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Nova Scotia

Will be traveling to Nova Scotia in September. Any recommendations for "must sees", restaurants, B&B's, etc.? I have the Tourism book and have done some on line research, but am always interested in feedback from those who have visitied.

Posted by
3933 posts

How many days do you have?

What are your interests? Nature? Cities?

What kind of food do you like? Seafood? Burgers? Super duper fancy?

Assuming you'll have a car?

I have lots of suggestions as someone born and bred here, but would love to know how much time and interests to narrow down my suggestions...

Posted by
24 posts

We are flying into Halifax; have 7 full days in NS and will have a rental car.
Want to see some lighthouses, eat some lobster and scallops and just enjoy the beauty of the Island. Love nature, but not into hiking. With only 7 days, we had thought of concentrating on The Bay of Fundy & Annapolis Valley, Yarmouth & Acadian Shores, South Shore and Halifax.
Your recommendations and suggestions are most appreciated.

Posted by
2134 posts

The Bay of Fundy was pretty amazing for me. And I liked Halifax a lot. It was just a nice-feeling city that was pleasant to stroll around.

Posted by
5786 posts

Apologies in advance for poaching the topic. Any preferred locations to experience the Bay of Fundy? Are views better from the Saint Johns NB side or the Nova Scotia side?

Posted by
2480 posts

You can't go wrong with the Bay of Fundy, either side. If you have reason to, visit the Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park in New Brunswick, admission is good for 24 hours so you can have the experience of both seeing the incredible tides (and even taking a kayak tour of you are up to it) and then later walking on this same ocean floor.

Second Halifax. Lovely city, lovely vibe, Maritime Museum of the Atlantic was fascinating.

Posted by
5262 posts

Halifax is a fine interesting city. I'd also put in a plug for Cape Breton Island, not that far to drive but you'd want to spend 2-3 days there. Spectacular scenery on the Cabot Trail around the national park at the north end. The old French settlement of Louisbourg has been restored with costumed interpreters, a la Williamsburg. The fall colors ought to be great in September.

Posted by
2134 posts

I also enjoyed Louisbourg also - it was an interesting stop.

Posted by
3933 posts

You'll have to excuse my posts, because I'll do a few - I'll be in front of the computer for an hour, so I'll have to break it into smaller posts - gotta walk my dog and hit the beach today!

I'll start with the South Shore. Doable in a day. We visit Mahone Bay a few times a year (have a cousin-in-law there) - lovely three churches, Amos Pewter, lots of neat little shops (The Teaser is cool) , Jo-Anns Deli has really yummy desserts - I always pick up a lemon bar and hubby gets the ginger cookies - but gorgeous cakes and pies...mmmm. Nearby are The Ovens Natural Park with sea caves (haven't been there for years, but enjoyed it) and Oak Island - which we have never visited. We've eaten more than once at the Happy Cooker out by the highway - just family style restaurant, not much atmosphere, but one time I had the best dessert - I thought I'd died and gone to heaven - it was a warm choc cake with sugared pecans and caramel and choc sauce and whipped cream - to die for! Depending on when you are in NS, from Sept 23-25, there is a scarecrow and antique festival in MB.

UNESCO World Heritage site Lunenburg is another fav spot (mother in law is from there). Walking the streets and popping into the shops. They have horse drawn carriage rides, boat tours, you may luck into seeing the Bluenose (found on our dime) but it could be in Halifax - I'm sure you can check online. Check out the Lunenburg Academy. We've eaten at Big Red's (kinda family style restaurant - it's OK). Last time went to Grand Banker - good for seafood. Also eaten at the Salt Shaker Deli - another nice spot - all with patios or views of the harbour. The place is full of great restaurants tho - The Knot Pub, Fleur de Sel, Rum Runner, Old Fish Factory (haven't eaten at any of these). Kate's Sweet Indulgences (of which I rec'd a gift card for my birthday, so heading there next time we are down for some sweets! Also do soup and sandwiches and lovely hot chocolate)

Chester is another popular destination, but we honestly have never stopped into Chester! Peggy's Cove of course for that iconic lighthouse shot. Best time there is usually earlier in the morning or after supper. It can be quite busy - lots of people crawling over the rocks. For the love of all that is holy, heed the warnings and DO NOT go down on the black rocks - we've had some people swept out to sea and died the last few years. Waves can just sweep right up and take you away. You could prob give a pass to Bridgewater.

