Things To See And Do In Nova Scotia

There is nothing quite like the breath-taking sites and warm hospitality of the East Coast. Nova Scotia is the perfect getaway for couples, families, and solo travelers alike and has a variety of activities and attractions whether you’re visiting for the cuisine or the outdoors. From delicious food and drink to the beautiful trails and the quaint towns, we’ve rounded up the top 20 things to see and do in Nova Scotia, Canada.

1. The Cabot Trail

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The Cabot Trail is 580 kilometers long, so while we’re not suggesting you hike or bike the whole thing (unless you’re into that!), it is quite the experience to see the fall colors, dine in restaurants along the trail, and take in some of the highland culture and music. You can hike portions of the coastal trail on your own if you visit Cape Breton Highland National Park or take a guided hike if you’re inexperienced or want to learn more about the local history. Alternatively, you can drive the entire trail in about 8 hours by car or motorcycle, if you’ve got a bike!

2. Peggy’s Cove

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Peggy’s Cove Coastal Region is way more than the iconic lighthouse, though you don’t want to miss Peggy’s Point lighthouse and surrounding village. Known as nature’s playground, this region is the perfect place for kayaking, hiking, birding, whale watching, golf courses, and pristine beaches. There’s enough to do here to spend two or three days with enough fresh seafood restaurants and cozy cottages and bed and breakfasts to make your time there comfortable. Peggy’s Cove is also a great place to head out on the water for a wildlife tour to see birds, puffins, seals, turtles, and fish, so book a tour while you’re in the area.

3. Whale Watching

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There are many parts of the province that you can head out on a whale watching tour, but regardless of what coastal town you choose to set off from, make sure you take the time to see these great creatures of the sea. It’s a classic East Coast activity to do in the Summer and Fall months (which are the best times for sightings) that may end up being the highlight of your trip! Depending on when you go in the season, you may see Minke, Humpback, Fin, Sei, or North Atlantic Right Whales on your tour.

4. Wineries, Cideries, and Distilleries

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Spend a day visiting some of the wineries, cideries, and distilleries that Nova Scotia has to offer! There are actually more of them than you might think – Nova Scotia has over 18 wineries, 12 distilleries, and 8 cideries to explore and drink at. Tour on your own or with a company that will drive you around. If you’re interested in doing a mix of all three, check out the Nova Scotia Good Cheer Trail to plot your trip around the province and grab your boozy passport!

5. Halifax Boardwalk

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Take a stroll down one of the world’s largest boardwalks! The boardwalk in Halifax is 3 kilometers of shops, restaurants, and gorgeous views. Explore the stores, grab a drink at one of the city’s best restaurants, and enjoy the lazy afternoon at the bustling boardwalk. Taking a harbor tour by boat is another great way to experience the waterfront and learn more about Halifax’s nautical history. Before departing on your trip, be sure to check out the Nova Scotia Tourism website to see what unique events might be taking place while you’re in town.

6. Tidal Bore Rafting in the Bay of Fundy

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The Bay of Fundy has a must-experience outdoor activity called tidal bore rafting. You go out on the bay in a motorized boat with a guide to take on the highest tides in the world – up to 16 meters! All you do is hold on! Different times of day have different intensities, making it a great thing to do regardless of whether you’re timid or a total adrenaline junkie. Tidal bore rafting (followed with some mud sliding!) has been named a Canadian Signature Experience, proving further that it’s not an activity to be missed while in Nova Scotia!

7. Lunenburg

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Lunenburg is a port city and UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its colorful and historic buildings and gorgeous waterfront, as well as the Bluenose II, a replica of the sailing boat that graces the Canadian dime. If you want to see the city from a local’s perspective, consider taking a Lunenburg walking tour where you’ll get to take in the sites and cuisine with a knowledgable 8th generation guide. The town has won several awards including Prettiest Painted Places in Canada and Communities in Bloom, making it a can’t-miss stop on your vacation.

8. Sea or Lake Kayaking

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Nova Scotia, or anywhere by the ocean, is a wonderful place to go kayaking and feel the rush that comes with being on the not-quite-flat water. You don’t need to be an expert as many guide companies are offering a variety of levels of difficulty. Don’t pass up this opportunity to explore the hidden coves, paddle the choppy sea, and perhaps even see some wildlife. If you’re looking for more flatwater to kayak in, check out this full moon experience for an evening paddle paired with local cuisine and music!

