Not another list right? There are lots of top 10 things to do in Nova Scotia lists that begin with: Peggy’s Cove, the Cabot Trail and the Bluenose.
But as a Nova Scotian, I must do better. I have the local insight!
I’ve traveled the world and coming home I see Nova Scotia in a new light. I appreciate all the things that were just wallpaper to me growing up.
You can count on me to share the best Nova Scotian food. But also I have a unique perspective of someone who grew up here and also travels for a living. So when I see something interesting to do in Nova Scotia, I compare it against everywhere else I’ve been.
And you know what, we have a lot of awesome things to do in Nova Scotia. And what I love the most is that very few things were created for tourists. When you come to Nova Scotia you are experiencing our culture, not one created for tourism.
We may not be the fanciest but we are the friendliest.
45+ Things to Do in Nova Scotia
Car rentals are an absolute must if you want to see more than just Halifax and Dartmouth. My experience is that in Canada Expedia tends to have the best rates – but you can check here.
This list may be a bit biased as much of it is focused on the best things to do in Annapolis Valley Nova Scotia – but only because I know it the best!
I’ll continue to update the post as I discover new activities and I’m always up for suggestions – just leave a comment below!
And to get a rounded, unbiased perspective I reached out to other travel and food bloggers to discover their favourite attractions in Nova Scotia. As you know I’m not much of an adventure traveler but thankfully my bloggers friends are wildly adventurous.
Paddle Blue Rocks
Pleasant Paddling offesr kayaking tours, rentals and lessons in Blue Rocks, just outside Lunenburg.
Blue Rocks has more islands per paddle stroke than anywhere. It’s these multitude of islands make our area an amazing paddling location. The islands protect kayakers from the wind and waves and form a barrier from the elements that allows us to paddle in calm water.
Around every corner there are new things to see. We paddle to a seal colony with grey and harbour seals, see scores of birds, sea creatures and mammals swimming between the rocks.
The islands also hide an old island fishing community that is only accessed by boat. Eastern Points did boast a school, a store, a boat building operation and a gas station for fishing boats. Now less than ten homes remain and is mostly used in the summer. Our kayakers are some of the few visitors to this once bustling spot.
This is Nova Scotia’s best paddling location and we are excited to share it.
What makes this experience even more special is that I grew up with the owner, Karl Marsters, who started this business from scratch. I really appreciate the work it takes to be an entrepreneur and run a small business. And I’m not the only one, everyone raves about his paddling tours – here’s what people are saying on TripAdvisor.
Pleasant Paddling is also host to the Nova Scotia Rock Skipping Championship. The Blue Rocks Skip is one of their annual charity events.
The rocks there are made to skip and their kayaking trips stops on the secluded island beaches allows people to throw a few of the best skipping stone in the world.
White Point Trail in Cape Breton
Cape Breton is definitely a must-do when you’re visiting Nova Scotia! It’s full of rugged cliffs and amazing trails with breathtaking views – it’s truly the perfect destination for anyone who loves being outdoors.
One of the best things to do in Cape Breton Nova Scotia, without a doubt, is the White Point Trail. It was recommended to me by locals, and I’m really glad I decided to listen to them!
The White Point Trail is a beautiful coastal trail, around 2.5 kilometres long. It leads out to a lookout point, but the whole trail is stunning – you’ll have an incredible panoramic view over the cliffs, mountains and the ocean.
The trailhead to White Point is located on White Point Drive, pretty much in the middle of Neil’s Harbour and South Harbour. It’s a rather flat trail and it’s classed as easy. Allow yourself around an hour to have plenty of time to enjoy this lovely trail.
Walk the trail while admiring the beautiful mountains and the sound of waves. If you’re lucky, you might spot some birds or even whales. If you have the chance, I highly recommend walking the White Point trail at sunset to get that magical light that makes everything even more beautiful!
By Amanda at My Backpacker Life
Discover Tidal Bay Wine
Much more fun than a place, it’s our appellation wine. It’s a crisp and bright white wine that can only be made in Nova Scotia – like how Champagne is only made from the Champagne region in France.
Most people don’t know much about Nova Scotia wine. That’s because we’re a newer wine region and locals love it so much most wineries can’t keep on top of the demand.
And while 12 Nova Scotian wineries make Tidal Bay, they are all a bit different to reflect just how different each winery approaches the wine in our region.
I took a small group tour with Laila North of Uncork Nova Scotia with Go North Tours, where I learned so much about wine here. including two key facts:
- Nova Scotia has the same climate as the Champagne region
- Acadian settlers made wine here in the 1600s, making Nova Scotia the oldest wine region in North America
Along with facts we had a lot of fun. It wasn’t a snooty wine tour and the group was great. Perhaps the most fun was a blind tasting of Tidal Bay from three different wineries.
We all laughed as some people got it all right, and then others like me were completely wrong but enjoyed the wine nonetheless.
Read more to see if this wine tour is right for you.
Kayak on the Bay of Fundy
The Bay of Fundy is a renowned body of water famous for its extreme tidal changes and abundant marine life. Every single day the Bay of Fundy lets in and out 16 billion tons of water, with tides reaching over 48 feet during high tide.
