New Brunswick: Beauty and culture, just over the border

Go on an island-hopping adventure, or explore 27 acres of botanical gardens; there's plenty to experience in New Brunswick. –New Brunswick Tourism

You don’t have to travel far in Canada to get a taste of its natural beauty, rich history, and culture. Just across Maine’s border New Brunswick offers a bevy of beautiful and interesting sights worth exploring. Here are four getaways that are not so far away.

1. TAKE A THREE-ISLAND TOUR. The Bay of Fundy has three major islands, all of which are accessible by car and ferry. From Eastport, Maine, take the East Coast Ferry to Campobello Island, where U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt spent much of his childhood, and vacationed while in office. If you’re driving, it’s just two miles from the FDR Memorial Bridge. At Roosevelt Campobello International Park, you can tour FDR’s red Arts and Crafts cottage, still outfitted with original furnishings. From the front porch, you can see Maine across the water. Explore the unspoiled natural beauty of the park, which includes beaches, spruce forests, and meadows. Deer Island, just a 25-minute ferry ride from the park, is the smallest of the Fundy Bay Islands, with plenty of woods and fishing villages. Head to the southwest corner of the island to Deer Island Point to see the Old Sow Whirlpool, the largest tidal whirlpool in the Western Hemisphere. It is most visible three hours before high tide, and the activity continues for about two hours. On Grand Manan Island, a 90-minute ferry ride from Blacks Harbour, you can enjoy breathtaking vistas, unspoiled beaches, hiking trails, lighthouses, and charming fishing villages. It’s a hot spot to view birds, whales, puffins, and marine wildlife. Visit the Grand Manan Historical Museum to see artifacts that exude island history and shipwreck lore, and stop into the Grand Manan Whale and Seabird Research Station to learn about research and conservation efforts.

Explore the horticultural masterpiece that is Kingsbrae Garden. —New Brunswick Tourism
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2. WALK IN THE GARDENS. Just a 30-minute drive from the border crossing of Calais, Maine, is the charming town of Andrews by-the-Sea, which is bustling with shops and restaurants. While there, visit the Kingsbrae Botanical Garden, which is home to 27 acres of perennials, trees, and shrubs, as well as themed gardens and the National Sculpture Garden. Enjoy beautiful views of the garden over lunch at the Garden Cafe. Kids may enjoy seeing the alpacas, goats, peacocks, and other animals that live there. They can also experience a live ladybug release and explore the playhouses, climbing castle, and a cedar maze. The Kingsbrae Garden offers art classes and other events throughout the season. St. Andrews by-the-Sea is also home to Algonquin Inn and Resort, one of Canada’s most iconic resorts, which has been a favorite of politicians and members of the British Royal family for years. The resort, built in 1889, completed a $30 million renovation in 2014. It features a spa, a private beach, indoor and outdoor pools, elegant dining, and an award-winning golf course.

3. CELEBRATE CHOCOLATE. Just across the border crossing in Calais, Maine, is St. Stephen. The town bills itself as the “Middle of Everywhere,” as it’s easy to access major airports and cities in Saint John, Fredericton, and Bangor, Maine. But sitting on the banks of the St. Croix River, it’s worth savoring in its own right. St. Stephen is the home to Ganong Bros. Chocolates, a 150-year-old family-owned business that has always been a major employer there. Visit The Chocolate Museum for a tour of the handcrafted chocolate workshop, and take a guided walking tour to learn about the history and architecture of the area. If you’re there in the first week of August, make sure not to miss the annual Chocolate Fest.

Get a taste of 19th century life at Kings Landing. —New Brunswick Tourism
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4. WITNESS HISTORY. If you’re looking for an entertaining way to experience Loyalist culture for the whole family, visit Kings Landing, a 300-acre living history venue located in Prince William, just 20 minutes west of Fredericton, and less than 90 minutes from the border of Maine. Kings Landing features a museum with more than 40 exhibits and a historic village with more than 70 buildings. Learn about New Brunswick’s history and culture from costumed characters. You can also enjoy horseback riding, theatre, and workshops, and a children’s play park while there. Or head to Pays de la Sagouine (pronounced “pay-ee day la sag-win.”). The venue is a reproduction of a prohibition-era fishing village based on Antonine Maillet’s book La Sagouine. Learn about the history of the area from guides, actors, and musicians, participate in making traditional crafts and foods, and enjoy theater, music, and dance. While you’re there, be sure to check out the nearby dunes and sandy beaches at the Irving Eco-Centre and La Dune de Bouctouche. The Pays de la Sagouine is located about 34 miles northeast of Moncton, on a small island in the village of Bouctouche, on the coast of the Northumberland Strait.

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