This would make a great day trip from Hali - if you started early, you could hit Peggy's Cove (or do it on the way back), stop into Chester, Mahone Bay, be in Lunenburg for supper then back to Hali.

I'll have more suggestions a little later when I have more time!

Posted by
3933 posts

Ok (cracks knuckles...)...

Annapolis Valley (for the record, I don't mention Yarmouth area as the only time I recall going there was when I was a child in the 70's and have absolutely no recollection of it other than eating the sugar cubes at the place we stayed and most likely making myself ill...good times!) We don't go to the Valley as often, but a few places of interest are Annapolis Royal and the Port Royal National Historic site, and Grand Pre. I've been to Grand Pre a few times and enjoy it. If you are familiar with the story of Evangeline and the expulsion of the Acadians, you'd enjoy this. Look up Evangeline and the poem written by Longfellow. (Oh, let me apologize for the abysmal state of some of the roads you will encounter). Wolfville is a nice university town (Acadia) that will be hopping in Sept. The Lookoff gives amazing views over the Valley. (My husband spent most of his formative years in Greenwood on the Air Force base - but not much in GW). We usually hit Oaklawn Farm Zoo - if you go around 6pm or so, you can see them feed the big cats - it's on their website when they feed - lions, tigers, monkeys, snow leopard, zebras, camels. Very close to the zoo is a place called Farmer's Family Diner. Their hours can be hit or miss (I don't think they are open Mon/Tues...you'd have to check if interested). Good downhome food - big portions - I had an amazing club sandwich there - the homemade bread was so good. It's been years since we've eaten there tho, so hopefully things are still good.

Not exactly feasible as a day trip from Halifax - best to stay in that area. You can explore some of the bay of Fundy. Digby is a really popular spot for whale watching tours - never did it, on my bucket list. If you are interested in whale watching, I guess early mornings are best. Digby could be a good one night base (if you want to do the whale watching) and you could visit Port Royal and all along to Wolfville in day.

Posted by
3933 posts

Halifax - a couple nights there could suffice (or three nights and do the daytrip to the South Shore...well, even two nights would be ok with a day trip).

Citadel Hill - (even if you don't go in, views are amazing)
walk the waterfront
the amazing new library on Spring Garden Road (don't miss it!)
Public Gardens (also Spring Garden Rd)
Seaport Farmers Mkt (along the waterfront, would have to check hours)
Historic Farmers Mkt (aka, the old market before they moved it to the Seaport mkt - again, check hours)
Museum of Natural History
Maritime Museum of the Atlantic (they had some Titanic stuff there - if you are into Titanic history, check out online and you could find the graveyards where victims are buried)

Honestly - all this could be done in a day.

Also - harbor tours - find some diff ones on the waterfront. And they have Duck Tours with the amphibious vehicles - haven't done it - too expensive for me as someone who lives here.

Food - well, we usually just grab something from a kiosk - you have to try Beavertails if they are open - deep fried dough with toppings...mmmm...maple is my fav. Smoke's Poutinerie. We've eaten at Stayner's Wharf, on the waterfront. Oh, if you like candy, check out Freak Lunchbox. There are tons of places to eat - I hear raves about The Wooden Monkey, but have never eaten there. Just tons of places along the waterfront. We usually head over to Dartmouth to Cheese Curds Poutinerie - you can OD on bacon with the triple bacon burger and triple bacon poutine - I did it - don't recommend so much bacon in one sitting. LOL. There is also a taco place, and the Truckside Food Truck Food court - all owned by the same fellow. The food 'trucks' (they are indoors but are in trucks) include Italian, Asian Noodle bar and Fish Shack - you pick your fish, the coating, how you want it cooked, what kind of side you want, sauces - it's pretty cool. If you've never had poutine, you must try it once. It looks gross, but tastes so good.

Between Halifax and Truro, in Elmsdale is a place called Curly Portables - good ol pub food - big servings - my fav is the shepard's pie. Also do fish, burgers, pizza...

