Saint John is a city whose population is composed almost entirely of the descendants of Irish immigrants and British loyalists. Canada's oldest incorporated city, Saint John boasts a metro population of approximately 125,000 and routinely plays host to cruise ships and individual tourists from all over North America. (Note: Saint John is never spelled St. John - locals will be very quick to point this out)
Temperatures in Saint John vary by season. In the summertime temperatures are usually around 22 degrees celsius and in the wintertime they usually dip to around 3.9 degrees celsius. Rain is common in the spring and autumn, but it usually doesn't rain much in the summer. There is the occasional heavy snowfall in the winter; however, snow is usually moderate.
Driving to Saint John is usually not a hassle, unlike many other cities. However, during recent years, traffic has been steadily increasing. And for travellers driving from Fredericton to Saint John on Highway 7, care is required because of the risk of moose collisions at certain times of year and certain times of the day.
For residents of western Nova Scotia planning to visit Saint John, your best bet is the ferry from Digby. There are three crossings daily from mid June to mid October, these take two and a half hours on average. During the rest of the year there is at least one crossing daily and they usually take two hour and forty-five minutes.
There are eleven car rental dealerships in the city including an Avis Rent A Car at the Saint John Airport.
Saint John is home to a domestic airport; flights arrive and leave several times daily from Montreal, Toronto, Fredericton, and Halifax. Bus service with Acadian Bus Lines deposits travellers at 199 Chesley Drive just a short walk uptown along the Harbour Passage paved walking trail. Train service is not available to Saint John directly, but is available to the nearby city of Moncton, where travellers can then make the two hour SMT bus ride into Saint John.
Saint John also boasts a booming cruise ship industry and has cruise ships enter the city's dock on a regular basis.
Saint John's Market Wharf also provides a convenient if unserviced space within the harbour for pleasure boaters, making it easy for power or sail vessels coming in from the Fundy to berth and enjoy the Uptown shopping or dining. Longer term moorage is not available in the harbour, although it is available several miles up the Saint John River. Unfortunately, there are no fuel or marine services at the wharf, and the wharf is used by local fishing boats as well as pleasure craft.
Buses are available from approximately 6AM to Midnight for public transport within the city. Schedules are available on the buses themselves and in information booths throughout the city. Fare is 2.50$ Cdn (as of November 2009) for adult passengers; discounts are available for children, seniors and students with proper identification. Taxis are available to be called (see the yellow pages in phone books at local payphones for listings) and charge a flat fare depending on travel between city zones (adding a 1$ charge per extra passenger.)
Within the Uptown it is possible to travel on foot between the City Market, Brunswick Square Mall, Market Square, the Canada Games Aquatic Centre, Mercantile Centre and Harbour Station via underground and pedway connections without venturing outside. (The "Inside Connection".) This is very useful during the winter. During the rest of the year, Uptown Saint John also offers a very pleasant and fairly accessible walking experience, with clear, well-maintained sidewalks and crosswalks, and fairly straightforward navigation. (Unlike many older cities, Saint John's Uptown is laid out in a simple, grid design.)
Fort Howe - Located in the city's North End, Fort Howe offers a panoramic view of the city and harbour as well as being a historic attraction.
City Market - The city market is located in the Uptown, with entrances on Charlotte and Germain Street. Local businesses, craft workers, artists, farmers, bakers and grocers sell a wide array of unique foods and crafts, native both to New Brunswick and around the world. The building is a historic site with amazing period architecture.
New Brunswick Museum - Located in Market Square in the city's Uptown. The museum boasts a wide array of local historic information and artifacts, artwork, scientific exhibits and displays, and a Discovery Centre with many interactive and educational activities. Museum has a to scale plaster of a mastadon skeleton and skeletons of whales.
Rockwood Park - Located in the North End, admission is free and the park offers a wide variety of walking, biking and horseback riding trails. Rockwood Park is landlocked but its paths weave around both natural and man-made lakes (public swimming is free, but no Lifeguard service is available.)
Irving Nature Park - Located on the West Side, admission is also free. A variety of walking trails lead travellers through woods, guide them into marshes, and bring them to beaches and lookout points on the sea.
King Square - In the heart of the Uptown, King Square is home to gardens, monuments, and the trademark Bandstand / Fountain at its center. Adjacent to King Square is the Loyalist City Burial Ground, whose cobblestone paths lead past graves over two centuries old.
Reversing Falls - As the Saint John River flows into the Bay of Fundy, whose tides are the highest in the world, strong rapids form as the tide rises and clashes with the flow of the river below the Reversing Falls bridge. During the summer months a Jet Boat offers tourists the thrill of tackling the rapids up close.
Carleton Martello Tower - The Carleton Martello Tower was originally built for the War of 1812. However by the time of its completion in 1815, the war was completed. It became used for military in 1866 and was used on and off by Canadian troops for nearly eighty years. It is now a Canadian National Historic Site.
Cherry Brook Zoo - Located in a northern section of Rockwood Park. Home to numerous endangered species as well as other exotic animals. Lovely natural setting. Great area for intersting walking. Open 364 days per year until dusk. Alse included is Vanished Kingdom Park featuring life-sized statues of extinct species. Tiger Claws miniature Gold also located on site along with gift shop and canteen.
The Imperial Theatre - Located Downtown near the Market Square Mall, this historic theater features everything from plays to rock concerts.
Harbour Passage. Harbour Passage is a red paved walking path that runs from the Boardwalk Uptown to the Old Museum on Douglas Avenue. It's a great walking, biking or skating path in the summertime. Word of caution, while it is well lit at night, the occasional mugging has been known to happen in the past. Stay in groups at night and you will be fine. Also a great way to make it from Uptown to the North End of the city. Very close to the holiday inn express.