While during low tide, you can walk along the ocean floor. Beyond its unusual tidal changes, The Bay of Fundy is also home to marine life such as whales and spotting them within the Bay is quite common.
The best, and most exciting, way to experience The Bay of Fundy, is by going sea kayaking on the waters. This is the best way to see the extreme rock formations, sea stacks, tidal changes, and maybe even some whales!
The kayak tour companies in the Bay of Fundy are all very well trained and know all the best places to bring you to ensure you experience a whirlwind of an adventure. Sea kayaking the Bay will show you a whole new side to these waters.
This is an adventure like no other, and after kayaking on the Bay waters, you can say you have kayaked on the most astronomical tides on earth.
By Samantha at Sam Sees World
Dining on the Ocean Floor
You cannot visit Nova Scotia without stopping at the Bay of Fundy. Home to the highest tides in the world, it rises and falls twice as day and can as high as a five story building.
You can’t go to actually see the tides unless you want to be there all day as they rise about an inch a minute to full the Bay with 160 billion tons of water. When locals visit we check the tide times, which are usually announced on the radio a couple times a day as we’re looking to visit when the tide is out.
At Burntcoat Head Park it’s possible to have a very exclusive dinner and tour on the ocean floor, with a view of the red sandstone cliffs looking out onto the sea.
I wrote about my experience dining on the ocean floor and while tickets are tough to get, I also included how you can DIY your own experience.
There’s nothing like eating with the fresh air of the ocean.
Lunenberg is a cool place to wander around. But the coolness factor goes up a notch when you stumble upon an international award winning micro-distillery in an old marine blacksmith shop at the corner of Kempt and Montague Streets.
From the wharf area, walk up the hill past the Dory Shop. Opened in 2010, Ironworks Distillery creates small batches of artisan spirits sourced from local Maritime ingredients and throws the doors open for anyone to walk in to the shop.
Entering through the front doors of the old blacksmith shop, you’re struck by the history and attention to detail in the distillery shop. The aromas from what’s distilling in the iron kettles entice you to try the award winning liquor selections.
And trying all the unique flavours is free. The samples are a thumbnail size, but it’s enough to taste and allow the flavours to perk your senses. Utilizing local, maritime ingredients, vodka and brandy are made from apples from the nearby Annapolis Valley.
Other handcrafted specialties include pear eau-de-vie, rum, gin and various assortment of seasonal fruit liqueurs.
Tours of the distillery are available during spring, summer and fall for a nominal charge and must be booked in advance. Bottles of liquors are sold at the shop and are also available at the Halifax airport before you depart.
By Kathryn at Kathryn Anywhere
Smell the Roses at Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens
I mistakenly thought this was a smaller city garden like the Halifax public gardens but a map is required if you want to see the best parts on site, including the Victorian Gardens which feels a bit like walking into Narnia.
Not just for gardeners, you can wander through the wooded area from the wildflowers to evergreen section to the small Acadian house, displaying how settlers lived here. There’s also an experimental section, area growing vegetables in small spaces and sculptures all over.
But perhaps the most fragrant was the rose garden which explains different types of roses and how they evolved over past centuries.
If you’re looking for a quiet walk in a beautiful outdoor space this is unparalleled.
Annapolis Royal is worth staying a night or two, check out these great hotels ranging from budget to luxury.
See the Lighthouse – At Peggy’s Cove
The Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse is one of the most photographed icons in Canada. Of the over 160 lighthouses in Nova Scotia, none stand out as much as this vibrant red and white classic.
The lighthouse sits majestically on the rocks just outside the colorful fishing village of Peggy’s Cove. This location is one of the perfect places to catch the extreme volatility of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
At any point, the Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse could be an idyllic monument perched proudly over calm waters or a majestic icon standing against the massive waves that threaten the very ships that the lighthouse is there to protect.
Explore the town to experience traditional East Coast fishing life. Or scramble across rocks worn smooth by the ocean. Peggy’s Cove is a small town with just one restaurant.
How much time you need to visit Peggy’s Cove really depends on how lost you want to get in the Maritime feel. You could spend an hour, or a day here with ease. Enjoy a bowl of seafood chowder, talk to the friendly locals, and breathe in the salty air of one of the most classic Maritime towns in Canada.
by Kevin at Wandering Wagars
Eat at the Local Pie Shop
My family has been eating at Stirling’s in Grand Pre for generations. It opened in the 1940s and made pies, over the years it expanded. I grew up eating lobster sandwiches there, but my Nanny usually skipped the meal and went straight for the pie.
The funny thing is that it’s not called Stirling’s at all. It’s actually the Evangeline Inn Cafe. But in true Maritime fashion, as it is run by the Stirling family (to this day) we call it Stirling’s. This can be confusing for tourists as they often end up at Stirling Farm Market down the road in Greenwich.
And while people love the homemade hamburgers and chowder, no one skips dessert here. On my last visit the women behind us were talking about how they’ve never had bad pie here. It’s always a generous portion at a fair price.
As Stirling’s is only open from Mother’s Day weekend through the end of October it’s common for locals to visit often to eat fresh pie through the season…strawberry pie, raspberry pie, peach, blueberry. If you’re not a pie fan get the seasonal crisp – it’s worthy of the high ratings it gets on TripAdvisor.
