These fun and exciting things to do in Moncton will help you plan an exciting visit to New Brunswick’s largest city.
Moncton, New Brunswick, is a city that constantly seems to defy expectations. From the gravity-defying wonders of Magnetic Hill to the epic waters of the Fundy tidal bore, there are a surprising number of great things to experience in Moncton.
Moncton sits about two hours from Fredericton and about an hour and a half from Saint John along the narrows of the Petitcodiac River. The river flows inland from the dramatic Bay waters of the Bay of Fundy.
The city hosts a celebrated French cultural scene thanks to the city’s rich Acadian history. It’s home to one of Canada’s top French universities outside of Quebec. And with a wealth of sandy beaches, incredible restaurants, and beautiful hotels, Moncton makes an excellent base for exploring this region of the province.
About Moncton, New Brunswick
The region where Moncton now sits was originally settled by members of the Mi’kmaq First Nation. In 1698 French Acadians arrived before the arrival of German immigrants from Pennsylvania in 1766. The city was finally incorporated into the newly formed country of Canada in 1855.
The city has retained a significant connection to its French heritage throughout the centuries, and it’s home to one of Canada’s most important French universities.
In its early days, Moncton thrived as a shipbuilding community until a dramatic collapse of the industry in the 1860s. The resulting economic collapse caused Moncton to lose its status as a city in 1862, but when the Intercolonial Railway set up its headquarters in Moncton in 1871, the city began to thrive again.
Moncton has been dubbed the “Hub City” thanks to its history as a central railway connector to key Maritime cities such as Halifax and Quebec City. The city remained a rail hub until the Canadian National Railway closed its Moncton shop in the late 1980s.
Today, Moncton is home to many great tourist attractions and an excellent industry to support it. You can plan your visit to the city with these fun things to do in Moncton.
Best Things To Do In Moncton, New Brunswick
These entertaining attractions in Moncton are perfect for couples, solo travellers, and even families. So sit back and relax as we explore Moncton.
Twice daily, the ocean’s tides fill the Bay of Fundy, home to the world’s highest tides. This mind-blowing amount of water rushes through the bay, pushing into the Petitcodiac River. The influx of chocolate-brown water creates waves over a metre high, filling mudflats and salt marshes along the way.
Moncton’s Tidal Bore Park, in the city’s downtown, is the best place in the city to experience this unique attraction firsthand. At Tidal Bore Park, the river bed goes from a narrow, muddy stream to a raging waterway 7.5 metres deep in less than an hour. Tide schedules can be challenging to follow, so the park has a tidal clock that lets visitors know exactly when the phenomenon will occur.
Tidal surfing and kayaking have become hugely popular in Moncton. Adventurers come from around the world to ride these epic waves, not because of their size but because of how far the waves run.
Across the river from Tidal Bore Park is Riverside Park, another of the best places to visit in Moncton. Here you can find scenic walking trails and picnic facilities.
One of the most famous attractions in Moncton is Magnetic Hill. This wild optical illusion has even been named to the Canadian Register of Historic Places.
The Magnetic Hill experience involves visiting with a vehicle. The driver puts the vehicle in neutral, and when they release the brake, the vehicle is mysteriously drawn uphill. All the driver has to do is steer.
Just northwest of Moncton, Magnetic Hill is one of Canada’s most visited natural wonders, so much so that this long-time tourism icon has been named to the Canadian Register of Historic Places. The fascination stems from the illusion that a car placed in neutral with brakes released is mysteriously drawn uphill. Of course, you’ll be wondering how this can happen.
Magnetic Hill is far more than just a mysterious hill. The attraction also boasts a water park, a zoo, a game centre, restaurants, shops, and much more.
After the collapse of the shipbuilding industry in the 1860s and the departure of the rail industry in the 1980s, Moncton has faced its fair share of difficult times. And as each one occurred, Moncton and its people came out the other side stronger than ever. And from resurgence came Moncton’s motto “Resurgo.”
Resurgo Place was built in 1973 and has grown to house a collection of museums and discovery centres, as well as a base for educational experiences in Moncton. Resurgo Place is packed with hands-on exhibits at the Moncton Museum as well as the Transportation Discovery Centre, where visitors can learn about testing aircraft, racing boats, and learning about gears and pulleys.
