A curated guide to tourism that is creating a better more vibrant WORLD

Discover Nova Scotia Your Way - Cabot Trail or Fundy Shores/Annapolis Valley

If you only have five days to visit Nova Scotia, you have a big challenge and decisions to make. It could take five days or more just to explore the Cabot Trail, which is why we are going to suggest two different options:  The Cabot Trail or Fundy Shores/Annapolis Valley. 

Select a tour or combine some of the highlighted special places, to best suit your interests. Guaranteed, you will love Nova Scotia, and very likely, you will want to return for another visit. So don't worry, you can then discover the tour options you missed.

Option 1

The Cabot Trail - A 5 Day Journey of a Lifetime

DAY 1

BADDECK

The Cabot Trail is renowned as one of the most scenic coastal drives in the world. You will want to plan which way to travel the Trail - clockwise or counter-clockwise. Either way, you will need a place to start and Baddeck is the recommended place to officially begin your Cabot Trail journey.

5 FASCINATING THINGS TO DO WHILE IN BADDECK, NS:

1. Uisge Ban Falls (Easach Ban Falls)

Grab a picnic in town and head to Uisge Ban Falls (Gaelic for whitewater) to take the 1.5 hour round trip hike up to Uisge Ban Falls, a spectacular 50-ft waterfall in a granite gorge. This is one of five waterfalls along the Cabot Trail. Here is the full list:

  1. Uisge Bahn Falls
  2. North River Falls
  3. Corney Brook Falls
  4. MacIntosh Brook Falls
  5. Mary Ann Falls 

2. Dinner and a Show - Baddeck Lobster Supper and Baddeck Gathering Ceilidhs

Craving seafood yet? Take the family out for a lobster dinner at the Baddeck Lobster Supper. Round out your night with traditional Cape Breton fiddle music, dancing and song at the Baddeck Gathering Ceilidhs.

3. Donelda`s Puffin Boat Tour

Book a boat tour to Bird Island and see puffins (and other seabirds). You may even get to see a seal or two along the way.

4. Alexander Graham Bell Historic Site

Baddeck was the summer home of Alexander Graham Bell. Bell is best known for inventing the telephone but, also, as an ever-curious world traveller, he founded the National Geographic Society. You can find out more at the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site.

5. Lighthouse Bites Kayak Tour

Book this tour and enjoy a 3-hour kayak adventure to Kidston Island on the beautiful Bras D'Or Lake. This tour offered by North River Kayak Tours includes a guide, local Cape Breton music, rental equipment, instruction and delicious hors-d'oeuvres prepared by Chef Bryan Picard from The Bite House.

DAY 2 - 5

THE CABOT TRAIL - A JOURNEY OF A LIFETIME

It's recommended you take about 3 to 5 days to travel the Cabot Trail to ensure you have enough time to enjoy all it has to offer. You will want to stop often to take in the views, go whale watching, hiking (there are over 25 hiking trails in Cape Breton Highland National Park alone), cycling, kayaking or swimming. The Cabot Trail is one of the most scenic road trips in Canada and it is well worth it to take your time and take in its many splendours. 

Cape Breton is rich in culture and music is a way of life. In any place you visit, there is likely to be music gatherings - just ask the locals.

5 UNIQUE PLACES TO STAY ALONG THE CABOT TRAIL:

1. Cabot Shores Wilderness Resort

Live practically off the grid at this Wilderness Resort & Retreat Centre offering cultural adventures, wellness services, and various types of retreats in an eco-friendly environment. This is not just a place to stay - it's a community - a place to connect with nature, locals, like-minded travellers and yourself. 

Cabot Shores is such a special place that it often becomes home base for visitors to Cape Breton. Stay in a Mongolian yurt, a geodesic dome treehouse, an old farmhouse or a chalet. Wake up to daily complimentary meditation and Qi Gong. Enjoy live music every Thursday and Saturday. Vegan or Vegetarian? No problem. Contact them in advance to plan meals that are right for you. Cabot Shores uses locally grown and sourced ingredients.

2. Cape Breton Highland National Park

Cape Breton Highlands National Park offers 20 Otentiks (part tent, part cabin) for rent. Camping is one of the best ways to truly appreciate the Cabot Trail. There are five front country campgrounds and one backcountry to choose from.