9. Lobster-Related Activities

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One of the best parts of the East Coast is all the delicious fresh seafood, including lobster! Make sure you indulge in at least one all you can lobster dining experience at one of the many seafood restaurants. If you’re visiting in February, be sure to take part in the infamous Lobster Crawl for some serious fun all month long! Other fun lobster-related activities include seeing the rare colored lobsters at the Northumberland Fisheries Museum hatchery, take a boat tour with a local lobster fisherman to experience a day in the life, or take a lobster cooking class! There are many fun ways to learn about this aspect of the province.

10. Take in Live Local Music

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From local pubs to street corners to boat tours, live East Coast music is everywhere in Nova Scotia. Before you leave on your trip, search for popular live music venues in the area you’ll be staying in. Then you just need to show up, grab a beer, and listen! East Coast music is some of the most lively, foot-tapping music, so don’t worry about seeing the concert of a bigger named musician! Locals know the best spots and favorite musicians, so don’t be afraid to ask the host at your accommodations for some recommendations in the area.

11. Burntcoat Head Park

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Visit Burntcoat Head Park to see the highest tide in the world (up to 53.6 feet!), walk the ocean floor during low tide, and find small sea creatures in the tiny pools left behind. It’s a beautiful display of nature and a lot of fun for kids and kids at heart! The park also offers guided ocean floor tours on certain days, so check the park’s calendar of events before you head East!

12. Kejimkujik National Park

by Marc Guitard / Getty Images

Kejimkujik Park is a breathtaking park to camp, hike, bike, paddle, learn about Mi’kmaw culture, view petroglyphs, and to connect with nature. The park is biodiverse, allowing you to explore many different habitats and take in the unpolluted night sky in the Dark Sky Preserve! The park has a variety of accommodations, from backcountry and front-country campsites to yurts and cabins, so there’s somewhere to stay regardless of your comfort level.

13. Halifax Food Tour

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Guided food tours are one of the best (and most delicious!) ways to get an overview of a bigger city and therefore are a great way to start your trip. In Halifax, there are two primary tour companies: Local Tasting Tours and Taste Halifax. Both come highly reviewed, so it’s up to you to decide what type of tour you want. Local Tasting Tours offers a downtown tour, SoMo neighborhood eateries tour, and a night out tour – all done on foot. Taste Halifax offers two food tours and two alcohol tours, all done by vehicle with a guide to drive you around. Regardless of which one you choose, you’ll get to taste the local cuisine (often in places that tourists might not otherwise know about) and get to see the city from a local’s perspective.

14. Visit Sugar Moon Maple Farm

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Sugar Moon is a can’t-miss attraction located on the North Shore of Nova Scotia that is all about maple syrup. It doesn’t matter what season you’re visiting in, there are tons to do at the farm! The farm offers maple syrup tasting and tours, an all-day maple brunch with maple-themed cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages, monthly fine dining Chef’s Nights, hiking on the property, or the famed Maple Magic Package! It’s a quintessentially Canadian experience that even a home-grown Canadian can’t miss while in Nova Scotia.

15. Sable Island

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A trip to Sable Island isn’t necessarily the most budget-friendly activity to do on your Nova Scotia vacation, but it is well worth the trip if you’ve got the time and extra money. Sable Island is most well-known for the legacy of over 350 shipwrecks that dot the shore and the 400 gorgeous feral horses that roam the island. The 25-mile long island is entirely made of sand and boasts the world’s largest breeding colonies of harbor and grey seals. Sable Island is quite remote and takes planning, registering with Parks Canada, and several days to visit, so it isn’t for the faint of heart. But if you’re into adventure, it’s worth the trip by air or sea.

16. Joggins Fossil Cliffs

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The fossil cliffs are fun for both kids and adults! This world heritage site and natural attraction is a thorough fossil record of the Coal Age, which was 100 million years before dinosaurs roamed the earth! Here you can see some incredibly exposed fossils on your own or on a beach tour with a knowledgeable guide on easy, medium, or difficult terrain. New fossils are regularly being uncovered and guides are aware of them, making a guided tour a really great option.

