Article by Jillian MacKinnon, additions by Tim Moore and Photos from Saint John tourism

(First published in Tour-Smart Blog 2016.)

Discover Saint John, New Brunswick


With charming city streets, a plethora of unique restaurants, art galleries and boutiques in the uptown and the beautiful Bay of Fundy on its doorstep, Saint John, New Brunswick is a vibrant urban centre on the edge of nature.

Down Town Saint John

In 1785, Saint John became the first officially incorporated city in Canada. There is over 228 years of history on every corner including the beautifully restored Imperial Theatre, celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2013, and North America’s oldest continuing farmers market – The Saint John City Market. The roof of the City Market is built like the inverted hull of a ship to reflect the city’s shipbuilding past and is full of colourful stalls proudly displaying local produce, meat, seafood and New Brunswick arts and crafted items.

Saint John was named a Cultural Capital of Canada in 2010 which is not surprising given it has over a dozen art galleries and an abundance of public art in the uptown. Each year, the galleries host a series of gallery hops which provide a perfect opportunity for a night out followed by dinner at one of Saint John’s locally-owned restaurants. Saint John is a culinary hot spot in the Maritimes where foodies can enjoy two restaurant weeks as well as the Fundy Food Festival each year.

Urban exploring is easy in Saint John – no matter what the weather. The city offers an all-season Inside Connection pedway linking two shopping centres, two hotels, and numerous restaurants, recreational and cultural facilities.

Hopewell Rocks a dramatic part of the Bay of Fundy

The Bay of Fundy, home to the world’s highest tides, offers excitement and thrills in the heart of the city with the Reversing Rapids. Hundreds of millions of years ago, continents collided, forming the gorge through which the St. John River flows. When the world’s highest tides push in, rushing up and over the river, they collide, and the river actually reverses in the face of this unstoppable natural power. Then, as the water begins to drop with low tide, the river empties freely into the Bay and the full flow of the St. John River thunders through the gorge once more. A jet boat ride through the rapids or a zip line over the raging water is one of the best ways to get up close and personal with the mighty Fundy tides.

Now there is another option for seeing this natural phenomenon that isn’t scary and you don’t have to get wet. In the Fall of 2017, the result of considerable investment and imagination, SKYWALK Saint John was opened and, as you see from the photograph below, you get a great view of The Reversing Falls.

Whale sightings are guaranteed in the Hall of Great Whales at the New Brunswick Museum where you can see a life-size replica of Delilah, a 13 metre Right Whale. The museum’s tidal tower will show the amazing Bay of Fundy tides rising and falling throughout the day. And the museum is also a hub for the Stonehammer Geopark, North America’s first UNESCO-supported Global Geopark. There are a billion years of stories waiting to be told in Saint John.

Saint John acts as the perfect home-base for day-trips along the Fundy Coast to St. Martins and the Fundy Trail. St. Martins is a village rich in shipbuilding history, boasting red cliffs, sea caves and a three-mile long crescent beach where the Fundy tides sweep in and out daily. The Fundy Trail is one of the last remaining coastal wilderness areas in North America. It includes an 11 kilometre stretch of roadway nestled along the winding shore of the spectacular Bay of Fundy. Enjoy stunning panoramic views of the Bay, beautiful beaches and lighthouses.


And when the tide turns it’s kayak time

Yet another new attraction has opened it’s doors this year offering to give you the thrill of the outdoors – TIMBERTOP ADVENTURES.  It takes you way up high among the treetops where you can pause and listen to birds singing and waves lapping the sand nearby. After that moment of calm you can zipline through the air above the forest floor in a series of exciting rides and experiences.

Approximately 120,000 people live in Greater Saint John and 750,000 in the province of New Brunswick, Canada’s only bilingual province. Saint John is just over an hour drive from the U.S. border at Calais, Maine, about a 4 hour-drive or 40-minute flight from Halifax, Nova Scotia and 10 hour-drive or 90-minute flight to Montreal, Quebec.

Saint John Airport is located 15 kilometres (9.2 miles) east northeast of the central business district of Saint John. The airport is wholly within the boundaries of the City of Saint John.

Saint John and the Bay of Fundy make a very popular destination for cruise ships coming north from the USA as well as from across the Atlantic Ocean. This very friendly City of Atlantic Canada well deserves it’s popularity with tourists however they arrive there.

Cruise Ship calls into Saint John, NB


Post Script: The main photo is a sculpture of a ‘Fiddle Head’. It is a fern before it opens and is a signature vegetable in the region.

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