Travel Advice for Nova Scotia.
June 22, 2005 8:06 AM   Subscribe

A friend and I will be traveling to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island next week. Any tips on what we must see and must avoid?

We have about six days for NS and PEI. We are taking the ferry from Bar Harbor to Yarmouth. In Halifax we are planning to go the Citadel and the Maritime Museum. Also we are doing PEI, Cape Breton Island, Cabot Trail, Louisburg, and the Anne of Green Gables deal. We like historical sites and scenery. Any tips on what to see or avoid will be appreciated.

Also, any general border crossing info or tips from US into Canada welcome. Thank you all.
posted by marxchivist to Travel & Transportation around Nova Scotia (19 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Do the Alexander Keith's brewery tour in Halifax. Cheesy, but a lot of fun!
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:14 AM on June 22, 2005


Six days for the whole tour might be too short. Even though everything looks small on a map, those windy roads take a long time to travel. We spent two weeks in the same part of the world a couple of years ago - we spent a week in Cape Breton and a week on PEI. It wasn't enough.

Highlights on Cape Breton were the Glenora Scotch Distillery (North America's only single malt scotch distillery), the Louisbourg Fortress and the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site. Oh, and a strange little site in the middle of nowhere that depicted life for the early settlers of the Cape.

Charlottetown on PEI is amazing, lots to do and see. We lucked out, and got to take in the Highland Games in Summerside. The big bridge is over-rated.

Again, get ready for lots of driving.
posted by hamfisted at 8:25 AM on June 22, 2005


I have a dear friend in Halifax who's very well versed in the history of the area. I'll ask him, and pass his responses on to you.

That said... eat as much fresh seafood as humanly possible.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:39 AM on June 22, 2005


Boy, that's a lot of things to do in six days. Nova Scotia is lovely, and has the world's best tourist offices I've ever been to. Ask them for advice. I liked Digby as a charming old fisher town kind of thing. Truro is a hole, don't go there.
posted by Nelson at 8:57 AM on June 22, 2005


Being a PEI resident and former tourism operator, it's entirely necessary to know what you want to do here; touristy stuff, scenic drives, historic stuff or just playing on the beach and golf courses.

For touristy stuff, aim for Cavendish. It's got shops, attractions, stuff for the family and all the Anne of Green Gables you could possibly stomach.

For scenic drives, head west (up to North Cape; there's a wind test site up there which is awesome, and the drive up on a sunny day is worth its weight in gold) or east (east gives you some beautiful coastal towns, lots of farmland and greenery.

Historic stuff, go to Charlottetown; visit Province House (and go on a tour, one of my best friends runs a phenomenal tour there), go on a Confederation Players tour (specifically, the night tours as they are longer and involve more of Charlottetown's houses and stories about how our country came to be), visit restaurants in town (if you're looking for seafood, go to the Fisherman's Wharf in Rustico or the New Glasgow Lobster Suppers; worth the price of admission) and head to Victoria Row for the evening; jazz, fine drinks and good people.

Beaches are tricky, as they are usually very well used; the main ones are Cavendish and Brackley Beach, but if you're looking for something a little more private, the left side of Blooming Point (the right side is a nudist beach) and Rustico can provide what you're looking for. Generally, the north shore has nicer sand but the south shore is warmer water. Golf is great here, Rustico Resort being the best bang for the buck but Crowbush Cove and Brudenell are world reknown.

If you're looking for restaurant or more in depth information about PEI, you can reach me at dfleming at gmail. Hope you enjoy the best place in the world : )
posted by dflemingdotorg at 9:26 AM on June 22, 2005 [2 favorites]


Oh, and avoid Founder's Hall; I did a stint of work there (while part timing as a confederation player actor) and, while it covers over the history of Canada, it does a really amateur job of it. Plus, it's really pricey.
posted by dflemingdotorg at 9:29 AM on June 22, 2005


Peggy's Cove- the stereotypical fishing village with lobster traps and stuff.