17. Oak Island Money Pit

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Oak Island has a long and fun history of treasure hunting! In 1795, a teenager found a large oval-shaped hole in the ground that after many years of many people digging, has become much larger and well known as the Oak Island Money Pit. Though no treasure has actually been found, many other things have including wooden planks, a cavern, a tunnel, and other small things that are just enough to keep the mystery and digging going.

18. Maritime Museum of the Atlantic

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If you enjoy learning about history, the Maritime Museum is a great place to explore on a rainy day. Here you can learn about Nova Scotia’s rich and long relationship with the sea, from World War convoys and the Titanic to the Frankin Exploration to the Halifax Explosion. Like many museums, there are often events going on that may enrich your experience, so check out the events before your trip to see what’s going on! There are lots to learn about and no better place to “dive in” than this museum.

19. McNab’s Island

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McNab’s Island is only a short boat ride out of the Halifax Harbor and has many historic and natural attractions, including wildlife and over 200 species of birds. The island boasts 18 kilometers of hiking trails and abandoned buildings and ruins to view and explore (though not all are open to the public). You can get to the island for about $20 per person round trip and guided tours are available during the summer months, though you can always explore on your own! It’s a great way to enjoy nature and history not far from the Halifax city center, making it a perfect day trip.

20. Cape Breton Highlands National Park

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Cape Breton is a beautiful park where the mountains and sea meet, making for exciting hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing. The Cabot Trail goes through the park and offers some of the best hiking and glorious views in the province. One of the coolest things about this park is its Equipped Campsite partnership with Mountain Equipment Co-op allowing you to affordably rent a campsite already equipped with a tent, dining shelter, sleeping pads, chairs, camp stove, dishes, utensils, cooking gear, wash bins and a lantern. This is a great way to experience the park if you don’t own the gear yourself or you couldn’t bring it along (for example, if you flew to the province).

18 Canadian Music Festivals to Check Out This August

Canada’s festival culture is as diverse as its landscape, with a history dating back hundreds of years to when festivals were held to commemorate seasonal changes. Today, this culture has expanded to include over 200 major festivals, a hefty chunk of which are dedicated primarily to music and the celebration of folk, metal, country, EDM and everything in between. So, as the summer approaches the mid-way mark, and you find yourself geared up for your umpteenth festival experience, or, you’re just finally able to flee the office for some summer fun, EscapeHere breaks down the selection of music fests happening in Canada this August:

18. Sunfest Country Music Festival, Cowichan Valley BC

July 30 – August 2
15 years in the making, Sunfest started out as a 1 day rock concert which has since expanded into Vancouver Island’s biggest country music festival. Bringing in over 40,000 music lovers to the Cowichan Valley each year, the event not only showcases world-renowned talent and local artists, but strives to leave an economic impact by increasing the area’s exposure and donating proceeds to local organizations. This year’s festival is scheduled to have 12 main stage performers, including Lee Brice, Keith Urban and Jack Connolly.

Photo by: Sunfest
Photo by: Sunfest

17. Osheaga, Montreal QC

July 31 – August 2
With 2015 marking the 10th anniversary of this festival’s particular salute to music and the visual arts, festival-goers are undoubtedly in for the experience of a lifetime. The event, which annually attracts tens of thousands of music fans to Parc Jean Drapeau on Montreal’s Saint Helen’s Island, broke attendance records in 2013 when it brought in an astounding 135,00 people over the 3-day period. The diverse lineup of big-name acts mixed with emerging local and national talent is once again poised for success, with over 100 entertainers set to perform on numerous outdoor stages this August long weekend. The 2015 lineup includes FKA twigs, Florence and the Machine, Marina and the Diamonds, Weezer, Kendrick Lamar, Young the Giant, The Black Keys, Charli XCX and Tyler, the Creator.

Photo by: Osheaga/EvaBlue
Photo by: Osheaga/EvaBlue

16. Kaslo Jazz Etc. Summer Festival, Kaslo BC

July 31 – August 2
24 years strong, the Kazlo Jazz Etc. Summer Music Festival is held each year in picturesque Kaslo Bay Park, nestled in front of Kootenay Lake and the Purcell mountain range. The longest running music event in the area brings together approximately 5,000 people and over 20 jazz, blues and Latin performers, fostering a laid-back atmosphere of family fun. The 3-day festival features ticketless public access every day before 5 pm, tons of local food vendors, family workshops and children’s events and performances in the children’s entertainment tent. With this year’s lineup of established and up-and-coming talent, Kaslo Jazz Fest is truly a family beach party destination.

