I would use this to get around: Sensible shoes. Despite being situated on the side of a substantial hill, Uptown Saint John is 100% walkable and meandering is highly recommended. However, if you want to get ANYWHERE ELSE, you’ll need a car. The public transit system has gotten much better in recent years but is still not super duper, and the city is spread out beyond what you might expect, so biking is pretty well out of the question. To be fair, though, most of my suggestions for living it up in Canada’s oldest city involve sticking close to home and are easily accessible on foot.
I would stay here: The Delta Brunswick Hotel. Although it’s tough to match the Hilton Saint John’s harbour view, rooms at the Delta are equally well-appointed and comfortable, less expensive and the service is just straight-up better. With complimentary weekend parking, free wi-fi and a location that really can’t be beat, what’s not to love? (Nothing. There’s nothing not to love.) The Delta Brunswick is also conveniently linked to the Trade and Covention Centre, City Market and Harbour Station, as well as some of the city’s best options for dining and shopping in Brunswick and Market Squares via an indoor pedway system, which you’ll appreciate when the fog rolls in.
I would eat here: I don’t even know where to start. Saint John has got the best selection of restaurants in New Brunswick, hands-down, no contest. I guess let’s shoot straight to seafood, since it would be a right sin not to treat yourself while in town. At the top of the City Market you’ll find Billy’s Seafood Company where the seafood is arguably the best. I’m literally licking my lips just thinking about the cedar plank salmon and scallop risotto. Another fantastic spot in the city is Thai restaurant Suwanna, although you’ll need to find a ride as it’s a bit out of the way (unless you snag a room at the inn located in the same Victorian house as the restaurant itself). I know folks who drive over an hour to eat here, so if you miss out because you’re staying a mere 10 minutes away in uptown SJ I guess you must have a really good reason. And I’m not finished. For lunch, please promise me you’ll head to Urban Deli. It is so good. SO GOOD. I can’t even recommend anything in particular because it’s all seriously f-ing tasty, and I have to almost-swear because I can’t think of another, better way to get my point across. Make a reservation though, because it’s the city’s worst kept secret, thanks in part to being featured on the Food Network’s You Gotta Eat Here. And there are so many more: Thandi for really great Indian and possibly the nicest atmosphere in the city; Beatty and the Bistro for a small, intimate meal or mind-blowing homemade desert; Church Street Steak House for steak, obviously; and Taco Pica for ass-kicking and totally authentic Mexican, Guatemalan and Spanish food made and served by members of the workers’ co-operative that runs the place. I’m stopping here, but understand that I could seriously keep going and going and going and going…
I would drink here: The Market Square Boardwalk is where IT is AT. During the summer months there’s always something going on, from beach volleyball to the annual Buskers Festival held in the month of July. Pepper’s Pub is great for live music and the Saint John Ale House can’t be beat for its service and tasty appies on the patio. Further uptown, Britt’s Pub is killing it in Saint John for drinks and nibbles. The atmosphere is a perfect blend between old SJ and modern decor and there’s a special brew (called Britt’s Brew) that is guaranteed to knock you off your bar stool. Love this place!
I would do this: Take a stroll through the Saint John City Market. I kind of cheated a bit because I didn’t mention this in the above little blurb about where to eat, but it’s my blog and I can do whatever I want so maybe you should get off my back already. Here are my faves for lunch: The Wild Carrot Cafe is the best salad bar you’ve ever seen, times infinity; Slocam and Ferris serves up legendary chili and soups (if the fog has, indeed, rolled in, which it no doubt has); and a sandwich from Jeremiah’s just might be the best you’ve ever had in your whole entire life. If you’re still full from all the other restaurants I’ve recommended, walk it off at the Irving Nature Park in West Saint John. There are more than 20 kms of scenic, coastal trails to hike, run or bike, as well as a gravel road that runs the 6 km perimeter for those who are short on time or energy. Dogs are permitted, but must be kept on a leash, and cameras are encouraged, if not mandatory. The Imperial Theatre is also pretty stunning. The iconic playhouse was re-opened in 2004 after a lengthy and substantial restoration and is now a premier venue for a massive variety of stage productions, from stand-up comedians to country music to children’s theatre to the opera.
I wouldn’t do this: Take a jet boat ride in the Reversing Falls. By all accounts it’s pretty fun, so maybe I should join the masses and just go with the flow. (Get it? Reversing Falls? Go with the flow? It’s a pun. It’s punny.) But I can’t wrap my head around the fact that I’d be zooming around in what I think is probably, likely, fairly toxic water. There is a pulp and paper mill that sits on the shores of the falls and spews gunk into the air and the water right where the jet boat does its thing, and I’ve heard pretty ugly stories of people having to throw out their clothes and take multiple showers to get all the pollution off of them. I realize that if this blog goes viral (VERY likely!) I will be sued for slander and run out of town but, as it stands, I just can’t say that I would pay $40.00 to go scooting around in a bunch of scuzzy foam, even if the Reversing Falls are pretty damn cool. (And they are… from the clean comfort of dry land.)