The historical waterside city of Fredericton makes for a great holiday, with plenty of attractions, shopping and entertainment in town and beautiful provincial parks within easy reach.
The city has a cultural feel, with two universities and a cathedral as well as many historic buildings and pretty tree-lined streets. The downtown area offers a nice selection of mainly local and independent shops, restaurants and boutiques, as well as a small shopping centre. A large proportion of downtown is made up of the Historic Garrison District which is a collection of protected buildings, including barracks, a guardhouse and a jail cell. Many events take place throughout this area such as the changing of the guard ceremony, outdoor concerts and cinema screenings in the summer months, and regular guided Canada tours. The city’s mainstream shopping can be found further up Regent Street and along Prospect Street, which have a range of shops, family restaurants and the excellent Regent Mall.
Aside from the historic Garrison district, other attractions in the city centre include the excellent Beaverbrook Art Gallery which holds a wide range of art, often featuring famous names such as Dali and the Canadian landscape painter Krieghoff. The fascinating Science East museum is here too with many fun and interactive exhibits, and the beautiful Christ Church Cathedral is set in pretty grounds nearby and often has organ music playing to add to the serenity. Just outside the city is King’s Landing - a historical village recreating life in the 1800s, with farm animals and plenty of hands-on workshops such as butter making and candle dipping.
Two large parks sprawl along the western side of the city. Odell Park is the larger and wilder, with many beautiful trails through woodland and meadows as well as a duck pond, botanical garden and a deer enclosure. Wildlife is in abundance here and there are many species of birds and animals to spot. The smaller and more urban Wilmot Park lies opposite the Old Government House and is a popular place for picnics, with sports courts, children’s play equipment and a bandstand. For those who enjoy walking or cycling, there are also plenty of riverside trails to follow. Mactaquac Provincial Park is just half an hour out of the city. Mactaquac is a beautiful place to explore, with sandy swimming beaches, camping site, a golf course and a fantastic network of nature trails.
During the winter months many of the trails in the city parks and along the riverside are groomed for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or walking. The city’s winter festival, Frostival, takes place at the end of January and holds many fun events such as ice skating parties, curling competitions and even ‘snowga’! The landscapes of Mactaquac are transformed into sledging hills, cross-country trails and ice rinks, with magical horse-drawn sleigh rides also available. For those looking for downhill skiing, Crabbe Mountain, under an hour from Fredericton, offers a good range of runs as well as a snow school, restaurant and fun on snowmobiles.
Fredericton’s waterside location means there is also ample opportunity to get out on the water and there are a great many different boat trips available, from scenic cruises and evening pontoon boat tours to hair-raising banana-boat rides. Boat and canoe rentals are also available for those who prefer to head off on their own.
Fredericton is a lovely place to visit whether you are looking for adventure on the water, historic buildings, scenic walks, or skiing and winter activities. A pleasant place to wander, it is also the perfect place to relax.
Things to do
Top tips for visiting Fredericton
Top Tip 1
• The city is a great place to explore on foot and there are many free tours you can take, especially around the Historic Garrison District where you’ll be led by fantastically knowledgeable and entertaining costumed guides. For an alternative view of the city, join one of the after-dark ‘Haunted Hike’ walking tours, lit by a lantern.
Top Tip 2
• Fredericton boasts over 80km of trails - many of them paved, particularly along the riverside - and during the snowy winter months, these are groomed for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. Take a stroll over the Bill Thorpe Walking Bridge to the east of downtown for some excellent views of the city and river.
Top Tip 3
• A visit to beautiful Mactaquac Provincial Park is a must during your stay. Take the free guided walk around the remarkable chain of beaver ponds, swing through the treetops on the high rope course, enjoy a leisurely picnic and have a swim from one of the sandy beaches, or simply immerse yourself in the scenic walking trails.
Top Tip 4
• Fredericton has a good range of shops, from downtown boutiques to uptown commercial shopping malls. If you are in town on a Saturday, visit the busy Farmers’ Market with its rows of stalls brimming with fresh produce, crafts and speciality fare, awash with the delicious aromas of street food.
Top Tip 5
• For a trip out of the city, take a drive to the village of Gagetown, just 40 minutes from Fredericton and a charming place to wander. In the summer it bustles with a busy marina, artists’ studios and plenty of cafés and restaurants.
Top Tip 6
• The city has a great entertainment scene and there are many free events: summer concerts and theatres, impressive Changing of the Guard ceremonies and winter craft and sports festivals. For an atmospheric evening, head to Barracks Square and enjoy free outdoor cinema screenings of classic films featuring iconic stars such as Greta Garbo and Cary Grant, every Sunday in July and August.
Top Tip 7
• There are many ways to make the most of Fredericton’s waterside location, with a variety of boat tours, kayak rentals and riverside cafés on offer, but perhaps one of the most relaxing ways to spend a summer afternoon is floating down the Nashwaak River in an inner tube. Let your worries drift away with the current!