Road Tripping through New Brunswick
Home of the world’s highest tides, spectacular coastlines, rich culture and delicious seafood, New Brunswick is a wonderful place to enjoy a road trip. We’re going to start this guide from the corner of the province which borders with Quebec and Maine, so buckle up as we take you for a clockwise tour.
Edmundston is the most westerly city of New Brunswick, in an area known as Madawaska and is a good entry point into the province. It’s located on the border of Quebec Canada and Maine USA, and at the confluence of the Saint John and Madawaska Rivers. So it is truly a cultural and geographical crossroads, as well as claiming six nations of founders - Maliseet, Acadians, Quebecois, English, Scottish and Americans. You can pick up a Leisure Walk map from the tourist office to discover the historical highlights of the city on foot. You’ll enjoy wandering the downtown streets and the quirky pedestrian bridge over the Madawaska River.
Whilst you’re in the city, make sure that you visit the New Brunswick Botanical Garden, Edmunsdston Arts Centre, enjoy a specialty coffee at one of the many artisan cafes and relax over a craft beer at the Petit-Sault Brewery. Our pick for dinner would be Moonshin’hers Cafe Bistro – offering classic dishes with a local twist and a vast whiskey offering.
Travel eastbound to the beautiful Acadian Peninsula – named after the Acadians who are descendants of the 17th and 18th century French settlers. You should visit the Village Historique Acadien where you will discover the life of the Acadians from 1770 to 1949. There are more than 40 historic buildings, occupied and animated by interpreters in period costumes with each inhabitant having a story to tell, a craft or custom to bring to life.
There are some great quirky lighthouses to visit in this region. You can climb to the top of the Miscou Lighthouse for great views of the Miscou bogs (particularly striking in the autumn). The Ile aux Foins Lighthouse is set in a pretty park and a lovely place to park up and stretch your legs. The Grand Anse Lighthouse is painted in the bright colours of the Acadian Flag and is a useful visitor information centre - a beautiful spot to enjoy views of the Bay of Chaleur and watch the fishing boats.
Kouchibouguac National Park
Next stop is the Kouchibouguac National Park, where verdant forests lead to beautiful salt marshes and ocean beaches. Take time to stroll one of the scenic trails, to take in the dunes and lagoons, flora and fauna. For starters there is a 1km boardwalk along La Dune de Boutouche to the Irving Eco-centre. And you can learn about Indigenous heritage at the Elsipogtog Mi'kmaq Cultural Centre.
Continue down the coastline to The Lobster Capital of the World – Shediac. Here you can take a selfie by the world’s largest lobster statue or go on a lobster boat tour with lunch included. You can also visit the Homarus lobster and marine interpretive centre and there are some great dining options on Main Street.
Just outside of the town there is the gorgeous Parlee Beach, which claims to be home to the warmest salt water in Canada!
Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park is really the compulsory stop on any New Brunswick road trip, for you to witness the worlds highest tides and to see the iconic rock formations - over 20 free-standing sea stacks dotted along a mile or more of shoreline. If you can, then stick around for the six hour transformation, from high tide where the rocks are virtually covered to low tide when you can walk along the ocean floor and look up at these flowerpot shaped rocks rising 40 to 70 feet above the seabed. The admission ticket covers two consecutive days, so if you’re staying nearby (perhaps in Moncton) then you can always come back the following day to see the rocks at a different part of the tidal cycle.
Funday Trail Parkway
This route is a must for a New Brunswick road trip, a 19 mile drive hugging the Bay of Fundy coastline, with spectacular views in every direction. Stop off at one of the many observation points and take time to stroll one of the beautiful trails to get up close to waterfalls and beaches. As you exit the parkway at its most westerly point, you’re just a few minutes drive from the Saint Martin Sea Caves, carved out by the mighty tides of the Bay of Fundy. If you’re there at low tide, then explore the beaches surrounding the red sandstone caves, before continuing into the charming village of St. Martins with its covered bridges.
Food and water – central to most things, but for Saint John – the food is fantastic and the water simply spectacular. Starting with the food, you’re going to be spoilt for choice of restaurants but ticking most of the boxes for Maritime specialties then Lily’s comes highly recommended, with Lobster Poutine a firm favourite. Market Square is a great place to stroll, filled with boutiques and cafes, and just round the corner is the ever popular East Coast Bistro serving regional dishes. ….. Saint John City Market is the oldest continuous famers market in Canada, and here you can sample myriad mouth-watering offerings. Make sure you also look up to admire the fabulous roof which resembles the upturned hull of a ship.
Then the water – this city is a special place where the St. John River meets the Bay of Fundy. The Reversing Falls Rapids is a must-see for any visitor to the city – where the impressive rapids and whirlpools flow one way with the incoming tide and another with the outgoing tide. There are great viewpoints to see this natural phenomenon in Fallsview Park and Wolastoq Park.
Along the coast, at the very western edge of New Brunswick close to the US border, you’ll find the picturesque seaside town of Saint Andrews. It’s a national historic site of Canada, with over 140 historic buildings many of which are now appealing boutiques and eateries. It’s a gorgeous place for a few days to chill, but you’ll also need to build in time to go for a whale-watching trip. You’ll not only spot whales, but also seals, puffins and more. Treat yourself to a stay at the historic and also luxurious, Algonquin Resort.
Heading inland in a northerly direction, you’ll arrive in Fredericton. There’s a historical side to Fredericton which is evident in several of the city’s neighbourhoods, with museums, heritage sites, Victorian mansions and the Historic Garrison District. Through the summer you can see the Ceremonial Guard standing on sentry at City Hall or marching in Downtown Fredericton. You can also take a Guided Heritage Walking tour, where guides in historical costumes will entertainingly talk you through the history of the city.
After discovering its history, you may now want to discover why Fredericton is known as the “Craft Brewery Capital of Atlantic Canada”. You can spend many a happy hour sampling the local brews, on the #FredTapTrail. Locations range from startups to award-winning breweries, each with their own spin on traditional ales and inventive brews. But if you would rather just stay in one place then we’d recommend the Joyce Pub which has no less than 36 taps all dedicated to New Brunswick brews.
Discover all the sights on this tailormade self-drive itinerary Experience New Brunswick