Photo by: Kaslo Jazz Etc/Eye of the Mind Photography
Photo by: Kaslo Jazz Etc/Eye of the Mind Photography

15. Big Valley Jamboree, Camrose AB

July 30 – August 2
5-time winner of the Country Music Association’s Country Music Event of the Year is the primary reason country music fans from all over flock to Camrose during Canada’s August long weekend. Not only are big names performing on the main stage all day long, but the festival is packed with activities during all 4 days, including songwriter’s workshops, bull-riding, a karaoke contest and a marketplace trade-show. The 25,000 person daily attendance is easy to understand, particularly when you take in this year’s jaw-dropping lineup: Dallas Smith, The Band Perry, Reba and Brad Paisley, to name a few.

Photo by: Big Valley Jamboree
Photo by: Big Valley Jamboree

14. Veld Music Festival, Toronto ON

August 1 & 2
Established in 2012, Veld Music Festival has grown to become Canada’s largest electronic music fest, attracting upwards of 50,000 people every year to Downsview Park in Toronto. So much more than just a giant electro-dance party, Veld showcases the very best in EDM, with the 2015 lineup presenting over 30 internationally acclaimed performers including Deadmau5, Hardwell, The Chainsmokers, Kaskade and Nicky Romero.

Photo by: Veld
Photo by: Veld

13. Canmore Folk Music Festival, Canmore AB

August 1 – 3
With the inaugural event taking place in 1978, this is Alberta’s longest running folk music festival. Over the past 37 years, crowds have been drawn to Centennial Park in Canmore to chill out and enjoy the mesmerizing story-telling and musical artistry characteristic of folk entertainers. Today, the event has expanded to include over 30 acts across 3 stages, and expects to attract upwards of 15,000 people, all while providing alcohol-free family fun. Kids will be kept busy with a free children’s concert as well as a kids area that boasts crafts, a bouncy castle and a climbing wall, and festival goers of all ages will appreciate this year’s once-again all-star lineup; Juno award-winner Amelia Curran and Grammy winner Mike Farris are both slated to perform.

Photo by: Canmore Folk Music Festival
Photo by: Canmore Folk Music Festival

12. Manitoulin Country Fest, Little Current ON

August 6 – 9
In its 9th year running, this country music fest held annually in Canada’s cottage country has built a reputation as having one of the friendliest and most family-oriented festival atmospheres across Canada. The organizers work hard to create a sense of comfort and above-and-beyond care for both the entertainers and the attendees, fostering that sense of small-town love that makes the event so popular. The 2015 festival schedule consists of 14 musical acts featuring Tom Cochrane, Gord Bamford and the Canucky Bluegrass Boys, as well as a selection of vendors and a family fun zone.

Photo by: Manitoulin Country Fest
Photo by: Manitoulin Country Fest

11. Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival, Lunenburg NS

August 6 – 9
If you find yourself on the East Coast this August, this highly interactive folk festival is a must. Not only is it held primarily at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, but it creates an overwhelming sense of community involvement, with workshops and additional concerts held at various venues throughout the city. In previous years festival attendance has reached 3,000, with increasingly popular evening and Sunday morning main-stage performances.

Photo by: Lunenburg Folk Harbour Society
Photo by: Lunenburg Folk Harbour Society

10. Boots and Hearts, Oro-Medonte ON

August 6 – 9
This music and camping event at the Burl`s Creek Event Grounds in Oro-Medonte, Ontario is one of the largest and most anticipated country music festivals in the nation. The three-day event promises not only the best in Canadian and global country music, but various other events including a bull riding competition, late night dance party and emerging artists showcase. Alumni of the festival include Tim McGraw, Miranda Lambert, and Jason Aldean, with this year’s line-up set to impress with over 30 entertainers headlined by Brad Paisley, Eric Church and Florida Georgia Line. With attendance in previous years topping 30,000 people, this is one event country fans won’t want to miss.

