As the capital city of New Brunswick, it’s not surprising that there are a number of fun and interesting things to do in Fredericton. While it’s known for being a college and government town, there’s a lot to do if you’re planning on visiting or moving to Fredericton.
Despite its size, with a population of just 60,000, you’ll find no end to the ways of occupying your time. It’s going to be even better if you love spending time outdoors and are looking for outdoor activities like hiking, cycling, and other fun adventures.
Even from the heart of downtown you’ll find bike paths that will whisk you out of the city along the Saint John River. When the weather isn’t cooperating, there are a number of museums, cafes, restaurants, and other indoor attractions you can visit as well.
There are plenty of things to do in Fredericton and it’s definitely one of the gems of New Brunswick. Let’s take a look at some of Fredericton’s top tourist attractions so that you can have a great time during your visit.
Is Fredericton Worth Visiting?
Fredericton is a beautiful city and definitely somewhere you need to check out on a New Brunswick trip. And, yes, it is worth visiting! Here are some reasons why:
The city of Fredericton is a vibrant and historic town situated in the Saint John River Valley. It’s a quintessential example of a Canadian city with elegant architecture and period buildings.
Fredericton is rich in history and culture. There are many museums, theatres, galleries and restaurants to explore. And there is no shortage of outdoor activities and national parks that offer beautiful scenery.
The art scene in Fredericton is so dynamic and inventive. It’s a great place to be inspired.
There are many festivals, such as Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival, Brunswick Music Festival and Mardi Gras Festival. Whether you come for the music or for the food, you will find something exciting to do.
The city has shopping centres, malls and stores that will be sure to please even the most sophisticated shoppers.
Overall, Fredericton is an attractive city to visit with amazing cultural and historical sites.
The Best Things to Do in Fredericton
1. Saint John River
Running through the heart of Fredericton is the Saint John River. Further along you’ll find the Saint John River Valley, which is an incredibly beautiful part of the province.
During the summer there are plenty of opportunities to get out onto the water and enjoy the nice weather. This includes doing things like paddleboarding, kayaking. and even some light boating.
It’s even possible to rent some outdoor equipment so you have a better experience out on the river. A local company, Second Nature Outdoors, offers rentals for kayaks, paddle-boards, canoes, and even bicycles for reasonable rates.
There’s also biking trails, walking paths, and a lot of opportunities to enjoy the beautiful scenery along the river. It’s even possible to go out on a dinner cruise if you’re visiting during the summer.
Visitors are always shocked by the beauty of the St. John River. This is definitely a part of the city you want to spend time exploring if you’re planning a trip to Fredericton.
2. Fredericton City Hall
Located in the heart of downtown is the historic and picturesque Fredericton City Hall. This is a beautiful building that was built in 1875 and is one of Canada’s many National Historic Site’s.
The City Hall is the oldest municipal hall in eastern Canada that’s still used for administration purposes. It features a unique Second Empire architectural style, which is one of the more impressive building styles found in the Maritimes.
The building itself is located on Phoenix Square, which is right in the centre of downtown Frederic Inn. At the very back of the building you’ll find the previously mentioned Saint John River, further enhancing it’s beautiful location.
One interesting fact is that the basement of the Fredericton City Hall was once used as a market. This was rather a rare occurence at the time, when it was happening in 1851.
Today, it’s possible to go on a tour of the building if you book in advance. This is definitely worth it if you’re interested in learning more about history and New Brunswick architecture.
For more information – visit the Fredericton City Hall website.
3. Fredericton’s Bars and Craft Breweries
One of the most interesting things about Fredericton and is that there are a number of great bars and breweries worth checking out. What makes it even more surprising is that just a few years ago there wasn’t a drinking scene in the city at all.
In 1995 the first ‘craft brewery’ opened, Picaroons Traditionals Ales. Since then the craft brewing industry in Fredericton has been growing steadily every year.
There are a surprising number of bars and breweries that you can check out including:
- Red Rover Brewery
- Mama’s Pub
- James Joyce Pub
- Picaroons Brewtique
- Graystone Brewing
- Grimross Brewing
- Corked Wine Bar
- Flying Monkey’s Craft Brewery
There’s actually a tourist-based brewery tour that you can follow to check out some of the best local establishments. Head over to the Tourism Fredericton website here to learn more about the ‘Fredericton Taproom Trail’.
4. The Fredericton Lighthouse
While it might seem historic, the Fredericton Lighthouse was actually built in 1989. It was originally used by a boat tour business, although today it’s operated by the Crowne Plaza hotel.
Despite being privately managed, the lighthouse is accessible to the public. It’s both picturesque and maintains a beautiful position along the Saint John River.
