To start, let’s just acknowledge the elephant in the room when it comes to talking about New Brunswick tourism – its unfortunately outdated label as a “drive-thru province.” Meaning; you drive through it to get to Nova Scotia or PEI. We had heard and read this multiple times while gearing up for a two-and-a-half-week road trip of the province. With that trip now in our rear-view mirror, I want to make my appreciation for New Brunswick clear. I think that it is a can’t-miss place to visit, especially on a road-trip, and that “driving-thru” the province is like opting to eat a big mac in a parking lot instead of a lobster dinner on an Acadian fishing boat (something you can totally do). The big mac might be easier, but it certainly won’t be something you write home about. With that in mind, I thought I’d share with you 5 reasons why I love New Brunswick.
The Southside Cities
One of New Brunswick’s charms is its diversity, and this is clearly on display when checking out its big three southside cities, Fredericton, Saint John, and Moncton. Each one has carved out its own unique identity despite the fact that there is less than 300km between them. Fredericton is the most charming of the three and boasts a lot of outdoor activities, as well as beautiful parks and a very cool craft beer and craft cider scene. Saint John is the more industrial city and is experiencing a cultural renaissance based around its historic downtown core, with lots of great eats and drinks to be enjoyed. Moncton is the most populous city, leading to great shopping, arts, and a wide variety of family friendly activities. Any of the three cities is individually well worth a visit, but it is in comparing and contrasting them that one can get a true sense of urban life in New Brunswick.
The Bay of Fundy
The Bay of Fundy and the Hopewell Rocks are easily the largest reason people come to visit New Brunswick. They are immaculate, impressive natural sites to behold, and simply can’t be missed. I never thought I would want to hang around for hours, only to see the same place twice just because the tide went out. However, when a tidal shift measures 11-16m (35-50ft) and changes a landscape that is already breathtaking… you darn-well wait around to see it. I don’t have enough words to describe the majesty of the area, so please take a peak at the video below to get an idea of what I am talking about.
English/Français – No Problem!
East coast Canadians are known for their hospitality, sense of humour, and friendliness. It’s such a recurring theme in the region that you can’t help but want to come back simply for the people. What makes New Brunswick unique in this area is that they have all of those wonderful qualities, but they can do it all in English and/or French. As Canada’s only official bilingual province, most New Brunswickers can easily switch between either language, and will do so based on whatever makes you comfortable. A perfect example was a woman working at a Bay of Fundy food stall who cracks a joke in French to the family in front of us, then seamlessly puts me in stitches two moments later in English. It is such an impressive quality about the people in New Brunswick that makes visitors feel welcome and at ease whether you’re shopping for groceries, asking for directions, or taking a tour with both English and French speakers.
Canada Within a Province
The fact that Canada spans the width of a continent, ocean to ocean to ocean, means that there is an insane amount of geographical variety. Unfortunately, the sheer immensity of the country makes it almost impossible to experience all that the country has to offer in one trip (possibly even ten). New Brunswick helps to solve this problem by presenting itself as Canada within a province. Within its provincial borders; you can dive into the ocean and enjoy it’s delicious bounty, navigate a canoe through a web of rivers, trek through dense forests, hike to the top of mountains, venture into urban city centers, speak with people in French or English, discover aboriginal culture, explore British, French, Acadian, and First Nation historical sites… the list goes on and on. Canada has a lot to offer and quite a bit of it can be taken in just by visiting New Brunswick.
A History Buff’s Playground
I love history. I find it’s a great way to connect with a region and its people – to understand why things are the way they are and how it relates to what I am looking at or experiencing. New Brunswick blew me away with its opportunities to explore the history of the region. The Acadian Historical Village is a can’t miss experience and is worth a day’s visit. Check out the “Changing of the Guard” in downtown Fredericton with plaques nearby that tell the story of soldiers in the War of 1812 and their epic march in the dead of winter to southern Ontario. Saint John is the oldest incorporated city in Canada whose downtown core is pretty much a living museum. Check out the lighthouse at Cape Enrage. Learn about the resettling of Acadians after they were kicked out of Nova Scotia. Learn about the Loyalist who immigrated after the US war of Independence. Oh man… so much more. Love it!
What do you love about New Brunswick? Please share in the comments below!
Planning a trip to New Brunswick? You may also be interested in:
- Things To Do in and Around Moncton
- Things To Do in Saint John
- 5 Tips For Visiting the Hopewell Rocks
- Video: The Acadian Historical Village
- Heart-Pumping Adventure at Cape Enrage
- Video: Mount Carleton Provincial Park – From the Air!