Things to do in Fredericton

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It happened. What can I say? My family will tell you that I parked my common sense on the sidewalk on King Street in Fredericton, slipped into a place called The White Lotus, and emerged with a 20 cm x 5 cm tattoo between my left wrist and elbow. Each time I go, I find new things to do in Fredericton.

It’s true. I blame this on the effect this small city (the capital of New Brunswick and one of the main cities in Atlantic Canada) has on me.

I’ve visited in winter, spring, summer and fall.

I keep falling in love with the place and losing my head. 

Things to do in New Brunswick Canada
The author’s tattoo inked on her arm on the spur of the moment at The White Lotus Tattoo

Things to do in Fredericton in winter

There are scores of outdoor activities, which include moonlight snowshoeing treks and skiing as well as indoor activities ranging from art lovers’ tours at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery to classes on meditation, culinary workshops and special performances at The Playhouse. Here are some top things to do in Fredericton in winter. 

1- Drink Turkish coffee and eat baklava

My most recent trip there was during a blizzard.

Lucky for me, small mom and pop places were open like John Youseff’s Convenience Store.

I went for a stroll in the storm to find something to munch on.

To my surprise, I discovered that this wee shop also had two small tables, and the owner served Turkish coffee and baklava.

What a treat!

2- Look for a book at Owl’s Bookstore

Further down on King Street I roamed into one of my favourite haunts, Owl’s Book store, where I found a collector’s item about canoes I’d been searching for.

Even in a blizzard, this small city has its charms.

3- Go ice skating

things to do fredericton
Looking for things to do in Fredericton in winter? Try ice skating.

FROSTival has many winter pleasures including skating in the officer’s square any time of day.

If you hit it right, you’ll likely have hot chocolate and cookies after your skate, compliments of the city.

Before the blizzard struck, however, I donned a pair of skates and took part in one of the hundreds of activities that the city offers during FROSTival, a winter festival that celebrates everything the season has to offer.

For example, work crews make ice on a huge square smack in the middle of the historic downtown, where people can skate for free morning, noon and night.

4- Heritage Trust Scavenger Hunt

Something that especially caught my fancy this time was the Heritage Trust Scavenger Hunt.

The point was to identify photos on a page showing some of the city’s architecture, then to check off your “finds” by giving the locations.

At first, I thought this would be a piece of cake but I soon realised that it’s no mean feat, considering there are at least 160 buildings of historic and architectural significance in the city.

5- Listen to music

Things to do in New Brunswick Canada
Musicians love Fredericton and there are venues galore–all year–featuring various performers.

Things to do in Fredericton in spring

Spring is another special time to visit the region.

6- Go foraging for fiddleheads

Things to do in New Brunswick Canada
Foraging for fiddleheads is a huge past time in this part of the world. Shown here is Melvin Nash, who’s foraged for these delectables all his life.

New Brunswick has the largest harvest of fiddle heads in Atlantic Canada.

It’s a specialty food that grows in the wild, along river beds, usually during May.

The St. John River, one of Canada’s most storied rivers, has many areas where they grow in abundance.

I was privileged to have a chance to forage for fiddleheads with Melvin Nash.

His mother was Mi’kmaq, his father Maliseet, and it was their custom to take the family out to pick fiddleheads every spring. 

Although I’m a fan of eating fiddleheads, I’d never picked any, so I was excited about the excursion and learning from a pro.

A few years ago, Melvin published a book titled The First Ever Fiddlehead Harvesters Guide, followed by Cooking North America’s Finest Gourmet Fiddleheads.

Once we were situated on the river bank, the veteran picker said, “I can almost hear them pushing through the ground. The little rascals can grow two to six inches in 24 hours.”

Things to do in New Brunswick Canada
Once picked, the fiddleheads are cleaned. Part of the process involves dipping them in the basket into a running stream to clean them before cooking. It’s a truly unique thing to do in Fredercton.

As you can imagine, I learned a lot.

We then proceeded to a friend’s home where we cooked them in boiling water for six minutes—“Not a minute more!” said Melvin.

Then we drained them, added a glob of butter, salt and pepper and proceeded to have a feast.

Licking our chops, we went back for seconds.

That evening, we dined at the Blue Door restaurant.

As soon as found out that the feature was prosciutto-wrapped halibut laced with smoked tomato sauce, gnocchi and fiddleheads, I didn’t even read the menu.

That wasn’t the end of it.

When I returned to my lodgings at the Quartermain House B&B, owner Debra Quartermain asked me if I would like a Fiddlehead Quiche for breakfast.

All I could do was nod and grin.