The Uptown is home to hundreds of privately owned and operated shops that sell a wide variety of food and merchandise. A stroll down King Street will offer stores selling local arts and crafts, while across the street the Brunswick Square Mall offers more commercial stores for your shopping pleasure (clothes, shoes, cards, books, music, Laura Secord Chocolates, etc.) Try Germain and Canterbury Street (both off King Street) for used books, international cuisine and independent record stores.
The city is home to eight shopping centers. Brunswick Square and Market square which are both located in uptown offer modern class shopping and are connected by a pedway system which links much of uptown Saint John. Prince Edward Square (also in uptown) is nearby but has limited shopping. The north end of the city is home to one shopping center called Lansdowne Place, there is also Lancaster Mall on the west side. The east side of the city is home to McAllister Place (the city's largest), East Point Shopping Centre (city's newest retail complex), Parkway Mall, Loch Lomond Mall and numerous box stores including Home Depot, Kent, Canadian Tire, Toys R Us, Sears, Old Navy, Pier 1 Imports, Winners, Michael's and Future Shop, just to name a few.
The City Market in the uptown is the oldest operating farmers market in Canada. It is home to fresh fruits and vegetable, fresh from the sea seafood, a coffee shop and many other products.
A variety of locations for dining in are available in Market Square. For the more thrifty traveller an eatery is located in Brunswick Square, or try the side aisles of the City Market for fresh salads, sandwiches, and other local fare.
Billy's Seafood (near the Front gates to the City market.)Seafood of all kinds is what you can find at Billy's. Locally owned and operated by Billy himself. Offers up great seafood dishes with a reasonable price. Look to spend around $15-$20.00 per person for supper. This restaurant is a favourite of both locals and Cruise tourists, some of who make the trek from the United States each year to come and sample the tastes!
Aquarius Tavern (located on golden mile, to the west of downtown and reversing falls.}
Alley Gria, 126 Prince William Street. Spanish Tapas Bar. Serves up all kinds of delicious plates for you to share with your friends. Best if more than two people go, that way everyone can order something Different. Open in the Afternoon-Evenings.
Thandi's, 33 Canterbury Street, ☎ 506-648-2377. Thandi's is great for Thai and Indian Cusine. It's a little on the pricier side so expect to spend around 25-30.00 per person for a well rounded meal (this is taking into account drinks too!)
Big Tide Brewing Co., 53 Princess Street. Nice little brew pub with some great Microbrewed beer. Everything from IPA's to Hemp Ale, there is something for everyone. Big Tide offers up some pub favourites. Not too expensive. Expect to spend around 30-40 per couple. Great mixed drinks too! $10-$15.
Lemongrass/Pepper's Pub, Brunswick Square. The Lemongrass Restaurant is a great Thai place offering upscale food at a reasonable price. Very good pad thai and "money bags" (Appetizer). Pepper's Pub, which is located in the same venue offers up unique pub fare for just about anybody. Thursdays is wing night, offering 1lb of wings for $4.00. Great Sauce Selections. Service can be a little slow on this night, but only because the place is jam packed with regulars who flock to Pepper's for the best wings in town! They often host "IPN- Indie Pop Night". Great selection of live bands and a heated patio make Lemongrass/Pepper's Pub a great place to eat and drink.
Cora's Breakfast & Lunch, (Located in Brunswick Square). Great breakfast, A la Cora! Cora, a Quebec native began a chain of Breakfast restaurants which are now popular all over Atlantic Canada! Impressive fruit plates, delicious crepes and huge portions. Inexpensive. Expect to spend around 30-40 for two, including drinks. Try the crepes of any kind. They're all delicious!
Saint John Ale House, Located on the Boardwalk, inside Market Square. Great Selection of Beer both local and international. Good eats! You can get the Ale Sized fish and chips which is practically a whole side of haddock! Good value for the money. Expect to spend around 10-20 at lunch and a little bit more in the evenings. Has a bar downstairs and a fine dining establishment upstairs.
3 Mile Entertainment ComplexHome of Tonic a spacious dance club, for patrons 25+. The largest dance club east of Montreal. You can call ahead and ask to be put on the list, if you are under 25. Also home to the 3Mile Pub and Steakhouse. Great Steaks, Ribs and Wings (with over 36 different sauces) Also home to Legends, Bar & Grille, where Casino Style meets delicious food and a good place to drink. Located on Saint John's East side.
Element Saint John's Premier GLBT Dance Club, located in the historic "uptown" district.
O'Leary's - A Popular Irish Pub, located in Uptown, has live music on Friday and Saturday nights, usually Rock and Country cover bands. Most recently O'Leary's has broken away from the live bands on the weekends and often plays the hottest dance hits.
Callahan's - Friendly pub located at the foot of Princess Street, near cruise terminal. Establishment has unusual vaulted ceiling having once served as the mail room in Canada's oldest post office.
Finding a place to stay in Saint John shouldn't be a hassle. For those of you who prefer a comfortable stay near everything you could possibly wish to see, try one of the hotels or B&Bs in the uptown. Hotels in Saint John cost on average $120 per night for a single. However, if you are traveling on a budget there are still some comfortable motels around the city.
If camping underneath the stars is more your style, Rockwood Park or the village of St. Martins make great choices. If you are looking more along the line of cottages or country inns, there are a few options in the city and many more in the suburbs and nearby country.
Internet access is available in several areas within the "Inside Connection", including a convenience store in Market Square and an Internet Cafe located en route between Market Square and Brunswick Square.
Saint John is safe compared to most cities; however, it is a good idea to walk on well-lit busy streets after dark and not on darker side streets. Street crime is rare but not unheard of. You are relatively safe in the commercial/retail area of Uptown, where the hotels are located. The South End, an area just next to Downtown, can be dangerous.