Sail the Bluenose II
One spot in Nova Scotia may look a little familiar… probably because you have seen it on every Canadian dime since 1937!
The historic town of Lunenburg is often on a visitor’s must-see list while touring Eastern Canada, but many don’t realize a Canadian icon is sitting in their midst! Make your way to the harbour where you’ll find the Bluenose II.
While the original Bluenose met her fate in 1946, the Bluenose II is a spitting image of her predecessor – built by many of the same people who created the first one. Since being gifted to the Government of Nova Scotia in 1971, you can hop on board and set sail on this beautiful ship.
Watch as the crew works their magic to make her come to life! Cruises on the Bluenose II are available from early June until late September, often with two sailings each day.
Or if you’d like to get up close and personal with the boat, you can see what it’s like to work onboard by becoming a deckhand for a day! You’ll set sail to Mahone Bay as you learn the ins and outs of this iconic schooner.
In case you were wondering, yes, you’ll even get your turn at the wheel!
By Lindsay at I’ve Been Bit!
Tackle 235 Stairs to Balancing Rock
Located just outside downtown Digby, the balancing rock is also called Nature’s Time Post. It is worth the trek through the 2.5km nature trail and down the 235 stairs for the view.
The column weighs more than 20 tonnes of basalt volcanic rock that balances on a tiny ledge facing St. Mary’s Bay.
The stairs have railings so it’s a fairly easy walk down, although at about stair 150 you start to feel the burn walking back up.
Digby is a gorgeous spot to spend a few days, there’s lots to do and the scallops are world class. Hotel options range from luxury to very reasonable budget options, which cost much less than in Halifax.
The good ones book fast as people return year after year. Check availability for these Digby hotels.
Driving the Cabot Trail
One experience not to miss when visiting Nova Scotia is driving the Cabot Trail. Located in Cape Breton, this 297-kilometre scenic highway forms a loop around the northern tip of the island and draws road trippers from far and wide.
The Cabot Trail is considered to be one of the best drives in the world. It offers non-stop spectacular vistas; drivers have forested highlands to one side and a rugged coastline that drops into the Atlantic Ocean on the other.
The Cabot Trail was named after John Cabot, or Giovanni Caboto. He was an Italian navigator and explorer, who was one of the first Europeans of modern times to reach North America in 1497.
Though the exact location of his arrival is unknown – historians have proposed both Newfoundland and Cape Breton as possibilities. Today it is this route around Cape Breton that bears his name.
Though the Cabot Trail can be driven in one day, it’s best to do it over a few days. You can spend some time hiking through Cape Breton Highlands National Park, visiting the French and Gaelic communities along the way.
Don’t forget to enjoy the delicious seafood this part of Nova Scotia has to offer.
By Audrey at That Backpacker
Grab a Glass of Wine at a Local Wine Bar
This new wine bar boasts it is the most beautiful wine bar in Annapolis Royal. Everyone agrees, as it is the only wine bar in Annapolis Royal.
Tucked behind a book shop, the Mad Hatter wine bar has a beautiful back patio looking onto the Annapolis River complete with outdoor electric fire pits.
Wine is available by the glass and has both international and local options. On a warm day it’s a beautiful place to have an afternoon drink. They also have beer and cider and offer charcuterie plates along with other snacks.
Cycle Historic Grand Pré
In the beautiful Annapolis Valley, the Grand Pre National Historic Site commemorates the area as a centre of Acadian settlement from 1682 to 1755.
Grand Pré is well worth a visit by any account, but to take your experience from very good to awesome, bring your bicycle and get ready for one of the best things to do in Nova Scotia!
Begin with brunch at the Naked Crepe Bistro in Wolfville, the picturesque college town adjacent to Grand Pré. A short jaunt down the main street will bring you to the King’s County Rail Trail, a flat, easy and inspiringly beautiful 5.5 km cycle to the Grand Pré interpretation centre.
What makes the scenery so happiness-inducing is the dykelands, pastoral farm fields created by the Acadians when they built dykes around and through the then-existing salt marsh – in essence, the Acadians painstakingly reclaimed the marsh from the sea and created one of the most fertile farming areas in the world.
With the wind in your hair, rectangular fields in every shade of green stretching as far as the eye can see, and lavender wildflowers lining the trail, you may decide to pass the Grand Pré historical site itself and keep on cycling!
However, the site is engaging and shouldn’t be missed. Eespecially the film that describes the Acadian Deportation by the British, and the guided tour of the outdoor exhibits.
Allow an hour and a half to visit Grand Pré and then continue cycling for as long as you like, ultimately returning to Wolfville.
Finish off your adventure with a bottle of the Annapolis Cider Company’s “Old Fashioned Gravenstein” cider – honestly one of the best ciders I’ve ever had – basking in a day well spent on a “best-of” Nova Scotia experience!
From Zoe at Wandering Family
Walk Through a Sculpture Forest
Quite literally a hidden gem, it is located behind Cosby’s Garden Centre in Brooklyn (just outside Liverpool) without any sign indicating you should walk behind the business.
It’s incredible that many locals don’t know about it as it’s one of the most underrated things to do in Nova Scotia – and completely free (there’s a spot to leave a donation for the groundskeeper).
