Saint John Things to Do

  • Irving Nature Park in Saint John, NB
    Irving Nature Park in Saint John, NB
    by Jefie
  • Inside the beautiful Trinity Church
    Inside the beautiful Trinity Church
    by Jefie
  • Things to Do
    by tuff

Most Recent Things to Do in Saint John

  • Loyalist Costume Photography

    by sara_canadian Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Old-fashioned photography is very popular among tourists but until this year it was never offered in Saint John. Living Water Creations recently opened in uptown Saint John at 75 King Street. Drop by, dress up as a Loyalist (they even have cute baby costumes), choose a prop and step into one of their old-fashioned backgrounds for a photo.

    It costs $27 (total, not per person), including your choice of print(s).

    This is a truly fun and unique experience! I enjoyed the props....for me, a musket. :)

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Family Travel
    • Photography

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    Irving Nature Park

    by Jefie Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Irving Nature Park in Saint John, NB
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    The 243 hectare Irving Nature Park opened back in 1992 "for the enjoyment of the people of New Brunswick". Since then, thousands of locals and visitors alike have walked down the park's eight hiking trails, spent a day at the beach or gone on birdwatching expeditions in this previously endangered area that has been cleaned up and returned to its natural state by the Irving family. A road goes all around the park, and it is possible to park your car at the beginning of each hiking trail or special feature, such as the seal observatory deck, the look-out tower, or the picnic and barbecue area. The Irving Nature Park is open to visitors free of charge daily, from sunrise to sunset.

    Related to:
    • Birdwatching
    • Hiking and Walking

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    Irving Nature Park

    by puuzzleguy Updated Apr 4, 2011
    Saints Rest Beach looking toward Sheldon Point
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    The Irving Nature Park in Saint John consists of two large sections: the Sheldon Point section and Taylor's Island section - separated by the grand Saint's Rest Beach. The park is privately owned and well maintained by the Irving interests. It is accessible free to the general public.

    Taylor's Island is the most glorious place I've ever seen for jogging because of the very soft footing plus the lovely views. Taking the circumferential trails it is a bit over 7 km around the island. There are facilities: benches, picnic tables, toilet facilities - but it never feels crowded - and mostly it feels like being alone. There are a few interior trails through the island too, plus a long boardwalk out into a tidal estuary and also a viewing tower near Saints Rest Beach.

    In the winter the rocky little islands off of the shore trail attract crowds of sun-worshiping seals. There isn't much snow in the winter so people continue to use the trails. The cross country skiers use the park roads (closed to traffic in winter) if there is enough snow, but generally Saint John doesn't offer practical skiing.

    Even in the summer the water in the bay is frigidly cold because tidal turbulance disrupts thermal layering of the water.

    Only the first and last of the 5 pictures with this tip were taken in summer: the rest are winter pictures.

    Related to:
    • Budget Travel
    • Family Travel
    • Eco-Tourism

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    Barbour’s general Store

    by tuff Written Jan 10, 2011

    This authentic country store was floated to St. John by barge from its original location further up the River in 1967. The store is filled with authentic merchandise of the Victorian era and houses a combination barber shop / dentist’s office, just as it did in earlier days.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel

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    Reversing Falls

    by tuff Updated Jan 10, 2011
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    When St. John River meets the Bay of Fundy in a narrow rock gorge, this natural phenomenon occurs twice a day when the highest tides force the St. John River to reverse its flow. Yes, I did say it only occurs twice a day so if the timing is not correct, you will be disappointed.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel

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    A town full of friendly and willing hosts

    by 850prc Updated Dec 10, 2009

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    Our friend Daniel Roberts,with Sara at City Market

    One thing that we noticed throughout our visit to Saint John was the pride with which locals view their city. All you have to do is to look slightly bewildered or lost, or perhaps just be looking at a city map and - voila! - a local "host/tourguide" will appear to help you out.

    There was one fellow who we ran into just at the edge of King's Square. He asked where we were from (for some reason, he didn't think we were locals ). He then proceeded to tell us all about the local FREE sites, within an easy walk. He talked with pride about the City Hall's spiral staircase, the past glories and beautiful restoration over at the Imperial Theater, and he also mentioned the local historic fire station museum - which unfortunately was not open on the day we were in Saint John.

    When we were in the City Market, Bonnie and Sara met an artisan/owner over at the Bay of Fundy Red Clay stand. He was making kilned ornaments and objects d'art from the unique red clay found around the edge of the local Fundy Bay. He immediately realized that they were visitors, and he gave Sara a tiny little clay lighthouse, it resembled the Peggy's Cove lighthouse over in Nova Scotia, at least a little. It was designed to be a Christmas tree ornament, and he said he wanted her to hang it on her tree and to remember the friendly folks and town in Saint John. NO sales pressure, not even a word about buying anything. TRULY, it was just a man being proud of his town and friendly to visitors from far away.

    If you do get a chance to visit the Bay of Fundy Red Clay stand at City Market, please do look for Daniel Roberts, the owner and artist. There is a photo of him down below. Tell him the folks from Florida said "hello and Merry Christmas". The kind gift he gave to our daughter is on our tree this year, and we'll think of him and Saint John every year from now on.

