When I travel, I love to visit a mix of both urban and natural settings. I love the adrenaline rush of cities, with their variety of attractions, museums and restaurants, but I also relish the inspiration the natural world delivers and the freedom of being away from people.
Because the entire province of Nova Scotia has less than one million people, my trip will be heavy on time spent in the nature, with stops in the capital of Halifax and a number of smaller towns.
My starting point might be on the well-known Cabot Trail—approximately 190 miles of beautiful coastal highway on Cape Breton Island. Here you drive along rugged wilderness coastline with its scenic overlooks, explore cultural heritage sites and enjoy plenty of hiking trails. A trip to Cape Breton Island would give me time to really absorb the quiet beauty of nature in this part of the province.
Heading west, I want to visit the Joggins Fossil Cliffs, a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site on the Bay of Fundy. The Cliffs are an excellent representation of the fossil records from the Coal Age, 300 million years ago. These cliffs stretch for more than nine miles. The rising and falling bore tide helps erode the cliffs and is constantly revealing “new” fossils. Just seeing these cliffs sounds breathtaking, but I’m considering booking a tour at the visitor center to get a full picture of their history and evolution.
Having seen the impressive tidal bore waves come in from sea in Alaska, I would love to see even larger ones in Nova Scotia. The province has some of the largest tidal bore waves in the world—and here you can actually raft one of these waves as it comes into shore in the Bay of Fundy.
Then there is Halifax, Nova Scotia’s capital city; approximately 45 percent of the population of the entire province lives here. It boasts one of the world’s largest natural harbors, making shipping and boating a rich part of its heritage. I’m excited to visit the historical fort at the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site of Canada, Canada’s Ellis Island equivalent at Canadian Immigration Museum at Pier 21 and the Old Burial Grounds, a historic cemetery founded in 1749. I’m planning two days to see the main sights here.
The promise of local, artisanal food and drink is one of the best parts of any trip. With more than 4700 miles of coastline, Nova Scotia boasts great opportunities to sampling local fresh shellfish and other seafood. Atlantic Lobster, Digby scallops and mussels are just some of the offerings. In Cape Breton, visit the lobster pound at Island Sunset Resort and enjoy a traditional lobster meal on the patio overlooking the Northumberland Strait. In Digby, try Digby Scallops at the Dockside restaurant, which is home to Canada’s largest scallop fishing fleet.
Nova Scotia also has a number of wineries, breweries and distilleries. The Annapolis Valley northwest of Halifax is where many of the province’s farms—including u-pick farms—and wineries are located. You can also take the “Magic Winery Bus” to explore some of the wineries in the Annapolis Valley.
Even if you can’t get out of the city, the Halifax Farmer’s Market is the oldest Farmer’s Market in North America, more than 260 years old, which recently moved to a new facility, the Seaport market, which is open daily on a year round basis with over 200 vendors.
A one-week road trip in Nova Scotia could easily turn into two, three or more. With such a diversity of outdoor, cultural heritage sites and artisans, I expect one trip will just not be enough to see this part of Canada.