Some trips start at a snail's pace - but Edmundston let me take my time.
Aviator Anne Lindburgh once said that the final moments before you leave for a trip are horrible. Once you get going, you’re fine but until you do it’s absolutely dreadful, like a snail being pulled off its rock.
I know exactly how she felt. The morning we departed for Edmundston, a mantra of “I’m a snail, I’m a snail, I’m a snail” kept playing in my head. I did NOT want to leave my rock.
Edumundston was the first stop in our epic 5 week, pan Canadian/European adventure. It’s the longest trip we’ve ever undertaken and, against a backdrop of some personal upheaval, I was the world’s most reluctant snail, being plucked off the rock and tossed in the car with most serious reservations. What on earth was I doing and why on earth was I going on the road when I had a perfectly acceptable rock right at home?
Fortunately, Edmundston understood. This northern New Brunswick city has been a traditional stopping point for us on all our eastern Canada roadtrips but until recently it had never represented much more to us than a convenient junction for fuel and food. But it somehow felt wrong to be continually visiting a city and never being able to recommend anything beyond the nearest Tim Horton’s location. It was time for this snail to blaze a trail (metaphorically, of course. I’m not slimy in real life!) Here are our favourite picks for the best saves, splurges, and steals in the city.
Save: A Fun Park for Ollie
Edmundston is a fantastic year-round travel destination if you like the great outdoors. There's camping and fishing and hiking and snowshoeing - none of which were available to us as we were utterly rained out for our entire visit! We had hoped to undertake a nature walk but Mother Nature had other plans.
Luckily we were able to fit in one outdoor activity, just for Ollie. Edmundston has a new dog park that's unlike any other that we've visited before. One side is a standard fenced in area for dogs to run, but the other side has an obstacle course! Ollie has never experienced anything quite like it before - perhaps that's why he looks a bit unsure in the pics. But we think he had a great time - he was grinning like a fool when he was done.
We loved that there was such a fun and innovative park for the community to enjoy and it was the perfect place to blow off steam after a long drive -all for free! (If you want to check it out for yourself or simply get more information about the city, the dog park is next to the visitor's information center at 121 Victoria St.)
Splurge: The Four Points by Sheraton Edmundston Hotel
It almost feels dishonest to put the Four Points by Sheraton into the “splurge” category - this really is quite a reasonably priced hotel. But given the abundance of campgrounds and inexpensive motels in the area, you might wonder why I’d advocate spending just a little bit more. Here’s why it really stood out in our books:
Parking and charging: There is free parking for all guests directly across the street. Outrageous hotel parking charges are one of my pet peeves so it’s nice to see a property bypass this. And if you’re arriving in an e-vehicle, they even have charging stations right outside the front doors. Amazing!
Great staff: The easiest way to tell if hotel staff are well trained? When they clearly point to your hotel key card envelope and say “this is your room number” instead of yelling for the entire lobby to hear that you’re in 215. I appreciate this kind of discretion and attention to security. As I was checking in solo on behalf of Ryan and Oliver who were waiting in the car, it was a nice opportunity to see how they would welcome a solo female guest and I was impressed.
Speaking of Oliver, he was impressed too. The front desk staff quickly bought his love by offering him treats and praising his handsome canine looks. This of course made Oliver insufferable and he pranced across the lobby floor. What are you going to do?
Craft beer: Alright, this is more of a Ryan thing than a me thing, but he was seriously impressed that the hotel bar offered several local craft beers on tap. Hotel bars and restaurants have an understandable tendency to appeal to the mass market that their guests represent and it was great to see them bucking this trend and supporting local small breweries. Plus, it turned Ryan’s late night night-cap into a memorable mini travel moment.
Overall, we were thrilled to discover such a comfortable, relaxing, pet-friendly hotel in Edmundston. Driving distances in Eastern Canada can be deceivingly long and it made for the perfect retreat after a long day on the road.
Steal: Le Scoop Royal
Finally, it was time for us to have a treat in Edmundston - one that Oliver couldn't indulge in! Le Scoop Royal is a charming, old fashioned ice cream parlor in the heart of the city. They serve the finest ice cream flavor in the world - Moon Mist. This out-of-this-world concoction of banana, bubble gum, and grape flavored ice cream is swirled together in what may just be the finest culinary combination of the modern age. It has been my personal favourite for longer than I can remember and summer in Eastern Canada just isn't summer for me without a scoop or three of it.
Those with more mundane ice cream tastes (ie: Ryan!) will love the rest of their selection, as well as the eye catching chocolate dipped-with-sprinkle cones, the homemade ice cream sandwiches, and even the baskets of local berries for sale on the side.
Ice cream or not, Edmundston will never be just another stop-and-go destination for us. Instead, going forward, we'll always look forward to it as a mini trip-within-a-trip. Our visit shook me out of my funk, removed me from my rock, and got me back into the traveling spirits. Even the rain couldn't dampen our fun! And we know Oliver loved it as well - officially getting our stamp of approval for a fur-family friendly destination.
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Our stay in Edmundston was facilitated in part by the local tourism board and we thank them for their support.