New Brunswick is a better kept secret than its higher profile Atlantic Canada cousins, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. Uncrowded and verdant golf courses await, as do what are referred to as “cities” but which are really charming towns where the locals still debate whether Lady Di used a rickety church bathroom during a royal visit. Police cars are Volkswagen Beetles.
My visit started at The Hilton in Saint John where its commanding views left me feeling like the luxury cruise ships in the harbor could be boarded from my room. Saint John is eminently walkable and stops should include the public square, the circa 1913 movie theatre, and the City Market which inhabits a crafted time-worn building that gets better with age. It has dozens of stalls containing all things seafaring as well as creature comforts for the ruddy. For dinner, it was the waterfront Saint Johns Ale House for bacon-wrapped scallops and the best chicken fingers you’ll ever inhale.
Next stop was St. Andrews By-the-Sea where the exquisite and venerable Algonquin Hotel gives you the feel of the 1920s and you can pretend you are Bobby Jones being pampered to the nth degree before a round of golf on the Algonquin course with its fabulous ocean views. Must sees in St. Andrews include the Huntsman Marine Science Centre, where I watched salmon being fed and got up close to the seals, and Kingsbrae Garden with exploding color, softer than soft alpacas, and dynamic sculpture. Make time to visit the restaurant for memorable clam chowder and a setting of lawns rolling down to the sea.
New Brunswick is all about water, and Eastern Outfitters led me on a kayak trip to Navy Island, near St Andrews, where it’s wall-to-wall loons, cormorants and gulls. Equally exhilarating is a whale watching trip on one of the Fundy Tide Runners 200 horsepower Zodiacs. We rocketed past Campobello and then lolled with the peaceful giants, close enough to hear them breathe. Which created the perfect segue to the Rossmount Inn set on 87 acres, a short drive from St. Andrews overlooking Passamaquoddy Bay, where Chef Chris Aerni conjured up exquisite seafood dishes that will leave even the most discerning foodies agog.
The other micro-metropolisin in New Brunswick is the capital, Fredericton, home to Kingswood Golf Course with its waterfalls and particularly deep bunkers, the latter being a spirited feature despite how it might sound to the fledgling golfer. Top it all off with a visit to Ganong’s Chocolate Museum in St. Stephen, best timed for when you don’t need to move quickly for the rest of the day.
The confectionary was irresistible, a description that applies to all of New Brunswick as well.