It is my first full day in Fredericton, and I don’t know quite what to do with myself. It is Sunday which means some places are closed, and the ones that are open don’t until noon. It’s a wee bit sleepy here in the Capital of New Brunswick on a Sunday morning, but I have a plan. I am going to spend the day exploring on foot, and I’m giving myself a budget of $0 to do it with. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have an adventure in a new city, and I think I can find some things to do in Fredericton for $0 pretty easily.
Before I begin my days adventure, I must start with a cup of coffee and a Croissant filled with Spinach and Feta from Chess Piece at 361 Queen Street. I am fueled up for my day, let the adventures begin.
My first adventure involves walking, music and water. Back home in Vancouver I love to grab a coffee and walk the seawall every day. I never tire of it in fact. In Fredericton, the version of this is to walk the Riverfront, which is just a few steps from my hotel the Crowne Plaza Fredericton. My comfy walking shoes are on; my ears buds are in and the sun is shining. What could be better?
I had no idea that Fredericton was such a walkable/bikeable city. I could have chosen to cycle the path with a bike rental right of in front of the hotel, but I really feel like walking so I can take all the sights in.
There are kilometres of trails to explore, many of them part of the Trans Canada Trail system. It’s pretty awesome to be honest. Along the route are quite a few memorials honouring the early settlers of New Brunswick. If you are into getting some history while you exercise there are lots of great opportunities to learn about New Brunswick.
My first wow moment on the walk is at the Walking Bridge. It is an old rail car bridge over the St. John River that has been converted to pedestrians and cyclists only. It is dramatic and very cool. Some wicked views of the North and South shores of the river are to be had at the midway point.
I walked along the river and through a few more trails for at least 9 kilometers by the time I was done. I have only scratched the surface of the trails available. If you walk or cycle the trails yourself, you won’t be alone as this is popular with locals and tourists. I even spotted a Ground Hog eating lunch on my adventure.
Fredericton Tourism has developed a trail guide to help you plan out your route if you are interested in exploring the 88 km’s of trails available to explore. I say just start walking and get lost, you never know what you will discover.
For my next free adventure, I’m back in the heart of DT Fredericton at City Hall on Queen and York Street. This is home to the Visitor’s Centre, which has tons of pamphlets, maps and helpful staff that will guide you to a good coffee shop. You’ve got a couple of options here. Option one is to take a guided tour of the city. These take place at 1o am, 2:30 pm, and 5 pm. These are free and lead by historically dressed characters who will teach you about the history of Fredericton.
Option two, and the one I choose is a self-guided tour of Fredericton. At the Visitor Centre, you can get a map and a guide book. With these two items, you have all you need to explore. I decide to explore the Historic Garrison District, which is just a few steps from City Hall and has ten stops outlined on the map and guide book. Stop #1 is the Justice Building next door.
There is no tour of the building provided as it is a working court but if you go around to the back, you can access stop #2 which is the School Days Museum. You can go inside here and check out what a one room school house was like back in the pioneer days of New Brunswick.
What I love about this self-guided tour is that it is completely at your own pace. If a building or a stop interests you can stay longer. If you run out of coffee and you need a fill up you can do so and pick up the tour anytime after. There are ten stops in all on this tour, but there are thirty stops in total if you want to explore the entire downtown.
At one of the stops, you visit Barracks Square which is home to three buildings on the tour. Also at this site is a free Summer movie screening every Sunday night starting at about 9pm. I tried my best to stay awake to come enjoy a movie here, but jet lag got the better of me. If you get the chance, bring a chair and a blanket and watch a movie under the stars in Fredericton.
I’m going to leave the rest of the tour for you to discover on your own. The last stop of the tour also is home to my last free adventure of the day, and that is the Changing of The Guards. It takes place twice a day at Officers Square at 11 am and 4 pm.
The ceremony lasts about 10 minutes long and includes marching, inspecting the troops and a military parade. It is very cool to watch and always draws a crowd.
There you have three great things to do in Fredericton, and none of them cost me a single penny. I took over 150 photos doing all three of these adventures, so there is plenty to see and experience. I am not showing you all of them because I want you to enjoy some of it for yourself for the very first time. If you only have time to choose one of these adventures may I suggest you make more time available, they are all worthy of being experienced.
UPDATE – after writing this post I went to watch the 11 am change of the guard as it is a longer ceremony. I was thrilled when they invited me to be the honourary Officer of the day and here is a souvenir photo of me inspecting the guards. Pretty awesome!