By Helen Earley
If you happen to pass through Moncton, New Brunswick, please take my advice: Stop. Stay a couple of nights. And…let go! Your kids will never forget the time they spent in Moncton. Whether you drive, fly or take the train, Moncton, New Brunswick is an amazing holiday destination for families who love language, food, and adventure. Here are 11 Moncton attractions that your family won’t want to miss:
1. A Unique City Culture
For families whose children are learning French, Moncton offers a valuable education. New Brunswick is officially bilingual, and therefore, a family visit to Moncton is truly a lesson in culture, as you observe store employees, waiters and waitresses, hotel staff and local families switching effortlessly between the two languages. What a great way to experience a new culture!
2. The Train Journey
The train is an amazing experience for kids, so why not make Moncton your destination by rail? Three times per week, an overnight train departs Montreal at suppertime, arriving in Moncton just after lunch. What an amazing sleepover experience! Or if you’re travelling from the East, The VIA Rail ‘Ocean’ leaves Halifax three times a week at about lunchtime and arrives in Moncton about 4 hours later: just enough time to enjoy a meal, a snooze and a gaze out the window. Short breaks to Moncton are becoming an increasingly popular trip for adventurous Canadian families.
3. The Delta Beausejour Hotel
The Delta Beausejour is not just a place to stay, but the destination itself for many families taking a short break in Atlantic Canada. Firstly, the Delta is walking distance from the Train Station and all downtown amenities. Next, the services in the hotel are totally geared for kids. Kids are treated to premium toys and games on check-in, kids 6 and under eat free in the restaurant, and the room service menu offers very substantial kids’ meals for only $6.99. Finally, the pool area at the Delta Beausejour includes an awesome games room and the longest indoor waterside in Moncton. Wheeee!
4. Magic Mountain
If you like waterslides, you will love Magic Mountain Water Park! With overwhelmingly positive reviews on Trip Advsior, Magic Mountain Water Park offers a wonderland of tubes, pools and waterslides suitable for families of all ages. From a splash pad for kiddies to the new Torpedo Drop Capsule for the daredevils, there is something for everyone. Magic Mountain is located in the Magnetic Hill Complex, and there is so much to do there, we recommend planning to stay at least the whole day.
5. Magnetic Hill Zoo
Magnetic Hill Zoo is the largest zoo in Atlantic Canada, committed to safeguarding, and raising public awareness of endangered species. The zoo is organized by geography, with each area of the zoo themed for its world region. Educational! Native to Far East Russia, the critically endangered Amur leopard is one of only 87 leopards in Canada. (Sadly, there are less than 60 of them left in the wild). Also endangered, a pair of beautiful Amur tigers, the largest cat species in the world, is new to the zoo for 2015. Concerned about their comfort? Don’t be! These cats are well looked after and totally comfortable with the Canadian climate. Did you know Moncton is on the same latitude as the Amur region of Russia?
6. Magnetic Hill
Why is everything called Magnetic Hill, you ask? Well, it’s because of… Magnetic Hill! Only slightly younger than the invention of the wheel itself, this age-old tourist attraction still brings thousands of visitors each year to Moncton. Fancy a quick thrill? Simply drive to the bottom of the hill, take your foot off the brake, and like magic, your car will roll…up the hill!
Minutes away from the city centre, you can lose yourself in the trees at TreeGO, Moncton’s ariel adventure course for adults and children, 7 and above. With multiple activities available, adventurers get to choose and decide how far and how fast to go, based on individual agility, endurance and confidence.Their children’s is specially designed for children between from the ages of 7 to 13. Can you swing through the trees like Tarzan? Visit TreeGO and find out!
8. Resurgo Transportation Discovery Centre
Moncton’s newest family attraction, The Resurgo Transportation Discovery Centre is a small but unbelievably fun interactive museum. Once you get in there, your kids will never want to leave. The draw? At the Resurgo, kids can launch a rocket, build a truck, fly a plane, float a boat, and even send odd-shaped homemade crafts up a wind-tunnel. Don’t leave Moncton without a visit to this small but mighty, brand sparkling new science museum. Your little explorers will thank you!
9. Family Friendly Pubs
The nice thing about travelling in a small city is that everything is compact and accessible, and you are certainly spoilt for choice in Moncton, which has a fantastic selection of restaurants and bars along its Main Street. For delicious pub food and great live music, The Old Triangle Irish Alehouse has a great kids’ menu. We recommend grabbing a cozy “snug” to contain the kids so Mum and Dad can relax with their pints. For gourmet pub grub, try The Tide & Boar Gastropub, named one of Canada’s Top 50 restaurants by McLean’s Magazine. Although the Tide and Boar doesn’t have a kids’ menu, they promise they have lots of options for kids. Finally, if you’re a seafood lover, how about Catch-22 Lobster Bar, featured onThe Food Network Canada show, You Gotta Eat Here!
10. The Homestead Restaurant
Shhh… this one’s a secret. On a recent trip to Moncton, we asked the locals where we could go for a home cooked dinner-style meal. Every single person said, “The Homestead”. It’s not within walking distance of downtown, but if you can find your way to the suburb of Riverview, your family will eat like the locals, with generous platters of home-cooked food, home-baked bread and pies, and warm, friendly service. Eat well, and don’t tell!
11. Hopewell Rocks
Moncton is a fabulous mini-metropolis, but if outdoor adventure is what you seek, you will find stunning hiking, kayaking and nature experiences at The Hopewell Rocks, located just under an hour outside the city. Over time, the Bay of Fundy’s tides (the highest in the world) carved the cliffs into distinctive sandstone caves and formations topped with trees. During periods of low tide, you can walk 2 km of beach and explore several caves filled with these flowerpot rocks. At high tide, you can kayak through the arches!
Whether you are just passing through or making the beautiful province of New Brunswick your primary destination, please have a great time exploring one of our family’s favourite cities: Moncton!
Helen Earley is a Halifax-based travel writer. Her trip to Moncton was sponsored by Tourism Moncton.