Resurgo definitely leans its focus towards families, but the 31,000 square feet are exciting for adults as well.
Moncton has genuinely embraced the street art scene. With brilliant displays from both local artists and worldwide talent who have created over 50 works of art sprinkled throughout the city. Together they have turned Moncton into a literal outdoor art gallery.
You can find a map of the Moncton street art here so that you can take a self-guided walking tour and take in the phenomenal work for yourself.
Moncton’s most famous murals include the “Blue Jay” or Archibald St. and the unique 3D “Le monde à l’envers” on Mountain Rd.
USVA Nordic Spa
Located on Front Mountain Rd. near Magnetic Hill is the only Nordic Spa in Moncton. USVA Nordic Spa offers one of the best places to relax in the city.
The spa experience combines alternating hot and cold treatments with hot sauna’s steam rooms and many places to relax and reconnect with yourself. There’s a small cafe on site, and more food can be ordered before your visit.
Just next to the Magnetic Hill Winery, you will find the Usva Spa Nordik, and visiting these two attractions together makes for a great day with time to relax in the morning and sip wine in the afternoon. This wellness bubble is so relaxing that it is hard to believe that a family-friendly waterpark and zoo are just a stone’s throw away.
The nordic spa experience dates back over 2,000 years. And on top of the traditional thermal experiences, the spa also offers a spa, pressotherapy, and even a unique neurospa with sensorial experiences combined with traditional spa treatments.
Magnetic Hill Winery
Located in a formerly abandoned property from 1867 right next door to the USVA Spa, the Magnetic Hill Winery is one of the best places to visit in Moncton.
The winery is stunningly perched overlooking a vineyard near Magnetic Hill and was lovingly restored by winery owners Jeff and Janet Everett. Today Magnetic Hill Winery hosts weddings, events, and wine tastings.
They have an excellent selection of red, white, and even dessert wines that you can purchase to take away or enjoy right on their patio overlooking the Magnetic Hill vineyard.
Acadian Museum (Musee Acadien)
If you’re looking to get a glimpse into the history and culture of Moncton, there are few better places to start than at the Acadian Museum at the Université de Moncton.
The museum, like the university that houses it, strongly focuses on the french history of this historic city. The displays’ focus leans toward the Acadian people’s life and cultures, such as farming, home life, and the arts.
There is a small section dedicated to the deportations of 1755 and the devastation and aftermath of the British colonization, but the museum is more of a celebration of the Acadian lifestyle and perseverance than a memorial to those lost.
Throughout the museum are historical artifacts, audio-visual presentations, and interactive displays that walk visitors through the life and times of some of the earliest settlers in Canada.
Moncton Food and Beer Scene
Moncton is not a city with a great gastronomical history. But things are changing quickly in this Maritime city.
In recent years the Moncton food and beer scene has seen an influx of traditional and artistically-trained chefs return to the city, bringing with them a unique range of talents and skills from professional careers across Canada and worldwide.
One of the most notable restaurants in Moncton is the Tide and Boar Gastropub. This unique restaurant is at the forefront of the Moncton food scene, bringing a delicious combination of fresh food and drink to a city anxious for amazing flavours.
But Tide and Boar isn’t the only game changer in the city. As you make your way up George St. you’ll find a wide range of culinary experiences exploding across town.
One of these restaurants in Les Brumes De Coude, a hip bistro serving oysters, crusted soup, and roasted bone marrow with snails, is just one of the restaurants pushing the traditional burger culture of the city into new directions.
Tire Shack Brewing run by Alan Norman and Jerrica Kennedy, is working to bring the social taproom experience to the city. The unique brewhouse, located in a former tire shop on John St. is all about “breathing new life into an old place,” a perfect description of the renaissance happening in Moncton, New Brunswick.
Things To Do Near Moncton
The exciting things to do in Moncton don’t end at the city’s borders. There are some fantastic places to visit near Moncton that are worth the short drive.
Just 25 minutes from Moncton is the beautiful seaside town of Shediac, also known as the “Lobster Capital of the World.”