    Saint John is a terrific place. Interesting history, shops, culture.... all in all, a great destination. But, her greatest asset are her proud and helpful townsfolk. Thanks to all of you, we had a great time.

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    Shopping Galore in the historic district

    by 850prc Updated Dec 10, 2009

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    The central escalator over at Brunswick Square
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    The Brunswick Square Shopping Center, located just to the west of the Saint John City Market, has it all. From the New Brunswick Museum to the City Library, to a plethora of upscale shopping venues, shoppers will definitely enjoy a visit to this huge and modern shopping mall. The shopping center square is defined by Prince William Street, Germain Street, King Street and Union Street.

    In addition to all the shopping, there is a top-level hotel on the premises, the Delta Brunswick

    Among the categories of stores and items for your shopping pleasure are:

    * Aesthetic Services
    * Banking
    * Books
    * Children Shops
    * Cosmetics and Drug
    * Electronics
    * Fashion
    * Food Court
    * General
    * Gifts
    * Hairstyling
    * Health and Wellness
    * Home Decor
    * Jewelry and Accessories
    * Restaurants
    * Shoes and Handbags

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    Historic Trinity Church

    by 850prc Updated Dec 7, 2009

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    The Trinity Church pipe organ
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    The present Trinity Church in Saint John was constructed in 1880, right after the "Great Fire of 1877". Inside over the west door, there's a coat of arms - a symbol of the monarchy - which was rescued from the council chamber in Boston by a British Colonel during the American Revolution. With Saint John being so historically loyalist, this revolutionary refugee was deemed a worthy addition to the Trinity Church.

    While the church has a long history, it is today an active Anglican church with a spirited congregation.

    As for the building itself, the style of architecture is Early English Gothic, and typifies the architecture introduced in New Brunswick by Bishop Medley. The church itself was designed by architect W.T. Thomas of Montreal. The walls are built of limestone of rough ashlar, laid in regular courses, with freestone trimmings on a heavy base of granite. The pillars in the nave are formed of one piece of polished grey granite, with carved capitals surmounted by freestone arches. The interior woodwork is of black ash with black walnut moldings.
    The church is 150 feet in length. The chancel is forty feet deep and thirty-three feet wide. The nave is 62 feet wide overall, and 110 feet long with an expansive height of 64 feet. The nave originally seated 800 people, but today accommodates about 650 people.

    The bell tower and steeple rise to the majestic height of 210 feet and is topped by a weathervane in the form of a six foot long wood gilt fish. The fish was the early symbol for Christianity, and is still used today. The tower contains a clock and a ring of nine bells, a gift installed in 1882 by the City of Saint John. The clock was constructed to chime the quarters and strike the hours on the bells. By means of a carillon, tunes were played on the hours of three, six, nine, and twelve. On the largest bell, which weighs 19 cwt., is cast the following inscription:

    "In Memoriam the
    Loyalists 1783: Faithful alike to God and
    the King"
    Originally the bells were rung by hand, but can now be played by music drum disks or a small keyboard.

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    Saint John's (Stone) Church

    by 850prc Updated Dec 7, 2009

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    Gothic spires, Saint John Stone Church
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    The Saint John's Stone Church is the first stone building constructed in Saint John. The original purpose of the church, beyond ecumenical tidings, was to serve the soldiers garrisoned at nearby Fort Howe. The stone itself was originally brought over from England, serving as ship's ballast.

    FWIW, the English were big on bringing church stones over from the mother country. I remember the Anglican cathedral in Hamilton, Bermuda as being the same situation - constructed from "imported" materials.

    This particular church very much resembles the Gothic style of churches built in England from the 12th century on. The spires contribute to Saint John's reputation and nickname as "The City of Spires".

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    The New Brunswick Museum

    by 850prc Updated Dec 7, 2009

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    The exterior of the New Brunswick Museum

    The New Brunswick Museum is located in Market Square, at the foot of King Street. The Market Square shopping complex - with the museum located in the middle section - is just across from the City Market building. The museum houses history and natural science galleries, as well as decorative fine art displays. Also, you'll want to visit the family discovery gallery and television studion. Among the museum's prize relics are full-sized whale and mastedon skeletons. (They've named the whale skellie "Delilah")

    The museum occupies three stories within the massive Market Square shopping complex, and is clearly a point of pride with Saint John residents.

    The museum is open everyday and admission is C$6 for adults, C$4.75 for seniors, C$3.25 for children (ages 4-18) or a cool C$13 for a family.

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    Showtime for darn near a century

    by 850prc Updated Dec 6, 2009

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    The Imperial Theater entrance
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    Located over on the south side of King's Square, the Imperial Theater has meant showtime in Saint John for almost one hundred years. And, through the years, the Imperial Theater has undergone many changes. Opening back in September 1913, the Imperial hosted many musical and theatrical events. Stars of the day who visited Saint John and this theater include actress Ethel Barrymore, illusionist Harry Houdini, and the little tramp himself, Charlie Chaplin.

