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The provincial capital of Nova Scotia may have been named one of the top ten business-friendly cities in the Americas by the prestigious fDi Magazine, but is best known for its stunning harbourfront, craft beer culture and thriving arts scene. Swept by the sea breeze, Halifax makes the most of its setting on the world’s second-largest ice-free harbor with a ravishing waterfront boardwalk lined with inventive restaurants, local pubs and specialty shops. Stretching between the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 to the Casino Nova Scotia, the historic harbourfront presents a colorful visage. Beyond this lies the strikingly modern Halifax Central Library, the historic fortifications of Citadel Hill, regional history at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, and the flower-rich Halifax Public Gardens. The Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market is one of Canada's oldest, while NovaScotian Crystal is known for its world-class hand-cut crystals. While you may loathe leaving the city, day trips to the nearby Fisherman’s Cove, Dartmouth and McNabs Island are also recommended. From Atlantic Canada's largest art collection at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia to the sampling small-batch brews at Alexander Keith’s original Nova Scotia Brewery, Halifax will captivate you with its bountiful offer.
Half of the McNabs and Lawlor Islands Provincial Park, McNabs Island is a stunning introduction to Nova Scotia's Halifax Harbour. The island's colorful history includes stints as a French fishing center and a military battery, and today, Fort McNab is considered a National Historic Site. Although Lawlor Island is not open to the public, visitors can enjoy McNabs Island's gorgeous coast and various attractions, like the Maugers Beach Lighthouse. Wildlife watchers can stroll the island's many trails, watersports enthusiasts can spend the afternoon boating, and the curious can get to know the island's history by taking a tour with the Friends of McNabs Island, a volunteer society dedicated to preserving Nova Scotia's island gem.
Blomidon Provincial Park in Canning, Nova Scotia covers a scenic 759 hectares (1,875 acres) of land overlooking the Minas Basin. Open to the public from mid-May to September, the park offers various group activities, including camping and beach-combing. Also available are several hiking and biking trails, shaded picnic areas, and photo opportunities galore. Blomidon Provincial Park is approximately 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) from Wolfville and accessible via Nova Scotia Route 358.
Situated on the northern end of Cape Breton Island, this park provides visitors with three distinct kinds of habitat: Acadian, Taiga, and Boreal. It is home to extensive trekking trails, beaches, and waterfalls, and it houses various observation points for visitors to enjoy beautiful panoramas of the Atlantic Coastline. The ever-popular Cabot Trail is a scenic drive that passes through the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, offering equally breathtaking views of the surrounding areas. Camping at the park is possible between May and October.
Taylor Head Provincial Park, also known as Taylor Head Beach, comprises just under a mile (1 kilometer) of sandy beach. Beyond plentiful hiking trails complete with scenic views, the small beach is a great place to catch up on some afternoon sun, enjoy a picnic lunch, or go exploring. Visitors will find sand volcanoes at the park, an uncommon natural phenomenon in Nova Scotia, alongside other interesting geological features and a variety of wildlife. Be sure to check out the Mushroom Harbour trail beach walk for some of the best views of the coast.
Located minutes from the beautiful Shubenacadie Grand Lake, Laurie Provincial Park is a perfect getaway for outdoor lovers in need of a camping retreat or scenic afternoon. The on-site campground offers more than 60 sites, most of which promise spectacular views of the lake. Those who enjoy swimming can take a refreshing dip before barbecuing under the sun. Fire grills, ample wood, and dishwashing and disposal stations are some of the facilities and services offered at the park. Laurie Provincial Park is WiFi enabled and open to all.
Southeast of mainland Nova Scotia in the Atlantic Ocean is Sable Island, a designated National Park Reserve since 2013. Sable Island is a natural grassland with prolific beachgrass growth. Its marshy coast is characterized by low sand dunes and a distinct lack of trees. Sable Island is remarkably narrow, offering visitors views of the ocean from most vantage points. Wildlife viewing at the park is a must, with opportunities to see Greenland Sharks, Grey Seals, Ipswich Sparrows, Arctic Terns, and of course Sable Island horses. Tourists are welcome although prior permission from local authorities is necessary before visiting.
Lunenburg is a port town known for its naval and fishing heritage. It was established in 1753, just four years after Halifax, Nova Scotia's capital. The town's rich history and vibrant architecture earned it a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation in 1995, and today, Lunenburg is cherished as an example of an early British colonial settlement. It sports a scenic waterfront sprinkled with brightly-colored buildings that overlook the intense blue of the surrounding Back Harbor. Between its historic town center, gorgeous port, small town charm, and many local businesses, this increasingly popular tourist destination definitely warrants a day trip.
Martinique Beach Provincial Park is set next to the distinctly crescent-shaped Martinique Beach. It stretches five kilometers (3.1 miles) along the Nova Scotia coast, making it the longest beach in the province. The park protects such species as the Piping Plover and serves as a migratory site for various waterfowl. While Martinique Beach is a popular spot for amateur and experienced surfers, those who prefer to stay dry can follow boardwalks that unlock the beach's beauty and tranquility. Also popular is beach-combing for hidden treasures, an activity enjoyed by kids and adults alike, and carried out for both commercial and recreational purposes.
Antigonish is the cultural hub of Antigonish County in Nova Scotia. Known locally as "The Big Town," it is perhaps best known for housing St. Francis Xavier University, which is regarded by some as the best undergraduate university in all of Canada. You can find several historical monuments in town, notably old churches with impressive architecture. Antigonish hosts the Highland Games every year, an athletic competition that also features entertaining cultural events like music and dance performances. Whether you visit for the games or just because, Antigonish is bound to be a delightful stop along your tour of Nova Scotia.
Although evidence suggests that the earliest inhabitants of this area lived roughly 4,000 years ago, archeological discoveries have traced the use of the Kejimkujik National Park's watercourse by semi-nomadic people to around 6,000 years ago. Over time, the region's early Archaic itinerants settled into a more permanent cultural group, known today as the Mi'kmaq people. Stone engravings that depict everything from traditional Mi'kmaq dress to its social structure make a notable addition to the park's many natural attractions. Visitors to Kejimkujik National Park, best known simply as Keji, can enjoy a variety of outdoor recreation, cultural activities, and learning experiences here.
Found on the Bluenose Coast by the picturesque St. Margaret's Bay, Peggy's Cove is a popular day-trip destination for travelers in Nova Scotia. The area boasts a rustic appeal; it is famous for having beautiful beaches, colorful bird life, plentiful whale watching opportunities, scenic trails, and fun kayaking spots. Enjoy renowned Nova Scotia seafood, stroll the beach, or shop for local souvenirs. Outdoor enthusiasts are guaranteed a good time at Peggy's Cove, and everyone will enjoy a tour of the iconic Peggys Point Lighthouse.