province. We’ve listed our top 5 Must-See attractions, but dig deeper into our articles for plenty more things to do around the province.
1. Experience the Bay of Fundy Tides – There are so many ways to experience the dramatic tides and coastlines of the Bay of Fundy, it’s difficult to condense them into one listing. You can hike the Fundy Trail; drive the stunning Fundy Parkway; explore the Hopewell Rocks; ride the tidal bore in Moncton; see the power of the Reversing Rapids in Saint John; camp at the stunning Fundy National Park; or stroll on any of the beaches on the Fundy coast at high and low tide to witness the dramatic difference.
2. Explore the Diverse Ecosystems of Kouchibouguac National Park – Kouchibouguac is the lesser-known of NB’s two National Parks but undeservedly so. It may not have the dramatic rocky coasts of Fundy, but it has warm salt water, sandy beaches, bogs, marshes, and forests brimming with wildlife. The nature trails are some of the best in the Maritimes, and there are plenty of activities for all ages. Read our full article on Kouchibouguac National Park.
3. Share a kiss on New Brunswick’s Covered Bridges – New Brunswick has around 60 covered bridges, most of which are still used for vehicle traffic and maintained by the Department of Transportation. They were known as ‘Kissing Bridges’ because young men would slow their horses while crossing the bridges to steal a kiss from their lady-loves. The longest covered bridge in the world is in Hartland, NB and is well worth the trip to experience crossing this amazing structure.
4. Find one of Canada’s Best Gardens in Quaint St. Andrews – Kingsbrae Garden is ranked one of Canada’s top Botanical Gardens, and it’s easy to see why. The 27-acre park is jam packed with themed gardens, art installations, adorable animals, and a fantastic seasonal restaurant. It doesn’t hurt that it’s located in St. Andrew’s, one of New Brunswick’s prettiest coastal towns, where other attractions include the Huntsman Aquarium and Marine Sciences Centre, the historic blockhouse, access to Ministers Island National & Provincial Historic Site, and colourful murals painted on buildings around the town.
5. Visit Canada’s Oldest Incorporated City – There are plenty of things to see and do in Saint John. Some of the most fascinating are also the oldest in the country: Visiting the Saint John City Market is a must; The New Brunswick Museum gives insight into both the natural and cultural history of the province; and Loyalist House depicts the early days of the ‘Loyalist City,’ of Saint John. Stroll Uptown Saint John to admire the historic architecture and shop in the one-of-a-kind boutiques. Catch a concert at the King’s Square bandstand or revel in the peace of the Loyalist Burial Ground. End your day with a meal at one of the Saint John’s excellent restaurants.
If our top 5 things to do in New Brunswick has whetted your appetite, check out our full listing of 15 Things to do in New Brunswick.
New Brunswick has eight communities with city status. Saint John is the largest, by a slight margin. Despite it being the biggest and oldest incorporated city in the province (1785), it is not the capital. The capital city of New Brunswick is Fredericton (home of the main campus of the University of New Brunswick). The cities in order of population (from the 2011 census) are:
New Brunswick has more than 50 other designated Historic Sites. A full list can be found here.
New Brunswick has three main airports and though two of them have the word ‘International’ in their names, take that with a grain of salt. The few international flights there are to speak of are seasonal flights to places like Cancun, Miami, Orlando, and Varadero (i.e., Canadian Snow Birds escaping winter).
If you plan to fly into New Brunswick, you will most likely have to connect in a larger Canadian city like Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City, or even Halifax (although renting a car in Halifax and driving to NB is probably a better option.)
The main airports are:
If you are travelling to New Brunswick by car, the Trans-Canada Highway runs diagonally through the centre of the province. It is the easiest way to access NB from Quebec or Nova Scotia.
Prince Edward Island is connected to the southeastern tip of NB by the Confederation Bridge.
For independent travellers, by far the easiest way to get around New Brunswick is by road. NB has a reputation for being boring, largely due to people travelling through the province on the main Trans-Canada Highway. Admittedly, there’s not much to see besides a lot of trees, but take the time to get off the highway, and you’ll be charmed by New Brunswick’s picturesque countryside, small towns, and variety of attractions.
Cautionary note: New Brunswick’s road maintenance, particularly on secondary roads is (how do we put this delicately?) not always optimal. Even on some of the designated scenic routes we’ve been bounced and jostled, (not to mention worried about the state of our shocks) especially when travelling in our motorhome.
