Fredericton Family Fun
We had the pleasure of spending a few days in Fredericton during the Canada Wide Science Fair. Daniel (12) was one of the competitors, hosted on the campus of the University of New Brunswick. The rest of us decided to go up for a few days to visit the science fair and check out the city.
I don’t ever remember being in Fredericton before, so it was great to explore! Because we were visiting in early May, and not quite tourism season, we had to look extra-hard to find things that were open.
We had a great visit and here are is what we recommend doing in Fredericton for family fun.
See the History of Fredericton
We really enjoyed our time in Fredericton. It’s a really manageable city and easy to navigate and get around. There is lots of parking, tons of shops and great restaurants. You can’t go wrong.
What I loved the most is how they do a really great job of re-purposing old buildings. Instead of tearing them down, these old buildings have been turned into museums, restaurants, craft studios and galleries. The lighthouse is now home to a beer garden on the roof!
There are plaques everywhere, especially in the old historic district on the banks of the Saint John River. This area was home to the first and permanent Canadian military unit, the Royal Canadian Regiment.
We actually picked up a Fredericton city booklet (free at any touristy place) and inside was a self-guided tour of the historic military district. We followed this tour, reading about each of the building we passed on our route. This gave us a great overview of the city.
There is the Fredericton Region Museum which we heard great reviews about, but at the time we were there (May 2019) it was closed because of the recent river flooding. Check the website before you visit.
As mentioned, the Fredericton Region Museum comes with lots of accolades, but we weren’t able to visit it.
We visited the Science East Museum, which is housed in the re-purposed historic jail! As you go through, there are the regular science exhibits, plus signs telling you about the old jail.
Every room was full of hands-on activities for kids of all ages, and just as much fun for adults.
Thomas (11) loved all the activities and had a great time!
In the basement there is a museum dedicated to the old jail, however, this was closed for renovations when we were there.
We spent two hours exploring the museum.
There is not a family rate, and it cost the three of us $30 to visit, which we found a bit steep, but Thomas says it was worth it!
There is also and outdoor science playground attached to the centre that looked like a lot of fun. However, it was raining and Thomas is a bit too old now!
If you have a pass to the Discovery Centre in Halifax, you can get in for free to this museum!
One of our favourite things was walking the Bill Thorpe Foot Bridge. This is an old train bridge re-purposed into a walking bridge over the Saint John River. It is said that this is the longest walking bridge in the world.
The bridge is about 1km long, and totally accessible. There are parking lots on either end of the bridge.
I loved walking the bridge with the architecture and the views. Make sure you do this on your trip to Fredericton.
This marshland is on the north side of the river. It’s known as Canada’s first amphibian sanctuary.
Hyla Park is located within the City of Fredericton and was the first Amphibian Park in Canada nominated by National Geographic. It used to be the north-eastern limit of distribution for the gray tree frog (Hyla versicolor), which has changed due to climate change.
When we were there, the paths were spring flooded, which happens every year until mid June, as one local told us.
We did not see any frogs, but we saw lots of birds. If you like bird watching, this is worth checking out. If not, there are no real trails to walk in May.
We went to Odell Park, which is a huge forested park that covers a huge area on the hill of the south side of the city.
When you go in, take a picture of the maps that are at the park entrance as none of the trails are marked inside the park. However, we did find there were a lot of trails that were not in the map, but we didn’t get lost. It’s kind of a choose your own adventure when it comes to the trail you choose to do, depending on how long you want to walk.
We started exploring the trails at the bottom of the park off Waggoners Lane.
Then, we drove to the top of the park, off Prospect Street. We could have walked through as all the trails connect, but we were tired and just drove around. At the top, we wanted to see the botanical gardens.
Although nothing was in bloom at this time of year, and there is a lot of construction of beautiful gardens to come, it was still a lovely walk!
Where to Eat
We found some great places during our Fredericton visit.
Claudine’s Eatery – This was recommended by a friend, and she wasn’t wrong! This is mostly a seafood restaurant. Make sure you check out the potato chip-covered haddock!
Unplugged – This is a board game café. For $5 each (stc) you can spend as long as you want playing the 700+ board games. We spent over 3 hours playing all sorts of games from cards, strategy, and family games. There is also a menu with grilled sandwiches and nachos and fries. Great snack food, and licensed bar to keep you going for the night.
Donut Bar – When reading about Fredericton, this was one of the places that constantly came up, so we knew we had to go check it out. There were several donuts with unique flavours from Nutella, peanut butter, Skor bar and Oreo, and so much more. It was really hard to make a decision, but I don’t think we could have made a wrong one! They were delicious!
Tomotachi SUSHI – This was a super-great find. Having lived in Japan, I can tell you, this is delicious and authentic-tasting food. This would be a place where we would go a lot if we lived closer!
While in Fredericton we stayed at the Hampton Inn, right off the highway, and close to everything in Fredericton. We love the Hampton Inn because it has a pool with a separate waterslide, and breakfast is included!
As Thomas says, it’s clean, convenient, with great service and comfortable bed! What else can you ask for?
Fredericton was a great place to visit, and there is so much more to explore! During the tourism season there would be even more happening, especially in the historic district.