Photo by: Boots and Hearts
Photo by: Boots and Hearts

9. Regina Folk Festival, Regina SK

August 7 – 9
This festival has been around for an astounding 46 years, beginning in 1969 at the Regina campus of the University of Saskatchewan and held annually at various indoor locations before moving to Victoria Park in 1985. Since then, the festival has drawn over 20,000 music lovers each year to its free daytime concerts and workshops, evening headliners and artists market, beer garden and children’s area. This year’s event is sure to be another one for the ages, featuring over 30 acts, 15 food vendors and main stage headliners Blue Rodeo and Sinead O’Connor.

Photo by: Regina Folk Festival
Photo by: Regina Folk Festival

8. Heavy Montreal, Montreal QC

August 7 – 9
Not only the largest heavy metal and hard rock music festival in Canada, Heavy Montreal is one of the largest events of its kind in the world, drawing over 70,000 people to Parc Jean-Drapeau each year. This festival is known not only for the big-name acts that grace the main festival venue, but also the smaller events that take place over the weekend at different venues across the city. 2015 marks the 7th edition of the festival and is sure to cause some sort of moshing frenzy with the mind-blowing lineup: over 70 acts including Korn, Alexisonfire, Faith No More, Iggy Pop, Billy Talent and Slipknot.

Photo by: Heavy Montreal/EvaBlue
Photo by: Heavy Montreal/EvaBlue

7. Squamish Valley Music Festival, Squamish BC

August 7 – 9
First started in 2010, the Squamish Valley Music Festival in British Columbia is one of Canada’s most successful outdoor music events. Taking place on Centennial Field, Logger Sports Grounds and Hendrickson Field in beautiful Squamish Valley, the festival offers up an unparalleled assortment of entertainers from all music genres for 3 days of performances, backstage tours and artist meet and greets. The festival also boasts 4 campsites ranging in options from family-friendly with noise curfews, to, shall we say, not-so-family friendly, all within walking distance of the festival. With over 60 acts on 4 stages, it’s easy to see how the event draws crowds upwards of 100,000. This year’s lineup features headliners Sam Smith, Drake and Mumford and Sons.

Photo by: Squamish Valley Music Festival
Photo by: Squamish Valley Music Festival

6. Shambhala, Salmo River Valley, BC

August 7 – 10
During this August weekend, the Salmo River Ranch turns into a temporary city of over 10,000 and is well worth the 655 km trek from Vancouver. Started in 1998, with around 500 attendees, the festival has grown into a highly anticipated event for the west coast electronic music scene. It sports almost an underground vibe, and prides itself on existing without corporate sponsorship and providing festival goers with amazing locally sourced art and organic food. The festival also features 6 unique stages, with themes created by their individual stage directors and aims to showcase the best in local and international EDM artists. This event is truly 4 days of “fun on the farm” with over 300 entertainers and free parking and camping options.

Photo by: Shambhala Music Festival/>
Photo by: Shambhala Music Festival/

5. MEME, Winnipeg MB

August 13 – 16
A truly unique festival experience, Manitoba Electronic Music Exhibition (MEME), is an annual event that celebrates international electronic music as well as digital arts and learning. The 4 day festival features free daytime concerts at Manitoba’s open air performance venue known as “The Cube” where the 100,000+ event attendees can enjoy a sample of house, techno, deep dub, psychedelic, world, nu-jazz, ambient and experimental sounds. The free concert series is followed nightly by world-class “After Cube” events (tickets required) that are promoted as “electronic music and multimedia extravaganzas” and are held at various venues across the city including the Winnipeg Art Gallery and the Pantages Playhouse.

Photo by: MEME
Photo by: MEME

4. IleSoniq, Montreal QC

August 14 & 15
Once again gracing the festival-famous event grounds of Parc Jean-Drapeau in Montreal, the 2nd annual IleSoniq is an electronic dance music fest that also offers up performances in hip hop, baile funk, house and most other electronic sub-genres. The electrifying 2-day event boasts over 50 acts set to perform on 3 stages, with an audience of around 17,500 per day. The 2015 lineup is one that you won’t want to miss, featuring Deadmau5, Azealia Banks, and Kiesza.