7- Kayak the waterways

Things to do in New Brunswick Canada
The St. John River is a long river system that meanders from the northernmost part of New Brunswick down to the ocean on the coast. It’s ideal for paddling and a cool attraction in Fredericton.

Another outdoor activity I enjoy a lot is kayaking or paddling in the region.

The St. John River has lots of water and gorgeous topography spring, summer and fall.

It’s also a safe place for both kayaks and canoes, including beginners.

Things to do in Fredericton in summer

Summertime offers a smorgasbord of activities.

8- Have an edVenture

Things to do in New Brunswick Canada
One of the fun things to do in Fredericton, edVentures is a popular program. Kite flying is just one of 70 programs that are offered. (Offerings vary from year to year).

I always find time for an edVenture.

Picture this: I’m in a dark place. As my eyes adjust, I hear the swish of water. Beads of sweat break out over my brow and upper lip.

You’re probably thinking I’m in a cave or having a bad dream.

Not so.

Things to do in New Brunswick Canada
Silversmithing and making jewellery is one of the 70 programs that are offered as part of edVentures in the city during the summer and a fun Fredericton thing to do.

I’m in a dark room, which is part of the photography lab at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design in Fredericton – learning about pin-hole photography.

The instructor, Drew Gilbert, has explained how it all works but I’m still puzzled.

I’m having trouble understanding how a tin container with a teeny hole and a piece of white paper inside can produce a photo.

Then slowly, a black and white image appears.

Trees, streets and buildings stretch in a fascinating composition before my eyes.

It’s more like magic than photography to me.

This is all part of the edVentures program, which is Atlantic Canada’s largest vacation learning program in craft and culture.

With over 70 programs to choose from, there’s something for everyone.

The program varies year to year and can span everything from making kites to learning how to make jewellery, play the fiddle, do Tai Chi and paint.

It’s an impressive roster and includes programs for children and youth.

9- Shop at the Farmers Market

Things to do in New Brunswick Canada
Visiting the market is one of the things to do in Fredericton. The Boyces Farmers Market is one of the oldest farm markets in Canada. It opens at 6 a.m. and runs until 1 p.m. with vendors selling everything a huge selection of food products along with artisan crafts.

A must-go place if you’re in the city on a Saturday is the W.W. Boyce Farmers’ Market.

It’s loaded with food vendors like the fourth generation Mulders who operate John Henry’s Fish, Mulders Meats and the Cheese Market.

The family is legendary.

It’s also where some of the region’s artisans sell their wares and you’ll find one-of-a-kind items in abundance.

Tip: Look for the guy who sells fresh lobster rolls. He starts making them at 6am.

Things to do in Fredericton in fall

10- Rent a houseboat

Things to do in New Brunswick Canada
One of the things to do in Fredericton is to rent a houseboat. Taking a vacation on a houseboat offers a whole new perspective on travel. Lakeway, close to Fredericton, does it up in fine style!

A couple of years ago, when I was planning a getaway for Thanksgiving, I booked a rental with Lakeway Houseboat Vacations, located in Mactaquac, mere minutes from the city.

Think “cottage on the water,” replete with fireplace, barbecue, bathroom, kitchen, water slide and a hot tub on the top deck.

It didn’t take long to discover gorgeous coves so secluded we didn’t worry about being in our “birthday suits” while in the hot tub while watching the dancing stars and rising moon.

11- Visit the Kings Landing Historical Settlement

Our favourite stop was Kings Landing Historical Settlement.

We parked the houseboat at the Prince William Ice Cream Parlour, paid the entrance fee, and proceeded to explore the site.

We found all kinds of activities taking place on the property, from cider-making to an old-fashioned dance.

There was an auction where everything from pastries to pigs were auctioned off.

And, of course, we had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at The King’s Head Inn.

It was a mammoth and memorable meal.

12- Have fun at the Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival

One of the best reasons to visit Fredericton in the fall is the Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival, held every September.

This year marks the 25th Anniversary and with over 50 bands, such as JJ Grey & Mofro, The Record Company, Waylon Thibodeaux and Garett Mason, the city will be rockin’ and boppin’ for six days and nights.

To find out what’s happening in Fredericton visit the city’s main tourism site then put Fredericton and New Brunswick, on your bucket list … and plan to lose your head.

Things to do in Fredericton

Things to do in Fredericton

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sandra phinney
My byline has appeared in over 60 publications, on topics spanning everything from business and health, to food and travel. The fact that Atlantic Canada is in my own back yard is a bonus for me. I contribute content and photos about Atlantic Canada to several guide books, and am considered to be the go-to person when people are looking for content (or advice on where to travel) specific to this region.