Also, an alternate to the Bar Harbor-Yarmouth crossing is Digby to St. John's New Brunswick. Including drive time from Yarmouth to Digby, and St. John's back into Maine, it's roughly the same travel time (a little longer but not much). Its advantages are that the water crossing is shorter & more protected, and you get to see a different part of the countryside.
posted by Doohickie at 10:06 AM on June 22, 2005


A second vote for the Glenora tour -- it's brisk and the grounds are fetching. Also, set aside some time for hikes in Cape Breton National Park; I'm particularly fond of the super-short Bog walk and nearby Benjie's Lake trail. Skyline is considered a must by many tourists, but frankly, if you pull off at some of the breathtaking overlooks by the side of the road, you might be able to skip it.
posted by clever sheep at 10:07 AM on June 22, 2005


Also, I think it's called the Evangeline Trail: a series of old Acadian churches. Directions to the churches are marked from the main roads. (The Acadians are the people from whom the Cajuns of Lousiana were named; the British kicked the Frenc out and they settled in the bayous.)
posted by Doohickie at 10:09 AM on June 22, 2005


Stop at the roadside stands in Malpeque and GORGE YOURSELF. I swear, I put down about 80 oysters for 30 cents... Canadian.

Also on PEI: I know it's on your list, but avoid at all costs the Anne of Green Gables house. It's an endless wedding party.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 10:19 AM on June 22, 2005


Weird. When you live in a place, it's hard to come up with fun things to do there. So you're going to be around for Canada Day, huh?
posted by stray at 11:03 AM on June 22, 2005


Spent a summer living off the Bay of Fundy. If you're into natural phenoms you can't miss it. The whole Anapolis Valley is quite beautiful at this time of year. Really, I can't think of anywhere I went in Nova Scotia that I didn't love. The Evangeline Trail is really fascinating, as is Lunenburg.

If you like to push it (drive for a couple hours, see something, drive for a couple more hours, see something else) then you can do quite a lot. If you're into more leisurely travel, then pick a trail in NS and take your time on that. There's so much history everywhere you go there's no shortage of things to do.
posted by wallaby at 12:04 PM on June 22, 2005


Thanks everyone for the great answers so far!
posted by marxchivist at 12:08 PM on June 22, 2005


If you're into historical stuff, you can't miss Louisbourg.

Also, a great way to get some good fresh seafood & local colour in PEI is to attend a lobster supper. I believe the one I went to when I was on the island was at St. Ann's Church, but I could be wrong.
posted by Johnny Assay at 12:38 PM on June 22, 2005


The dunes up near Souris, P.E.I. are highly worth a visit.

Have a good time!
posted by louigi at 2:25 PM on June 22, 2005


I'll second Mayor Curley. The Keith's Brewery tour was fun. Best done in a small group of people who like to drink.

Make no mistake though, it's not a brewery tour.

I'm in Halifax right now for work... Anyone want to have a mefimeetup or something?

You might want to check out the casino in Halifax. Then again you may not. I didn't like it my first couple of times. I've been going more frequently to play poker though.
posted by ODiV at 2:52 PM on June 22, 2005


We spent most of a day on Medford Beach. You have to go at low tide, because it's on the Bay of Fundy, and the tides are huge. Fantastic scenery, no crowds at all (we saw one other person on the beach). You have to use a map to find it; it's not advertised at all. Look for Medford Beach Road in Medford.

We went the week after (U.S.) Labor Day, and the only place we saw crowds was Peggy's Cove, which was no more picturesque than a half-dozen other places we saw on the way. Giant buses jammed the parking lot, disgorging camera-toting tour groups. You could do better on your own.

Six days is not enough time. We had a week, and only saw the western 1/3 of N.S.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:06 PM on June 22, 2005


I second the St. Ann's lobster supper. Don't bother seeing the Anne of Green Gables play-- the actress I saw play her came off as histrionic rather than enthusiastic (then again, I went the week before 9-11, someone else most likely is doing the part now). Do see the houses.
posted by brujita at 9:49 PM on June 22, 2005


Halifax is my all time favourite city. Just walking around is fun.

No one has covered the border crossing. Basically, keep receipts, don't flaunt anything questionable, be polite, don't lie and be sure to have a passport or birth certificate. It really isn't that bad, although they can seriously mess with you/lock you up/otherwise ruin your day.

My usual tactic is to pull up, greet the Customs person politely while looking them full in the face before they greet me and to answer their questions politely, promptly and with no additional information. Don't joke, don't volunteer information. I don't admit to bringing anything back bigger than a few Aero bars, but I grew up on the border, and it'd never occur to a Detroiter to actually declare anything. I don't recommend following that tactic.
posted by QIbHom at 4:24 PM on June 23, 2005


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