Too often dismissed as the “pass-through” province, New Brunswick boasts breath-taking natural wonders, top-notch beaches and a variety of unique experiences you and your teen will love.

By Jacqueline Kovacs

IF YOU’RE STRUGGLING  to find a vacation destination with activities, dining and accommodations to comfortably suit you and your teenage or young adult children, then you clearly haven’t given enough thought to New Brunswick. Too often dismissed as the “pass-through” province, New Brunswick boasts breath-taking natural wonders to experience up close, top-notch
beaches and a variety of unique dining and shopping experiences. In short, rather than just being your route to the Maritimes, New Brunswick is your gateway to grownup family fun. Here’s the scoop.

STAY
Remember when staying in a hotel as a family meant snuggling a toddler between you and your partner? Big-kid families definitely need adult space. And you’ll find that—and more—at the Residence Inn Moncton, which is part of the Marriott group. Our family of five chillaxed in a suite with two bedrooms, two baths, living room with pullout couch and a full kitchen. We also took advantage of the hotel’s mini gym and pool, as well as the complimentary buffet breakfast. We also took advantage of being literally steps from the charms of downtown Moncton. (See “Eat.”)

For a tad more proximity to beaches and lobsters—and a pleasant touch of luxury—try Hotel Shediac. The contemporary, five-star 60-room hotel boasts high-end finishing and top-notch service. We enjoyed a spacious suite with all the comforts of home, only better.

PLAY
Got a family of beach bums? Hello! New Brunswick’s beaches boast the warmest ocean water temperatures in North America. But, as our chilly experience showed, there’s no accounting for weather. So it’s a good thing there are other natural diversions to enjoy.

We kicked off our first day, for example, with a bear-y cool experience: Little, Big Bear Safari, about a half-hour drive from Moncton, brings you as close to gorgeous black bears as safely possible. Watch while charismatic founder Richard Goguen interacts with a dozen or more black bears of all ages, coming and going to the “bear stand” on his property. It’s a uniquely New Brunswick experience.

That can also be said in spades for kayaking through the province’s famous Hopewell Rocks. Perhaps the highlight of our trip, experiencing Hopewell Rocks started early (for teenagers) with all of us getting equipped by the helpful staff at Baymount Adventures Kayak the Rocks at 9 a.m.

Well worth the whiny hassle, by the way, paddling our way in, around and through the spectacular New Brunswick shoreline is something none of us will forget. That vision was doubly imbedded as we walked the same route mere hours later after the world famous tides went out.

And, if you feel like a family stroll, New Brunswick will spoil you. We doubled our pleasure, starting exploring Fundy National Park and hiking through the stunning Dixon Falls trail. We capped it off with a lobster taco lunch at Cape Enrage, followed by a challenging trek along fossil beach and taking in the raw and timeless beauty of the landscape—all enhanced by the sound of the area’s famous lighthouse.

EAT
If you’re in the Moncton area, don’t miss Tide & Boar, recently named one of Canada’s top 50 restaurants. Whether you’re dining inside or out on their generous patio, you can enjoy fresh, local and, of course, seasonal bounty on both your plate and in your glass.

If you’re in the mood for some serious Maritime lobster, you’ll want to get booked on Shediac Bay Cruises where you’ll enjoy the freshest lobster prepared the Acadian way, along with a side of dinner “theatre” courtesy of the captain. Three delightful (and delicious) hours whiz by and you’ll come away with a deeper appreciation of the area’s history. ■

WORTH THE STOP
If, like us, you’re looking at a 12-hour drive to get to New Brunswick, break it up beautifully with an overnight in Quebec City. We stayed at the Hilton where we enjoyed spacious rooms, great views of (and easy access to) the Old City, as well as a complimentary breakfast. Take in the city’s highlights with the Hop-On Hop-Off Tour bus. A one-day pass gives you a great overview, including the Citadel and Notre-Damesdes-Victoire church, at your own pace. Next day, pile back in your vehicle and finish the trip, refreshed.