Touring Nova Scotia

Updated on September 13, 2019
Virginia Allain profile image

Virginia loves visiting new places and sharing them in travel articles here.

The Many Faces of Nova Scotia

The dramatic coastline of the Cabot Trail, the northernmost part of Nova Scotia.
The dramatic coastline of the Cabot Trail, the northernmost part of Nova Scotia. | Source

Take a Trip to Beautiful Nova Scotia

Recently, I returned to Nova Scotia, which I'd visited once 30 years earlier. Again, the beauty of the scenery, the in-depth history, the wonderful seafood, and the friendliness of the people made it a delightful trip.

On the previous trip, I traveled with my sister. This time, my husband and I were the travelers. My sister let me know that she was extremely jealous of my trip. She would have loved seeing Nova Scotia again.

I'll share here my photos from the most recent trip and tell you what I saw. There's so much to see that we couldn't get to everything, so I'll have to go back another time and catch the places I missed.

Taking the Ferry From New Brunswick or Prince Edward Island to NS

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The bow raises up for the cars to drive into the ferry.Cars are tightly packed inside the lower levels of the ferries.Passengers can stay in the lounges inside or go out on deck to watch for dolphins or whales. Another ferry passes us, heading the other direction. Giant ropes inside the ferry.
The bow raises up for the cars to drive into the ferry.
The bow raises up for the cars to drive into the ferry. | Source
Source
Cars are tightly packed inside the lower levels of the ferries.
Cars are tightly packed inside the lower levels of the ferries. | Source
Passengers can stay in the lounges inside or go out on deck to watch for dolphins or whales.
Passengers can stay in the lounges inside or go out on deck to watch for dolphins or whales. | Source
Another ferry passes us, heading the other direction.
Another ferry passes us, heading the other direction. | Source
Giant ropes inside the ferry.
Giant ropes inside the ferry. | Source

Our Route to and From Nova Scotia

We started out from New Hampshire, drove north through Maine to catch the ferry from St. John, New Brunswick to Digby, Nova Scotia. We kept hoping the ferry in Bar Harbor, Maine, would resume but it was out of commission for the summer of 2019. That would have taken us to Yarmouth, NS.

At the end of our NS touring, we took the ferry from near Pictou, NS, over to Woods Island, PEI.

There are other ways to get to NS, but the ferry saved a lot of miles of driving and was an enjoyable mini-cruise. You can dine onboard, relax in the lounges and watch the water through the windows. There was even live music on one; a fiddler played traditional Cape Breton tunes. It was quite a treat to hear.

The Ferry Trip Was Quite Enjoyable

Click thumbnail to view full-size
She performed two sets during the crossing from St. John to Digby. It was breezy, but not chilly on the deck of the ferry. The views were wonderful.
She performed two sets during the crossing from St. John to Digby.
She performed two sets during the crossing from St. John to Digby. | Source
It was breezy, but not chilly on the deck of the ferry. The views were wonderful.
It was breezy, but not chilly on the deck of the ferry. The views were wonderful. | Source
Source

Order the Seafood Every Chance You Get

You don't go to Nova Scotia to eat at McDonald's (though they have those there too). There are plenty of seafood restaurants where you'll find fresh-from-the-boat lobster, scallops, salmon, crab legs, haddock, etc.

The ferry arrived in Digby around 5 pm, so we hastened to Water Street where the restaurants were clustered along the harbor. On the advice of friends who were there last year, we ordered the seafood chowder at the Shoreline Restaurant. Then we shared a scallop platter. Too much food, but we indulged ourselves. There are other great seafood places there as well (The Crow's Nest, The Wheelhouse, or Dockside Restaurant).

The Seafood Chowder at Digby, NS

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The broth was not as thick as clam chowder in Maine. The seafood included large pieces of haddock, lobster, succulent scallops, shrimp, and potatoes. It came with tasty biscuits and you can consider a bowl of this a whole meal. Yummy!No smoking on the boardwalk.A pound of fried scallops and crispy french fries. We ate on the outside deck where we had a great view of sailboats moored at the dock.
The broth was not as thick as clam chowder in Maine. The seafood included large pieces of haddock, lobster, succulent scallops, shrimp, and potatoes. It came with tasty biscuits and you can consider a bowl of this a whole meal. Yummy!
The broth was not as thick as clam chowder in Maine. The seafood included large pieces of haddock, lobster, succulent scallops, shrimp, and potatoes. It came with tasty biscuits and you can consider a bowl of this a whole meal. Yummy! | Source
No smoking on the boardwalk.
No smoking on the boardwalk. | Source
A pound of fried scallops and crispy french fries. We ate on the outside deck where we had a great view of sailboats moored at the dock.
A pound of fried scallops and crispy french fries. We ate on the outside deck where we had a great view of sailboats moored at the dock. | Source

Our Route Around Nova Scotia

The traffic is light almost everywhere you go, so driving was a pleasure compared to the crowded roads in the U.S. Be prepared for roundabouts. They use them a lot for intersections and even on off-ramps for limited access highways.