The town is home to Parlee Beach, a gorgeous stretch of sand on the Atlantic Ocean. Parlee Beach has stunning white sand and excellent facilities for a day trip from Moncton, including campgrounds and restaurants. But Shediac is more well known for having some of the best seafood restaurants in New Brunswick.
Shediac’s lobster industry is proudly displayed by a giant lobster that welcomes visitors to the town. If you visit Shediac at the beginning of July, you can participate in the festive Shediac Lobster Festival, where chefs worldwide compete to create some of the best shellfish dishes.
Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park
Located just 30-minutes from the city, a visit to Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park is one of the top things to do in Moncton.
Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park is among the most famous landmarks in Canada. The stunning arches offer the most dramatic place to witness the world-record tides of the Bay of Fundy.
Time your visit to watch the tide come in and nearly bury these massive rocks under an unimaginable amount of water before washing back out to the Atlantic so that visitors can walk on the sea floor.
For a unique view of the park, register with Baymount Adventures in the park for a sea kayaking experience that takes you out among the rocks at high tide.
Just an hour from Moncton is one of the most dramatic cliffs along the Bay of Fundy coastline. The towering walls of Cape Enrage jut out into the bay nearly halfway to Nova Scotia.
The result of this massive wall in the Bay of Fundy is typically violent seas. This rough water tends to be at its most dramatic at mid-tide when the reef at the base of Cape Enrage is partially visible. The violent waters and rocky sea floor led to numerous shipwrecks.
In 1839, a lighthouse was built at the top of Cape Enrage, it’s still in operation today. The attraction, though, has dramatically expanded.
Where once, visitors would flock for the tremendous views, stony beaches, and historic lighthouse, now visitors also enjoy rappelling, kayaking, rock climbing, and a 182-metre zipline. Visitors can also dine at the delightful Cape House Restaurant and stroll the trails to several scenic outlooks.
Cape Enrage extends into the Bay of Fundy nearly halfway to Nova Scotia, and off it lies a large reef that causes violent seas, especially at mid-tide when the reef is partially exposed, and the water is in motion. This made the cape prone to shipwrecks, and in 1839, the lighthouse was built. It remains in operation today and has become the home of an outdoor activity center offering rock-climbing, rappelling, and kayaking, as well as a 182-meter zipline.
Fort Beauséjour National Historic Site
Less than 45-minutes from Moncton is the Fort Beausejour National Historic Site. The site was settled by the French during the late 17th century before being divided between the French, the British, and the Scots in 1713.
The French built Fort Beausejour on their side of the divide, while the British built Fort Laurence on the other side. A battle ultimately unfolded, and the British captured Fort Beausejour in 1755, deporting the Acadian soldiers.
Wander through the old fort’s walls and take in the views from the ridgetop.
Walking through the traditional Acadian fishing village of Bouctouche is among my favourite things to do in Moncton. The wide sand dunes, one of the few remaining dunes on the Northeast coast of the Americas, is a brilliant way to spend a day.
The dunes reach across Bouctouche Bay, crisscrossed by well-placed boardwalks that allow visitors to enjoy this paradise without destroying the fragile environment. At the site is the Irving Eco Centre where you can book guided tours or do a self-guided walk through their interpretation centre.
Now It’s Time to Experience These Things To Do In Saint John For Yourself
There are more things to do in Moncton, New Brunswick, than meets the eye. From historic forts to epic natural wonders to the great craft breweries and restaurants, you can find something for everyone in this beautiful region of New Brunswick.
Many of these businesses and restaurants are anxious for visitors after a tough year. So let’s support local and make the most of your Saint John adventure.
Do you have a favourite attraction or restaurant in Canada? Head over to the We Explore Canada Facebook Community and join the conversation! You’ll find an amazing group of people passionate about travel in Canada who love to share their local secrets.
Kevin Wagar is a founder and editor of We Explore Canada. He has been working in the travel media industry since 2015 when he founded his family travel website Wandering Wagars – Adventure Family Travel.
Over the years Kevin has developed a deep love for his home country and aims to showcase the incredible experiences and amazing small businesses found within it.