Although the pretty seaside town of St Andrews (almost nobody calls it by its full name of St-Andrews-by-the-Sea) is in Canada’s province of New Brunswick, it’s so close to the international border you can look out your hotel room window and see the Maine shore across the bay. But there’s so much for families to do here you won’t be satisfied with a daytrip from Maine.
St-Andrews is the whale watch capital of the Bay of Fundy, whose mammoth tides attract 12 species of whales and other marine animals that gather in the summer to feed on the fish and krill swept in by the tides. Minke, Finback, Humpback and rare North Atlantic Right Whales are joined by dolphins and porpoises — it’s like an oceanarium, but in the wild. Depending on the age of your kids and everyone’s thrill level, you have three kinds of whale-watch cruises to choose from.
Younger children will love the Jolly Breeze Tall Ship for its costumes they can dress up in, and other onboard activities. Older kids and those especially interested in sea creatures and wildlife will prefer Island Quest Marine Whale and Wildlife Cruises, accompanied by nature guides who can answer questions and assure the best sightings. For thrills, teens might like a zodiac ride with Fundy Tide Runners. You’ll find kiosks for all these at the waterfront in the center of town. On the way to the best whale watching waters you’ll cruise past lighthouses and islands where sea birds nest.
Meeting Sea Creatures Up Close
You and your family can learn more about the Bay of Fundy through the kid-friendly interactive exhibits and aquarium at the Huntsman Marine Science Center. Here they can discover live intertidal creatures in the large touch pool, and watch fish through underwater viewing windows. Twice each day visitors can see feedings of seahorses, seals and salmon, and daily activities are designed for all ages. For the littlest visitors there’s a sea-themed play area. One-hour tours take visitors, outfitted with rubber boots, “backstage” to see the tanks that house some sea animals not seen in the public exhibits. Kids get to feed some of them, use a microscope to see the smallest and learn how the center cares for its sea animals. New this summer is a half-day immersive experience that leaves the aquarium to gather data along the Fundy shore for the center’s research on invasive species.
Flowers, Goats and a Dutch Windmill
In the 27-acre Kingsbrae Garden there’s a special section for kids with play houses, a miniature castle and farm animals. But throughout the garden are other attractions that will enchant them — a real Dutch windmill, a sensory garden of plants that feel and smell good, a pair of Victorian-era play houses and a sculpture garden with some artful animals and whimsical features. Within a short walk of the gardens stands the imposing Algonquin Hotel, with family-sized guestrooms, a large outdoor swimming pool and an indoor pool with a three-story water slide.
Tourism New Brunswick has more information on what to do and where to stay in St Andrews-by-the-Sea.