Photo by: IleSoniq/Susan Moss Photography
Photo by: IleSoniq/Susan Moss Photography

3. Interstellar Rodeo, Winnipeg MB

August 14 – 16
In its inaugural year, the Interstellar Rodeo is being held at The Forks in Winnipeg, and promises to deliver a one-of-a-kind “sophisticated” festival experience of unique music paired with fine wines and local food. The 1-stage event aims to keep things sweet, simple, and completely unforgettable, with a wine list curated specifically for each of the 25 performers. Headliners include Sinead O’Connor (Charles Smith 2012 Eve Chardonnay), Dwight Yoakam (Cameron Hughes Lot 456 2012 Tempranillo/Malbec/Grenache) and Blue Rodeo (Southbrook 2013 Transitions Chardonnay).

Brian Patterson Photos /
Brian Patterson Photos /

2. Riverfest, Elora ON

August 14 – 16
The 10,000+ attendance of this festival in Bissell Park on the banks of the Grand River is a far cry from the 900 patrons that graced the grounds for its inaugural run 7 years ago.  Since then, the event held annually on the 3rd weekend in August has expanded to host over 30 world-renowned entertainers, with Tokyo Police Club, the New Pornographers and Alan Doyle of Great Big Sea all scheduled to perform this year. The festival is about much more than just music, featuring a wide selection of food trucks, arts and crafts vendors and a bustling farmer’s market.

Photo by: Riverfest
Photo by: Riverfest

1. Time Festival, Toronto ON

August 15
This 1 day all-ages event at Garrison Commons in historic Fort York is a must if you’re in and around the Toronto area mid-August. The festival attracts lovers of all genres, presenting 11 acts that range from urban, alternative rock, dance and pop. The 2015 edition will feature Die Antwoord, Mac Demarco, Ariel Pink and Alison Wonderland.

Honorable Mentions: The Edmonton Folk Festival (Aug. 6-9) and Music in the Fields (Aug. 28-29) are also must-attend music events in Canada, but unfortunately, due to the overwhelming popularity of the festivals, 2015 tickets for both were  completely sold out at the time of writing this article.

Photo by: TIME Festival
Photo by: TIME Festival

The Best Reasons to Visit Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia. New Scotland. The Maritimes. Atlantic Canada. Sea air and people who truly are the salt of the earth. Home to Alexander Keiths, donairs, deep-fried pickles and deep-fried anything for that matter. The breathtaking Cape Breton National Park. The provincial capital, Halifax, steeped in history and one of the oldest cities in North America. In years past the arrival point for hundreds of thousands of immigrants and also the birthplace of Canada’s hockey-playing, USA-beating, Tim Horton’s-advertising favorite son, Sidney Crosby. Windsor, N.S. – the birthplace of the sport itself! What more could you want from a weekend getaway? Here are 10 must-sees for any visit to the beautiful province. 

1. Maritime Museum of the Atlantic

Halifax was vital to the British Navy during the War of 1812 with the United States. A multitude of books have been written on the subject but a good place to start for an insight into the importance of Nova Scotia’s naval history is the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, aptly situated on the waterfront of Halifax harbor. Here you will find exhibits on the devastating Halifax explosion of 1917 which decimated a significant part of the harbor and claimed an estimated 2000 lives; the CSS Acadia – the only ship to survive the explosion and both World Wars; a look into piracy, smuggling and why there are 10, 000 or more shipwrecks lying off the coast of Nova Scotia and how they are preserved today. Of particular interest to many will be the Titanic exhibition, which details the role the city played in rescuing, recovering, identifying and burying those who perished in the disaster. Also worth visiting is the Fairview Cemetery, where over 100 victims of the Titanic were laid to rest.

Halifax Harbor

2. Pier 21

Halifax was where many Canadian immigrants took their first steps on what would become their new home soil. Between 1928 and 1971 Pier 21 served as an ocean liner terminal and became known as the ‘Gateway to Canada’, welcoming 1.5 million to the country during that time. On Canada Day (1st July) 1999 it opened as a museum to commemorate the history of the building and those that passed through its doors.  Detailed information and personal testimonials make for an interesting, and very moving, insight into a significant piece of the history of this city.