It’s about a 45 minute walk through a well worn forested path that is lined with concrete sculptures throughout.
Sculptor Ivan Higgins creations mammoth fantastical creatures from fairies to acrobats to dragons. They are so impressive that it’s unbelievable that he creates them in the greenhouse behind the garden centre and then they somehow transport them into the forest.
The walk is so delightfully tranquil and uncrowded. You’ll find when you encounter others you stop to chat about how wonderful this place is and how others should know about it.
Cruise One of Nova Scotia’s Seacoast Drives
Highways are only good if you need to get somewhere fast. As a tourist it’s hard to get off these roads when Google Maps is recommending it as the fastest route.
But let me break it down like a local:
Like most places in Canada and the United States, roads were created to connect all the towns and villages together. Because they weren’t the fastest, later we created highways to make it faster to drive long distances.
But we still use the older roads because they are far more interesting to drive through. And most often you can go 80km/h so taking them only mean extending driving time by 10-20 minutes.
If you ask a Nova Scotian how they got somewhere they’ll say the new highway and the old highway or the new way, the scenic way and the old way.
But that doesn’t help tourists looking at maps. Yet, it’s quite easy:
- You can take Trunk 1 (old highway) or Highway 101 (new highway)
- Or take Trunk 3 (old highway) or Highway 103
Wikipedia has this great list of all the trunks – but basically we love the trunk highways. It’s where all the good things are.
Don’t Forget Our Seacoast Drives!
Growing up different highways were also designated as specific routes. My favourite is the picturesque Lighthouse Route in Nova Scotia. But basically you can drive the parameter of the province and it’s beautiful.
Check out this list of the six seacoast drives in Nova Scotia. Allow yourself extra time to drive slowly and stop for photos as the view is stunning.
Solve A Mystery at Citadel Hill
Halifax Citadel Hill has been used as a military overlook since 1749. It later became a military fortress to protect Halifax during major wars such as the American Revolution, French Revolutionary Wars, American Civil War and World War I.
Today, it is a piece of history that is preserved allowing visitors the opportunity to relive the past. Everyday the Citadel National Historic Site comes to life with reenactments of military life in the 1800’s. At noon the royal artillery fires a cannon. This a tradition that may be one of the oldest in the world.
The site is open 9 am – 5 pm year round (until 6 pm in July and August). Admission fees vary with the season. Guided tours are available May – October. We were very impressed with our tour and loved interacting with the soldiers.
If you love history you can become a soldier for the day! You will be outfitted in authentic attire and be given the opportunity to learn to fire a rifle and be taught drills. This is a 3 hour experience and requires pre-booking.
There are two programs for kids. The Xplorer program is for children 6-11. It comes with a booklet of activities. Once completed they will earn a Parks Canada Souvenir. The second program is, The Citadel Adventure, and is geared toward 9-15 year olds. It has a comic and spy kit to solve clues in order to save the citadel.
By Lisa at Planning Away
Ride the Magic Wine Bus
A great option if you’re looking for a day to wine and dine and no one wants to be the designated driver. The Magic Wine Bus is a fun way to see five wineries in one day including: the oldest, the newest, the smallest and the largest!
Although the wineries are (somewhat) close to each other, they all have very distinct personalities.
It’s a hop on hop-off bus that runs a one-hour loop with departures at 10:30am, 11:30am and 12:30pm. It begins in Wolfville and if you leave by 11:30am you have time to spend one hour at all five wineries.
Allow an hour for each winery to try a complimentary welcome glass, learn about the wine, take a winery tour, taste additional wine and make a purchase.
The Magic winery bus operates from the end of May (Victoria Day weekend) until mid-October. It only runs Thursday through Sunday.
A great deal because:
- It’s only $50 and includes 5+ glasses of wine AND transportation
- It cost less than many formal NS wine tours
- The bus guide Magic Mike shares his favourite things about the valley along the way
- You can take it at your own pace, see all or just a few of the wineries
- You don’t have to worry about having a designated drive, you can just enjoy
Play on the Cabot Trail Beaches
As you drive around Nova Scotia, enjoying the scenic Cabot Trail and the fresh seafood, don’t forget that Cape Breton is home to some amazing Canadian beaches.
The waters in recent years have been warm enough to swim in and you can splash in the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of St. Lawrence in addition to many brooks and lakes. There’s nothing quite like a relaxing beach day on a lovely hot summer day on the East Coast. If you can pack a picnic or a lobster roll for lunch, that’s true perfection!
There’s no shortages of beaches on the Cabot Trail or in Nova Scotia but Black Brook Beach is our favourite because it isn’t as busy as Ingonish Beach (which is also quite lovely, mind you!). There’s also a waterfall that one can easily bathe in.
And there’s also a secret swimming spot near the Acadian village of Cheticamp, which can be found behind the gypsum cliffs. It has a stunning view of the Gulf of St Lawrence. You also swim in gorgeous turquoise water IN a gypsum quarry!
Golfers will enjoy knowing that they can take a quick dip after a round of golf at Cabot’s Landing Beach and surfers should definitely head towards Point Michaud.
