Where to go in Nova Scotia?
June 7, 2007 10:59 AM   Subscribe

Traveling to Nova Scotia in July - suggestions for fun places to go?

Going to be in Halifax for a few nights, and then going west for a few more. Other than hiking, fishing, kayaking, what's fun to see or do?
posted by VeniceGlass to Travel & Transportation around Nova Scotia (15 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Economy Shoe Shoppe - it's a restaurant. Have the lobster flambe, trust me.

The Citadel is a bit of a hike, but:
1) ooo, Canadiana! History!
2) Spectacular 360 degree views of the city
3) Hot boys in kilts

McAlvey's is also a fantastic restaurant--a little bit higher end than the Shoe Shoppe.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:04 AM on June 7, 2007

You could mine some coal. My kids and I did this back in the 70s, and it was way fun.
posted by paulsc at 11:14 AM on June 7, 2007

The Tall Ships will be in Halifax from July 13-25. Also there is the Tattoo from July 1st to 8th, I've never been but I hear good things.

The restaurants are really great in Halifax. I second the recommendation for the Shoe Shoppe. Also go to Il Mercato and have some pizza.

If your in Halifax for a Saturday you can go the Halifax Farmers' Market.

Nova Scotia makes some great wines, maybe a winery tour?

When you say you'll be heading west. Where to you mean?
posted by papercrane at 11:21 AM on June 7, 2007

Previous AskMe.

Medford Beach - it's one of those red-sandstone-cliff places on the Minas Basin where the tide goes way, way out and you can walk around on the seabed. You have to look for it; it's not publicized at all. (The page I linked to from the previous Ask no longer has pictures of the beach.)

We did a sail around the bay out of Lunenburg that was fun.

The Ovens are sea caves owned by the (Harry) Chapin family across the bay from Lunenburg, in Riverport. You can go in some of them, where incoming waves pressurize the cave. It's a unique experience.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:30 PM on June 7, 2007

Another previous AskMe.
posted by sueinnyc at 1:41 PM on June 7, 2007

The Anne Murray Centre in her hometown of Springhill.
posted by Carol Anne at 1:51 PM on June 7, 2007

Lunenberg and Louisburg (to experience a trip back in time). The tidal bore is a bit of a bore, but interesting if you're aware that it isn't going to be a tsunami.
posted by acoutu at 2:45 PM on June 7, 2007

My girlfriend (she's Nova Scotian) and I were there last summer, and we had a lot of fun geocaching. If you have (or borrow) a gps receiver, you can hit Canada's first geocache while you're there. I remember it being about a 45 minute drive out of Halifax.

The Citadel was great, too.
posted by Fully Completely at 3:56 PM on June 7, 2007

See the amazing tides at The Bay of Fundy.

Tour the cemetery of Titanic victims.

Go to the
Lighthouse at Peggy's Cove. Raw nature at its finest -- it's almost like standing on the edge of the earth.

Should you stay til August or you return later -- be sure to take in the Halifax International Busker Festival. Fabuluos street performers galore.
posted by peace_love_hope at 6:30 PM on June 7, 2007

In my opinion the Tattoo is kind of meh. The gun run (where they take a cannon apart, transport the parts across the arena and reassemble it on the other side, first team to fire the cannon wins) is great fun, and there'll be gymnastics and probably a few bizarre animal acts from Eastern Europe, which are also fun, but that's mixed in with hours of marching bands. Unless you love marching bands, I wouldn't bother.

I lived in Nova Scotia (mostly Halifax) for about 30 years until 2004, and go back for periodic visits (my family still lives there). My recommendations:


Restaurants: The Fireside (best martinis, best dessert - raspberry kuchen, and best upscale seafood - pecan-encrusted salmon); John's Fish & Chips (actually in Dartmouth, best diner-style seafood, hands down); The Mediterraneo (best blt, best fries, best milkshake); Pizza Corner (three pizza places on a corner by the library, the pizza is okay but the local specialty is the donair, best eaten at 3 a.m.); seconding Economy Shoe Shop (best mussels). If you're a beer drinker, try some Propeller (a local brew).

Don't miss Freak Lunchbox (a candy store) on Barrington St, just down the street from the Grand Parade (area in front of City Hall where the Cenotaph (war monument) stands, which has a great view of the harbour down Prince Street).

Walk through Point Pleasant Park, or along the pedestrian walk on the finger piers downtown, for great views of the harbour.

What else? I like the architecture of Province House, which iirc is Canada's oldest legislature, and the Royal Bank building across the street from it (it's worth going inside to see their wall frieze). The Old Burying Ground on Barrington St has lots of old graves with gigantic statues, very gothic (probably not actually gothic, but you know what I mean).

The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia is one of my favorite art galleries. They tend to have a good mix of spunky bizarro travelling stuff, stuffy old stuff made interesting, and local stuff. Very well curated. And their coffee shop is excellent.

