East Coast New Brunswick Family Fun
Put your hand up if you have really only ever driven THROUGH New Brunswick.
I’m guilty of it. We go through to get to PEI or to the States, or to head across Canada, but, I have to admit, did we every really take time to stop and explore the province!
That is until this summer, we decided to explore the Eastern Coast of New Brunswick. What an incredibly beautiful place, and are we ever glad we did!
Day 1: Hopewell Rocks
It all started when our son Thomas decided he wanted to see the Hopewell Rocks because it was listed in his book about the top 10 most amazing places in Canada.
The Hopewell Rocks is a natural wonder with formations called The Flowerpots carved out of the cliff walls.
Before going, check the tide times because you can visit 3 hours before or after low tide (or go at high tide for a totally different experience!)
The Hopewell Rocks is about 3.5 hours from the Valley and is 30 minutes from Moncton on the Fundy Shore.
Read more about our family adventure.
That night we stayed at the Holiday Inn Express by the Moncton airport so we could easily be on our way the next day.
Day 2: Kouchibouguac National Park
I remember camping here as a child with my family, so couldn’t wait to get back here again. Although it would be the perfect place to camp (or stay in a cabin/lodge outside the park) and explore Kouchibouguac for a few days, we feel we got the highlights in just one day.
Kouchibouguac is about an hour north of Moncton.
We arrived early in the morning and checked in at the Information Centre so the kids could get their X-Plorer Kits.
These booklets gave the kids lots of activities to do throughout the park, and at the end of our visit they could turn in the completed booklet for a prize.
We started with the bog trail (1.9km).
I have vivid memories of seeing a moose up close when we were here as children. Although that moose was not there 30 years later, it was still a great trail that gave us a good luck and some information about what much of the terrain of eastern New Brunswick is like – a bog!
We also did the Mi’kmaq Cedar (loop) (0.9km).
We finished off with the Pines trail (0.9km).
It was great that there were lots of shorter trails to try and each in a different type of environment – from bog to different types of forest. Shorter hikes mean less complaining from the kids, too!
We spent the afternoon at Kelly’s Beach. The water was chilly but the boys didn’t seem to mind! There is a 1km boardwalk walk to the beach across the lagoon.
They spent the afternoon exploring the shore, hunting for crabs and playing in the waves.
We loved our day at Kouchibouguac and would definitely go back and explore it some more.
After our day at Kouchibouguac, we headed further north to Black River Bridge (between the park and the Miramichi) to stay at Camping Miramichi.
This place was recommended to us by a friend, and I’m glad we took her up on it!
Here, we stayed in a cabin in the woods that was literally in the trees! There are no kitchens in the cabins, so you need to bring your camping outdoor cooking gear.
There is also a playground and a pool onsite so the kids were happy.
Our cabin met all our needs, and was a great stopping point for 2 nights of our journey.
Day 3: Miramichi
The Miramichi is an area that I have always wanted to spend more time exploring. We could have spent many happy days up here, but picked a few highlights.
We (David and I) like to do hikes, and we like to make the kids do them with us, despite the complaining. My friend had suggested this area to check out.
French Fort Cove is a multi-season park with walking, hiking and biking trails.
After looking at the map, we picked the Fish quarry loop trail (3km). Thinking that 3km wasn’t very long, this should be an easy trail.
It took us at least an hour to complete the trail.
Meet characters from early French fur traders, to the Marquis Charles Deschamps de Boishebert, to the various shipbuilders who inhabited the island for over 100 years. Experience the multicultural history of the Miramichi.
We had a wonderful afternoon on the boat tour, meeting characters from the past who told the story of the island.
There are so many unique ways to learn more of the history of the Miramichi area and Beaubears Island. Definitely add this to your hit list.
Read more about our visit in our blog post, including Daniel’s YouTube video about our time at the museum.
Days 4 & 5: Miscou Islands
Way up in the top right-hand corner of New Brunswick lies the Acadian Peninsula and the Miscou Islands.
This coastal island is home to spectacular beaches, fascinating trails just waiting to be discovered and vast peat bogs that turns scarlet red in the fall.
We wanted to spend the last two days of our Eastern New Brunswick trip relaxing on the white sand beaches and exploring the series of islands. However, Mother Nature had a different plan. The weather was cold and dreary (although it threatened to rain, it didn’t), so we found other things to do instead.