By Yashy at Baby & Life
Picnic Lunch in a Vineyard
The wineries in Nova Scotia have some fantastic restaurants, but there’s something about having a picnic in a vineyard.
Wolfville’s Mercator Vineyard is one of the newest wineries in Nova Scotia. It is located in a historic farmhouse that was once a farmer’s market and home to an apple processing operation.
The gourmet picnic basket costs $25, serves two and includes:
- Freshly baked baguette (gluten free options available)
- Local meat plate (vegetarian options available)
- Local cheese plate
- 1 Mason Jar of pickles
- 1 Mason Jar of jelly
Unbelievably, you don’t need to call ahead to order the picnic basket, Mercator Vineyards can make one on the spot for you.
When tourists ask me the best spot to eat lobster it is difficult for me to answer. The truth is that Nova Scotians often buy lobster from directly from the fishermen and steam or boil them at home. We have lobster on Christmas Eve and it’s my favourite holiday meal, who needs turkey when you can have lobster.
That said, going to a lobster dinner in a hall is a long-time tradition. Churches and fire halls often have lobster dinner fundraisers. But what are the chances you’ll be in the right community in the right time for that?
Thankfully the oldest lobster dinner hall in Nova Scotia is still running strong. Located next to the scenic Hubbard’s Beach, The Shore Club has been serving lobster dinner for over 80 years.
Although they have a surf and turf option and vegan option, people come for the lobster, which includes free mussels, a salad bar and dessert.
Tubing Gaspereau River
Tubing on the Gaspereau River just outside of Wolfville has been a cherished summertime activity for many years. Some local residents have turned a community interest into a tourist attraction renting inner tubes for a daily fee of $5.
Tubing is dependent on water level in the Gaspereau. However, the season generally runs from the start of July through early-September.
The water along the Gaspereau River isn’t that deep. And if you do plan to spend the day tubing, know that tubing is at your own risk.
Young children should wear personal flotation devices, and you should refrain from drinking alcohol, or bringing glass bottles into the water while tubing. Because the length of river where tubing takes place is 2.5 kilometres long, your best bet is to bring two vehicles, and leave one at each end of the tubing stretch.
One of the local tube rental spaces runs a Facebook group called Tubing Gaspereau River which you can request to join and find more information. The page is updated almost daily during the tubing season.
Also note, the end of the tubing route is literally around the corner from Gaspereau Vineyards. Be sure to schedule in a glass of Muscat on the patio when you’re finished if you have time.
By Kelly at Kelly Neil
Tidal Bore Rafting
Fun for all ages, there’s nothing like the rush of riding a Zodiac up the Bay of Fundy tidal bore.
One minute it’s a calm river, where you learn about the tides and the area. Quickly it changes into a wild rapid ride.
This is caused by the rise and fall of the Bay of Fundy, which happens twice a day. The reversing of water in and out of the Bay causes rapids in the river.
Absolutely everyone I know who has taken one of these tours raves about it being so much fun.
Kayak LaHave Islands
One of the most amazing things to do in Nova Scotia if you love the outdoors is kayak through the Cape LaHave Islands, an archipelago off of Nova Scotia’s south shores.
On the way be sure to ride the Cape LaHave ferry. It is one of the only cable river ferries in Nova Scotia to Cape LaHave Bakery for a snack, meal, or coffee.
After, we recommend renting kayaks and taking a guided tour through the Cape La Have islands. Along the way you’ll pass seals and other wild life while island hopping and passing through scenic inlets.
After your multi hour adventure, we recommend taking your car to Crescent Beach. The only beach in Nova Scotia you can drive your car on for a 2 kilometre stretch!
For kayaking we recommend checking with Cape LaHave Adventures who will pack you snacks, water, and provide an experienced guide to navigate the islands for an unforgettable day along Nova Scotia’s south shores by water.
By Megan at Bobo & Chichi
Oceanside Dinner Followed by Dark Sky
White Point Beach Resort is an iconic resort that most Nova Scotians will try to explain as similar to the lodge in Dirty Dancing. It’s a family resort and is great for kids with lots of activities. As adults my family still returns because Hunt’s Point is such a great spot to spend a few days.
White Point has more activities for adults that I can list, but includes: yoga, spa, boat rentals, and surfing lesson.
It also has a great culinary program led by Chef Alan Crosby such as the Stellar Beach Feast with an oceanside four-course dinner paired with Nova Scotia wine. It’s followed by an evening walk with Dark Sky Interpreter Paul Lalonde into the dark and ends with a blind tasting of local wine.
This was my favourite part as our group of 12 were getting along so well that by the time we were blindfolded we had so many laughs about what we thought we were drinking.
They also have a winter event that looks amazing:
“Lobster Fishing Feast … go lobster fishing in our winter season onboard a working lobster fishing boat, help haul traps, learn about the sea creatures that share the traps and learn about the heritage and culture of our fishery … then pick out YOUR own lobster to being back to White Point to aid Chef Alan at the Lobster Boil before sinking your claws into the days catch – you caught!”
Lot’s of people have weddings here too. It’s very popular yet manages to have cottages or rooms if you book at the right time – check availability and rates here.
Sunset Barbecue at Cottage Cove
Located on the Bay of Fundy in Annapolis Valley, Cottage Cove is a beloved destination for both local residents and travellers who want to enjoy a quiet but spectacular sunset.
