Portland, Maine to Saint John, New Brunswick // Road Trip Day 1
In order to escape the Florida heat we headed north to explore Canada’s Atlantic Provinces. Our dear friends, the Poole It Together family, joined us for a family road trip extravaganza.
We opted to fly into Portland, Maine where we met up with the Pooles to start our road trip. The Pooles were able to spend a full day in Portland. We largely skipped the city, staying at a Fairfield Inn near the airport for the night.
Day one of the road trip had us driving from Portland, Maine to Saint John, New Brunswick. We had to make the decision to bypass all the fun coastal things in Maine in favor of arriving in Canada sooner.
With a long driving day ahead we started the morning with a visit to the Eastern Promenade which has gorgeous views, walking trails and a playground.
The Littles worked out their wiggles on this fun playground while we enjoyed the view. Then we loaded into the car for a day filled mostly with highway driving.
Two hours into our drive we made a stop in Bangor, Maine at the Tim Hortons. I was in need of an iced coffee and the kids needed a box of timbits!
Leaving our car in the Tim Hortons parking lot we walked the four blocks to the 31 foot tall Paul Bunyan statue. There is a bit of a disagreement going on about if he is the tallest Paul Bunyan statue in the world. Also, several places claim that they are the birthplace of the mythical man. This Paul Bunyan statue though is universally agreed upon to be the handsomest. Regardless of his stature, we were delighted to get out of the car and visit the big guy himself.
We drove another few hours and stopped for lunch just before the Canadian border at The Sandwich Man. The restaurant doesn’t look like much, but the lovely outdoor seating and delicious sandwiches are sure to please. They were happy to entertain my childrens’ request for Dutch Cheese Sandwiches. I ordered the turkey and was pleased to discover it was shredded turkey and not a cold-cut. The vegetables were fresh and plentiful and the bread soft and delicious.
We made sure to stop and fill up before crossing the border. United States gas prices were much better at the time of our visit. Then we headed over the bridge. There was a small wait at customs and immigration, but we soon had our turn and headed into Canada.
You also go back an hour in time into the Atlantic Time Zone when you cross the border.
Across the border you are in the Canadian town of Saint Stephen. Canada’s oldest chocolatier, Ganong, is located here. They have a small museum and factory that we wanted to check out. It also happened to be the Chocolate Festival! Instead of going inside the littles all got a chance to hand roll their own chocolates to take home.
The museum is located inside the original Ganong factory. We opted not to pay to enter the museum since the children have all been to chocolate factories before. If you haven’t had this experience it’s likely worth it to explore the museum. The museum also includes a tasting station.
We drove a bit farther and stopped again at New River Beach Provincial Park. The $10 CAD parking fee is good for all day at any of the park locations. The park has plenty of picnic grounds, changing stations, bathrooms, hiking trails and beach.
The boys wanted to get right into the water. My Big was completely shocked by how cold the water felt. (How quickly he forgets the cold North Sea!) Meanwhile the Poole’s big jumped right in!
At low tide the beach stretches seemingly forever with tide pools to explore. We arrived as the tide was coming in. It advanced onto the beach at nearly a foot a minute. Each time I put the blanket down it was nearly underwater a few moments later. The kids busily built markers to demonstrate how fast the water was coming in while the Little Littles happily dug in the sand. You could easily spend the better part of a day here exploring the beach at both high and low tides. We spent about two hours here.
A thirty minute drive found us in Saint John’s. At this point the kids were a total mess, we weren’t sure how we wanted to deal with meals and the time change. We were trying to check into the hotel, which turned out to have massive construction going on.
We stayed at the St. Johns Delta Hotel. It does not have a lounge so platinum members receive 2 adult breakfast vouchers for the restaurant. The rooms are spacious. We easily fit in the two double beds and the toddler travel bed in the room.
We fed the kids sandwiches and assorted snacks in the room and let them settle in to watch a bit of TV in one of the rooms. The hotel is also walking distance from the waterfront, so Amber and I headed out to meet my mom for dinner. There are a few options on the waterfront but we settled for Lemongrass Thai. The food was great and we all had leftovers to bring back to the guys. Once we were back the boys popped out to grab a beer at one of the local places. It was a great way to end a long day of driving, with everyone getting a little down time away from the kids.
Although we covered a lot of ground, it still felt like a very productive day. We got our first glimpse at the tides and plenty of chances to enjoy the stunning coast. We were also reminded of how much we love Maine and already started dreaming of our next trip before this one even got underway.