The Acadian Peninsula is made up of several islands. French is the primary language and all the signs are solely in French. Mostly everyone can speak English, though, so we never had to use our pigeon French to get by!
The area is a great place to explore outside. There are so many bike trails that go around the islands. The bird watching is incredible – there are osprey nests on practically every pole.
There are beaches everywhere with warm water, and many trails to discover.
We did find that the area really catered to tourists. Although, not over-run by tourists, and it not being a tourist trap, everything had a fee. We found this out the hard way when we went to do some of the trails and found there was a fee to walk them. These fees prevented us from doing more exploring, but we did find plenty to do for free, or that we were willing to pay for.
Here are a few of the things that we checked out.
From the website: The “Eco-Parc” is an incredible complex. Start at the Interpretation Centre, where screens with animation explain the fragile nature of the ecosystem around you. Then make your way outside where there are so many things to do. you’ll want to try everything.
There’s an observation tower, a footbridge, and a boardwalk, which stretches across an estuary and into the forest.
Stop at the lookout along the way and use the telescope to do a little birdwatching. The trail you’re following crosses an arboretum where you’ll see about 30 species native to the area. The nature trail wanders through the forest, a place so peaceful it’s easy to feel like you’re all alone on the planet.
Although we could have a guided tour, we opted to go by ourselves. However, one of the guides did come out to the board walk with us to show us some of the fish.
The kids had a great time playing and learning about how they lure the fish with cat food!
A trip up the observation tower gave us a great view of the area.
The Miscou lighthouse is probably one of the most famous landmarks in the Acadian Peninsula.
When you are out at the point, you are very close to Quebec’s Gaspe Peninsula. So much so that our electronics were picking up cell towers from there and changing our clocks back an hour!
We walked around the Miscou lighthouse but did not pay the admission fees to climb it.
There are not many places to eat on Miscou (most amenities are on Lameque Island before) but there is a great café by the lighthouse!
This trail is featured in most of the tourist information for the islands because it is so beautiful! Off the side of the road near the Miscou lighthouse, this is a 0.6km boardwalk loop around the bog.
Along the path there are interpretive signs to teach you about the bogs and the peat industry that makes up so much of Eastern New Brunswick.
This trail is free, so don’t miss it!
There are so many beautiful beaches in the Acadian Peninsula!
It was too cold for us to go swimming, but we did explore a few of them. On a nice day we would definitely go back to some of the beaches on the Western coast of Miscou.
This was probably one of the trip highlights for the boys. They are obsessed with aquariums and marine life, so it was sure to float their boat!
Located in Shippigan, the entrance town to the Miscou Islands, it has a rich collection of fish and invertebrates that inhabit the waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and the lakes and rivers of Atlantic Canada.
We got to see so many cool marine animals!
Then, we got to watch a short presentation of the staff feeding the harbour seals. Before you go, check the feeding times on the website and plan your visit around the feeding times. When we went, it was at 4pm.
Daniel loved the aquarium so much he made a YouTube video of all he learned.
One of our favourite stops was near Caraquet (off the islands but nearby) at Happy Bee. A man in this small village has his own bee hive and uses the honey to make everything from health products to candles.
There are quite a few places to stay on the islands. There are lots of cottages and B&Bs to pick from. However, we found that many places only allow for a week’s stay, or book up very early.
In the end, we decided to stay off the islands, about 20 minutes away in the lovely town of Caraquet.
We stayed at the Super 8.
This was perfect for us because it was right on the water. There was a huge playground next door, and trails to a gazebo on the waterfront.
All the amenities were right there. Plus, it had a waterslide, which kept the kids happy when the weather wasn’t great. It was only a 20 minute drive from all the main attractions on the Acadian Peninsula, so this was a great compromise!
Day 6: Drive Home
It was about a 6 hour drive from the Acadian Peninsula back to the Valley. We made a few stops along the way including back to the hotel in Moncton where a stuffie had been left behind!
It was a long drive, but definitely doable.
We had a great time on the eastern coast of New Brunswick, and we would definitely recommend that people take the time to explore it.
There were so many small towns along the coast, lots of museums and wineries where we could have stopped, so there is no shortage of things to do and see!