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Summer holiday 2014 -3 weeks in NS with 4 kids

posts: 4
reviews: 1
Summer holiday 2014 -3 weeks in NS with 4 kids

Hello everybody,

I have found these forums so helpful in trying to plan my family's trip to NS next summer.

We will be travelling from the Uk and staying the last week of july and 1st two weeks of august. My kids will be 16, 13, 10 and 8 by then. As a family we like hiking, kayaking, sailing, cycling, horse riding, galleries and museums, military history, eating out and lighthouses!

We will hire a (big!) car but we would rather have a couple of bases and then drive to see things rather than move location with our belongings every night or two. My research has led me to think that we would like to explore halifax and the south shore, go to the Digby area for whale watching and maybe a trip to Upper Clements, Annapolis for Fort Ann, go to the Northumberland shore for warm water and beaches, and visit Cape Breton. Louisbourg is a must.

My question is where should our bases be? We think we will rent a cottage around Mahone bay/lunenburg for a week and use it to see the south shore and dip into Halifax. If we rented near Mahone Bay for two weeks, would we be able to hit Digby for a day or two and come back or are the distances really too large? I don't mind double booking and spending a night in a hotel near Digby during the two weeks mahone bay cottage rental. Is that a workable idea?

Alternatively week 2 we could spend a few days by Digby and a few days en route to the Northumberland shore/cape breton. Any other suggestions?

Finally for the third week, where should we base ourselves? Somewhere near Sydney, Cape Breton ie between the cabot trail and Louisbourg? Or somewhere near eg Pictou and just drive to Cape Breton? I'm a bit worried that a week on CB might be a little too quiet and remote to keep the kids/teenagers interested...

Alternatively we could stay somewhere like cabot links for a few days and then somewhere on the Northumberland shore for a few days. We don't mind splashing out a bit - all the prices are so much lower than what we are used to in Europe so that's a nice surprise.

Thank you very much for reading this - all suggestions most gratefully received!

Nova Scotia
Destination Expert
for Nova Scotia
posts: 6,692
reviews: 97
1. Re: Summer holiday 2014 -3 weeks in NS with 4 kids

Hi. What a great first post! It is great that you are planning so far ahead.

You have a choice between having long trips back and forth each day to a base or doing what is called a road trip. The latter is much more efficient. When we are on a road trip (and we just finished one) we find it easier to change accommodations. We leave large suitcases in the car and just take out small bags each day.

Distances and driving times are longer than you think. I will post a couple maps here to give you an idea. The times are optimum with no traffic, delays or stops.

Here is the drive from Mahone Bay to Tiverton where you can go whale watching;

http://goo.gl/maps/aatUH. You would want to allow four hours each way. The whale watching takes several hours so it would make for a long and tiring day. You could stay somewhere Annapolis Royal for a few days and find lots to do from there, including the trip to go whale watching.

Cape Breton will be worth spending several days. There is lots to do there: great hiking, kayaking, boating, whale watching, museums (including Louisbourg which is a must see), lively music, etc. Some people base themselves in the Baddeck area, but it is better to spend at least one night on the Cabot Trail on the west coast. You do not want to be driving this road back and forth in the dark. The section from north of Baddeck to Ingonish Beach is very twisty and mountainous. That is its charm, but not when trying to commute.

The Mahone Bay area would be a good base for exploring some of the South Shore, especially Lunenburg. It is also close enough to Halifax, but you would miss out on strolling Halifax's amazing waterfront in the evening. There is always something going on there. You will be there for the Natal Day celebrations with fireworks for sure. Natal Day should be August 4 next summer and the fireworks may be Saturday the 2nd.


So, I know others will give their advice, but if it were me I would stay a week in a cottage near Mahone Bay; three or so nights around Annapolis Royal (day trips to whale watch, to the Habitation at Port Royal, Fort Anne, the gardens in Annapolis Royal, and to the Wolfville Area (hiking, historic Grand Pre, wineries, etc.); four or five days on the Northumberland Strait in the Pugwash/Tatamagouche/Pictou area. You could do a daytrip to Prince Edward Island, and spend a day or two on the the fabulous Fundy Shore with the world's highest tides and two world class fossil beaches and museums, see other things in the Northumberland area, and enjoy the wonderful beaches. That would leave you with nearly a week for Cape Breton. It really is the jewel in our crown.

You can go below to the search box and put in names of places or activities to see previous posts.