3. Campgrounds: Cheticamp Campground and Ingonish Beach

Cheticamp Campground and Ingonish Beach Campground offer five reservable equipped campsites each. Just bring your personal items and your sense of adventure.

4. Keltic Lodge Resort and Spa, Ingonish Beach, NS

If golf, spa retreats, upscale cuisine and stunning views make up your Cabot Trail checklist, you may want to check into Keltic Lodge Resort and Spa and perhaps even book an extended stay. 

5. Cliff Waters Cottage, Pleasant Bay, NS

If total seclusion is what you enjoy, then this location will capture your heart. Cliff Waters overlooks the Gulf of St. Lawrence, with panoramic views of the ocean, Pleasant Bay and the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Enjoy meals and relaxation on the ocean-facing deck or head down to the bottom of the hill to enjoy swimming, lobster boils and evening campfires. 

5 POPULAR STOPS ALONG THE CABOT TRAIL:

1. Gaelic College, Englishtown, Cape Breton

Visit Gaelic College and learn about Gaelic Culture, Music, and Dance. 

2. Capt. Mark`s Whale and Seal Cruise, Pleasant Bay, NS

Pleasant Bay is recognized as one of the best places for whale watching in Atlantic Canada. 

These tours offer sightings of various marine wildlife and spectacular coastal views of Cape Breton Highlands National Park. A tour with Capt. Mark is a must for eco-tourists and photographers.  

Capt. Mark's work with whales has been featured on local news specials and his tour has been chartered by the Discovery Channel. 

For a more adventurous tour, book a spot on their zodiac to feel closer to the water and the marine life.

3. Fishing and the Salmon Museum, Margaree Harbour

Fishing, water sports and the Salmon Museum await you at Margaree Harbour. Grab some freshly cooked seafood and head down to the beach for a yummy picnic and enjoy a swim after a day of adventure along the trail.

4. Ingonish Beach

One of the most developed spots along the Cabot Trail, Ingonish truly has something for everyone. Golfers will enjoy the scenic Highland Links Golf Course, those looking for R&R can relax at the charming Keltic Lodge, families can camp at sandy Ingonish Beach and practice their surfing skills, while outdoor enthusiasts will be in heaven exploring the surrounding trails.

5. Celtic Music Interpretive Centre

Lively tunes, great local food & drinks & good times! The Celtic Music Interpretive Centre is a not-for-profit society and a one-of-a-kind facility located in Judique, NS. 

This stage of your tour of Nova Scotia, Cape Breton and the Cabot Trail is near the end. If Prince Edward Island is your next destination, head to Pictou, NS (232 Km) to catch the Ferry to PEI. Then onto your next adventure - playing in the big red mud.

Option 2

From Halifax to the Annapolis Valley - 5 Days in A Foodies Paradise

DAY 1 - 2

HALIFAX

Begin your journey in Halifax - we recommend staying and exploring there for a night or two. 

From the Harbourfront all the way up to Citadel Hill, Halifax is a stunning city with a strong urban feel. With Halifax as your home base, you can tour locations outside of Halifax during the day (Peggy`s Cove, Lunenburg, Wolfville and Lawrencetown Beach) and enjoy the vibrant nightlife of Halifax during the evening.

5 FASCINATING PLACES TO VISIT WHILE STAYING IN HALIFAX, NS:

1. Halifax Waterfront

Discover the historic port city of Halifax as you walk the cobblestone streets of the Halifax waterfront. Start at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 - the gateway into Canada for one million immigrants (1928 - 1971). Check out shops, restaurants and galleries. Visit the Seaport Farmers Market with over 250 vendors (North America's oldest farmers market!). Be sure to visit the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic which includes information on the city's link to the Titanic disaster. To top off your tour, grab a bowl of chowder or some fish and chips on the patio at the Lower Deck Pub or make your way inside for live local music. 

2. Peggy`s Cove

Just a short 50 minutes drive from Halifax you will find the idyllic fishing village of Peggy's Cove, home of the iconic Peggys Point Lighthouse. Despite the number of visitors every year, Peggy's Cove has maintained its charm as a small fishing village. 

