I think Nova Scotia is one of th best places to live and explore – I live here and I love it. I want to share with you some of my favorite Nova Scotia Day Trips A to Z to start you off on your adventures here.
A- Advocate Harbour- I love Advocate Harbour.The scenery is stunning and NovaShores Adventures tours is definitely on my bucket list. Cape d’Or Lighthouse is a steep down hill stroll from the parking lot, but you can grab a meal or even stay overnight. Please note that restaurant hours are subject to change without notice so please call ahead 1-902-670-8314 or email at [email protected] (or pack an emergency lunch)
And don’t even get me started on Cape Chignecto with it’s challenging backpacking trails and gorgeous vistas.
B-Bear River – Just off the beaten path, and inland from Digby, Bear River is an artist’s Mecca and a photographer’s delight. Sometimes referred to as “Little Switzerland” the houses closest to the river are protected from tidal influence by stilts. Add a visit to Bear River Vineyards to your itinerary .There is a guest suite on the property-please contact the property at 902-467-4156 to check availability. Bear River has a large Mi’kmaq population -Bear River First Nations.
C.Chéticamp – At the western entrance to the Cape Breton National Highlands Park, this small Acadian fishing village boasts big cultural influence- in fact, along with Saint-Joseph-du-Moine, it’s the largest Francophone region in Cape Breton, evidenced by the opportunities to see and purchase Acadian crafts and gifts. We treated ourselves to supper at Le Gabriel Restaurant, which serves Acadian fare and traditional dishes such as burgers, fish and chips and lobster.
D.Delaps Cove– This is one of my favorite short hikes, because you can see both the Bay of Fundy and a waterfall at one point along the Bohaker Trail hike. The Bohaker Trail is just over 2 km in length and a pretty easy hike-and there is a worn path if you decide to crawl down to the foot of the falls. There are a few benches along the trail including one that overlooks the falls, so you can sit and soak in its beauty. Wear shoes suitable for hiking because part of the trail runs along the rocky shoreline. Keep an eye peeled for grey seals!
E.Eastern Shore. Ok, this is quite a chunk of land to cover,so I suggest you don’t do it in one day. Some of the highlights I love about this section of the province is Taylor’s Head Provincial Park -a series of 4 trails ranging from easy to difficult. We did the Headland Trail quite a few years ago-a 8 km trail that rims the Atlantic and requires really sturdy footwear. On the cobbled beach part. It’s on our to do list to go back to do it again. There are galleries and museums scattered along route 7. A word of warning…restaurants are not as plentiful in some areas as one may hope along this beautiful section of Nova Scotia-maybe bring a lunch form home. Liscombe Lodge is a great getaway spot-trails, kayaking and more.
F. Five Islands.Named after the cluster of five islands-Long,Diamond,Egg, Pinnacle and Moose – located just off the coast. Legend claims these islands are the result of an infuriated Glooscap, the benevolent culture hero of the Mi’kmaq . Angered by Beaver, Glooscap retaliated by throwing sticks,stones and mud.into the Bay. There are other variations of this legend but this is the one I’m sticking with. The islands are named -in no particular order – Egg, Long, Pinnacle Diamond and Moose. Campers can enjoy Five Islands Provincial Park -many sites have beautiful views or just stop for a picnic. Hikers can explore any of the three trails inside the park.
I’d thought we’d explored everything but in my research I found out about Five Islands Lighthouse Park-so that is on my list for the next time we are up. It has a playground, beach access ) check the tides, please ) washrooms and a short walking trail. Tale a drive down Soley Cove Road In Economy to see ‘flowwer pots so close you cna almost touch them. You may enjoy a stop at Diane’s for supper
G.Grand Pre.From the dykes to the beach to the eastern end of the Harvest Moon Trailway, the small community of Grand Pre has plenty to offer, especially the Grand Pre National Historic Site. I highly recommend you take the time to watch the 20 minute film that tells the sad story of the Acadian Deportation. Round out your day with a stop the Covenantor Church, a glass of vino at Grand Pre Winery, lunch at the new and licensed Longfellow Restaurant, snap some photos at The Landscape of Grand Pré View Park and last, but not least, a stop at the Deportation Cross at Horton Landing.
H.Hall’s Harbour The community of Hall’s Harbour is reportedly named after a American privateer named Samuel Hall who made his living by raiding the Valley settlers. Rumor has it that he found it necessary to flee unexpectedly, leaving behind abandoned treasure. Stroll the beach ( need sturdy shoes and don’t forget the tides ) have a ‘lobstah’ at the restaurant and peruse the gift shop- open May to October. I recommend being there for both tides- there are plenty of things to do in the area while you wait the six hours from high to low or vice versa. It’s worth it to see the boats sitting on the ocean bottom and then slowing rising with the incoming tide. Check out the sampling of activities in Port Williams-it’s only about 23 km away.
I.Ingonish Beach We visited this small beach when touring the Cabot Trail last Sept, a sandy beach about 60 kms east of Baddeck. The path to the beach is somewhat rock, but the beach was lovely and not crowded There are picnic tables and washroom facilities.
J. Joggins. Joggins is for sure not the only fossil site, nor even the closest one to me (think Blue Beach) but it is one of some importance. A 15-km length of the coast known as the Joggins Fossil Cliffs was officially listed on the World Heritage List on July 7, 2008.There is a cafe and gift shop on site, and guided tours are offered. You are only 5 km away from River Hebert -which if it fits your schedule is a spot to view the tidal bore. Heritage Models Museum is close by. To find out the tidal bore times for that area, call the Amherst Visitor Centre (902-667-842) a few days ahead of time. If you are even 20 minutes late, you may miss it.
K. Kejimkujik National Park. Naturally. I have been going here since my babies were, well, babies. I have lots of memories of biking and hiking and kayaking and swimming and mud fights and night theatre- I’ve coaxed (bullied) a few timid not wanna be kayakers into enjoy the calm paddling of the Mersey River. Weekends are a crapshoot as far as getting a spot to camp goes if you haven’t reserved ahead. I usually try to take my weekends starting Monday. 🙂 There’s good snowshoeing here and there’s a sheltered picnic area not to far from Mill Falls so you can have a meal and stay dry no matter what the season. It’s lovely all year here-we hiked the Hemlocks and Hardwoods trail last winter.
L. Lawrencetown (Annapolis County) Alright. This is a teeny tiny village whose claim to fame is the Annapolis Valley Exhibition.(I once saw Glass Tiger there!) I like this exhibition, because it seems, I dunno-more like what an old fashioned exhibition should be.
If you are thinking about a day kayaking trip, you can do what we did- drop the kayaks and the husband off at the boat launch in Lawrencetown, drive west and leave the truck at the boat launch at the Visitors Centre In Bridgetown (about 15 km away) and then hop on Kings Transit to jump off in Lawrencetown again. (Or have two vehicles, whatever) This is a pretty long paddle, especially if the tide is coming into the Annapolis River. Hubby says if you want a leisurely paddle, time it to leave about high tide. Bring food. And water.
M.Malagash. I first visited to do an article about biking this peninsula, but have gone back a few times since. One of the spots I head for is the Blue Sea Beach Provincial Park -since it’s on the Northumberland Strait, expect the warmer to be fairly warm. There are picnic tables and change rooms and for the unsuspecting-poison ivy. Stop by Jost vineyards for a wine tasting, have a meal at their cafe. Other places on interest are the Vista Bella Farm & Malagash Cidery and the Malagash Salt Miners’ Museum.
N.Noel. Named after the Acadian Noël Doiron ,who settled in the area before joining the exodus of Acadians leaving mainland Nova Scotia.
Noel’s Burntcoat Head Park known for having the Guinness Books of Records world’s highest tides. before. This is a must see. But keep your eyes peeled for the road that leads to the park-it’s easy to miss.
To fill in your day, have lunch and s short walk at Anthony Provincial Park, about 17 kms east. If you are craving for a adventurous treat-schedule your trip around ar river rafting tour-there are several companies located in South Maitland. I’ve gone out a few times with Shubenacadie River Runners and they always take great care of me. I’d like to be able to afford to take my whole family out-love to hear the daughters-in-law scream. But it’s soo fun. http://riverrunnersns.com/ Reservations are strongly recommended.
O. Oak Island. Unfortunately, guided tours remain unavailable for 2022. This is a private island so you can not access it with booking a tour. However, you can always jump on a Salty Dog Sea Tour to explore the area by water
P. Port Mouton Ahhh, Summerville Beach. Over a km of gorgeous sand to stroll along. Azure water lapping at the shore. THIS IS THE COLDEST FRACKING WATER I HAVE EVER BEEN IN-and I’m not afraid of cold water. Click To Tweet Not a big enough parking lot for a hot day. There are pit toilets and roofed picnic tables. Be advised this is nesting area for the endangered Piping Plover. I love these birds-please keep to the pathway to avoid disturbing them. Stop at Seaside Seafoods for fish and chips if you don’t feel like packing yet another picnic. If you really want to live it up-book a night or two at the Quarterdeck to soak up the sun and relax.
Q. Queensland Beach. I am beginning to sense a theme-water, water everywhere. This is nice little beach that’s not a terribly long drive for me, so it’s a frequent visit for me…This beach- not too far from Hubbards- seems to be busy all year long-we took a drive down that way a couple weeks ago( March) and there were cars coming and going the entire time we were there. Some of even got out on the beach but them it started to sleet so we wrapped THAT idea up pretty quickly. Water-cold. Beach in summer-packed. Food? Try the Fo’c’sle Tavern or for lighter fare the Kiwi Cafe in both in Chester
R. Round Hill – located on highway 201, Round Hill is a rural community only 10 km from Annapolis Royal.This site is one of the first locations in North America continuously occupied by families of French origin. The last Acadian owner was Pierre Thibaudeau who owned a mill on this property until the Deportation. A grinding wheel is still visible on site. A bit further west you’ll find Bloody Creek National Historic Site , commemorating the struggle between the British and French with their Mi’kmaq allies. For even more history, continue to Port Royal for the Habitation and then to Annapolis Royal’s historic Fort Anne. Want even more history? Stop in and check out the Sinclair Inn National Historic Site and The O’Dell House or immerse yourself in any of Annapolis Royals’ historic highlights
S.Shelburne .We spent a little bit of time in Shelburne this past October . Would you believe that once upon a time (that time being 1784) Shelburne had grown due to an influx of American settlers to around 10,000 and was estimated to be the fourth largest community in North America-larger than either Halifax or Montreal.
Today, a stroll through Shelburne will reveal quite a variety of museums such as the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre, ( the guided tour there is wonderful) Ross-Thomson House & Store Museum and Dory Shop Museum, and many of the buildings date back to Loyalist times. The historic waterfront is very pretty. Take a break and taste a cold craft beer and have a tour at Boxing Rock Brewing Company
If you want a good stretch of the legs, the Kejimkujik Seaside Adjunct is about 50 km east of Shelburne. Wear good hiking shoes.
T. Truro – Known as the hub of Nova Scotia, this busy town has both Mi’kmaq and Acadian roots. Start your day with a trip to Victoria Park,1000 acres of beautiful urban park. Get the blood pumping by climbing the 175 steps making up Jacob’s Ladder. Have a picnic, birdwatch, snap photos of the waterfalls and just enjoy nature at it’s finest.
This is my favorite place to catch the tidal bore as it shows the speed of the tide and how fast it covers the mud flats- you’re close-standing right on the bank at The Fundy Discovery Centre-
103 Tidal Bore Rd, Lower Truro. Please be there about 20 minutes before the bore arrival time- find the times here. You may also enjoy a stroll through the gardens at the Dalhousie Agricultural Centre in Bible Hill.
U.Upper Tantallon. Upper Tantallon is a scenic community of less than 3500. If you feel like a bit of fresh and and exercise, try hiking or biking the 33 km long The St Margaret’s Bay Trail near the historic Train Station Bike and Bean Cafe. If that seems like just too much exercise, grab your BBQ and and plan a swim at the Jerry Lawrence Provincial Park. Add a tour through Acadian Maple Products facility Close by in Tantallon you can book a boat tour from Four Winds Charters. If you are hankering for a feed of mackerel, drop you line off the government wharf at Boutilier’s Point a scant 9 km away.
V. Victoria Beach Named after Queen Victoria on the occasion of her silver jubilee in 1862, this seaside hamlet was also the western ‘end of the road’ for the Nova Scotia Pony Express- from where mail was transferred via steamer to Saint John. This service which began in 1849 lasted less than a year. Lighthouse lovers will want to visit the one on Battery Point,built in 1901. Love dulse? Try gathering your own on the outgoing tide. Try one of my favorite short hikes at Delaps Cove about 20 km away. Crows Nest Restaurant in Hillsburn is really good and is open all year round.
W .Westport. Situated at the tippy tale of Digby Neck and Islands, it’s known for whale watching and birding. I’ve gone out several times with Brier Island Whale Watch and Seabird tours and last fall is was especially rewarding. We saw a ton of whales! And the crew was so knowledgeable. And why not? This are research vessels dedicated to the study of whales, seabirds and other marine life. On the other end of the island by the lighthouse are a few picnic tables and a walking trail along the coast. There are few choices for accommodation and restaurants on the island-one that we’ve tried is Brier Island Lodge and we enjoyed our stay there. You’ll need to take two ferries from the Mainland so allow for that. It will take about 2 hours from Digby. Allow time on the way back to hike to the Balancing Rock in Tiverton-it’s a 2.5 km flat hike EXCEPT for the over 200 steps to reach the Balancing Rock-but it’s worth it. There’s a provincial picnic park in Lake Midway that’s about 18 km from Digby -you can swim and kayak and lots of tables with lake views.
X-Oppsie.Couldn’t find one.
Y Yarmouth-I love strolling along the boardwalk in downtown Yarmouth- I’ve spotted a few seals there at times. Downtown Yarmouth has some unique shops which are fun to poke around in. Of course, everyone needs to drive out to Cape Forchu lighthouse and stroll around the short trail-maybe even watch the ferry come in. We discovered a teeny beach on the way to the lighthouse-it’s on your left as you drive out. Plenty of restaurants from fast food to diners to pub food. We enjoyed a meal at Rudders -it’s located on the waterfront and offers a wrap around deck where you can sample inhouse crafted beer.
If you have the time, you may want to drive east up highway one about 17 kms to the fishing village of Sandford which boasts a very small drawbridge, built in the early 1915.
But I added 2 more to make up for it.
Antigonish. Ahh. This is the place I escape to for my week long retreat every fall. While I’m there, I get out and about and explore the town and surrounding area. The Bethany Centre has a lovely contemplative trail right on the property-not overly long, some uphill areas, benches to sit and, well, contemplate. No dogs allowed on this trail. There is also the Antigonish Landing Trail 4 km return which runs along a estuary of Antigonish Harbour-lots of waterfowl. Lots of provincial parks/hiking close by such as Arisaig Provincial Park,Beaver Mountain Provincial Park and Keppoch Mountain. Cape George Provincial Park is less than 30 km away. Last fall I found my way to Pomquet and explored Pomquet Beach Provincial Park. Antigonish has a nice Farmers Market every Saturday from May-Dec on James Street behind the arena. Antigonish also has a thriving Arts and theatre culture.
Blue Rocks. The small community of Blue Rocks has been described as “Lunenburg’s answer to Peggy’s Cove” . I donn’t know that I agree totally with that-but-
sure to bring your camera -it’s lovely. Once we were thrilled to watch our Bluenose sail past to her berth in Lunenburg. Stop in to Blue Hog Gallery for inspiration. You can also book a kayaking tour with Pleasant Paddling. Blue Rocks is less than 10 km from Lunenburg – so you could add the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic, (I’ve eaten at the restaurant there and it was pretty good) or enjoy some of the many arts and crafts shops. Tour this UNESCO World Heritage Site via horse and buggy-contact Trot in Time to reserve.