Likewise, the signage for the tourist driving routes isn’t always reliable, so it’s a good idea to have additional maps and/or GPS devices for travelling the back roads. The scenic routes driving map published by NB Tourism is not particularly detailed, so if you’re relying on old-fashioned paper, you may want to purchase a better map or atlas. We use a combination of maps and GPS in all of our travels. If you do happen to lose your way, the best thing to do is stop and ask a local. New Brunswickers are friendly and helpful and will get you back on the right path in no time. You may even score a recommendation (or invitation) for lunch!
New Brunswick Tourism has devised 5 main scenic drives through the province and overall they are excellent. We’ve done all of the first three below, and completing the final two is on our Bucket List for spring.
1. The River Valley Scenic Drive – [Indicated by a green fiddlehead sign] 512 km (318 mi.) – As the name suggests, this drive follows the St. John River from where it meets the Bay of Fundy in Saint John, all the way north of Edmundston where it meets Quebec. Another short stretch follows the Kennebecasis River from Saint John to Sussex. The River Valley Drive highlights New Brunswick’s agriculture as you drive through the fertile valley that supports everything from dairy cattle to the province’s primary crop – potatoes.
2. The Fundy Coastal Drive – [indicated by the blue lighthouse sign] 460 km (286 mi.) – This route follows the Fundy Coast along New Brunswick’s southern edge, from the US border at St. Stephen to the Nova Scotia border at Aulac. Obviously, the main attraction along this route is the dramatic shoreline carved by the crashing waves and enormous tides of the Bay of Fundy.
3. The Acadian Coastal Drive – [indicated by the red starfish sign] 750 km (466 mi.) – There’s no better way to get a taste of authentic Acadian culture than to follow this route along the Northumberland Straight. The Acadian Coastal Route begins in Aulac, where the Fundy Coastal Route ends and follows the water all the way north to the Acadian Isles and on to Dalhousie.
4. The Miramichi River Route – [indicated by the purple salmon sign] 180 km (112 mi.) – At first glance, it may seem like the Miramichi River Route is all about nature and the bounty of the mighty river. The drive itself closely follows the river from Fredericton to the city of Miramichi. While nature and outdoor activities are integral to this part of the province, culture and history abound here as well, and you can discover the history of the Acadians and the First Nations peoples at attractions along the route.
5. The Appalachian Range Route – [indicated by the brown mountain sign] – 278 km (172 mi.) Experiencing mountain majesty is the name of the game on the Appalachian Range Route. There is a wealth of outdoor activities to enjoy from autumn ‘leaf peeping’ to mountain biking and hiking to the top of Atlantic Canada’s highest peak. This drive follows the mountain range from Perth-Andover to Dalhousie.
You’ll find a full range of accommodations in New Brunswick from luxurious hotels and resorts with all the amenities to quaint and friendly bed & breakfasts and inns to campgrounds and rustic cabins in the middle of nature.
Depending on the length of your stay in New Brunswick, it’s a good idea to choose several ‘home bases’ and day-trip from there, whether these are in one of the vibrant cities, or you opt to take advantage of the National and Provincial Parks.
We’ve stayed at and reviewed the following accommodations in New Brunswick:
For some unique accommodation ideas, check out NB Tourism’s article, Stay East of Ordinary
Book Accommodations in New Brunswick at the best possible rates on Booking.com
The cuisine of New Brunswick is as diverse as the cultures who settled here; English, French, Scottish, Irish, and of course our First Nations. While many of the foods eaten across Canada (like poutine) are found here as well, the province has some local delicacies only found here or in the Maritime Provinces. Below you’ll find our top 4 foods which can be found all over NB. To learn about regional specialities (and where to find them) read our article on the Top 13 Things to Eat & Drink in New Brunswick.
1. Fiddleheads – One of the symbols of New Brunswick (and of the River Valley Scenic Drive) is the fiddlehead. This unfurled fern is foraged in the spring, and the greens are a local delicacy. Fiddleheads have a short growing season and are only found in the wild, making them all the more special. You can find fiddleheads on seasonal restaurant menus in the spring, but for the full experience, you need to go foraging for yourself. (Just make sure you go with an experienced forager as some fern species here are poisonous). Read about our Fiddlehead Foraging experience near Fredericton.
