Today is Canada Day, I am listening to the soundtrack of Anne of Green Gables and reminiscing about the good ‘ole days of my youth spent in the comforting countryside of New Brunswick, Canada. It is finally summer, with temperatures rising to a near perfect 24 degrees celsius (75 F for you American folk!). In the countryside, winds carry scents of wild roses and goldenrod, wet mud and mowed grass. My memories are vivid and sweet – jumping into the cold river because I couldn’t wait another day before getting in the water, exploring the vast woods knowing I would never get lost, standing in awe of the fields of fireflies at night, camping out in tents on our front lawn because it was in the middle of nature anyway (and having a clean bathroom nearby didn’t hurt either!). When I think of the sweet, comfort that is our youth in an idyllic country setting – nothing comes close to growing up in the countryside of Canada – specifically the Maritimes. I consider myself incredibly blessed.
My last visit to the great north included all the usual stops I make when returning home. The usual thrift stores and vintage shops, the river I grew up near, the city market, a pub or two, the local produce stand with the freshest, organic produce from the farmers nearby, and of course – home. While there are many things I love to do when I go home, here are the top 5 things I have to do when visiting Saint John, NB – no exceptions:
1. Get Outdoors
This is unavoidable. There are countless opportunities to get outdoors while in New Brunswick. Kayaking, hiking, strolling through the city parks (or the boardwalk), visiting the beach, the nature parks, even the cemeteries (there are some very old ones that are quite beautiful) – the city is full of green spaces and the countryside is just breathtaking. I believe that summer time is the best time to enjoy the great outdoors as the plants are bursting with life and the weather is warm but not sweltering. My favorite thing to do is pack a lunch, find a spot on the Kennebecasis River, (a short drive out of the city) enjoy a picnic along the shores while sunbathing and enjoying a few dips in the cool water, then float down the river (kayak, canoe, inflatable flamingo, whatever your fancy) and have someone pick you up at the end. This is a guaranteed afternoon well spent.
2. Go Thrifting/Vintage hunting
This is my favorite time to shop. There are a few gold mines in Saint John, NB with my absolute, all-time favorite thrift heaven : Value Village. I’ve found countless gems in this shop from delicate English teacups to a mint condition 1960s vintage cocktail dress (with tags still in tact). If thrifting is not your cup of tea, you can check out The Exchange on Germain. I just found out about it during my last trip and will definitely be popping in on my next one. It offers designer consignment in a chic, shop setting. Definitely worth a go.
*Note worthy: if you pop over to the next-door neighbor province of Nova Scotia – hit up Halifax for uber hip vintage shops.
They say nothing haunts you like the vintage clothes you never bought. This black dress haunts me. Whyyyyyyyyy did I walk away without it????!!!
3. Eat Local
Being on the east coast and having some of the worlds finest seafood, one must not turn their nose to the glory that is steamed mussels and lobster rolls. I am trying to transition to a plant-based, vegan diet – but during my last trip – I definitely indulged in the local seafood and recommend that you do the same. When in Rome. Or Saint John, NB. Eat the seafood. Also, TRY DULSE. You have to. It’s basically a delicacy in the Maritimes. Dry, chewy, extra salty, red seaweed. #Yum
4. See the Churches
The churches in Saint John, NB date all the way back to 1821 and are one of the cities most prized treasures. Congregations are friendly and welcome tourists to their services. Don’t be shy if you just want to view the stained glass and impeccable craftsmanship. It’s worth it.
5. Go to a hockey game
Harbour Station is the place to go if you want to get your hockey fix. The local team is the Sea Dogs with the regular season running September – March, playoffs in April. If your visiting in the summer months, you might catch a pre-season game in August. Go with a group of friends (or make some while your there, Canadians do live up to the stereotype of being very friendly), have some beer, and enjoy the favorite Canadian pastime. If you can’t catch the game live, you can always listen to the broadcast on NewsongFm.
And there you have it. My five favorite checks on the to-do list of visiting Saint John, NB. There are many more things to do in this beautiful city, but if you could only do 5 things, do these and you won’t regret it :) Happy Canada Day!