Here are our key stops along the way. Some of these are just via points, not sightseeing or overnight stops.

  • Digby
  • Annapolis Royale
  • Port Royale
  • Grand Pre
  • Windsor
  • Bedford
  • Truro
  • New Glasgow
  • Louisbourg

Annapolis Royal Is Steeped in Acadian History

Read the plaques along the boardwalk for the history of the Acadians at Annapolis Royal. Here's my husband next to a plaque about his 6th great-grandfather.
Read the plaques along the boardwalk for the history of the Acadians at Annapolis Royal. Here's my husband next to a plaque about his 6th great-grandfather. | Source

Walking Tour of Annapolis Royal

We parked in a municipal lot adjacent to Lower St. George Street. You can stroll along seeing the shops and historic houses (the 1890 Old Post Office, the 1747 Adams-Ritchie House, the 1921 King's Theatre, the 1710 Sinclair Inn Museum, and more). There's a boardwalk along the Annapolis River that takes you down to the Town Hall.

Keep going to get to Fort Anne which has its own walking trail. It's an old star fort. A little further takes you to the Garrison Graveyard with graves from 1632 to 1755. You might want to drive to the historic gardens on Upper St. George Street.

Fort Anne

Part of Fort Anne at Annapolis Royal. There's an admission price to see inside exhibits, but it's free to walk around the grounds seeing other parts of the fort.
Part of Fort Anne at Annapolis Royal. There's an admission price to see inside exhibits, but it's free to walk around the grounds seeing other parts of the fort. | Source

Cross the River to Port-Royal

Across the Annapolis River (follow Granville Road), you'll find one of the earliest European settlements in North America, the Port-Royal Habitation. This 17th-century French compound is a reconstruction of this settlement which was burned in 1613 by an English expedition from Virginia. The Mi'kmaq natives helped the French inhabitants to survive that winter after the loss of their buildings and supplies.

Pictures of the Port-Royal Habitation

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The buildings and rooms were built around an open courtyard so they served as a fortress. This is the entrance. Workmen were busy repairing the buildings which were reconstructed in 1939. That's why you see new looking wood in some parts.
The buildings and rooms were built around an open courtyard so they served as a fortress. This is the entrance.
The buildings and rooms were built around an open courtyard so they served as a fortress. This is the entrance. | Source
Workmen were busy repairing the buildings which were reconstructed in 1939. That's why you see new looking wood in some parts.
Workmen were busy repairing the buildings which were reconstructed in 1939. That's why you see new looking wood in some parts. | Source
Source
Source
Source
Source
Source
Source
Source

More Acadian History at Grand Pre

This is north of Annapolis Royal and Port Royal. It's a World Heritage Site due to the significant events that happened there. In the 1750s, the British rounded up the Acadian families who had lived there for generations. They deported them and burned their houses so they would not return. The Acadians had tried to remain neutral in the war between France and England, but the British did not trust them because they were French-speaking people.

Some were sent on long sea journeys to France, but others were sent in ships to the British colonies such as Maryland. Crammed in poor conditions in the holds of the ships, many became ill and died on the journey. Several ships sank with all aboard being drowned.

Some Acadians escaped the round-up and hid out in the forests in northern Nova Scotia. My husband's ancestor managed to get to New Brunswick where he started a new life.

Pictures of Grand Pre

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The exhibits are excellent explaining the Grand Derangement (deportation of the Acadians). Allow about 2 hours so you can see the informative video and walk the grounds.My husband checking out his family name on the list of Acadians at Grand Pre
The exhibits are excellent explaining the Grand Derangement (deportation of the Acadians). Allow about 2 hours so you can see the informative video and walk the grounds.
The exhibits are excellent explaining the Grand Derangement (deportation of the Acadians). Allow about 2 hours so you can see the informative video and walk the grounds. | Source
Source
My husband checking out his family name on the list of Acadians at Grand Pre
My husband checking out his family name on the list of Acadians at Grand Pre | Source

Do You Have Acadian Ancestors?

Vote in the Poll

See results

From Grand Pre to Fort Louisbourg

We drove the next day leaving Grand Pre and heading to Fort Louisbourg. We bypassed Halifax, as on this trip we were concentrating on Acadian history.