As tourists, it’s possible to go up to the top of the lighthouse for a panoramic view of the river and the city itself. Even if you’re a budget traveler, keep in mind that the fee is donated to the local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
There are some things to do at the hotel as well, including some options for drinking and eating. Either way, the lighthouse is one of the best outdoor activities in Fredericton and definitely worth a visit.
5. The Fredericton Railway Bridge
Another interesting outdoor activity in the city is the Fredericton railway bridge. This is a walking bridge that crosses the Saint John River and offers incredible views of the different parts of the city.
During the summer, the bridge is incredibly popular with people walking and biking across. It’s also a lovely place to visit, making it one of the more romantic things to do in Fredericton.
The bridge itself is known as the Bill Thorpe Walking Bridge and was formally a railway bridge. Originally, it was built in 1938, replacing an older wooden bridge from 1889.
The current bridge began its pedestrian use in 1997 and sees more than 600,000 crossings every year. It’s definitely one of the more iconic pieces of infrastructure and offers one of the best views of Fredericton.
6. Officer’s Square and the Garrison District
One of the most iconic places in Fredericton, and even in all of New Brunswick, is the Garrison District and Officers Square. This is another national historic site as well as a provincial historic site in New Brunswick.
The square as well as the entire district boast a beautiful location right on the Saint John River. It has become the de facto place for festivals, markets, and other live events in Fredericton.
This area of the city dates back to when Fredericton was a garrison town. Originally, all of the buildings were made of wood and eventually replaced with the stone structures you see today.
There is actually one original wood building that you can check out in the Garrison. It’s really a great area for history buffs and admiring some of Canada’s oldest architecture.
Those of you looking for more information can participate in a Guided Heritage Walking Tour. Otherwise, you’ll definitely want to check out the Garrison District for the architecture, Local history, and options for outdoor dining and drinking.
Don’t forget to check out the Coleman Frog – a 42 pound New Brunswick legend. You’ll find this beauty and some other local gems inside the Fredericton Region museum.
7. Boyce Farmer’s Market
Consistently voted as one of the best community markets in Canada, the Boyce Farmer’s Market is something you should check out if you get a chance. This is a Saturday morning farmers market in Fredericton that happens year-round.
At this market you’ll find a lot of local options such as local crafts and regional food items. During the summer are a lot of local goods like wild berry jam, traditional seaweed snacks, local honey, and maple candies (a great souvenir).
Most of the market takes place inside two of the large market halls. If it’s busy, there can be a lot of spill over outside with the vendors setting up stands in the area around the main market.
These vendors have cheese, meat, handcrafted goods, goat milk soap, jewelry, baked goods, and even fresh picked vegetables. Inside the market itself you’ll be able to get breakfast from a Café or something to eat at one of the food trucks.
People across New Brunswick are familiar with the Boyce Farmer’s Market. Not only is this a popular attraction in Fredericton, it’s also one of the best places to visit in New Brunswick as a whole.
8. Government House
Government house in Fredericton is the official residence of the lieutenant governor of New Brunswick. It acted as the setting for official discussions that happened during Canada’s confederation.
This is where the Maritime provinces ended up joining the Canadian Federation. It’s not surprising that the Government House is a provincial as well as a National Historic Site of Canada.
Those of you that are interested in architecture will find this to be a beautiful building. It was built using sandstone in 1828 and features a Georgian style of architecture.
All the way until 1893, the Government House was the home of the representative of the British monarch in this province. Surprisingly, it’s still used today to greet and host members of the royal family as well as foreign dignitaries.
During the summer months it’s possible to visit the Government House for a tour. The tour will take you through many of the rooms inside, including the Governors Office, library, both of the conservatory, the drawing room, the dining room, and many other locations.
9. Fredericton Botanical Garden
Easily accessible from downtown is the beautiful Fredericton botanical garden. This is a 53 acre garden that’s full of natural beauty.
At this garden you’ll be able to explore a number of interpretive trail. There’s the well-known Woodland Fern trail and a quiet spot for relaxing, the Memorial Grove.
The garden itself was set up in 1990 and has been a great spot for enjoying nature in the heart of the city. Along with the many different trails, there are incredible displays of flowers and plants that are worth checking out.
During the summer it’s possible to go on a guided tour to learn more about the various displays as well as the garden itself. Take a look at the Fredericton Botanical Garden website if you’re interested in learning more.
10. Odell Park
Right in the heart of Fredericton is the beautiful and picturesque Odell Park. This is a great spot to visit if you’re looking to get away from the hustle of the city and want to relax in a green, shaded oasis.
At the park you’ll find more than 16 km of walking trails and easily accessible paths. There are a number of areas with old growth forest that you can explore, with trees that are more than 400 years old.
The park also features an arboretum as well as a New Brunswick tree species collection. This collection has examples of all of the different trees that are native to the province.
