Last summer I had the privilege to take a salaried position in Halifax, Nova Scotia. My position happened to be a Mon-Fri one so I was fortunate to have weekends off to explore the beautiful province. Everything listed below is what I was able to accomplish over the 3 months while I was there. Maybe you are planning to travel Nova Scotia this summer… and if you do, here are some spots not to miss.
For the Hikers
Nova Scotia is full of great coastal hiking. Since I was often by myself I stuck to populated hiking trails to play it safe. Here are a few trails that I trekked last summer.
- Duncan’s Cove Hike 8km– Beautiful coastal hike. Bring binoculars to see the seals sunbathing on the rocks. At the end of the hike at the turn-around you are rewarded with some old WWll bunkers, a great place to sit and have lunch.
- Cape Split Hike 16km -A long trek but worth the views of the Bay of Fundy at the end. Stay away from the edges of the cliffs and pack a lunch to enjoy when you get to the beautiful view at the end.
- Blomidon Provincial Park 12.5km– A gorgeous hike along the Bay of Fundy. I did the entire park loop with a friend and the views were great along the way. The most stunning views were of the red cliffs. A great hike with lots of smaller segments if you don’t wish to do the entire 12.5km.
Click the link below to get to the website of all of hiking trails in Nova Scotia. This was a great resource for me during my stay.
For the Explorers
- Brier Island Whale Watching Tours- Yes, I saw whales!! Two small ferries and you find yourself at the tip of Nova Scotia on the Bay of Fundy. Cute little island and seeing a whale for the first time… indescribable.
- Harbour Hopper Downtown-If you’re into this type of thing, an amphibious vehicle tours you around downtown Halifax and plunges into the harbour with a narrated commentary. Not sure if this one is worth the steep price, but I learned some history I didn’t know.
- Harbour Front Boardwalk– Strewn with small shops, restaurants and even segway tours. There are also lots of de-commissioned ships to view (for a price). The boardwalk is worth the walk atleast once. Look for Theodore Tug Boat!
- Lunenburg & Mahone Bay- I had the pleasure to drive through both of these old fishing villages. Lunenburg is what you expect when you think of the iconic east coast. Worth the visit. Check out the Fisherman’s Museum in Lunnenburg and take the opportunity to explore the old fishing boats, it’s a neat experience to talk to the captains.
- Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse- Tourists everywhere! The entire cove is tourist driven, but it’s still a cool experience to see the lighthouse. Grab some ice cream from Dee Dee’s, go see the lighthouse… then get the heck outta there.
- Annapolis Valley Look Off– The look off is a view that overlooks the valley and the Bay of Fundy. You can see the lush fields and wine vineyards below. It’s an amazing view. Don’t miss it if you head to the valley this summer!
For the Ocean Admirers
The water in the Atlantic is a little chilly for my liking, but Nova Scotia sure has some beautiful beaches.
- Crystal Crescent Beach Provincial Park- Watch out for the nudists!… But don’t worry, you won’t find that side of the beach unless you go looking for it. Overall, great family beach and I enjoyed a sunbathing here atleast one time.
- Carter’s Beach, Port Mouton– Tropical looking oasis in the middle of nowhere. Located near Liverpool, this beach is hidden away, but the most beautiful one I visited.
- Micou’s Island– Suggested by a true Haligonian. This is a neat little experience. The island is a tidal island and so it can only be walked to when the tide is low. Make sure you check the tidal forcast though or you might be swimming back. There is lots of wildlife on the island and it’s a great place to watch the sail boats in the bay while eating lunch.
- Queensland Beach Provincial Park– Another beautiful beach that I experienced in Nova Scotia.
- DeWolf Park, Bedford- Although not a beach, this park is located along the Bedford Basin. This is a great place for a BBQ or a Picnic. I spent many mornings here jogging along the boardwalk and slacklining.
For the Foodies
- Seaport Farmer’s Market- Located downtown Halifax, where I experienced by first lobster roll from Goldwater Lobster Shack and some peach and blueberry gelato from Fox Hill’s Booth. The market has a huge selection of goods and is very iconic to Halifax. It is worth a trip. Bring cash… or stand in line and pay a fee at the ATM they provide for you.
- Bedford Basin Farmer’s Market- Best Espressos and Croissants.. Ask Scott Preston
- Pete’s Frootique- This is actually a grocery store.. but an awesome one. There is fresh produce, fresh meats/cheeses and I instantly fell in love. Located in Bedford, Nova Scotia, do not miss this one!
