New Englanders, grab your passport. Follow I-95 north through Maine and you’ll find yourself in New Brunswick, the wildest of the Atlantic Canada provinces (83% of it is forested!). But it’s not just stunning fall foliage and hiking trails here. Among the trees, you’ll uncover historic towns, beaches, and water in all its forms, including sinister whirlpools and the highest tides in the world.
Though there are many more, here are nine of the incredible places you probably didn’t know were sitting right across the border in New Brunswick.
1. Upper Bay of Fundy
Known for having the world’s most dramatic tides, the Upper Bay of Fundy sees a difference of up to 53 vertical feet between high and low tide. This is also the home of the Hopewell Rocks, where you can kayak around crazy sandstone formations at high tide and walk on the ocean floor at low tide. In other words, stick around for a while!
Nearby, challenge your fear of heights at the cliffside Cape Enrage by cruising down a zipline, climbing the outdoor rappelling wall, and visiting the striking lighthouse. On hot days, Memel Falls and Crooked Creek are local favorites for cooling off, and the 200-person town of Alma (located just outside of Fundy National Park) has several oceanside patios where you can relax with a cold beer or ice cream (or both).
2. St. Martins Sea Caves
The aforementioned Hopewell Rocks is an amazing place to kayak — fewer people know about the St. Martins Sea Caves, but the appeal is similar. Every six hours and 13 minutes, the tide rises or falls — either opening up the rocky land to exploration on foot or wiping away your footprints, requiring a kayak to navigate the waters, arches, and caverns.
Water flows in and out of the Bay of Fundy at an astonishing rate — in a 24-hour period, the amount of water that passes through here is the equivalent of what all the rivers on the planet put into all the oceans. This, clearly, is at least an entire day’s adventure.
3. Fundy National Park
If nature is your tea of choice, put Fundy National Park first on your menu. Laverty Falls, Third Vault, and Coppermine trails are all excellent day hikes (the first two are named for spectacular waterfalls you’ll find along the way). The slightly longer Moosehorn Trail (5.6 miles return) balances its difficult terrain with some awesome swimming holes that are often completely empty. Nearby, Bennet Lake is the spot for kayaking and paddle boarding, as well as trout fishing in summer. There are also numerous interpretive events offered during summer — think guided hikes and educational beach walks.
Several campsites, cabins, yurts, and oTENTiks (a tent-cabin blend seemingly designed with Instagram in mind) are easily accessible throughout the park, and seasoned hikers can pitch their tents right off the stunning forest trails in the backcountry (permit required).
4. Historic Water Street, Saint Andrews
Water Street has always been the soul of Saint Andrews, a late-1700s New Brunswick town fittingly nicknamed St. Andrews By-the-Sea. Water is everywhere here, and Water Street encircles the town and its peninsular location jutting into Passamaquoddy Bay. To get a true taste of the street’s namesake, sign up for a whale watching tour with one of the local outfitters.
Back on land, you can browse dozens of family-run shops, including Garden by the Sea for handmade soaps and teas and the Spice Box for local samosas, flatbreads, and baba ghanoush to take on a beach picnic. Near the intersection of Water and King Streets is the historic Market Square, where farmers market vendors set up shop every Thursday (late May through September). Meals are best taken waterside, which isn’t hard to do — check out the patios at The Gables Restaurant, Old Tyme Pizza, or Harbour Front Restaurant.
5. The beaches of Grand Manan Island
With dozens of beaches and coves spread across the island, Grand Manan seems absolutely made for beach hopping on an August afternoon. Here’s a brief rundown:
- Top of the beach list is Deep Cove, Grand Manan’s largest and one of the most popular for its sandy stretches and warmer waters.
- At the northern end of the island, Whale Cove is a beautiful stone beach next to the Hole-in-the-Wall rock formation you can kayak through at high tide.
- Anchorage Provincial Park has several beaches accessible by car, bike, and walking trail. Birdwatchers might even outnumber beachgoers here — some 275 species have been spotted in the park, including adorable puffins.
- Small but not to be forgotten, Stanley Beach features a homemade barge with a water slide and a rope to swing off of into the water. It’s also down the street from North Head Bakery, serving awesome housemade pastries and breads.
6. Roosevelt Campobello International Park
Home to Theodore and Eleanor Roosevelt’s family cottage, Roosevelt Campobello International Park sits just over the border from Lubec, Maine, conveniently connected by bridge. It’s a great place to experience a dose of history alongside a full gulp of the outdoors. Explore dozens of biking and walking trails through the cottage grounds and gardens — walk out to the Friar’s Head observation deck to enjoy the sea breeze, or check out Liberty Point for some scenic lookouts and picnic spots.
History buffs should make time for the museum-style cottage, which features tons of well-preserved artifacts. The entry fee also includes an afternoon tea with an expert guide telling the story of Eleanor Roosevelt’s extraordinary life.
7. Ministers Island
Originally the summer estate of engineer and artist Sir William Van Horne, the enchanting and historic Ministers Island is now accessible year-round, just off the coast of Saint Andrews. You can get to the island by car, bike, or on foot at low tide via the sandbar-turned-road.
The 500 acres of wildflower fields, carriage trails, and forests are great for biking and hiking, and the estate is covered with historic buildings, the most stunning of which is the iconic bathhouse where the panoramic top-floor views inspired many of Van Horne’s paintings. On the bathhouse’s bottom floor, you’ll find changing rooms to pop on a bathing suit for a dip in the property’s natural saltwater tidal pools.
8. Swallowtail Lighthouse, Grand Manan Island
One of the most photographed lighthouses (or lightstations) in the province, Swallowtail is a stunning spot for photographers, artists, and sightseers. Leading up to the lighthouse is a flight of stairs, a wooden footbridge, and a gravel trail — not an easy stroll on wet days, so try and plan your trip for when the sun’s out.
The lighthouse was established in 1860, and it’s still run by resident light keepers today. For a small fee, you can go inside for a guided tour and check out the 360-degree view from the top. If you choose to forgo the tour, the lookout nearby is worth the visit in itself and is completely free of charge.
9. The Chocolate Museum, St. Stephen
Located just across the border from Calais, Maine, this is an entire museum dedicated to chocolate. Housed in the former Ganong candy factory, the museum — an homage to the delicate process of chocolate-making — is totally interactive and hands-on. And since this is a chocolate museum, that means there’s a Chocolate Tasting Station, yes.
The Ganong Chocolatiers still make the good stuff the way they did 100 years ago (you can peep into the studio to watch them), but there’s also vintage everything to wander through and explore. It’s like the good ol’ days once again.