Set Aside at Least Half a Day for Seeing Fort Louisbourg

You'll see barracks, powder magazine, a bakery, stables, homes, the governor's mansion, storehouses, a forge, and all the necessary buildings for a large outpost in a new land.

They have a number of activities by costumed performers that enhance the visit. One tells about the life of a soldier and demonstrates the firing of a musket. In the afternoon, there's an artillery demonstration with fife and drum. I recommend viewing that from the upper level for the best view. Have your camera in hand and ready so you can capture the firing of the cannon which gives an impressive boom and a big puff of smoke.

Fort Louisbourg

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Very early French fort in the northern part of Nova Scotia, later taken by the British. This is the entrance to the fort.The costumed guides/docents added a lot to the scenes in the fort. The ceremony before the cannon firing. Ready to light the cannon.
Very early French fort in the northern part of Nova Scotia, later taken by the British. This is the entrance to the fort.
Very early French fort in the northern part of Nova Scotia, later taken by the British. This is the entrance to the fort. | Source
Source
Source
The costumed guides/docents added a lot to the scenes in the fort.
The costumed guides/docents added a lot to the scenes in the fort. | Source
Source
Source
The ceremony before the cannon firing.
The ceremony before the cannon firing. | Source
Ready to light the cannon.
Ready to light the cannon. | Source

More Places Along Our Route

  • Sydney
  • Neil's Harbor
  • Cheticamp
  • Judique
  • Antigonish
  • New Glasgow
  • Pictou

We Had Seafood on the Upper Deck of the Governor's Restaurant in Sydney

My husband had their mammoth lobster roll.I had the lobster won tons, which seemed a creative use of lobster.
My husband had their mammoth lobster roll.I had the lobster won tons, which seemed a creative use of lobster. | Source
The view of the water from the upper deck.
The view of the water from the upper deck. | Source

Allow a Full Day for Driving the Cabot Trail

This allows for stops to take photos along the way at the scenic overlooks. The road is winding, so you can't go really fast. There are interesting craft shops along the way. You'll need more time if you plan to take some of the hikes.

Photos of Cape Breton, the Cabot Trail

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Source
Source
Source

Driving the Cabot Trail Around Cape Breton

Be sure you have a full gas tank before starting out. The services are few on the route. Get an early start, as you don't want to be driving the roads after dark and miss all the scenery.

Stop at the visitor's center as you enter the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. They have bathrooms, brochures, and nice souvenirs like sweatshirts, postcards, etc.

We stopped at various overlooks to photograph the scenic coastline. Neil's Harbor makes a good stop too to see the fishing boats, a small lighthouse, and we ate our picnic lunch there.

Further on, we spotted a sign for a boardwalk that takes you through a bog. It was quite interesting to see the unusual plants there and to take a break from riding in the car.

There aren't many places to stay along the Cabot Trail, so plan on completing it in one day. There are some B and B's and a few small inns.

Scenes Along the Cabot Trail

Neil's Harbor
Neil's Harbor | Source
An informative sign along the bog boardwalk.
An informative sign along the bog boardwalk. | Source

Taking the Bog Walk

This is a short walk in a very open area. To protect the sensitive environment, they have a boardwalk to it is level and dry for easy walking.

Along the way are informative signs explaining about the unique plants you are seeing. We were quite lucky that a local resident was showing it to his visitors and pointing out the plants. We tagged along and picked up some information from him that we might have overlooked on our own.

Are You Planning a Trip to Nova Scotia?

Vote in the Poll

See results

We Stopped at Cheticamp on August 15 for Acadian Day

Cheticamp is a center for Acadian culture in the area. There were festivities throughout the town. We ate excellent seafood at Le Gabriel restaurant and listened to Cape Breton fiddle music. People danced and had a good time.

There are quite a few hotels there and bed and breakfasts, but we were lucky to get a room for the night. It was peak summer travel season and many places were full. We weren't sure how far we would travel each day and did not book ahead. This gave us flexibility in making stops but did cause anxiety when we saw lots of No Vacancy signs.

We stayed at the Auberge Doucet, an inn that served a great free breakfast cooked just for you. I chose scrambled eggs, toast, bacon, potatoes, and juice.

The inn was an old house on the hill with a view of the sea. The subtle gray walls were soothing, and the furniture provided plenty of surface space for opening up our suitcases, a table adequate for 2 people to use their laptops, and counter space in the bathroom. These aren't always available in B&B style lodging so we were lucky to find this.