3. Lunenburg

Lunenburg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a scenic 1-hour drive from Halifax, This idyllic ship-building town steeped in history is home of the sailing ship Bluenose II (that's it on the Canadian 10 cent piece). You will feel like you've gone back in time with the colourful colonial buildings, the sailboats in the harbour and the narrow roads in Old Lunenburg. Stops worth making along the way to Lunenburg - Chester and Mahone Bay. 

4. Lawrencetown Beach

If adventure is what you seek, head east of Halifax about 50 minutes to experience Lawrencetown Beach. Book a surfing lesson at East Coast Surf School and experience the Atlantic Ocean by hanging ten. 

Lawrencetown Beach is part of the Cole-Harbour/Lawrencetown Coastal Heritage Park System and offers birding, hiking and surfing (just a few of the many outdoor activities).  It's wonderful to find this ocean paradise just a short drive from Halifax.

5. Annapolis Valley Wine Tour (Grand Pre, Wolfville and Fundy Shore)

Whether you are staying in Halifax or in the Annapolis Valley region, if wine is your jam, book a Winery Tour. Nova Scotia is quickly becoming recognized as a wine destination and you will have fun discovering why on your tour. Pick up a bottle of Tidal Bay, Gaspareau Vinyard's signature white wine, to enjoy with your next seafood meal.

DAY 3

WOLFVILLE

As you are touring wineries in the Annapolis Valley, you are going to be blown away by the charm of Wolfville and you will want to spend more time here. 

Wolfville dubs itself a Fair Trade Town and for anyone who believes in ethical travel, this town will speak to you. From the cosmopolitan small town to the surrounding Bay of Fundy, you will find yourself captivated by this enchanting place. 

5 POPULAR THINGS TO DO WHILE IN WOLFVILLE 

1. Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens

2. Prescott House Museum

3. Randall House Historical Museum 

4. Robie Tufts Nature Centre

5. Cape Split (day hike)

8 UNIQUE PLACES TO STAY DURING YOUR TOUR OF NOVA SCOTIA

1. The Lord Nelson Hotel & Suites, Halifax, NS

Step into history in this elegant, 1920s landmark building in Halifax. The recently renovated Lord Nelson is ideally located across from the Halifax Public Park and within walking distance of all the downtown Halifax attractions. 

2. The Halliburton House Inn, Halifax, NS

If small boutique hotels are more your thing, check out the Halliburton. This Inn was built in 1908 as the home of Sir Brenton Halliburton. Guests who stay here get to enjoy a lovely private garden, a library and a great restaurant with an ever-changing menu.

3. Blomidon Inn, Wolfville, NS

The history is undeniable in this charming Victorian Inn. It's the perfect stop after a long day out touring wineries and the Bay of Fundy. If you are still hungry after sampling food during your tour of Wolfville, fresh seafood is always on the menu in their award-winning restaurant. The sommelier will also help you pair your meal with the perfect wine. 

4. Private Island for Two, Blue Rocks, NS

Looking for a totally unique experience? Plan ahead and you may be lucky enough to be able to escape to your own private island. Nova Scotia Tourism has put together this amazing package and it`s available for the adventurous to reserve, but unfortunately only on limited dates. 

You will sleep under the stars in a cozy yurt far from all your cares and worries. This package includes a kayak adventure to a seal colony, snorkelling hidden inlets, cycling winding coastal roads and dining on local delicacies. 

5. White Point Beach Resort, White Point, NS

If you wish to hear the sound of the surf while you sleep, this is the place to stay. Located in White Point, this resort offers everything you need for a perfect summer vacation - a beach, golf course, spa, surfing lessons, campfires and a host of other activities for the entire family. They offer oceanfront cottages, guest suites or vacation homes.

Just passing through? No problem. You can book a day-pass and enjoy all the amenities.

6. Tidal Bore Rafting Resort, Urbania, NS

Tidal Bore Rafting Resort is the perfect spot for a retreat. There are 13 cottages on the 180-acre site, an above-ground swimming pool, a meeting lodge and several miles of groomed hiking trails, many of which follow the Shubenacadie river bank. What makes this place unique is that you can view the Tidal Bore by booking a rafting excursion or from the comfort of the licensed deck at their Sandbar Restaurant.