- Fox Hill Cheese Factory- Located in the Annapolis Valley. Don’t miss the non-homogenized milk.. pssst! There is chocolate too. The source of the amazing gelato in Halifax at the Farmer’s Market.
- Mass Town Market- Everything you could ever need from soups/sandwiches, ice cream and baked goods, it even includes a fresh fish market. This gem is located about 1 hour, 15 from Halifax. Don’t miss the cinnamon buns!
- The Tall and Small Cafe- A small Cafe located in Antigonish. Apple and Dijon Grilled Cheese and a sweet homemade brownie to call it a day.
- The Gahan House- Fresh brown paper bag, Atlantic Fish & Chips! I had my experience in PEI but I have heard great things about the fish and chips in Halifax too. Don’t miss a pint of the Blueberry Ale. Thanks for the suggestion Cara!
- Ryer’s Lobster Pound- The BEST fresh lobster experience in Nova Scotia! You pick your lobster size, they boil it right there in front of you and serve it with melted butter… YUM!
- The Five Fisherman- Downtown Halifax Fine Dining; smoked salmon starter, followed by a lamb rack entree, finished with strawberry shortcake cheesecake for dessert… DELICIOUS!
- Pizzaland- Donair shop recommended by a local connoisseur (he knows who he is). Why we love them? Family run & they keep their Don sauce chilled/separate from the Donair so you can have the honours of introducing the two. You gotta have a Donair if you’re visiting the the East Coast.
- La Frasca Cibi & Vini- Upscale Italian Dining; Calamari to start (the BEST calamari I have ever had)/Gnocchi al Guardaporta (braised beef gnocchi) or Risotto al Coniglio (fresh local rabbit rissoto)… Ammmmm..AZING. Thanks for showing me this one Charlie!
Just so we’re clear… I never ate anything I didn’t like in Nova Scotia.
For the One’s with a Sugar Dependence
Raise your hand if you have ever felt personally victimized by sugar… because I have. I remember learning how to spell the word dessert. My Mom said “Dessert has two S’s and you can remember that because you always want to go back for seconds”. She never said anything about thirds of fourths though…
- The Middle Spoon Desserterie & Bar- Cardamom Carrot cake or New York Style Cheesecake & a Mocha Joe to help wash it all down. Thanks again to Charlie for this one!
- Dee Dee’s Ice Cream- Madagascar Vanilla and Buttered Almond on a freshly made Waffle Cone… can’t get better than that on a summer afternoon.
- Sweet Hereafter- Did I hear Cheesecake?? I had the pleasure of trying out.. Homestyle cherry, Blueberry Shortcake and Cookies & Cream while I was in Halifax… I hope you do too (for your sake).
- White Sail’s Bakery- Huge, fresh peanut Butter Cookies to die for. Perfect stopover after visiting Peggy’s Cove (they have great Poutine and Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwiches too).
- Jubilee Junction- One of a kind Ice Cream Sandwiches… fresh chewy cookies, layered with your favourite Farmer’s Ice Cream finished off with a small candy bar wedged in the middle… Eat it fast because they don’t handle too well in the summer heat!
My Nova Scotia Favourites
- Brier Island Whale Watching Tours– I loved this tour because the company is more about research on the whales. The tour guide was sure to tell us that seeing whales is a privilege and not a right. This tour company also hires on marine students from Dalhousie. Really well ethically driven whale watching.
- Ryer’s Lobster Pound– I loved Ryer’s because it is family owned and run. Their operation is genius and their lobster was fresh, fresh, fresh. I would recommend this place to anyone trying lobster for the first time in Nova Scotia.
- Carter’s Beach, Port Mouton– This beach is a hidden gem. The water is crystal clear and I liked it so much due to the quietness of the beach. It’s a must see.
- Annapolis Valley- There is so much to do in the valley! It’s very green and beautiful and packed with lots of things to do and see. Between the farmers markets, wine and fresh fruit to pick, you can spend multiple day trips enjoying the valley. My favourite feature is the Bay of Fundy where I was able to experience the tides. Definitely worth the visit in the summer.
One thing I didn’t get to over the summer was the Cabot Trail, Cape Breton. Due to time restraints, I was unable to check that one off my list… My hope is to complete this one at a later date. There are so many great places in Nova Scotia, many that I didn’t get to myself. I stayed away from the bar and pub scene while I was there, but this is not to say that they should be skipped. I also am also well aware that there are endless great restaurants and food festival events that weren’t mentioned. This guide is simply my personal reviews on the things and places that I was able to get to over my summer in Nova Scotia.