During most summer evenings at the cove, you’ll find regulars gathering together to enjoy the brilliant display of red, orange and yellow sun setting into the ocean.
Small groups of people also brave the rocky terrain along the beach, it is quite a scramble to get to the water. But if you persist you might be rewarded with a close up view of the seals that also call Cottage Cove home. The seals play close by but never venture onto the shore, preferring to play in the waves and catch their fishy dinner.
The long narrow crevices in the enormous flat rocks on the beach are also a perfect place for a bonfire. Bring a blanket to sit on and supplies for making s’mores for a fun evening at the cove. A sweater is also recommended because even in the height of summer, evenings along this part of the Nova coast can be surprisingly cool.
Cottage Cove in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley is the perfect place to head to for your next Instagram worthy sunset photo while enjoying the cool breeze on a hot summer night.
By Dian at Girls Getaway
Devour the Vines
The Devour! Film Festival is hugely successful drawing big names from around the world, while also highlighting local food.
It is held each autumn with a series of events from chowder competitions to formal dining experiences. But the group also holds events throughout the year, including Devour the Vines at Domaine de Grand Pré.
Chefs Jason Lynch and Michael Howell prepare a multi-course meal served in the vineyard. It is paired with award-winning wines and delicious short films curated by the team at Devour.
Along the Bay of Fundy coast of Nova Scotia, you can find the highest tides in the world as well as an abundance of whales.
The whales come to the bay to breed and then nurse their young in the bay, feasting on the schools of fish and krill to be found there. The best month to see whales is August, but they can be watched from around June to October.
Up to 12 different species can be seen, from finback and minke whales, which are normally the first to arrive, to humpback whales as well as dolphins.
A trip out to see the whales normally lasts between three and four hours, but we found that time went pretty quickly as the expert boat captains seem to have a sixth sense as to how to find the whales.
If you are super lucky you might see a breach, where the whale leaves the water and crashes back down or two whales dive together in perfect unison as we were lucky enough to witness.
Whales are curious creatures, so they tend not to be scared off by the boats and you should be able to see multiple animals along with abundant other sea-life on a whale watching trip.
By Lee and Stacey from Discover Nova Scotia
Make a Call to Anywhere in North America for Free
The most well known winery in Nova Scotia is Luckett Vineyards. Owned by Pete Luckett, who has been a television personality, boutique grocery store owner and renown entrepreneur – Pete has the golden touch.
Originally from England, he moved here in the 1970s and just seems to understand what Maritimes want and he does it so well. One of the largest producers of wine in Nova Scotia you never feel like the winery is too big – in fact you often see Pete there!
Friendly staff, great food, an incredible view, Luckett Vineyard is all about the details. No visit is complete without heading to the red phone box in the vineyard where you can make a free phone call to anywhere within North America,
Hiking the Keji Seaside Adjunct Trail
Two hours south of Halifax is the Kejimkujik Seaside Adjunct Trail. This scenic looped trail is 8km long and takes about 3 hours to complete.
Kejimkujik National Park Seaside trail is a combination of shaded forest paths, open trails along marshland and seagrass, and rugged seaside paths with panoramic views of the ocean.
About 1km along the trail you are awarded with a white sand beach lined with sand dunes. The ocean water is clear and a tropical aqua blue. Sandpipers run along the beach, and groups of seals like to sunbathe on the large rocks in the water.
The beach at the end of this hike is so beautiful, that it’s photo is on the Nova Scotia health card!
The trail is dog friendly, well groomed and clearly marked. It has the option of either walking around the entire loop, or just to the ocean and back. It’s a perfect place for spending the day hiking, bird-watching, or having a picnic at the beach.
By Natalie of Natalie Explores
Climb Jacob’s Ladder
Victoria Park in Truro is one of the best things to do in Nova Scotia. This natural woodland park is 3000 acres in the heart of town and the park has been around for over 130 years.
You can spend an entire day here wandering the gorge, chasing waterfalls and trekking through the Eastern Hemlock forest. There is a playground for kids and even a heated outdoor pool.
But the crowds come for the challenging 175 step climb to conquer Jacob’s Ladder up the side of the steep gorge.
It’s not for the faint of heart, but the view is incredible…so others say!
Lightkeeper’s Seafeast at Cape Forchu Lightstation
Nothing beats a sumptuous seafood dinner and crisp glasses of wines. In Nova Scotia, you can enhance the seafood feast with a crimson sunset at the Cape Forchu Lightstation!
This unique foodie experience starts at the Yarmouth waterfront where you will meet your Acadian host, private chef and sommelier.
Fresh shucked oysters and aperitif welcome you aboard the fishing boat. It takes you through the harbor to the mighty Cape Forchu Lightstation. This is the most photographed lighthouse in Nova Scotia. The evening only gets even more amazing from here and will impress you with everything Nova Scotia has to offer.
After arriving at Cape Forchu, savour fresh seafood (think seafood-stuffed lobsters and steamed mussels!). It is expertly paired with award-winning Nova Scotia wine as you hear live Acadian songs and seafaring stories.
