With a pandemic still going on, this is the year for staycations. Taking advantage of appreciating your local area and all of the great things to do there. In Moncton, there are lots of great ways to spend your day. But our first choice, was to spend a day at Magnetic Hill Wharf, then spend a couple hours at the Magnetic Hill Zoo, followed by a delicious dinner at Gusto’s Italian.
When we woke up that morning, we packed a great picnic lunch (picnics are my favourite, super easy and a great free meal for an outing!) I made French baguette sandwiches for Greg and I, along with tortilla chips with salsa and spicy hummus. Even picnics need dessert, and we had brownie and strawberry skewers. We drove to Magnetic Hill Wharf and set up our little picnic in their rest areas. I can’t recommend packing a quick picnic enough, it doesn’t take long, and it’s a great date idea!
After enjoying our little picnic, we wandered over to Magnetic Hill Wharf. If you aren’t familiar with Magnetic Hill Wharf, it’s a great little area with local souvenir shops, ice cream, and places to eat. It’s beautifully decorated with the “Maritime theme” and bright colours. Throughout the summer, there are often lots of fun events here such as live music.
We checked out all of the fun little touristy things on Magnetic Hill Wharf. Enjoyed all of the little souvenir shops (all of the employees are very friendly!) and enjoyed what the Wharf had to offer. Check it out for yourself as a date or with your little ones!
After enjoying our time on the wharf, we went next door to the Magnetic Hill Zoo! I absolutely love this little zoo and make an effort to attend every summer. We also go around Christmas as well, while they have the zoo decorated in Christmas lights! Currently, due to COVID-19, the zoo is operating a little differently than in the past. Make sure if you would like to enjoy a day at the zoo that before your visit you head to http://www.ticket.moncton.ca to make sure there are available time slots during your visit. The zoo is needing to make sure they operate with an appropriate capacity each day, so it’s not quite the same as it used to be where you can just easily walk in.
Greg and I purchased our tickets easily that morning on the website. If you aren’t able to book ahead, you are still able to go to the zoo to see if they have any available times left; so don’t be discouraged! We felt really safe during our visit at the zoo. The zoo has worked very hard to make sure that there are appropriate social distancing measures in place for their guests to feel comfortable. Everything is now “one-way” so there are paths to follow throughout the park, as well as markers on the ground. Please always make sure to still do your part as well, and follow the rules and sanitize!
We spent a lovely couple of hours at the zoo, enjoying all of the animals and Vlogging our experience along the way. Although we didn’t follow our own advice on this particular day, we always recommend to head to the zoo either in the morning or evening when it is cooler, as the animals tend to be more out and about and active. During the afternoon it tends to be a lot hotter and often the animals are napping through that heat! Still, regardless of whatever time you attend, you are sure to see some adorable animals! My favourite at the Moncton Zoo is their Tiger exhibit!
After the zoo, we went home to freshen up for the next part of our date. Greg treated me to a night out at Gusto’s Italian. Gusto’s is right off of Main Street in Moncton (130 Westmorland Street) and is one of our favourite places to eat in Moncton for a nice evening out. Obviously, they specialize in Italian (wood fired pizzas, amazing pasta dishes and of course their famous ginormous cheesecakes!)
Gusto’s was again extremely well organized when it came to social distancing protocol. Please note: We did need to make reservations in advance for Gusto’s during COVID. Once we arrived, we called them from the parking lot to make sure that we were okay to enter the building (as they still can only have a limited amount of people enter). Once we entered the restaurant, we were greeting by friendly servers and hand sanitizer.
Our waitress brought us to our table, which was more than six feet away from any other table with guests at it. The floor had all of the usual markings showing that we could only walk in one direction, and all staff was wearing masks.
To start our dinner, we ordered our drinks and enjoyed their fresh bread that you dip into olive oil and Italian herbs. You can easily fill up on this fast as it is so delicious. For our appetizer, we ordered our favourite antipasti at Gusto’s: the Arancini balls. The arancini balls are fried risotto balls full of all sorts of delicious ingredients, such as goat cheese (but very mild), wild mushrooms and Italian Fennel Sausage. They are placed with two different types of sauces, an arrabbiata (red sauce) and a basil aioli (my favourite). This is something we make sure to order every time we eat at Gusto’s and it never disappoints!
For our entree’s, Greg ordered the Fettucine All’Gusto, which is fettuccine noodles, in a delicious garlic cream sauce, with sautéed shrimp and caramelized mushrooms. His meal was delicious!
My entree, was the Linguini Cabonara, which was smoked bacon with egg yolk and shave parmigiano with garlic and black pepper. It was creamy and delicious and I actually ate the entire dish.
Even though we had already eaten more than enough food, it was date night AND Gusto’s is known for their cheesecake, so how could we resist? We did however, decide to split a slice of cheesecake because we know Gusto’s slices are always HUGE! We decided to enjoy a slice of carrot cake cheese cake and we definitely were not disappointed.
All in all, it was a fantastic meal. We were happy with all three courses and thoroughly enjoyed every bite. Gusto’s is such a great place to have a date night in Moncton. The restaurant is full of twinkle lights and it is darker in this restaurant so a perfect romantic setting. On your way in and out, don’t forget to check out their fridge with all of their mouth watering cheesecakes.
We had a perfect post-quarantine date day. We highly recommend all three locations, the Magnetic Hill Wharf, the Magnetic Hill Zoo and Gusto’s Italian. We felt safe at all three and had a great day. To watch our adventures, please take a look at our YouTube video: