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Couples’ Getaway on the Bay of Fundy

by Barbara Rogers

Apr 2, 2019

Christopher Heil | Dreamstime.com

Travel Tips

Those of us who live in New England can take an easy foreign vacation without boarding a plane. We just aim our cars north and cross the border into New Brunswick or Quebec. We chose New Brunswick’s Bay of Fundy Coast for our getaway, heading directly to the pretty seaside town of St. Andrews.


We first went there on our honeymoon and it’s still one of our favorite places, with its tidy Main Street and wharves. The Algonquin Hotel still stands overlooking the town from a regal perch, but newly renovated and updated. From our spacious corner room we could see Maine just across the bay


We’d reserved a table for two at Braxton’s, the Algonquin’s restaurant, and relaxed over a long, leisurely dinner and a bottle of wine from the premier list. Flavorful New Brunswick lamb chops were served with triangles of cheddar polenta, and the butter-poached mélange of Atlantic halibut, shrimp and sea scallops came with creamy pea risotto. The final flourish was clafouti served piping hot, with a separate dish of ice cream. Our getaway was off to a good start.


A short walk from the Algonquin is the romantic Kingsbrae Garden, where more than 50,000 perennials thrive in a series of themed gardens, the northern climate tempered here by the Bay of Fundy. We strolled through terraced gardens, along woodland trails, past stunning floral displays, a heather garden and one of fragrant herbs. We ate lunch on the terrace before following the paths through Kingsbrae’s newest feature, a sculpture garden.


In New Brunswick’s capital of Saint John (always spelled in full to distinguish it from St. John’s in Newfoundland) we stayed in a large room overlooking the harbor, at the Saint John Hilton. The hotel is a few steps from historic streets lined with brick townhouses that reminded us of Boston’s Back Bay.


There we browsed in the city’s astonishing number of galleries featuring local handcrafts and fine art (a brochure from the Visitor Center helped us find them all). When this worked up an appetite we lunched on Po’boys of crisp fried clams, with a local artisan cider at Port City Royal. In the evening we dined at East Coast Bistro, on sautéed halibut with toasted couscous and a salad of pickled beets, apples and pecans. We always eat well in Saint John, as well-known for its dining as for its arts scene.


Reversing Falls. View of Saint John, New Brunswick.

Reversing Falls. View of Saint John, New Brunswick. Photo: Alpegor | Dreamstime.com


Watching the iconic Reversing Falls from the new Skywalk, a spine-tingling glass platform suspended above the gorge, made us want to see more of the natural wonders caused by the Bay of Fundy’s phenomenal tides. North of Saint John, the dramatic Hopewell Rocks look like giant flower pots as they tower 70 feet above the ocean floor, where you can walk beneath them at low tide. A few hours later they are little islands, all but their tree-covered tops underwater. We watched the tide rush in to inundate the eroded stone pillars, then joined a tour with Baymount Outdoor Adventures to kayak among them.


We returned via a circuitous route that took us across a series of charming little cable ferries, a leisurely way to connect villages on either side of the Saint John River and its long narrow bays. That brought us to the pretty little town of Rothesay, close to Saint John, and to Shadow Lawn Inn. The 1870 Victorian house is rich in elegant architectural details — a grand staircase, beautifully carved fireplace and mantels, deep moldings and carved medallions in its ceilings.


The new glass-walled restaurant Robertson’s is a contrast to the Victorian inn, with a cathedral ceiling and a menu to match its contemporary style. Like the other restaurants we chose in New Brunswick, the ethic is localvore, and the chef shows off the ingredients in beautifully presented dishes: local chevre with tiny vine-ripened tomatoes, caramelized scallops in Jerusalem artichoke puree. It was a grand finale to a romantic getaway.


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