Take some time to explore the rugged landscapes in between the courses and watch the sun sets. Cape Forchu Lightstation is also a certified Starlight Tourist Destination. So if the sky is clear, you will get a chance to see the stars at the nearby observatory and speak with a dark sky expert!
The small group size makes this Lightkeeper’s Seafeast tour an intimate adventure. It is highly recommended to food lovers who plan to explore the Yarmouth and Acadian shore of Nova Scotia!
By Cat Lin of For Two, Please
Take in the View from the Top of Cape Split
Here’s a fun anecdote to show just how naive I am:
The first time I hiked Cape Split it was on a school trip. I was in high school and did not know what to expect, but my teacher mentioned offhandedly it was a short hike and was an ice cream shop at the top.
So obviously I showed up in jeans and my soccer turf shoes, like a ridiculous teenager. I had no idea that in April it could be muddy or that I was unprepared.
Two and a half hours we made it to the top. I had mud all over my jeans and there was no ice cream shop!!!
Other than people making fun of me, I really did mind because Cape Split is a gorgeous hike and the view is better than any ice cream. After that I hiked it several times, knowing I better bring my own snacks.
Back then it was private property that the owners allowed people to hike. It is now one of the provincial parks, close by Scott’s Bay provincial park and Blomidon provincial park which is also a fantastic hike.
Hike the Skyline Trail
Ready to embark on one of the most exciting hikes along one of the most gorgeous stretches of highway in the world?
The Skyline Trail in Cape Breton is a moderate 5.4-mile hike on the western side of Cape Breton Island between the towns of Chéticamp and Pleasant Bay in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. The Skyline Trail is right off the world-famous Cabot Trail and features majestic vistas and incredible wildlife-viewing opportunities.
The trail is fairly flat, gaining 377 feet in elevation as you head toward the coast. If you hike early in the morning or late in the evening, you have a very good chance of spotting wildlife, including coyotes, bears, eagles, and moose.
The highlight of the trail, and the reason thousands of visitors hike it each year, is the boardwalk down to the headlands with spectacular views of the Cabot Trail, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and the town of Chéticamp in the distance.
This is the spot where the crowds convene. But sharing a sunset moment with nature lovers from around the world is one of the best ways to enjoy the beautiful coast of Nova Scotia.
Explore One of Easier Nova Scotia’s Trails
Sure I like a bit of exercise, but just enough to feel like I deserve a treat. And Nova Scotia has some tasty trails:
- Chowder Trail: While everyone comes to Nova Scotia for lobster, the truly local thing to do in restaurants is order chowder. In fact, a very Maritime offering is a cup of chowder and half a sandwich – as if half a sandwich is practical for a restaurant kitchen to make.
- Good Cheer Trail: One of my favourites, this includes over 50 spots for great local wine, beer, cider and spirits.
- Lobster Trail:Not only featuring whole lobster, but where you can a list of lobster dishes like lobster roll, lobster taco, lobster poutine, lobster quesadillas, lobster fondue, lobster club sandwich…you get the idea.
All of the stops will have passports for the trails and with 3 stamps you can enter to win a prize.
Perhaps one of the most surprising things to do in Cape Breton Nova Scotia, Glenora Distillery is the first single malt whisky distillery in North America.
There are tours and tastings on site for a very reasonable $7/person. Also it’s possible to splurge on the VIP Single Malt Tasting Experience for $125
It’s a gorgeous site and you can also stay at the Glenora Inn (availability and rates here). It’s also home to its own pub where they say a good meal is “…the second best way to chase a sip of our whisky.”
I haven’t been here yet, but you can bet this is on my Nova Scotia travel bucket list.
Shop Nova Scotia at the Point General
The Point General feels like a secret worth keeping. It’s tucked away in beautiful Blue Rocks down at the end of the winding Point road. Surrounded by fish shacks, lobster traps and the Atlantic Ocean, it’s the perfect escape from the everyday.
The shop is small but packed full of care. It holds stories from the past with old buoys, oars and fishing gear hung from the rafters and displayed proudly on the walls. There is an assortment of curated prints, books, jewellery, and ceramics by local artists, as well as hot drinks, cold treats and delicious baked goods.
Everything is made in Nova Scotia. Coffee and tea are served in local handmade mugs and folks are encouraged to take a moment to enjoy the sea air and stroll along the shore. There are no to-go options because really, there is no where else to be. Spend the day in Blue Rocks and explore the many islands by kayak with Pleasant Paddling.
Stay for lunch, there are lobster rolls, BBQ sausages and made-for-you picnic baskets with cloth napkins, a cutting board and a selection of local bread, cheese, meat, fish and veggie options. Really there is something for everyone. The Point General is a detour, it is a retreat, and it should not be missed.
Delight in Nova Scotia’s Crazy Ice Cream Flavours
Nova Scotian’s love ice cream, who doesn’t?
We have a lot of fun with ice cream. In fact, Jonny’s Dairy Bar in Berwick has a sign that says:
I scream. You scream. The cops come. It’s awkward!
We have all the standard flavours, including everyone’s infatuation with caramel and sea salt. However, there are 3 flavours of ice cream you must try in Nova Scotia:
- Moon Mist: only in Nova Scotia, it’s a mix of banana, grape and bubblegum ice cream.