Have you ever wanted to be a kid again and play in the mud? You can do that here at Tidal Bore Rafting Resort. 

7. Train Station Inn, Tatamagouche, NS

This place is off the beaten path but if you find yourself near Tatamagouche, NS, consider booking a caboose or boxcar at the Train Station Inn to experience a by-gone era. This truly one of a kind place also offers breakfast, lunch and dinner in their Dining Car.  

8. Trout Point Lodge, East Kemptville, NS

Trout Point Lodge is a shining example of everything we celebrate - tourism creating a better more vibrant world. This wilderness gem is blessed with ecological awards, warm local hospitality, and unforgettable experiences designed to fully discover and appreciate the beauty of the surrounding natural environment. 

Among the many unique services offered is a world-class culinary school emphasizing fresh, wild and local produce; guided excursions to explore the geology, culture and dynamics of the local ecosystem; stargazing with an on-site astronomer in the darkness of North Americas first Starlight Reserve; taking-in  the health benefits of forest bathing, a popular concept in East-Asia or relaxing in the riverside wood burning hot tub.

A 3-hour drive from Halifax, and 45 minutes from Yarmouth, ending with a trek down a dirt/gravel road, this special place is definitely off the beaten path. Take the time to relax, decompress and enjoy the journey knowing you will be rewarded with a luxurious escape in an ideal environment to unplug and recharge. The Lodge is nestled in the heart of the UNESCO Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve and adjacent to the Tobeatic Wilderness. It has most deservedly been voted one of Canada's Top Eco-Lodges.

DAY 4 - 5

DIGBY AND YARMOUTH

If you are travelling to Nova Scotia from New Brunswick, you can take the ferry from Saint John to Digby, Nova Scotia. During the 2h15 min ferry ride, you will enjoy spectacular views of the Bay of Fundy. 

If the Digby name sounds familiar, it`s thanks to the world famous Digby Scallops which are featured in restaurants around the world. 

The Digby Port is recognized as one of the most sustainable fisheries in North America.

While you are in Digby, you can enjoy the Fundy tides, parks, trails and a championship golf course. Digby is also one of the best places in North America to go whale watching. 

From Digby, take the picturesque 1-hour drive along the Bay of Fundy to Yarmouth and the Acadian Shores. Acadian culture is evident across the Maritime provinces and you can discover what life was like 300 years ago for these joyful people at the Historic Acadian Village of Nova Scotia. 

5 UNIQUE THINGS TO DO WHILE IN YARMOUTH AND THE ACADIAN SHORES

1. Acadian Kitchen Party at the Argyle Lodge 

Experience music, dance and storytelling with authentic Acadian cuisine.

2. Yarmouth Foodie Walking Tours

Featuring local beer, seafood, wine and sweets. A personalized tour of the Farmers` Market is also included in this tour.

3. Paddle and a Pint

Join East Coast Paddle Company for a pint and a paddle on the Tusket River.

4. Song of the Paddle - Ellenwood Park Tours and Rentals

All experience levels welcome on this guided kayaking tour of the Yarmouth Harbour.

5. Trout Point Lodge Dark Skies Stargazing Tours 

Trout Point Lodge is the world's first Starlight Hotel and offers guided stargazing tours from their 360-degree viewing platform -  one of the best places for astronomical observation in North America. The views are breathtaking and can sometimes include meteor showers as well as the Aurora Borealis. Use the Lodge`s telescope for an even better stargazing experience and receive guidance from the on-staff astronomer.

10 BEST DINING EXPERIENCES IN NOVA SCOTIA

1. Wooden Monkey, Halifax, NS

Their tagline says it all "A Restaurant with a Conscience". Farm to table guarantees they are using locally grown organic produce. Not only do they ensure the quality of the food by staying local, but they also provide material support for the local farmers who share their commitments to human health and the environment. They even list their suppliers right on their website. That's local supporting local at it's finest!