Pier 21

3. Breweries

When on a strenuous sightseeing tour of a city its important to take the weight off and refresh yourself with a beverage as frequently as possible. Across the road from the museum is the Garrison Brewery – an independent micro-brewery that makes delicious craft beer with all-natural ingredients. Beer the way it should be. Drop in for a pint or a selection of tasters. Alexander Keith’s, perhaps Nova Scotia’s most famous export, is brewed only a short walk away along the waterfront. The Propeller Brewing Company, who are proudly the best-selling microbrewery in Nova Scotia, isn’t too much further so you might as well make an afternoon of it!

Garrison Brewery

4. Citadel Hill and Fort George

Occupying a large green space right in the heart of  the city is Halifax’s Citadel Hill and Fort George – named after King George II of Great Britain. From the waterfront it is quite a hike up to the top of this hill, especially after a few brewery tours, but well worth the effort as the views from the top are quite something. British forces built the fortifications in 1749 to defend the city from French, Acadian and Mi’kmaq aggression and they continue to stand watch over the city and harbour today. The site is now operated by Parks Canada – guards in full uniform and bearskin hats, others in period costume, men in kilts playing bagpipes and guided tours by the knowledgeable staff make this a must for any visit.

Citadel Hill

5. Driving (and Kayaking) the South Shore

There’s a lot more to Nova Scotia than its one (relatively) big city and you’d be missing out if you didn’t get in the car and explore. Views like the one below come thick and fast. Driving the winding coastal road and admiring the beautiful scenery along the way is worth taking your time over. Another option is to take to the water for some sea kayaking. Strenuous, yes, but extremely rewarding. Either way, make sure you have plenty of room on your camera. The flora, fauna and wildlife are abundant.

South Shore NS

6. Peggy’s Cove

Less than an hours drive from Halifax is Peggy’s Cove. Beginning life as a quiet fishing community, it now draws many tourists due to its famous lighthouse. Built in 1915, it is one of 160 historic lighthouses in the province that over hundreds of years have helped protect its rocky, treacherous coastline. Colorful houses perched over the water, fishing vessels and nets, salty sea air and the roar of Atlantic waves crashing against the rocks make this a uniquely East Coast experience.

Peggy's Cove NS

7. Mahone Bay

Continuing south east down the shore you will come to Mahone Bay and then Lunenburg. The former was a center for wooden boat building in years past but is most well known for the three churches that sit on the waterfront, as well as boutique shops and cafés. The image below adorns postcards, paintings and has come to be one of the most iconic images of Nova Scotia.

Mahone Bay NS

8. Lunenburg

Like so much of the province, Lunenburg was the site of tensions between the colonial British forces and the Acadian and native Mi’kmaq people. In 1753 Protestantism was forced upon the indigenous Catholic population, leading to raids and retribution against the foreign invaders which ultimately were futile. The town was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1995 and remains the best example of a British colonial settlement in Canada.

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

9. Ironworks Distillery

Whilst some shipbuilding remains in the town of Lunenburg, and the Bluenose II is moored there, its economy relies primarily on tourism. Were it not for the torrential rain that was pouring down when we arrived, we would have explored the historic streets on foot as many do. Instead, we took shelter at the Ironworks Distillery for a look around, and for a taster or two of course. Vodka made with Annapolis valley apples, a raspberry liqueur and many more will put some fire in your belly if its a damp, rainy day.

Ironworks Distillery NS

10. Cape Breton and the Cabot Trail

Last but certainly not least is Cape Breton and the Cabot Trail. Separated from ‘mainland’ Nova Scotia by the narrow Canso Strait, you must drive over a causeway to gain access to the island. The picture below was taken whilst out hiking on the Cabot Trail – named after John Cabot who reportedly visited the island in 1497. Located in the beautiful Cape Breton National Park at the north of the island, stunning highland coastline, headlands that jut out into the Atlantic, wide plateaus, rich forests and incredible wildlife await you – you may even find yourself face to face with a moose, as this author did. Truly, a once in a lifetime experience. Whoever said you had to go out west to the Rockies for breathtaking scenery? Drive the coastal road, camp, hike – but whatever you do, make sure to take a good camera and your binoculars. This hidden gem at Nova Scotia’s northernmost point has all you need.

Cape Breton NS


This article is a guest post by Behind The Seens