- Privateer’s Bounty: black licorice ribbons and crunchy pieces of butter toffee.
- Lobster: gourmet ice cream shop Get the Scoop in Mahone Bay has a season lobster ice cream with real chunks of lobster in it.
Throw an Axe Like a Canadian Lumberjack
Who needs a bowling league when you can throw an axe. Axe throwing leagues have popped up all over Canada, including Nova Scotia.
Don’t worry if you’re only visiting as you don’t need a league. Places like HaliMac Axe Throwing in Halifax and Kentville offer by the hour bookings and will show you how to do it.
Cycle the Harvest Moon Trail
In Canada most of the old CN Rail tracks have been removed and its path repurposed for recreational use. The same is true in Nova Scotia and they are some of the most scenic paths in the province.
One of the most interesting sections is the Harvest Moon Trail. It runs 110-kilometres (68 miles) from the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Grand Pré to the historic seaside town of Annapolis Royal.
My favourite stretch is from Port Williams to Wolfville, alongside the Acadian dykes.
The dykes were created between 1680-1755. The Acadians had a good relationship with the local Mi’kmaq community. This was an unusual relationship in North America with European settlers. Because of this the Acadians traded with them and transformed the existing salt marshland, without objection. These elaborate dyke lands were used to travel through the region, and still exist today.
The Harvest Moon Trail is a popular spot to go for a walk, or more ambitiously cycle between towns. Birdwatchers also love the marshland, and can pop into Mercator Vineyard, which conveniently has a road leading to its tasting room in an old farmhouse and a spectacular patio view.
Experience the Luxurious Side of Nature
There are a number of luxury fishing lodges and wilderness retreats throughout the province. They are home to some of the best restaurants in Nova Scotia, world class spas, spectacular views, outdoor saunas. Plus all the trendy forest bathing opportunities you could ever want.
Honestly, this is my kind of adventure travel. I like to see the views, but I also want to see it from a wood fired hot tub.
Chow Down at the Lobster Pound
I know I said that locals don’t go out to eat lobster in restaurants. But the Halls Harbour Lobster Pound is one of those exceptions to the rule.
Located in Halls Harbour, if you’re visiting someone from the Annapolis Valley, it’s very likely they will take you here.
The food is straight up seafood choices, although now the lobster poutine and lobster quesadilla are very popular. Having had the poutine I think it’s best to stick with the classics – straight up lobster.
Afterwards stop for an ice cream at Parker’s General Store across the street. And if the tide is out enjoy an ocean stroll.
A Ducks Unlimited site in downtown Kentville, as marshland that wasn’t really suitable to develop into commercial or residential land.
Thankfully they stepped in to preserve this wetland habitat. It’s a popular spot for morning walks, dogs are welcome on leash (although some owners break that rule) and families. There are interpretive signs to share all the wildlife you may see.
It’s also a great spot for wildlife photographers as there are so many birds. Locals often post their photos to the Friends of Miners Marsh facebook group.
At Halloween there is also an evening jack-o-lantern walk. Students at the community college and local businesses carve lanterns that line the walking trail through the marsh.
Annapolis Royal Candelight Graveyard Tour
There are several evening graveyard tours around Nova Scotia. It’s an opportunity to do something truly different. To learn about things like graveyard art on tombstones and a bit of local history.
The Historical Association of Annapolis Royal runs a candelight evening tour that doesn’t require reservations. Every evening from June 1 – October 15 tours meet at 9:30pm rain or shine. Look for them at the Fort Anne National Historic Site parking lot.
It’s been running for 28 seasons and was created by heritage interpreter Alan Melanson. Participants rave that it’s full of great storytelling and lots of laughs.
A family friendly event, admission for adults is $10, teenagers $5 and children $3
Watch Theatre Around a Bonfire
But the most experience I’ve had is at Two Planks and a Passion theatre at Ross Creek Centre for the Arts. This summer I watched a musical performance of Frankenstein around a camp fire.
These are not simply community players, but ACTRA card holding actors. The theatre company provides blankets and you sit around on a circle of risers. The characters come in and out of the scene, acting around the fire. Afterwards there’s marshmallows to roast.
Many people come early to have a picnic, drink some local wine and play bocce ball with the equipment on
Hang with the Locals at Food Festivals
As an agricultural and fishing region we have so many little festivals all over the province. Whether it is the Avondale Garlic Festival or the world renown Devour Film Festival in Wolfville.
What other things to do in Nova Scotia did I miss? Let me know in the comments below.
Pin it For Later: Things to Do in Nova Scotia Canada
This post is a paid content partnership with Tourism Nova Scotia. I’m thrilled to be promoting my home and was given free rein to travel the province independently to share what I truly recommend.
Images: Dark Sky (c) White Point Beach Resort; Citadel Hill, Jacob’s Ladder, Cape Split, Annapolis Royal Adirondacks, Gaspereau Vineyards wine tasting, Tidal Bore, Harvest Moon Trail (c) Tourism Nova Scotia, Two Planks and a Passion Theatre’s Frankenstein by Fire 2019 (c) Claire Milton, Pleasant Paddling (c) Pleasant Paddling, Annapolis Royal Graveyard Tour (c) www.ExplorerGuide.ca