7 Days in Stunning Southwest Nova Scotia: Here’s Your Summer Road Trip Itinerary
New Englanders have a keen appreciation for the beauty of the East Coast. But as much as we love our Cape Cod visits and our Boston Seaport, there’s something about uncharted waters that is intriguing after months of looking at the same stretch of the Atlantic. So, if you still want the light houses and lobster but want to get away from the familiar scene, here’s the perfect way: visit Southwest Nova Scotia this summer. Intimidated by planning a vacation in a new place? Worry not: Here’s an itinerary for your week-long, road trip-style visit.
Yarmouth on the CAT
Luckily for you, The CAT, the Bay Ferries high-speed ferry, has returned and is setting sail from Bar Harbor, Maine beginning in May of 2022. By taking the CAT, you can cut down on your time in the car and enjoy a relaxing sail. While you sail, you can enjoy coffee from Sip Café, a glass of Nova Scotian wine or craft beer in the Forchu Lounge, have a meal at the cafeteria or browse the Scotia Market for souvenirs. Taking the CAT is like starting your vacation before you even arrive.
Digby: Home of Fresh Digby Scallops
At the mouth of Yarmouth Harbour, explore the Cape Forchu Lighthouse, where you’re guaranteed to take some incredible photos of the ocean views. This year, you can even purchase a ticket to climb the above apple-core lighthouse for some even more epic photos.
Travel along the Bay of Fundy coastline to Mavillette Beach, where you can go for a swim, learn to kite surf, or walk on the gorgeous sandy beach and get some sun before heading to Digby.
This charming place is famous for its fresh scallops—they are on the menu at just about every restaurant in town, so you don’t have to worry about missing out. Take a whale watching tour from an operator in the Digby Neck area or play a round of golf at the Digby Pines Golf Resort & Spa.
Travel through the Annapolis Valley to Wolfville, just a 90-minute drive from Digby. The Annapolis Valley is Atlantic Canada’s richest agricultural region, a patchwork quilt of fields, dykes, orchards, and vineyards. The power of nature is also apparent here with the world-famous Bay of Fundy tides and ever-changing landscape of rocky shores, fertile farmlands, salt marshes, and broad, sandy beaches.
Wolfville is known as Nova Scotia’s Wine Country. Ripe for the choosing are wineries like Lightfoot & Wolfville, Luckett Vineyards, Gaspereau Vineyards, or Grand Pre Winery, to name a few. You can also book a ticket for the Magic Winery Bus—and yes, it’s as good as it sounds.
If wine isn’t your thing, the Annapolis Valley is also home to world-famous apples, and apples mean delicious local cider at Annapolis Cider Company in downtown Wolfville.
Lobster is a go-to meal throughout the entire province, but one of the best places to experience Nova Scotia’s favorite crustacean is at the Hall’s Harbour Lobster Pound & Restaurant, less than 30 minutes from Wolfville’s Main Street. It’s an authentic fishing hamlet dating back to 1779.
Halifax is Nova Scotia’s capital city and less than an hour drive from the Annapolis Valley. Stretch your legs along the waterfront, one of the most visited attractions in all of Nova Scotia. Visit the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market, explore Nova Scotia history at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, or the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. Venture up the hill to Halifax Citadel National Historic Site, stroll the Halifax Public Gardens, and browse the shops along Spring Garden Road.
The charm of Halifax doesn’t end when the sun goes down—Halifax is home to the most pubs per capita in Canada. You can find live music at venues like Durty Nelly’s (an authentic Irish Pub that is a replica of the original Durty Nelly’s in Ireland), The Lower Deck, The Seahorse Tavern, The Carleton, or the Split Crow Pub, among others.
Lighthouse Route to Lunenburg
Depart Halifax for the South Shore, following the Lighthouse Route, aptly named for the more than 40 lighthouses that adorn the coastline of this part of the province. Visit the iconic Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse before making your way to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Old Town Lunenburg, with its colorful waterfront and narrow streets. Lunenburg is home to Nova Scotia’s sailing ambassador, The Bluenose II.
Of course, seafood is always on the menu, and local favorites like Beach Pea Kitchen & Bar, Grand Banker Bar & Grill, Lincoln Street Food, Old Fish Factory, Salt Shaker Deli, and The South Shore Fish Shack are all guarantees for a fresh Nova Scotia seafood meal—paired with locally crafted beverages such as those made at the artisanal Ironworks Distillery.
Spend the Night on the Beach in Liverpool
White Point Beach Resort and the Quarterdeck Beachside Villas and Grill are great places to both eat and sleep, with views of the ocean in sight whether you’re eating, relaxing, or walking along the beach at sunset. They’re also some of the most popular destinations to stay on the South Shore, so book early.
If you need more Nova Scotia nature, travel a short distance to Kejimkujik National Park Seaside to enjoy one of two scenic hikes, Harbour Rock Trail and Port Joli Head Trail. You’ll be admiring the majestic landforms carved by glaciers that are home to local wildlife like seals and shorebirds.
Yarmouth & Acadian Shores
Before you board the CAT ferry to Bar Harbor on your journey home, spend a day in the Yarmouth & Acadian Shores region learning about the Acadian cuisine and dialect and meeting costumed interpreters. You can even travel back in time to as early as 1653 at the Le Village Historique Acadien de la Nouvelle-Écosse (Nova Scotia’s Historic Acadian Village) in Pubnico, which is in the oldest Acadian colony where descendants of the founders still live today.
From the sea captains’ homes that line the streets and fishing boats in the harbor to the fresh seafood served at local restaurants, Yarmouth is a quintessential seaside town. Take a walking tour to explore some of the incredible examples of beautifully preserved 19th century architecture, or browse the colorfu and eclectic shops along Main Street.
Finally, let The CAT take you back to your home coast, where you’ll have a new appreciation for the Atlantic waters within your reach and endless memories of your Nova Scotia road trip.
Want to experience it all for yourself? Visit novascotia.com for more information to plan your trip to Nova Scotia, Canada.This is a paid partnership between Tourism Nova Scotia and Boston Magazine's City/Studio