2. Seafood – New Brunswick’s Fundy and Northumberland coasts provide the province with a plethora of bounty from the sea. If you try one food in New Brunswick, let it be our local lobster. For a local experience, head to any lobster pound and choose your dinner. (Many pounds also offer cooked lobster if you can’t toss them in the pot yourself.) Beyond lobster, New Brunswick’s shellfish include clams, mussels, periwinkles, oysters (NB’s BeauSoleils have a global reputation), and scallops, and making the best seafood chowder is a competitive sport in NB. The Miramichi River is world famous for its salmon, and some smokehouses have emerged recently, selling local smoked salmon. Fish & Chips are a local staple and fresh seafood features on restaurant menus here at all price brackets; from roadside take outs to fine dining. (Read our full article on what to eat in NB for more about our treasures from the sea.)
3. Blueberries – New Brunswick’s favourite superfood is the wild blueberry, bursting with antioxidants and vitamins. NB wild blueberry growers harvest more than 30 million pounds of berries to ship around the world. In addition to fresh and frozen berries, you can sample blueberry syrups, jams, jellies, vinaigrettes, and even blueberry wine. Visit in mid-August to mid-September to taste blueberries fresh from the bush.
4. Maple Products – Canada is known around the world for its excellent maple syrup and New Brunswick produces 1.8 million kilograms of this liquid gold each year. While we love our syrup, it’s not the only maple product on offer in NB. Maple butter, maple sugar, maple candy, even maple cotton candy are some of the sweet treats you can enjoy in the province. You can buy NB maple products year-round but the best time to get the full ‘maple experience’ is when the sap starts running in early spring. Half a dozen maple producers around the province offer a ‘sugar bush’ experience where you can visit during the harvest and enjoy the maple goodness onsite.
New Brunswick has an endless variety of restaurants for all tastes and budgets from food-trucks and takeout stands to fine dining and seasonal menus. Sadly, we aren’t able to sample them all – but we’re giving it the best effort we can. We’ve written about some of our favourite restaurant finds so far but watch this space as we have more New Brunswick restaurant reviews to come.
While typical souvenir shops abound around the province, especially in heavily touristed areas like Uptown Saint John and Downtown Fredericton, we’ve always preferred to ‘shop local’ by supporting artisans and producers when we travel. Luckily there are plenty of options as New Brunswickers are a creative bunch, and you’ll find local galleries and studios all over the province. Here are a few of our personal favourites:
New Brunswick’s weather can be as changeable as our tides (but a lot less predictable). New Brunswicker’s love to talk about the weather, especially if they can bring up that old chestnut ‘If you don’t like the weather here, wait 5 minutes.’ While NB’s weather isn’t that bad, it does pay to be prepared. Even on sunny summer days, the fog can roll in on the coast and cool temperatures dramatically. Likewise, the temperature can vary widely from the coast to inland. Saint John and Fredericton often have a 10+ degree difference, even though they are only an hour apart.
If you are visiting New Brunswick from spring to autumn, pack plenty of light layers so you can bundle up and strip down as necessary.
If you’re going to be hiking of spending a lot of time in the woods, you may want to consider bug resistant clothing as New Brunswick’s black flies and mosquitoes can be ferocious. ExOfficio has a great line.
If you are visiting New Brunswick in winter, be prepared for cold weather. A warm parka, mitts, hat, scarves, and boots are needed in case of snow.
If like us, you enjoy books as much as online resources, the following are great resources and sources of inspiration to get you in the New Brunswick spirit.
To celebrate my 40th birthday, I’m sharing the 30 best food and dining experiences I had during my thirties covering Europe, Asia, and the Americas!
To celebrate my 40th birthday, I’m sharing the 30 best travel experiences I had during my thirties covering Europe, Africa, and the Americas!
We review the Smoking Pig, Toro Taco, and Barred Rock, 3 local, sustainable, fast food restaurants in Saint John, New Brunswick, headed by Chef Jesse Vergen.
From dramatic coastlines to epic hikes, stunning waterfalls, and even covered bridges, Fundy National Park highlights the best sights New Brunswick, Canada has to offer.
We share our top 15 things to do in New Brunswick (plus 6 more from our own Bucket List) to make the most of your travel to Canada’s Maritime Provinces.
We share 13 foods you have to eat when you visit New Brunswick, Canada; from fresh, local lobster to fiddlehead ferns and even tasty seaweed.
Did you enjoy learning about New Brunswick and want to go deeper? We’ve assembled a free 63-page Slow Travel Guide to Edmundston and surrounding Madawaska County.
This guide covers what to do, where to stay, and most importantly, what to eat when visiting Edmundston. Get more out of your visit by downloading our free guide.
Click below and enter your email address to access the Slow Travel Guide to Edmundston.