My neck of the woods - welllll...not much in Truro - usually recommend Victoria Park, as there are some nice waterfalls, but it has been so dry, they actually closed that section of the park. It'll be open once we get some rain, but the waterfalls are going to be more of a water trickle until winter (or heavy rains). There are some great trails tho - easy to walk thru the woods. Some people like to watch the tidal bore come in - sometimes it's cool, usually it's just...meh. Tidal Bore rafting is really popular if you don't mind getting wet and getting sand in interesting places. We've had a few couchsurfers do it and they had a blast. Shubenacadie Wildlife Park is nice. If you find yourself in Truro and are hungry, I'd say Nook & Cranny, Frank & Gino's or Murphy's Fish and Chips - when the lady owner calls everyone sweetheart and the fish is really popular! On the highway - a can't miss is Masstown Market (if you are heading towards New Brunswick/Parrsboro area). Amazing bakery. And they built a lighthouse (no, there is no water around) and have a fish restaurant there. People also like the soups and sandwiches.

Haven't really been along the Bay for a loooong time. Five Islands I think is nice for a quick look. We may be heading to Parrsboro next weekend with a couchsurfer, so if we do, I'll let you know what was fun. If you are interested at all in fossils, def check out Parrsboro - there is a fossil museum (which was still under construction last time we went - honestly, it's been almost 25 yrs since I've been there). Fossil cliffs as well.

OK, enough for tonight...

Posted by
3933 posts

OK - New Brunswick and PEI - usually we just drive thru NB on our way to Maine. I am actually trying to get hubby to go spend a night and visit Hopewell Rocks and I'd like to visit Bouctouche - there looks to be a really cool boardwalk - Irving Eco Center.

It's been almost 10 yrs since I've been to PEI. Charlottetown is nice. It's so easy to get anywhere - it's relatively small - you can drive tip to tip in about 3hrs. You could drive up to Pictou and take the ferry across (check the schedule if you want to do this - I think one of the car ferries is in dry dock and so it's going to be longer waits), tool around, spend a night, come back over the bridge (you only pay when leaving, bridge is a little cheaper than the ferry - or, it used to be, it's been 10 yrs), then hit sights in NB if you wanted on the way back to NS. We enjoyed Summerside last time. If you are at all interested in Anne of Green Gables, google the sites. Cavendish is a bit touristy - with a Ripley's Believe It or Not and a wax museum and other tourist traps.

If you went thru Pictou for the ferry, you could check out the Ship Hector.

Quick note on Digby - if you wanted to go to NB to see Hopewell rocks, you can take a ferry from Digby to Saint Johns. Never done it, would have to check time and schedule.

I don't know if you would be able to do NB/PEI if you also wanted to visit CB. Cape Breton really deserves at least 2 nights - you can certainly do it in one, but it'll be rushed and you will spend most of that time driving.

I'll do a Cape Breton post later.

Posted by
92 posts

As it's been several years since we made a trip to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, I will leave most specific recommendations to other posters (although Lunenburg was as lovely as promised and we had an excellent lunch at the Salt Shaker Deli). We ate a lot of chowder on our trip, and I mean a lot of chowder. I enjoyed comparing versions; they were all good. We also ate a lot of seafood, period, as long as it was local. I do not think you will be disappointed by the food. The other thing I ate, anywhere they were offered, was oatcakes. These also varied wildly (from something more like the British version to something definitely like an American cookie) but were always delicious. My favorites were from the Braeside Country Inn in Pictou, one of our B&B's where our hostess made them right after we arrived, and a bakery I cannot recall the name of, but think it was near Mabou.

My favorite place to stay was with Jane and Steve Chrysostum at Cleveland Place in Alma, NB, and not just because they have a bookstore attached to the B&B (and gave me free run of said bookstore after hours). They were the most amazing hosts. If they still offer the option of an evening meal, definitely book that. They are very close to Fundy National Park.

We ended up at the Prince George Hotel in Halifax for our last night. (It's a very long story, involving an odd and disappointing B&B and all the hotels in Halifax being booked due to some event or convention and a lot of frantic phone calls.) They took pity on us, found us a room, upgraded us, and treated us extremely well. While not a place I'd normally stay, I will return here and want to tell the world about their amazing customer service.