Photos of Cheticamp

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Our meal at Le Gabriel. We had an excellent cooked-to-order breakfast at the L'Auberge Doucet Inn in Cheticamp. Sunset at Cheticamp.Our room at the inn.View along the Cabot Trail near Cheticamp.
Our meal at Le Gabriel.
Our meal at Le Gabriel. | Source
We had an excellent cooked-to-order breakfast at the L'Auberge Doucet Inn in Cheticamp.
We had an excellent cooked-to-order breakfast at the L'Auberge Doucet Inn in Cheticamp. | Source
Sunset at Cheticamp.
Sunset at Cheticamp. | Source
Our room at the inn.
Our room at the inn. | Source
View along the Cabot Trail near Cheticamp.
View along the Cabot Trail near Cheticamp. | Source

Do stop at Les Trois Pignons, a cultural center/gallery in Cheticamp. On their wall, you'll see exquisite tapestries of Acadian history made in the traditional rug hooking methods that the area is noted for. They also have some rooms of historical information on the area.

The hosts helped us find our lodging for the night and even made a phone call to be sure they still had a room.

Don't Miss Les Trois Pignons in Cheticamp

After Cape Breton

As we continued down Highway 19 along the coast, we stopped at a beach to take photos. There were pebbles of all sizes and variations. I picked up a few to match with the brochure that I'd found at the National Park visitor's center. They will provide accents in my flower beds to remind me of our trip.

We hit Judique right at lunchtime which made a perfect stop for the free noontime concert at the music center. The fiddler played Cape Breton tunes and explained the background of that style of music which contains Irish, Scottish, and Acadian influences.

Beach Time and Lunch With Music

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Nova Scotia beach pebbles.Pebble brochure.The fiddler at the music center.My lunch was seafood chowder. A little more buttery and slightly thicker broth than the one in Digby but quite delicious. It came with a cheddar biscuit.
Nova Scotia beach pebbles.
Nova Scotia beach pebbles. | Source
Pebble brochure.
Pebble brochure. | Source
The fiddler at the music center.
The fiddler at the music center. | Source
My lunch was seafood chowder. A little more buttery and slightly thicker broth than the one in Digby but quite delicious. It came with a cheddar biscuit.
My lunch was seafood chowder. A little more buttery and slightly thicker broth than the one in Digby but quite delicious. It came with a cheddar biscuit. | Source

The Next Day, We Took the Ferry to Prince Edward Island

We didn't have time to see Halifax or to explore the southern end of Nova Scotia. We'll have to see those on another trip. Probably, we should have left PEI for another trip and just spent 10 days or two weeks in Nova Scotia.

We concentrated on just one aspect of their history on this trip, but there is so much more to see even if you aren't a history buff.

It's a delightful place to visit with terrific scenery and all that yummy seafood.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Virginia Allain

    I Hope You Enjoyed Our Travels

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • Virginia Allain profile imageAUTHOR

        Virginia Allain 

        2 months ago from Central Florida

        Jo Miller - Be sure to check ahead of time that the ferry from Bar Harbor is back operating. It was not available the summer of 2019 due to work being done on the harbor.

      • jo miller profile image

        Jo Miller 

        2 months ago from Tennessee

        We were in Bar Harbor a few years back and thought about taking that ferry over. Have always regretted we didn't so may need to do another trip. I'd really like to go to Nova Scotia.

      • Virginia Allain profile imageAUTHOR

        Virginia Allain 

        2 months ago from Central Florida

        Yes, it sounds like you do indeed need to put it on your priority travel list. We missed a lot as we really needed more travel days to see everything.

      • Brite-Ideas profile image

        Barbara Tremblay Cipak 

        2 months ago from Toronto, Canada

        Wow, a gorgeous collection of photos! My husband's family is from Nova Scotia. I've been all over Canada, lived in multiple places, my family has been to Nova Scotia, one of my sons as well, and yet I haven't been there! Told hubby not too long ago, that we're doing holidays in Eastern Canada next. Such a beautiful place.

      • Virginia Allain profile imageAUTHOR

        Virginia Allain 

        2 months ago from Central Florida

        I'm encouraging all my friends to go there next summer. Nova Scotia is really a special place.

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 

        2 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

        I enjoyed reading this article very much. Your photos are lovely and the information is very interesting. It's sounds like you had a wonderful trip.

      • bdegiulio profile image

        Bill De Giulio 

        2 months ago from Massachusetts

        Looks beautiful. Will have to plan a visit someday. The seafood looks amazing.

      • Lorna Lamon profile image

        Lorna Lamon 

        2 months ago

        Such a detailed and interesting article with a lovely collection of photos. There is certainly lots to see and do in this beautiful place which is definitely worth a visit. Thank you for sharing.

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        2 months ago from UK

        This is a great account of your trip. Your photos are top class and the information you give from your experience is very useful for anyone planning a visit to Nova Scotia. It's good to hear that there are still places where traffic is light.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, wanderwisdom.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://wanderwisdom.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)