What else do you need to know? Don't eat the hot dogs at Grand Parade. Don't go up Citadel Hill at night if you don't want to see a lot of gay sex. Don't walk alone in the Gottingen St/Crichton St area after dark (perfectly safe by day, and has a bit of an undeserved reputation because it's where the methadone clinic is, but nonetheless not a place non-locals should go at night except in largish groups). Don't pee on the conference center like the locals do (the people in the apartment buildings across the street have a great view despite the enclosed parking lot, for some reason most locals don't know that).


Also known to locals as The Darkside, this is where I went to junior high and high school so I can make fun. If a Haligonian says word one, I ain't afraid to cut a bitch. Just so we're clear.

Take the ferry to Dartmouth, and sit in the upper deck. It takes about 15-20 minutes. On a sunny day it's glorious, and on a foggy day it's mysterious.

If you're there on a Saturday, go to the Smiley Face Museum (22 Wentworth Street, Dartmouth. Admission by donation. Open Saturdays only. Phone (902) 463-6287.) The woman who runs this "museum" out of her upstairs is a bit of a loon, imo, but it is a hoot to see the massive quantities of smiley face memorabilia she's collected.

On your way back, stop at the World Peace Pavilion on the Dartmouth Waterfront - it was opened for the G7 Summit in 1995 and includes rocks and bricks from countires around the world, with little stories about each one, including pieces of the Berlin Wall and the Great Wall of China.

You might also want to stop at the Quaker Whaler's House while in Dartmouth (57-59 Ochterloney Drive). A friend of mine worked as a tour guide there one summer and it's actually pretty cool - guides in period costume telling you about the Nantucket whalers. Free admission iirc but they kind of expect a donation.

Try La Perla - it's on the main drag there across from the library (the ferry docks in the back of the library, do not take the Woodside ferry which goes to the industrial park). Italian, kind of pricey, very tasty.

If you're into history and engineering, you might want to check out the Shubenacadie Canal (54 Locks Road, really just down the street from the library; everything I'm referring you to in Dartmouth is within about four blocks of each other). It's very pretty and has lots of ducks, and there's an interpretive center I've never bothered to go in that explains the history of the locks.

Then get the hell out of Dartmouth and go back to Halifax.

The Rest of NS

If you like hiking, you might want to get a copy of Allan Ballard's Waterfalls of Nova Scotia, if you can find a copy. It lists a bunch of little-known waterfalls which are quite gorgeous when you find them. Even people living within a couple of miles of them don't know they're there.

There's a piping plover sanctuary on Martinique Beach. Don't walk in the grasses (it's where they lay their eggs) and enjoy watching them flirt with the waves. You can also do normal beachy things, as long as you don't bring a dog.
posted by joannemerriam at 7:13 PM on June 7, 2007

Loop tour (good either direction)

Drive to the annapolis valley from halifax. Bypass windsor and get off the main highway. You can go to the outdoor museum at Grand Pre if you like, or visit the ice wineries along this road. Drive to/through Wolfville, beautiful town, enjoy arts/crafts.

Continue South to the general store (which I forget the name of), which will sell many many types of local fruits/veggies.
It's at the intersection of the highway 358 which goes to Canning. When you get to the intersection near Canning, turn Right and go towards the lookoff. Drive along until you can stop and have a really gorgeous view of the entire Minas Basin. Double your way back to main highway 1/101, continue south.

Take Highway 12 which goes to Chester on the South shore. Go down to Mahone bay if you like. Chester and Chester Basin area are beautiful seaside town areas.

Start heading back towards Halifax on Hwy 3. Take the loop around to see Peggy's cove. Return to Halifax.

Depending on your pacing and how many extras you do, this can be done as a day tour. This is the day trip I gave to relatives who had never been to Nova Scotia (and some first time to Canada) to give them a range of flavours of the province.
posted by kch at 10:57 PM on June 7, 2007 [2 favorites]

Somebody mentioned Peggy's Cove. We weren't that impressed, and even when we went, the week after Labor Day, it was mobbed. I can't imagine what it would be like in July. Here's a clue: the parking lot is big, and has about twenty giant parking spaces set aside for tour buses. Except for the lighthouse, you can see small fishing villages and rocky coasts like that at a lot of places.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:10 AM on June 8, 2007

kch's loop is pretty much the route we took, except it took us a week, and we started at Yarmouth. Lots of side trips and exploring. If we'd done the whirlwind, one-day version, we would have missed every single one of our favorite experiences. N.S. is really loaded with fine places to see and to eat. Don't shortchange yourself by rushing.

Also don't forgrt to save your receipts, so you can get the sales taxes refunded when you get home. (Assuming 'home' is not in Canada.)
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:19 AM on June 8, 2007

Response by poster: An incredible array of answers - thanks very much.

Papercrane: we're heading west to Trout Point Lodge and figure on exploring a bit from there too.
posted by VeniceGlass at 5:47 AM on June 8, 2007

Peggy's Cove is lovely, but as Kirth says there are plenty of similar places that are less mobbed. The only real reason to go to Peggy's Cove, imho, is for their restaurant's fish chowder.
posted by joannemerriam at 10:12 PM on June 8, 2007

« Older How do I get dry erase marker stains out of towels...   |   Finding movie times, as cool as Apple's Sherlock... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.