Saint John is Canada’s first incorporated city, a milestone moment that hearkens all the way back to 1785. The only city on the Bay of Fundy – home of the world’s highest tides – is also the province’s largest city.
You can’t visit Saint John without taking in the historic Saint John City Market , the oldest continuing farmers’ market in Canada. You’ll love the wide variety of produce, fresh fish and meat, crafts and trinkets, but what will stay with you long after is the unique architecture. In a nod to the past, the roof is built like the inverted hull of a ship. Spectacular!
You could visit this Maritime gem and almost never venture outside thanks to the Inside Connection (a.k.a. the Pedway). It starts at the Hilton Saint John, along the water front, and connects you with the City Market, taking in the Market Square shopping centre, New Brunswick Museum, Brunswick Square, Harbour Station and many restaurants and shops along the way. But if you did that, you’d miss the retail revitalization that dots the historic uptown. From Elwood’s Wood Lab (where they make and sell fabulous products) to Heartbreak Boutique & Skates (brimming with quirky fashion) to The Urban Shoe Myth, there’s something for every shopper.
There’s a nascent food scene happening here that’s alive with possibility. Not to be missed is Port City Royal, where old favourites are interpreted with new flair. Order the Fried Smelts with Lemon Mayo before moving on to one of the restaurant’s hearty mains, like Tourtière or Braised Beef Ribs. They were also just named one of Canada’s top 100 restaurants and ranked second on enRoute‘s list of best new restaurants. For more Maritime menu options that are both seasonally and locally inspired, check out the cozy and contemporary East Coast Bistro .
Rockwood Park , just a 10-minute trip from downtown, is an oasis in the city and one of the largest urban parks in North America. It bustles with seasonal activities thanks to its many freshwater lakes and forests. Spend the morning on the water and break for lunch at Lily’s Lakeside Café before hiking among the amazing rock formations in one of the sites within the Stonehammer Geopark, which tell a unique geological story of the Earth’s history.
Can’t decide between a history tour and a drinking tour? Kill two birds with one stone and sign up for a Saint John Uncorked tour . Learn about the wine and beer scene while getting a history lesson on the colourful characters and architecture that helped make the city what it is.