The scenic road trip between Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Fredericton, New Brunswick, is challenging. Not because of windy roads, vast distances, or heavy traffic. Rather, the difficulty lies in actually getting to your end point. With incredible national parks, buzzing communities, inviting beaches, not to mention the world’s highest tides, you’ll struggle to stay inside the car.
There are so many routes for driving between these two eastern Maritime cities, you’ll want to take this road trip again and again. Here are seven stopovers not-to-be-missed.
1. Halifax, Nova Scotia
Before you leave Halifax, you’ll want to take in a few of the historic sites. Make a beeline for the sparkling waterfront, where you’ll find funky cafes, welcoming locals, and get a real sense of the spirit of Halifax as a working port.
Head to the highest point in the city and follow the sound of bagpipes to the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site, marking Halifax’s role as a key naval station in the British Empire. Take a tour of the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, home to the world's finest collection of wooden artefacts from the Titanic.
2. Truro, Nova Scotia
Follow Highway 102 north to the outdoor adventurist town of Truro, just 94 kilometres from Halifax. The stunning old growth forest and cascading waterfalls of Victoria Park will lure you from the driver’s seat, like an enchanted Disney woodland right in the middle of town.
Conquer the dizzying 175 steps up Jacob’s Ladder, follow the Wood Street Lookoff trail to its striking views of town and the Salmon River, or follow the path along Lepper Brook to the Holy Well Gazebo for the perfect photo opp.
Time your trip to take in the tidal phenomena of the Bay of Fundy from the shores of the Salmon River, occurring twice daily thanks to the gigantic incoming Fundy tide. If merely observing isn’t quite thrilling enough for you, head to the Shubenacadie River where you can test your nerves with a spot of tidal bore river rafting!
While you’re there, don’t miss the Shubenacadie Provincial Wildlife Park, Nova Scotia’s wildlife hot spot, teeming with 26 species of mammals, 65 species of birds, a wetland centre, scenic trails, and a picnic park.
3. Moncton, New Brunswick
Back behind the wheel, you’re 171 kilometres from Moncton, the largest city in New Brunswick. You’ll love the charming downtown boutiques, bars, and restaurants, complete with live music and a welcoming vibe. This small city has a big personality, with dynamic murals, colourful mosaics, sculptures, and pop-up galleries adorning the streetscape. Follow this interactive map so you don’t miss a thing.
Moncton’s most famous attraction (perfect video fodder for your social media feed) is Magnetic Hill, a natural phenomenon that’s been baffling visitors for more than 80 years. No need to leave your car, simply put your car in neutral and prepare to be astounded as you find yourself rolling backwards, from the bottom of Magnetic Hill to the top!
Is it lunch time yet? The Magnetic Hill Winery boasts a farmhouse as old as Canada itself, serving up fruity wines concocted from strawberries, blueberries, and even rhubarb. Enjoy these unique creations over a cheese platter as you soak up the panoramic views of Moncton.
4. Bay of Fundy
Just 40 kilometres away lies your next must-stop point on your Maritime adventure. The Bay of Fundy is a natural playground of extremes. Extremely dramatic coastal views, extremely spectacular flora and fauna, and extremely high tides. To put it in perspective, the average tidal range is about one metre. But here in the Bay of Fundy, the tidal range can reach up to 16 metres, a unique planetary phenomenon.
When the tide is low, walk the ocean floor among towering ‘flowerpot’ rock formations at The Hopewell Rocks and touch the grooves created by the monstrous tides. Meander along the beautiful trails to the province’s oldest operational lighthouse and capture the breathtaking craggy coastal views of Cape Enrage, 30 kilometres away. If you arrive at high tide, simply jump in a kayak and meet the flowerpots face-to-face.
Half an hour south of The Hopewell Rocks, you’ll want to check out the cobblestone beach and forested trails of Cape Enrage. Its peaceful pulse belies the adrenaline-pumping outdoor adventures on offer. We’re talking 183 metre-long zipline, a 46-metre abseiling cliff, and an 18-metre-high rock climbing wall. Warning: these are not for the faint-hearted!
5. Saint John
Just 148 kilometres from Cape Enrage lies picturesque Saint John. This waterfront city is rich in character and stunning period architecture. Head straight uptown (there’s no ‘downtown’ in Saint John) to find hipster cafes, artisan boutiques, and outstanding eateries where you’ll feel like a local in no time.
In a country that boasts some of the world’s best farmers markets, Saint John takes the crown. The Saint John City Market is not only the oldest continuing farmers market in Canada, it’s also a National Historic Site. Wander through the beating heart of this historic city and sample outstanding fresh meats, spices, coffee, and handmade crafts.
Saint John’s main attraction is the SkyWalk, a dramatic glass-bottomed platform with prime views of the waves and whirlpools of the Reversing Rapids. As the only Skywalk in North America to be positioned over water, it juts out over the precise point where the highest tides in the world are forced into a narrow rock gorge, causing a reverse in the flow of the Saint John River, a fantastic spectacle you won’t want to miss.
Warm up at Reversing Falls Restaurant over the best seafood chowder you’ll ever taste, complete with epic views of the falls, before heading back to the car for your next leg of the journey.
6. St. Andrews-by-the-Sea
St. Andrews is prettily perched on the coastline 100 kilometres from Saint John. This quintessential North American town is adorned with Georgian, Romanesque, and colourful Queen Anne homes, a beautifully maintained shopping district and, of course, the imposing Tudor-style Algonquin Resort, famous for its ghosts, golf course, and old-world charm of Katy’s Cove, the hotel’s private beach.
Get the camera ready for a walk through beautiful 27-acre Kingsbrae Garden. This award-winning garden shows off 2,500 species of perennials, shrubs, and trees. You’ll fall in love with the magic of its strutting peacocks, adorable alpacas, sculpture gardens, Dutch windmill, and remarkable cedar maze.
Head north 138 kilometres to your final destination, New Brunswick’s bustling capital city of Fredericton. There’s so much to see, you’ll want to stay a few days.
Follow the Saint John River as it winds its way through town, where you can witness the Changing of the Guard ceremony in the Garrison District. Check out Kings Landing Historical Settlement where history comes alive with re-enactments of the British pioneers’ 1800s lifestyle. Stop for ice-cream at the Lighthouse on the Green, and when night falls, take a hilarious hunted hike with the Calithumpians theatre group.