I would also like to say, for the record, that while I always find people friendly when I travel, and I think Canadians in general are very friendly, I have never met such nice, helpful, and friendly people as those whom we met while on our trip to Halifax/Nova Scotia/New Brunswick. While the food was amazing and the scenery breathtaking and the history fascinating, the people we met made the trip outstanding. So I am sure you will enjoy yourselves.

Posted by
5786 posts

Nicole,

Many fine suggestions but where to for a lobster dinner? Preferably good, cheap and not crowded (that's a joke).

Edgar

Posted by
3933 posts

Edgar - tho I have lived in NS my whole life, and my mother in law is from Lunenburg (fish heaven)...I am not much of a seafood eater! My tastes range from haddock to tuna from a can, and that is it - haddock and tuna! I am lucky to even get my hubby to eat haddock! So I never really notice the cost of lobster. I ate lobster all of once - when I was a teenager and a friend gave me two cold cooked ones. Um - (cover your eyes) - I fed most of them to my cats...I'll have to leave the lobster recommends to other folks ;) Even my parents (born and bred in NS) were not huge fish eaters...

Posted by
3933 posts

OK - Cape Breton - you could do it with a one night trip (as we did in 2013) but the only thing you would do with one night would be drive up, check out some scenery and leave. Two nights would give you more time to stop, hike, admire...

Baddeck is a nice spot to stop in - check out the Alexander Graham Bell museum - did that on both visits and always enjoy. Many many years ago hubby and I went up and visited Fortress Louisburg - we were there in Sept, and there was still some activity, but not as much as thru the summer (fewer historical reenactors). I don't recall visiting Sydney at all, but I think they have done lots around the harbor area for the cruise shippers.

We stayed in White Point at a little B&B - nothing to write home about so I don't really want to recommend it - it wasn't bad, just...average. And for the price I was hoping for a little more. We didn't do much in the highlands national park, but there is tons of hiking. Our first trip we stopped and walked a few easy trails, 2nd trip we just basically stopped at the lookoffs on the side of the road. You'll most likely see the sign for the Lone Shieling which is nice for a quick stop.

I know there is much more to CB, but you know when you live near an amazing tourist site, you don't give it a second thought.

If you are into historical villages, Sherbrooke Village may interest you, but it's a little off the beaten path and with your limited time, unless you really like that kind of thing...prob skip. Also Ross Farm museum, but it's smack dab in the middle of the province between the South Shore and the Valley, so it's a bit of an outlier as well. OK, I have never been to Kejimkujik national park and historic site either, but so many people love it - more of a wilderness area towards Yarmouth. I really have to visit there someday. It's a dark sky preserve as well, so if you are into night/milky way photography or star gazing this could interest you.

Oh - and if you like desserts - especially lemon meringue pie - you may want to stop at one of the Irving Big Stops (the one in Elmsdale is nice) - the meringue on the pie is probably 5 inches high!

Anything else comes to mind, I'll post. And yes - we love visitors here and most people (maybe not Halifax people, but the rest of the province - lol) will go out of their way to help you!

Posted by
24 posts

Looking forward to our trip in less than 2 weeks. Will give you feedback when we return. Thanks for all the input.

Posted by
3933 posts

Fingers crossed the weather is fine for you. It's been abnormally hot and humid this week - which is odd for Sept! But it's going to break in the next few days.

Posted by
2 posts

I'm also from Nova Scotia and love seafood so here are a few suggestions. In Halifax last week noticed Lobster advertised at $52.00 at Murphy's on the Water for a 2lb meal. That price is way over the top. McElvie's near the waterfront and Salty's get my vote forHalifax seafood. Want it really fresh? At the Halifax Airport departure area, just down to your left from arrivals, or straight ahead from International there is a Clearwater lobster stand that will pack cooked lobster for you to take picnic style. Many even have it packed for the flight home. Also, our Sobeys grocery stores sell lobster for take home feasts. Last week it was about $12 a pound.
Our McDonalds have had lobster rolls all summer, not sure if they are still available.