    In 1929, the Imperial was leased to Famous Players and was renamed to the Capital Theatre -becoming part of a chain of first class movie theatres.

    After thirty years of being a top-level movie house, the theatre closed and was purchased and donated to the Full Gospel Assembly Pentecostal Church, becoming a house of worship. However, it wasn't the end of the building's showtime contribution because in 1994 and 11 years after the theater's sale by the church group, and after years of reconstruction to its original 1913 grandeur, the Imperial Theatre was reopened and is now the busiest performing arts centre in Atlantic Canada.

    The Imperial Theatre features tours Monday through Saturday (July and August only) at a cost of $2 for adults and $1 for children 12 and under. OR, if you'd like to just look the place over on your own without being on a tour, admission is FREE.

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    The County Hall's Spiral Staircase

    by 850prc Updated Dec 6, 2009

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    Bonnie waving from the top.
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    We were told by one of the streetside tour guides (see my note about how helpful and proud Saint John residents were about showing visitors the special sites) about the County Hall's spiral staircase.

    While it's pretty amazing on its own, there's more (or actually less) than you'd imagine. Our resident tour guide tells us that when they were building the County Hall, they wanted to put in a staircase, and by a stroke of luck, an Italian architect/builder had just arrived in town. He got the job by having an impressive interview with the city fathers.

    When they came in to look things over several weeks later, they were horrified. Sure, the spiral stairs were glorious, but....there were no supporting columns. This huge staircase was completely unsupported. The city fathers were convinced it would all come tumbling down, but the architect assured them that he'd copies a building technique perfected in his native Florence, back in Italy.

    Although they still had their doubts, the money for the stairs had been spent and the city fathers had no choice but to go along with what he said. Some one hundred and ninty years later, it appears that the builder knew what he was talking about.

    Visiting the county hall and seeing this spectacular neoclassical staircase is FREE.

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    The Old Burial Ground

    by 850prc Updated Dec 6, 2009

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    Flower-bedecked 18th century grave

    As you've perhaps read on my earlier entries, Saint John was essentially settled by loyalist fleeing the result of the American Revolution. So basically, the community sprang forth right after the signing of the Paris Peace Treaty, in 1783.

    As in any city where people come and live, they eventually pass on - and they established a town burial ground. This cemetary space was placed in land that now is in the middle of historic Saint John, just a bit northwest of King's Square. Go to the corner of King's and Sydney Streets.

    The Old Burial Grounds are filled with the remains of Saint John's first settlers, the loyalists who left America. There are many graves marking the final resting place for members of the militia and the King's armies as well.

    If you enjoy historic cemetaries - as do we - this is time well spent. Both historic and picturesque, you'll enjoy your visit. PLEASE SEE MY SEPARATE OLD BURIAL GROUNDS TRAVELOGUE FOR MORE PHOTOS OF THIS BEAUTIFUL, PEACEFUL PLACE.

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    An amazing CITY MARKET

    by 850prc Updated Dec 6, 2009

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    An overview of the City Market

    The Saint John City Market on Charlotte Street officially opened in 1876. This represented a consolidation of four separate markets, located throughout the city prior to those dates. From that point some 140 years ago, this market has been serving the citizens and visitors to Saint John with a wide variety of fresh local good and trade items. The City Market is one of the more prominent sections of Saint John to be spared destruction in the "Great Fire of 1877".

    Fast forward to "today" our our tip, we love city markets, especially good ones. We always find our way, for example, to Viktuelenmarkt when we're in Munich. This City Market in Saint John is one of the nicest and most useful we've ever visited. If I lived in Saint John proper, I'd be down here buying vegetables and fruit every other day.

    There are hundreds of merchants serving the City Market, selling everything from groceries and produce to specialty food products, meat, seafood, coffee, wine and even handicraft items. If you'd like to see an interactive map of all the City Market Merchants, check the "other" item down below - it's a link to the interactive map of the market.

    This is also an excellent place to eat lunch, or have a cup of morning coffee - both of which we did. :) PLEASE SEE MY SEPARATE CITY MARKET TRAVELOGUE FOR MORE PHOTOS OF THIS WONDERFULLY ENTERTAINING SAINT JOHN LOCALE.

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    King's Square

    by 850prc Updated Dec 6, 2009

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    Cross monument within King's Square

    Right across the street from the City Market and between Charlotte and Sydney Streets, you'll find Saint John's historic King's Square. This square is aflame with gorgeous floral color, and lush green park grass. There are benches, sidewalks and all sorts of historic monuments. In keeping with both the name King's Square and with Saint John's long history of being a crown loyalist settlement, the square is laid out with the walkways forming a "Union Jack" pattern.

    There is a two-story bandstand located in the park, and I'd suspect that on afternoons or evenings that they have performers at work, it would be a lovely way to celebrate sunset.

    Another interesting site at the City Market can be found on its northeastern corner. There is a huge lump of melted metal. During Saint John's "Great Fire of 1877", many local buildings were destroyed. This lump of metal was formed when a hardware store at the edge of the square burned, melting nails and metal objects.

    Please see my separate "King's Square" travelogue for more photos of the square.

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