New Brunswick is Canada’s only fully bilingual province (English and French) and is part of the Atlantic provinces. Home to sites like Hopewell Rocks and Fundy National Park, and frequently visited by touring sports teams, it doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. New Brunswick is also geographically a pretty big province. Over 20,000 square kilometers larger than Nova Scotia, it’s not an easy place to cover quickly. And with lots of culture, beaches, and culinary adventures to have, why rush? Here’s a 3-day itinerary for Southern New Brunswick.
Southern New Brunswick
New Brunswick borders Nova Scotia on one side, and Quebec on the other, but has its own distinct vibe. This 3-day itinerary goes from Sackville to St. Andrew’s By the Sea and will cover the whole southern coast of the province.
Where to Stay
There are lots of options for where to stay for a three day trip in New Brunswick. I recently stayed at this AirBnB in Grand Bay-Westfield. The town is between Saint John and Fredericton, and though rural, served as a great base for exploring by car. St. Andrew’s is another popular spot to stay, and of course one of the larger cities can offer lots of choices. I stayed at the Delta in Saint John for one night (on points!) and it was well located if you want to stay right in the city.
Southern New Brunswick Day 1
Start the day in Sackville, New Brunswick. This sleepy town gets energized in September by the arrival of the Mount Allison University student population, but in the summer is a chill place to relax and get a coffee. Stop for lunch or a mid-morning snack at Cranewood Bakery & Cafe, a sweet eatery right on the main street with lots of outdoor seating. The beautiful building is worth visiting even if you aren’t hungry!
Before getting back on the road, take a gander through the Sackville Waterfowl Park. This outdoor green space is an easy walk and probably should have a more appealing name! We didn’t see as much waterfowl as the name suggests, but I do love a good boardwalk.
From Sackville, head 90 minutes down the highway to Hampton. On the way, stop in Sussex to stretch your legs in the cute downtown, and maybe grab a drink on a patio.
In Hampton, take a walk on the Dutch Point Trail. The 30 acre Dutch Point Park is open year round, with 6 walking trails, baseball fields, and playgrounds for families to enjoy. Most trails are open for biking as well, and in the winter, some can accommodate cross-country skiing. There is parking near the park, or walk from downtown (about 20 minutes).
The square in the middle of Hampton was very cute, and clearly a point of pride. Right across the street, stop for supper at Burgers at Buster’s – the food truck in the parking lot. This is a favourite of locals (I checked!) and is one of the rare places you can get fish and chips OR fish and salad (which you might be missing if you’re eating at a lot of food trucks in Atlantic Canada!).
Southern New Brunswick Day 2
Day 2 on the New Brunswick itinerary takes you west. First stop: Chance Harbour. Home of a former Scandinavian spa (really), this now-deserted cove is a perfect spot to cool off in a heat wave.
New River Beach Provincial Park is only 18 minutes by car from Chance Harbour. This provincial park does charge for parking, but once in, you’ll have access to the beach and several hiking and walking trails. It was absolutely freezing the day we visited, so the beach was fairly deserted, but I imagine in the hot weather this would be a very popular spot.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head to St Andrew’s By the Sea. This popular seaside town is a big hit with tourists – so expect it to be busy. You could easily spend a few days just exploring the community and the many things to see and do. Home to the well known Algonquin Resort (a member of Marriott Bonvoy if you are using/collecting points!), this super cute town is just out of a picture.
There are loads of nice places to eat. I highly recommend any meal at Seasons by the Sea Bistro, right on the waterfront. It’s a little hidden, off the main street, but definitely worth the search. Try the Blueberry Mule (a Moscow Mule with blueberry syrup and fresh berries) and the chowder for lunch.
While in St. Andrew’s, be sure to check out the Pendlebury Lighthouse, a short walk from downtown, the Blockhouse National Historic Site, and the Algonquin golf course (if that’s your thing).
We headed to the Kingsbrae Garden, an award-winning outdoor space with themed gardens, sculptures, and live animals like peacocks, llamas, and goats. This was the big ‘splurge’ I would say of the trip (other than food, which varies). Admission for one adult is $17, but if you have a student ID the price drops to $13, and four a family of four you can get everyone in for $40 total.
You could easily spend the whole afternoon wandering the gardens, and it would be a nice spot for little ones to run free and hang out with the llamas for a while. There is a cafe on the grounds, and if you book ahead, they’ll put together a picnic for you to eat on the lawns.
Last stop in St. Andrew’s is Kady’s Cove Beach. Very near the Algonquin Resort down a little dirt road is a white sand beach and water access. It has an enclosed swimming area, but isn’t huge, so you won’t lose your family!
Southern New Brunswick Day 3
The last day of the 3-day New Brunswick itinerary takes you to Rothesay, Saint John, and Grand Bay-Westfield. Head out first to Rothesay, home of many Irving family members (of Irving oil fame and wealth). As always, coffee first! Garden Grove Cafe was very classy and they’ll do you a scone with butter and jam which is really lovely.
Rothesay has a very sweet downtown playground and green space, and a little marina, beach, and lighthouse. It’s also full of beautiful and massive houses (it is home to the top five richest neighbourhoods in New Brunswick) so just a lovely spot for gawking and wandering around.
Rothesay is right on the road to Saint John. Though not the capital of the province, Saint John is the only city right on the Bay of Fundy, and has a great vantage point to view the Bay, and the Reversing Falls spectacle – where the water from the tides runs into the Saint John River, causing the whole situation to reverse itself twice daily. The Saint John Skywalk gives access to this phenomenon, and will no doubt teach you something in the process but I didn’t spend the $15 to see it. This was a save moment for me!
However, Saint John is home to the Container Village, a marketplace the city has built on the harbour out of shipping containers. The whole situation is a really good use of these big ugly containers that usually take up space in harbourfront cities. They’ve installed picnic tables, green spaces, and you can shop, eat, and drink in comfort and style.
Saint John is full of cute little shops, and a large garden and green space right in the middle of town. You could spend the whole day wandering and checking out just the downtown core. If you have time, stop for lunch at Brit’s Pub – the food was excellent.
Finish the day off in Grand-Bay Westfield with fish and chips (no salad this time) and an ice cream cone from Off the Hook Take Out. While you’re there, take advantage of the splash pad and municipal walking trails. We didn’t get a chance to take the ferry from Grand Bay across to the Hardings Point campground, but that would have been a great way to get a lovely view of the whole area. Grand Bay-Westfield was a great hidden gem of a place to stay – only about 5000 people live in the town, and it was really peaceful. The only downside was the (not very quiet) train that runs by the town at around 3am each night… it’s a bit hard to miss, regardless of where you stay!
Three days in Southern New Brunswick goes by really quickly! If you have more time, check out Fredericton, Hopewell Rocks, Fundy National Park, and Shediac… but that might have to wait for another trip.