The best time to visit Nova Scotia is from May to October when temperatures are warmer and road conditions are optimal. Rent a car for the whole family and plan to spend at least 10 days here, which will give you time to drive to several attractions and linger at places that peak your interest. Plus, with the low Canadian loonie (dollar), your American dollar will stretch much further here.
The city’s core is a walker’s paradise—if you don’t mind the hills. Located at the base of Citadel Hill, some of the streets require an uphill climb, but you’ll be too distracted by the charming cafes, vintage clothing stores, diverse eateries, and peaceful waterfront views to notice the workout you’re getting. The capital city of Nova Scotia is home to thousands of university students, the historic Alexander Keith’s Brewery, and hundreds of bars, all of which has solidified the city’s reputation as a place that loves to drink.
Located on the south shore, this quiet fishing village packs a strong punch of history. As one of the first British settlements in North America, it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. The town is dotted with brightly colored buildings and tall ships. It hosts several festivals in the summer, including an outdoor crafts fair in July and a folk music festival in August. Visitors will eat well thanks to the array of top-notch seafood restaurants such as Salt Shaker Deli and the Savvy Sailor.
There’s a reason why this spot is one of the most photographed places in Canada. Located less than an hour’s drive from Halifax, this famous landmark with its red-capped white lighthouse draws in tourists and locals who enjoy jumping the rocks and watching big ocean waves crash into the south shore. Drop by the deGarthe Gallery and Museum to check out some Maritime artwork and feast on the fish and chips at Rhubarb Restaurant.
Cape Breton Cabot Trail
Cape Breton Island is about four hours by car from Halifax. Upon arrival, it’s an absolute must to explore the winding roads of the Cabot Trail. This iconic road trip loops around the island’s northern tip, taking you through quaint communities like St. Ann’s Bay, Pleasant Bay and Chéticamp. It’s best to set aside an entire day or two to do the entire loop, giving you time to stop at several look-off points, go on some hikes and laze on the beach. Multiple bed-and-breakfasts dot the trail so make reservations ahead of time. If you’re anxious about steep cliffs, take the trail clockwise, but if you’re in the mood for spectacular ocean views, head counter-clockwise.
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Kejimkujik National Park
A visit to Nova Scotia isn’t complete without a full immersion in nature. Admission is free when you sign up for the 2017 Discovery Pass, just one perk of visiting Canada during its 150th anniversary. Activities abound at Keji, including multi-day hiking, paddling and camping. Keep an eye out for the 500-plus ancient petroglyphs carved by the early Mi’kmaw people. And because the park is a designated dark sky preserve with limited light pollution, you’ll get to gaze up at thousands of stars and celestial bodies.
Bay of Fundy
This is where you’ll witness the highest tides in the world and several species of whales. Book a whale watching tour to get a close-up interaction. Or if you’re craving something more adventurous, go tidal bore rafting in the Shubenacadie River. When the tide is low, which happens twice a day, you can walk the ocean floor at Burntcoat Head Park and check out rare fossils at Joggins Fossil Cliffs. Award-winning wineries in nearby Annapolis Valley grow 20 types of grapes, providing adults with much-needed reprieve from a busy day of outdoor play.