2. The Kitchen Table at Ratinaud`s, Halifax, NS

The Kitchen Table is a unique dining experience in Halifax, offering an 8-course tasting menu. Their ever-changing menu involves using local and foraged ingredients. They offer a suggested wine pairing, a wine list by the bottle or you may choose to bring your own wine. The dining room consists of 14 seats at the communal table and 6 seats at the kitchen counter. The Kitchen Table is open Wednesday to Saturday year around.

3. Lot Six in the Carleton Hotel Building, Halifax, NS

Lot Six Restaurant and Bar is the perfect location to start your night out on the town. Enjoy their unique food creations using locally sourced products and their extensive drink menu. 

4. EnVie, A Vegan Kitchen, Halifax, NS

Their mission is "To inspire people to choose a healthier, sustainable and more compassionate lifestyle through plant-based eating by making information and education accessible so that we can create a healthier community and planet." 

They make everything from scratch from the best of ingredients. All of their nuts, beans, grains and seeds are organic. Their ingredients are GMO-free and their produce is sourced locally and organic whenever possible. All this and their food is truly inspired and delicious.

5. The Middle Spoon and Noble, A Hidden Speakeasy, Halifax, NS

We had the pleasure of being introduced to the Middle Spoon Desserterie on Barrington street during our guided Local Tasting Tour of Halifax. For a sweet culinary experience, you have to check this place out. The dessert menu reads like a book and they have hundreds of cocktails to choose from. As we were enjoying our incredible dessert, we noticed groups of people being escorted through the back room. Our guide discreetly told us about Halifax's hidden speakeasy cocktail bar and lounge - Noble. Those in the know receive Noble's new password every week via email - if you want to subscribe just click the asterisk on the top right of The Middle Spoon's webpage. Be warned, you need the secret password to gain entry to this very cool cocktail bar.

6. Catch of the Day - Cultivated food experiences created by partners of Tourism Nova Scotia just for you

Catch your own lobster on this great Dining Experience.  Haul the lobster trap aboard a lobster boat and dine on freshly boiled lobster onboard. Nova Scotia's fresh, salty air and seafood is sure to leave you feeling satisfied. Seafood doesn't get any fresher than this! Discover a sampling of unique lobster experiences awaiting you in Nova Scotia by visiting www.novascotia.com.       

7. Taste of Nova Scotia - Map your next meal as you tour Nova Scotia

This is just another reason why Nova Scotia is so awesome! Take the guesswork out of where to eat and drink and follow Taste of Nova Scotia`s  Lobster Trail, Chowder Trail and Good Cheer Trail. Check out the maps online to find your next restaurant. Record pictures of your meals along the way to win prizes.  Now that's pretty cool!

8. Flying Apron Inn & Cookery - Dining on the Ocean Floor, Summerville, NS

Enjoy a culinary experience unlike any other when you dine on the ocean floor at Nova Scotia's Burntcoat Head Park. Meet local experts on your guided tour of the shoreline before your four-course, locally sourced and wine and beer paired dinner with Chef Chris Veldon of the Flying Apron Inn & Cookery. Later, you'll enjoy the sunset around a bonfire atop the nearby ocean cliffs as you watch the tide roll in.

9. Tangled Garden - Gourmet Picnic in the Garden, Grand Pre, NS

Stretch your legs and take a walk through Tangled Garden`s three-acre herb and sculpture garden or take a meditative walk through the labyrinth. Gather fresh ingredients for your gourmet picnic along the way, all while overlooking the Landscape of Grand Pre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

10. Trout Point Lodge, Atlantic Acadian Cuisine, East Kemptville, NS

Trout Point Lodge is on list not only because of their use of the finest regional products, local seafood, organic ingredients, wild woodland delicacies and products from their own garden, but also because they were the first restaurant in Canada to receive international recognition for their sustainability, being awarded a Three-Star rating from the UK-based Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) in 2013 (Micheline equivalent). With both the Executive Chef and Sous Chef boasting Michelin-Starred experiences from Europe, and their gourmet 4-course daily-changing menu of Atlantic Acadian cuisine, Trout Point Lodge is sure to be a culinary experience unlike any other.

We hope you enjoyed your tour of Nova Scotia and if you made your way to some of the places mentioned in our Blog, we would love to hear from you.

Happy trails!

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