Saint John is the second-largest town of New Brunswick in the Canadian province, located in the south of the Bay of Fundy.
Saint John is fascinating. Once a sandy port city and the province’s primary economic engine, it has since washed up its past. Its lively well-known core is home to one of New Brunswick’s top markets, and there are a busy eatery and pub fuss worth exploring. Stroll past excellently maintained sandstone and redbrick architecture, down narrow side streets that offer sights of the sea, or along the dock where the all-powerful Saint John and Kennebecasis Rivers empty into the Bay of Fundy. Check out the city’s unique libraries and zip-line over the Reversing Falls. Sure, some of the neighboring natural beauty is waned by an oil refinery and pulp mill smokestacks, but Saint John will embrace you with open arms and knows how to show you a great time.
Places to Visit in Saint John
New Brunswick Museum
The New Brunswick Museum has a diverse and exciting collection. There’s a beautiful region on industrial history with 1908 statuettes by Acadian Alfred Morneault and a special section on marine life, including a life-size specimen of a whale. There are also models of old sailing ships, hands-on exhibits and a charming collection of Canadian and international artwork on the top floor. This is the province’s leading museum and worth visiting.
The Bay of Fundy’s extraordinary tides is a defining feature along this coast. Here, where the Saint John River nears this tidal bay, one of the region’s best-known sights occurs. Known as the Reversing Rapids, the actual action is happening underwater, where a 50m waterfall drops into a pool. What you see from above is the high tides of the Bay of Fundy clashing with the mighty river current, creating rapids, rising waves, and the water to flow upstream. As the tide fades, the river goes back through the tight gorge to the sea again with lots of rapids and whirlpools. If this doesn’t wow you enough, you can take a zip line over the rapids. At low tide, watch the rapids from the platform at Fallsview Park signposted off Douglas St. At high tide, head over the Falls View road bridge, where there is a glass skywalk and an information center available. Tides tables are readily accessible.
Irving Nature Park
Irving Nature Park, 5 miles southwest of Saint John, has hilly, spotless coastal topography for those with a car and loves nature. It’s also a striking place for bird-watching, with many species regularly spotted, while seals sometimes relax on the rocks offshore. Seven trails lead around cliffs, beaches, mudflats, woods, rocks, and marsh. Wear strong footwear as the walk will be moderately strenuous. However, rejoice, this is one of the few forests with close to no snakes.
Dating from the early-1800s, this Georgian-style Loyalist House was preserved with minimum changes for five generations until the family moved out in the mid-1900s. As one of the city’s oldest unchanged buildings and a descendant of the 1877 fire, it’s now a museum representing the Loyalist period. Tours led by guides in period dresses take around 40 minutes.
Saint John Jewish Historical Museum
With numerous photographs and artifacts, this museum outlines Saint John’s Jewish community’s culture and history, whose members included Louis B Mayer of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) of Hollywood fame. Don’t forget to watch a legendary 1970s video footage of an 80-year-old lady hand-making bagels.
What to eat at Saint John?
A blend of locations for dining are available in Market Square in Saint John. Here are a few restaurants you can explore:
- Pepper’s/Lemongrass Pub, Brunswick Square. Lemongrass Restaurant is a famous Thai place offering food at a reasonable price—perfect pad thai and appetizer. Pepper’s Pub, located in the same venue, offers unusual pub fare for just about anybody. Thursdays are wing night, serving 1lb of wings for $4. Excellent sauce selections. Service can be somewhat slow on this night, but only because the pub is jam-packed with regulars who flock to Pepper’s.
- Billy’s Seafood: Seafood of all types is what you can find at Billy’s. Locally operated and owned by Billy, it offers great seafood dishes at a reasonable price. Look to pay $15-20 per person for supper. This restaurant is a favorite of both locals and cruise tourists, some of whom make the trek from the United States each year to come and sample the flavors!
- Alley Gria, Spanish tapas bar: Serves up all kinds of delightful plates for you to share with your friends. Best if more than two people go, that way everyone can order something different. Open in the afternoons until late night.
- Thandi’s: Thandi’s is great for Indian cuisine. It’s a little on the pricier side so expect to spend $25-30 per person for a well-rounded meal (including drinks). You will find generous Indian staff providing a typical South Asian hospitality.
- Big Tide Brewing Co.: Nice little brewpub with some tremendous microbrewed beer. Everything from IPAs to Hemp Ale. Big tide offers up some pub favorites. Not too pricey. Expect to spend around $30-40 per couple.