The industrial engine of New Brunswick, Saint John, is an ideal base for exploring the surrounding region including St. Martins and the Fundy Trail Parkway, the Kingston Peninsula and the towns in Kennebecasis Valley. But you should not miss walking around the downtown of the city itself. It has many fine, often steep streets lined with Victorian buildings all built after the Great Fire of 1877.
In the centre of town is Market Square, a hub of activity where you can eat, shop and take in a variety of summer entertainment. The complex of restored commercial buildings on the waterfront also houses The New Brunswick Museum. This, Canada’s oldest museum, is now housed in a fascinating series of galleries stocked with an abundance of artefacts and geological, botanical and zoological specimens. Be sure to see the Hall of Great Whales and the Wind, Wood and Sail Gallery both of which will give you a great introduction or conclusion to your whale watching expedition and your visits to the many Fundy coastal towns that were centres of the ship building industry in the 19th century. For bird enthusiasts the Birds of New Brunswick Gallery is a must see as it provides a comprehensive guide to what one might expect to see in such places as The Irving Nature Park located on the western edge of Saint John.
Whether you are stocking up for your camping or cottage vacation or just want a delectable snack don’t miss the Saint John City Market. Located only a couple of blocks uphill from Market Square, this bustling 1876 market hall, is where you can buy everything from smoked local fish to exotic fruit, and locally grown produce to maritime souvenirs. Any one of the vendors will be delighted to explain the virtues of what they are offering.
Close to the City Market is Loyalist House one of the few buildings in the city of Saint John to have escaped the Great Fire. This 1817 structure was built for Loyalist Thomas Merritt who arrived in Saint John in 1783. The house preserves furniture and decoration from the period when many colonial Americans loyal to the British monarch, including such notables as Benedict Arnold, moved to Saint John.
If its maximum adventure that you want from your visit to Saint John you are in for some very unusual and, for some, frightening experiences. The most spectacular natural phenomenon to be seen in the city is the Reversing Falls. Here the waters of the majestic Saint John River flow through a narrow canyon into the Bay of Fundy. The rapids and whirlpools are extraordinarily powerful. But this is no ordinary river estuary because when the tides of Fundy come in, raising the water level by as much as 50 feet of 15.2 metres, the seawater pushes up the canyon first stopping the outflow of the river and then as the tide rises creating a series of rapids as the direction of the water reverses.
This unusual and dramatic demonstration of the power of nature can be observed from decks above the falls. But, if you want to get a little closer to nature, take the amazing Reversing Falls Zip Line Tour. Another option, requiring equal fortitude, is to get up close to the falls on a heart stopping Reversing Falls Boat Ride. When the falls are at their wildest, this is a jet boat ride like no other.