A Weekend Getaway in Saint John, New Brunswick


If you enjoy nature and adventure, then Saint John, the second largest city in Canada’s Atlantic province New Brunswick is a perfect option for you. A weekend trip there is a great way to get to know the city and get a feel of a laid-back local life. Additionally, it is a city with a couple of interesting sites on the Bay of Fundy. It is also easy to walk through downtown and learn about the history and culture of this interesting port city.

Saint John New Brunswick travel guide 1

Overview of Saint John, New Brunswick

Saint John is a port city on the Bay of Fundy and it is also the oldest incorporated city in Canada. It is historically rich and culturally diverse. It has a thriving art scene and lots of green space. The city’s main feature is Saint John River, which is dotted by houses and urban sprawls, with parts of the river connecting to the Bay of Fundy, which has the highest tides in the world.

Saint John only has uptown, and this is because back in the day when the port was still active and the central part of the city was on a hill, the residents of that time would go up the hill to the city center. Nowadays, the uptown is where commercial buildings, supermarkets, restaurants, museums, and tourist facilities congregate.

Saint John New Brunswick travel guide 1

Saint John Uptown

Saint John has been selected as one of the friendliest and happiest places in Canada. It is also a place worth a short trip in the early summer as the climate is moderate

Here is the Saint John weekend travel guide, so you are well prepared for your trip there.

Saint John New Brunswick

Interesting places to visit in Saint John

Saint John City Market

I started off my Saint John trip by visiting the oldest farmers market in North America. From my hostel, I walked straight to the city market, which is located in a historic building with a unique interior.

The history of this city market dates back in 1876 and the building has been renovated. The market is not that big and you can easily go through it in 15 minutes, but it is impressive with a variety of local products, hand-made crafts, and a wide selection of food, from locally sourced seafood, fresh vegetables, fruits, and meat to international cuisine.

Saint John City Market

I visited the market every day. The first day there, I ordered Korean ramen, and the second day, the lobster. A seafood restaurant, Billy’s Seafood Company, is at the entrance of the market, and their seafood chowder is the best I have ever had.

New River Beach

For my second stop on the Saint John trip, I took a drive to New River Beach. This beach is not your typical beach for a holiday. However, the beach is completely off the tourist radar and it offers free access to the public.

The beach has an extensive coastline where you can take long walks. It also features several picnic areas. a camp ground, and a playground. It is a perfect place to bring your family here, grab food and drinks, and relax there for an afternoon. The water was calm and a bit cold when I was there, but locals are welcoming and they take their time to chat with you.

My favorite part of the beach is during the sunset time where the sky glows into a color of gold and then turns into purple. As there are not so many people around, it was easy to find a quiet place to sit and enjoy the late afternoon serenity on my own.

Saint John New Brunswick travel guide 1

New River Beach in Saint John

Java Moose Coffee

Java Moose Coffee is a special coffee brand in Saint John. Unlike chain coffee shops, Java Moose Coffee enriches your experience and taste by using a special coffee machine. Their way of roasting a small batch of coffee beans will give you more individual taste and rich flavor.

I stopped there for a quick morning coffee break, which was a great experience. The coffee shop was clean and the person welcomed me with a smile and quickly delivered my order of a latte. Aside from coffee, they also feature freshly made sandwiches and cookies.

Things to do in Saint John New Brunswick

Java Moose Coffee in Saint John

New Brunswick Museum

When I walked around the city market, I accidentally crossed the New Brunswick Museum, so I stopped by there for a few hours’ visit.

The museum features a large exhibition of art, geography, furniture, and birds. The prominent feature of the museum is the gallery of Wind, Wood and Sail, which details the nautical history of Saint John and New Brunswick, allowing you to learn the hardship involved in building ships, the work of trade, life at the sea and, most importantly, how it shapes the history of New Brunswick to this day.

At the beginning of the visit, I also walked through the hall of Great Whales, which display the large skeleton of whales and other mammoths. It was also my favorite part of the visit, and I spent half an hour there walking around the hall to see the display and listen to our tour guide share the knowledge of the mammoths to us.

Saint John New Brunswick travel guide 1

Reversing Falls Rapids

Reversing Falls Rapids is my favorite place in Saint John. This is not your typical stop for waterfalls or rapids. This is where you watch the two natural forces battle with each other and create an unusual natural phenomenon.

Specifically, Reversing Falls Rapids was created by the collision of Saint John River and the Bay of Fundy. The Bay of Fundy has the highest tides in the world, and it can reach up to eight meters high in Saint John. The water pours into the 725-kilometer long Saint John River and collides. Under the unstoppable natural power of the Fundy Bay, the flow of the Saint John River reverses during high tide.

Reversing Rapids in Saint John New Brunswick

If you want to get some food and drinks near the rapids, 14 ½ Café and Bar is a good place offering reasonably priced food, Java Moose Coffee, and a panoramic view of the rapids. The restaurant was pretty empty when I was there, and you can stay there as long as you want.

How to get around Saint John New Brunswick

As public transport is limited, I recommend that you rent a car at the airport or drive your own vehicles into the city. Once you get to Saint John uptown, you can find a parking place and start walking around. It is also difficult to travel around its vicinity without a car.

Where to stay in Saint John, New Brunswick

I did not find too much budget-friendly accommodation in Saint John. I chose to stay at Newman House Hostel, which is close to a majority of attractions in the city and had a nice walk to Reversing Rapids, but if you are on vacation and do not mind to splurge a bit, you can choose among plenty of hotels uptown here.

What to know about visiting Saint John

-Saint John is worth staying for 2-3 days and then you can take a day trip outside the city to St. Andrews and sea caves in St. Martins. Both places need a car to get around but are worth your time and expenses.

-Bring a light jacket and long pants, even in the summer season. At night, it can get cold and a bit windy.

-If you plan to go ziplining at the Reversing Rapids Falls, make sure to contact the ziplining company before your visit, because they may not operate the activity if there are not enough people.

– If time permits, take a short drive outside the city, and you may find interesting and beautiful places you have never thought of visiting and it will absolutely have no crowds. I continued my drive after I reached the airport, and I got to a place with a view like this:

Things to do in Saint John New Brunswick

Have you visited Saint John in New Brunswick? Share your experience below!

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Saint John New Brunswick Travel Guide

Julie Cao

Julie is the creator of Always On The Way. She lived in Hawaii and now resides in London (Ontario, Canada). In 2017, she went on an overland trip from Bogota Colombia to Puerto Williams, the southernmost city in the world. She believes travel is not only about visiting tourist attractions but more about getting to know the culture, people, and the place.

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