Northern Nova Scotia/ Cape Breton vacation tips?
July 9, 2014 1:31 PM   Subscribe

At the end of the month, my girlfriend and I are heading to Nova Scotia. We'll be staying with a friend in Pictou for a few days, then renting a car out of New Glasgow and heading off on our own. We have four days (three nights) before we fly out of Halifax...and no plans at all. Where should we go? Recommendations for nature/odd attractions/good food wanted. Particularly lovely towns? Good routes? Places to stay?
posted by neroli to Travel & Transportation around Nova Scotia (17 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Skyline trail!
posted by exois at 1:42 PM on July 9, 2014


And spend a day or so in Halifax. It's a beautiful city, with some great pubs/traditional east coast music.
posted by csmithrim at 1:49 PM on July 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You should go to Cape Breton and drive the Cabot Trail. Great hikes around there and beautiful scenery. I've only been off-season, and I'm sure it's really busy this time of year, but still so lovely.
posted by sabotagerabbit at 1:55 PM on July 9, 2014

Best answer: At the north end of the Cabot Trail is a gravel road to Meat Cove which is a very nice spot to pitch a tent for the night. Seconding the drive of the Cabot Trail and checking out some local music.
posted by parki at 2:00 PM on July 9, 2014

Best answer: We stayed in Cheticamp for a few days last year. Amazing mix of French and Scottish culture. The Co-op Artisanale does Acadian home cooking that is so good and downhome that I'm missing it right now. The Hooked Rug museum looks like a little place you might duck in out of the rain, but turned out to be an unbelievable display of skilled textile art. The Sunset Folk Art Museum is very, very out there. If you dig the local ceilidh music, the local pubs are full of it - and Charlie's store has it all. We loved it.

The Glen Breton distillery in Inverness is pretty (even if their malt is a little generic for this Scot), and the food's good.
posted by scruss at 2:18 PM on July 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The Fortress of Louisbourg is pretty cool.
posted by the big lizard at 2:22 PM on July 9, 2014

Best answer: Definitely take the time to drive the Cabot Trail. It can be done in a day, but it's a long drive with lots to see. Stop at Baddeck, Mabou, Judique, and Cheticamp. Try to catch some live Cape Breton fiddle and go to a ceilidh. Antigonish (not on Cape Breton) is a cute college town. Take a ride out to Cape George for some nice scenery.
posted by Sal and Richard at 2:54 PM on July 9, 2014

Best answer: Definitely do Cape Breton. My parents are currently renovating a cottage there and it is a very neat, picturesque area. (If only they were done with the cottage, they plan on renting it out!)

You might be able to find a little cottage to rent for a few days and just decompress in the scenery anyway. :)
posted by aggyface at 4:33 PM on July 9, 2014

Best answer: That Hooked Rug Museum in Cheticamp that scruss mentioned is terrific. We popped in there to kill time while waiting for our whale watching excursion to leave and were so disappointed to have to skip quickly thru the last bits! In Mabou is a nice restaurant - the Red Shoe Pub - owned by the Rankin Family. (Google them and have a listen if you are unfamiliar. They are from Mabou.) There's often live music there.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 6:39 PM on July 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

posted by QueerAngel28 at 9:13 PM on July 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I asked a similar question a long time ago and I was very happy with the Cabot Trail and going to Tatamagouche and staying in the Train Station Inn.
posted by jessamyn at 9:32 PM on July 9, 2014

Best answer: Stay at my house! Or rather, stay in one of the cabins my dad built.

(I won't be there though - I live in Vancouver now)
posted by fullerenedream at 10:20 PM on July 9, 2014

Best answer: It's been 13 years, but we had a nice stay in one of the cabins just off the beach at The Markland in Dingwall on Cape Breton Island (TripAdvisor reviews), just off the Cabot Trail. I also remember the restaurant as being very good.
posted by ShooBoo at 10:55 PM on July 9, 2014

Best answer: My favorite beaches on the Cabot trail are Ingonish Beach and Black Brook Beach. Both on the West side of the trail. Ingonish Beach has a great view of the Keltic Inn and Cape Smokey and Black Brook used to have a bit of a water fall at one end of the beach. Both are in the national park and have good facilities. It may not be very warm to you depending on where you are from.

I second Louisbourg! It's fantastic.

Halifax is a great city with a ton of students and music and bars. Peggy's cove is very famous and very close. Finally I recommend Wolfville over Antigonish as a cuter college town (don't tell my dad!)
posted by Gor-ella at 1:22 PM on July 10, 2014

Best answer: Oh another great place for a long beach walk is along Big Cove Rd which is between Pictou and Antigonish.
posted by Gor-ella at 1:33 PM on July 10, 2014

Response by poster: Many thanks for all the great advice! This was all really helpful. Lunenberg, alas, will have to wait for another visit to NS -- I went there many years ago, and agree it's a lovely place. Based on recommendations here, we're concentrating on Cape Breton.

The current plan, if anyone is interested:

1st day, we're driving from New Glasgow to Baddeck, having dinner here, which looks really fun, and spending the night at a B&B in town. Then making our way to Cheticamp, spending a night here, then doing a slow ramble around the northern tip the next day, and sleeping at the Markland.

Your Dad's place was all booked up, fullerenedream, but wow, that looks like a gorgeous spot. Does the pottery studio have anything to do with your parents? Hoping to stop by.

Final day will be a long drive back to a Halifax airport motel -- with a dinner stopover back in Pictou -- for an early flight out the next day.

Hoping to catch some music along the way, despite my girlfriend's professed dislike of Celtic fiddling.

Will report back afterwards, and welcome any other suggestions.
posted by neroli at 12:56 PM on July 14, 2014

Response by poster: Also: we are spending a night and a day in Halifax when we first get in, so lunch and dinner recommendations would be great. And we've got two days in Pictou before the Cape Breton jaunt, so any ideas within a short drive would be welcome.
posted by neroli at 1:06 PM on July 14, 2014

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