On a gloriously sunny day in June, I wander down Water Street, passing boutiques, art galleries and quaint cafes. Having spent the previous day exploring the untamed islands of Passamaquoddy Bay by car, foot and kayak, I am looking forward to finding out more about the bay’s most famous town, St Andrews by-the-Sea.
Day trips from Saint John, New Brunswick
Itinerary 2 – The perfect day in St Andrews
The wide picturesque streets of St Andrews, lined with clapboard churches and houses, have an undeniable air of tranquillity. It is one of the oldest towns in New Brunswick, founded in 1783 by United Empire Loyalists from Maine and named after St Andrews in Scotland.
above: St Andrews’ Catholic Church, one of three white clapboard churches on Kings Street
Following the American Revolution, when the boundaries for this fledgeling nation were fixed, many citizens of the town of Castine in Maine, who thought they were living in Canada, were shocked to discover they were now in the United States. Such was their dismay that they dismantled their homes, floated them on barges to New Brunswick and reassembled them at a fur traders’ outpost. St Andrews was born and a few of those first houses are still standing to this day. With many other well-preserved original buildings, it’s a particularly delightful town to explore for those who enjoy a sense of history.
Take this article with you including the GPS locations of all the key sights with the GPSMyCity App.
Breakfast at Station on King
A great way to start your day is with a hearty breakfast at Station on King in the heart of the town on Kings Street. If you fancy something light, try their homemade yoghurt, best eaten in the sunshine on their front patio while people watching.
above: Mural on the side of a hardware store at the corner of King Street and Water Street
St Andrews’ Farmers’ Market
Just around the corner, Water Street overflows with old fashioned Maritime charm, snaking around the coast of the peninsula on which the town is built. At the weekly farmers’ market, a gathering of welcoming locals greets me. They’re selling the likes of homemade pickles, jams and biscuits, local maple syrup, arts and crafts including some adorable teddy bears made from old fur coats. It’s an ideal place to pick up some souvenirs and gifts. Fire kraut anyone?
Kingsbrae Garden, St Andrews
Having checked out every market stall and sampled many a tasty treat, a ten-minute walk along King Street brings me to Kingsbrae Garden, a 24-acre site of themed gardens, some fabulous sculptures, the cutest of playhouses, goats and alpacas, and an extremely good cafe.
While I munch on an excellent, if messy, pulled pork sandwich my guide, Helen-Jean, enjoys “the best vegetarian sandwich I’ve ever tasted”. While the desserts look so pretty, it’s almost a shame to eat them. Almost!
Whale-watching from St Andrews
After lunch, dressed in bright orange floatation suites we climb aboard a 24-foot zodiac and are soon bouncing along the waves with the wind in our hair. A lot of wind. And a lot of bounces. Perhaps dessert was a mistake.
The Bay of Fundy is well known for being one of the best whale-watching locations in the world. Sadly, for me, my visit was too early in the season for any real chance of seeing any whales, but from mid-June through August, minke and finback whales can be spotted, followed by humpbacks and North Atlantic right whales, the rarest whale in the world, in August and September. Nevertheless, the boat ride is exhilarating and extremely interesting despite the lack of whales.
above: Grey seals in Passamaquoddy Bay, human-watching, below: St Andrews viewed from the water
Warm up with a mug of Fundy Fog
Back on terra firma we head to Honeybeans, a café popular with the locals, for a mug of warming Fundy Fog, a delicious sweet tea with Irish whiskey and a hint of vanilla.
Dinner at Braxton’s, Algonquin Resort
Next stop is the Algonquin Resort on Adolphus Street. Opening in 1889, the hotel made St Andrews Canada’s first seaside resort town, quickly becoming the place to be seen. Today, the hotel is both elegant and welcoming and Braxton’s Restaurant is a perfect place to end the day. Named after one of the first chefs at the hotel, Braxton’s prides itself on its commitment to fresh local produce and attention to detail, with the menu changing seasonally. Our meal was excellent, in particular, the pan-fried scallops with white wine risotto.
Great seafood and a casual atmosphere
For a more casual lunch or dinner try fish ‘n’ chips, a lobster roll, or deep-fried clams at The Red Herring Pub on Water Street. On the evening we popped in, we found a lively atmosphere and had a great meal. I was encouraged by the locals to stay for a spot of dancing to a live band appearing later in the evening, but sadly we had to head back to Saint John.
Above: Fish ‘n’ chips and deep fried clams at The Red Herring, St Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada
Another great alternative, I’m told, and a favourite with residents and visitors alike is the Clam Digger on Route 127, just a short drive out of town. There’s no inside seating so it’s only open in the warmer weather (and the weekends in the autumn and spring). If you happen to be there at the right time, grab yourself some fresh seafood and a park bench and you won’t be disappointed.
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Plan your day out in St Andrews
Take this article with you. including the GPS locations of all the key sights, with the GPSMyCity App.
Driving from Saint John, New Brunswick (about 1 hour 15 minutes):
Take Highway 1, heading west to Highway 127 (Exit 25). Follow Highway 127 south into the town of St Andrews. For directions from other locations visit StAndrewsbytheSea.ca.
St Andrews Farmers’ Market
This weekly market is held every Thursday morning from 8.30am to 1pm from the end of May through September in Market Square, near the corner of King Street and Water Street. Find out more StAndrewsFarmersMarket.com.
220 King Street, Saint Andrews, New Brunswick E5B 1Y8. Open from the end of May to the middle of October. For further details visit KingsbraeGarden.com.
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Disclosure: Thank you to Air Transat, Destination Canada, New Brunswick Tourism and Discover Saint John for sponsoring this visit to Canada. As always, I retain the right to write whatever I wish and will always give you my honest opinion.
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