If you do go to PEI for a day trip or night try New Glasgow Lobster Suppers for an amazing feast that includes unlimited seafood chowder, mussels and the size of lobster of your choice. This can easily be a day trip from Truro..
You will probably be early for fall colours especially as you head further east. A drive to really see the. Bay of Fundy would be lovely from Windsor to Truro via the coastal back road through the villages of Noel and Maitland and Old Barns then on to Truro.
Another pretty mainland drive is the Sunrise Trail between Amhert and Pictou. That's where I sit writing this as I hear the waves and wind.
Have a wonderful trip. Nicole has given some great ideas. Check out Truro, it is my hometown too!!!!

Posted by
2 posts

Thought I would mention the small Coastal Village of Tatamagouche on the North Shore. The Train Station Inn has converted rail cars as bed and breakfast accommodation. The dining car is awesome for lunch or supper. There is a craft brewery in town, a beautiful trail along the water and a free tourist road train. Tatamagouche is on the Sunrise Trail and getting there takes you through hills of maple trees that will have some early colour. Suggest the 100km route Truro to Masstown ( highway 104) visit market, stay on Trunk 4 ( not big highway) to Wentworth Valley, right past ski hill take road to Tatamagouche then in Tatamagouche back to Truro or on to Pictou along the coast on route 6.
Tatamagouche has become a booming tourist village recently.

Posted by
3933 posts

My mom is always going to Tatamagouche! She loves the tourist train but I'm not sure how much longer it is running. It may be a summer thing...I checked the website, but doesn't give a cut off date. Some days it goes thru the town and I think other days it also goes along the Sunrise trail but I'm not 100%.

If you like Farmer's Markets, Truro has a great one Sat mornings from 8am-1pm downtown. I think the one in Tata is Sat and Sun, but I'm not sure...

Posted by
3933 posts

Just a BTW - the Halifax Public Library on Spring Garden Rd (which I mentioned as a must see) made the top 10 most beautiful libraries in the world in Wired magazine! Sharing space with places from China, Norway, Denmark, Chicago...

Posted by
5786 posts

Lobster report.

Halifax: Rock Bottom Brewery on Spring Garden Road half block from the Halifax Public Garden. Pound and a quarter lobster dinner at $20 CAD + tax and tip. Decent brews too.

PEI: New Glasgow Lobster Suppers (about a 20 or 25 minute drive from Charlottetown) is as great as reported. The one pounder with full meal at $35 CAD + tax and tip includes soup, salad, mussels, desert and cold and hot non-alcoholic drinks. The soup, salad and mussels are "all you can eat" for those trying out for the Ms or Mr Piggy role.

Re: Tatamagouche, NS. Ate a late breakfast in Tatamagouche at the Chowderhouse on Main Street. We tried for the ferry to PEI but it wasn't running yesterday. Only found out about the ferry down because of electrical problems after arriving at Caribou. Took the scenic route to the bridge with the meal stop at Tatamagouche.

Posted by
24 posts

Back from a wonderful trip to Novia Scotia, 22-29 Sep. Thanks for all the wonderful tips!
We flew into Halifax and rented a car there. Spent the first night near the airport at the Hilton, then continued on the next day.
One night Lunenburg, two nights Yarmouth, two nights Annapolis Royal, one night Wolfville, final night Halifax.
Some highlights: Peggy's Cove, drive along the coast, LeVillage Historique Acadien, Cape Forchu Lighthouse (daylight and nighttime to see the amazing stars), the Walking Tour in Yarmouth, Smugglers' Cove, Digby and wonderful scallops, Historic Gardens in Annapolis, Grand Pre.

Amazing food, wonderful hospitality and beautiful scenery. Being from the DC area, we especially loved the lack of traffic.

Posted by
3933 posts

Shame you didn't make it to the Cabot trail - you'll just have to come back for that gorgeous drive some year ;)

Posted by
11 posts

Hopewell rocks on the New Brunswick side of the Bay of Fundy was spectacular. You could find a bridge on the Shubenacadie River in Nova Scotia and watch a tidal bore make the river "run upstream" during high tide-- an unbelievable sight!