It’s worth checking out Odell Park, especially if you’re planning to visit the botanical gardens. These gardens are located right beside the park and are worth adding to the same visit.
Along with walking trails, there are outdoor sculptures, beautiful gardens, picnic tables, and even a large pond that can be found in the park. During the winter it’s a popular spot for cross country skiing, tobogganing, and ice-skating.
11. Christ Church Cathedral
The Christ Church cathedral in Fredericton is one of the oldest churches in New Brunswick. It features a picturesque neo-Gothic style and was built during the mid-18th century.
Many visitors are surprised to see this well preserved example of English Gothic revival architecture here in the province. The reason for it is because of Bishop John Bradley, who had the church built based on a 14th century church from his home in England.
What makes the church so unique is the beautifully preserved interior. You’ll definitely want to check out the stained glass, carved stone pulpit, and baptismal font.
Those of you that love architecture, especially churches, are going to find this one to be a gem. There’s even a marble carved effigy memorial inside, which is something very unique in North America.
12. King’s Landing Historical Settlement
The most interesting things to do in Fredericton is the Kings Landing historical settlement. This is a great place to check out if you want to experience what life was like for the original inhabitants here in New Brunswick.
This interesting historical village is open from June through to October. It’s available for tours from Wednesday to Saturday between 10 AM and 5 PM.
Visiting this village will give you a better idea what life was like 200 years ago. Throughout the season there are special events and it’s a great place to learn about New Brunswick history.
This is essentially an open air museum with over 300 acres of preserved artefacts and accurate replicas. There are more than 70,000 artefacts here along with a fully operational 19th century village and 70 historic buildings.
If you’re planning a visit, you can check out the Kings Landing website here. Along with a guided tour, there are also unique culinary experiences, educational programs, and workshops that you can participate in.
13. Live Music at the Lunar Rogue
If you’re a fan of live music you’re definitely going to want to check out the Lunar Rogue in Fredericton. This is a popular spot to visit and is the main hub of the city music scene.
Almost every night, especially on weekends, local bands will be playing here. They serve great food here as well so it’s a great place to go for dinner or to end your day with some great music.
It’s a really popular spot locals so you can expect it to be busy on the weekends. There’s even a great selection of craft beer that you can sample from a number of local breweries.
Whether you’re looking to socialize or just drink some beer and relax, this is the spot to be. If you’re looking for things to do in Fredericton on the weekend, it’s the Lunar Rogue that I would recommend checking out.
15. The Legislative Assembly
The beautiful building that makes up the legislative assembly is a must see in Fredericton. This lovely structure has been in the seat of New Brunswick’s provincial government since 1882.
During the summer, from June until August, it’s possible to take a free guided tour. These tours are available between 9am and 5pm. Throughout the rest of year you can book a tour as well, though you will have to make an appointment.
What makes the legislative assembly so impressive is its picturesque and daunting architecture. The building was built in the Victorian style, something that you see repeated many times across eastern Canada.
It’s hard not to be impressed by this large stone building with its impressive dome on the top. On the inside you’ll be pleased to find a beautifully preserved spiral staircase as well as a portrait gallery of the former Lieutenant governors.
If you’re interested in booking a tour, check out the legislative assembly website here. With its location close to downtown and other Fredericton attractions, This is definitely somewhere worth checking out.
16. The Beaverbrook Art Gallery
Right beside the legislative assembly building is the Beaverbrook Art Gallery. This is a beautiful art museum in downtown Fredericton.
The gallery was named after Lord Beaverbrook and was opened in 1959. It’s worth noting that the Gallery was recently renovated with a number of new exhibitions included.
This gallery is said to have one of the most impressive and varied art collections in Canada. Along with international artists, there are also a number of exhibitions from artists right here in Canada.
The highlight of the museum is Salvador Dali’s Santiago el Grande, which stands four meters tall in its own gallery space. It’s hard not to be impressed by all of the artwork, as well as the gallery itself, with its 20 foot ceilings.
For more information about the Gallery, check out the Beaverbrook Art Gallery website here.
Where to Stay in Fredericton
There are a number of hotels and bed and breakfasts in Fredericton. Regardless of your budget, you’ll definitely be able to find somewhere reasonable to stay.
Some of the best hotels and accommodations can be found right downtown, even in the Garrison District. Otherwise, there are some great options further outside the city centre and even a number of AirBnb properties available.
Here are some of our recommendations for places to stay in Fredericton:
- Fredericton Inn (budget)
- Crowne Plaza
What is Fredericton Best Known For?
Fredericton, New Brunswick is best known for being the capital of New Brunswick. Fredericton is also known for being one of the most affordable places to live in Canada according to a ranking by Money Sense Magazine.
It’s also known as the craft beer brewing town of Canada. The city of Fredericton is known for having the highest concentration of breweries, meaderies and cideries in Atlantic Canada.