Also go here for recent trip reports from others who have been here: tripadvisor.ca/Travel-g154967-c157554/Nova-S…

If you have not been there yet, here is the link to the Nova Scotia tourism page. www.novascotia.com/en/home/default.aspx

Toronto, Canada
posts: 11,706
reviews: 594
2. Re: Summer holiday 2014 -3 weeks in NS with 4 kids

I'd try to fit in at least two days in PEI, great history, between Anne of Green Gables and Confederation City, Charlottetown, you'd be missing out on a great opportunity IMO...

posts: 4
reviews: 1
3. Re: Summer holiday 2014 -3 weeks in NS with 4 kids

Thank you so much for that great advice. Im sure you are right. we will just need to be a bit more organised with packing!

we could stay a night or two in halifax before mahone bay but i will check those dates because we do all love fireworks! I was thinking the Marriott harbour front.

The Digby pines hotel looks v nice - would that be a good place to be based for the start of the second week rather than in Annapolis royal itself?

I'm sure I will have more questions but thank you so much for your help.

posts: 691
4. Re: Summer holiday 2014 -3 weeks in NS with 4 kids

I think you have a workable plan, here is my 2 cents!!

For your first part you probably should stay a night in Digby area or on Briar Island slow going back and forth to Mahone Bay area. I would then suggest going to Tatamagouche area and then could take in Parrsboro and even Advocate as well as beaches and swimming etc.

A good base in Cape Breton would be Baddeck and there are sailing tours, Bird island tours, kayaking lots for the children to do besides sight seeing., they might enjoy the hike to Uisge Ban Falls.


Inverness area with Cabot Links another great area cabins on the beach there quite reasonable.

I would definitely skip PEI for this trip

Advocate Harbour...
posts: 1,520
reviews: 19
5. Re: Summer holiday 2014 -3 weeks in NS with 4 kids

For some of your activities, don't miss out on the upper Bay of Fundy around Advocate Harbour. You will find some of the best hiking and kayaking in the country there, around Cape Chignecto Park. Nearby there is horseback riding in Parrsboro, some great museums with the Geological museum in Parrsboro and the UNESCO site at Joggins and for your food try the top rated restaurant in the province at the Wild Caraway in Advocate Harbour. Of course when you visit the Advocate/Chignecto area you get to throw in the experience of seeing the largest tides on this planet of the upper Bay of Fundy! For that, there is no better place, with the large tidal harbour, the Dory Rips at Cape d'Or, the trails at Chignecto, kayaking and boat tours out to Isle Haute or Cape Split.

Some links to check out the area would be:

www.wildcaraway.com - check out the reviews here on TA

www.driftwoodparkretreat.com - a great place to stay for families

Riding with Spirit Reins www.spiritreinsranch.com

This is a blog from novascotia.com about boat tours to some of the incredible spots on the Bay of Fundy like Cape Split and Isle Haute novascotiablogs.com/2013/10/-a-vivid-image-o…

Here is a travel blog from an international traveller about Cape Chignecto kayaking


Link to Cape Chignecto Park


Here is a great trip report for active travellers looking for some of the most unique, beautiful spots in eastern Canada


This is a itinerary for people looking for some of the best in Nova Scotia on a active, outdoor oriented vacation.


Link to Outside magazine on top paddling spot on the east coast.


Link to trails site for Nova Scotia


Link for activities on the Bay of Fundy


Link to Pegasus http://www.pegasusparagliding.com/index.htm

Link to Age of Sail museum http://www.ageofsailmuseum.ca/

Link to UNESCO site www.jogginsfossilcliffs.com

posts: 2
reviews: 3
6. Re: Summer holiday 2014 -3 weeks in NS with 4 kids


I just stumbled onto this site and your's was the first entry I read. I live in Vancouver, but spend summers at my Cape Breton house. I grew up there, and I visit 4 times a year. I love it! I am from Sydney, but my property is close to Baddeck. There is so much to do, I'm thinking at least a week is needed. I agree with one other responder, leave PEI out. I spent 4 days there in August...a lot of farm country, probably not too unlike the English countryside where one hamlet runs into the next with no real wilderness.

Louisbourg is a must, but try to plan for the right day. A little research will tell you which night they offer the Murder Mystery. So tour the Fortress during the day, go into the town of Louisbourg for an early dinner, then head back to the Fortress for the Murder Mystery. I've traveled the world over, and I think this Murder Mystery is one of the best things I've experienced. Instead of sitting in a seat, you follow a French housekeeper thru the streets and the play unfolds in various settings throughout the Fortress. Then you all meet at the local "tavern/courthouse" and you become the eye witnesses. So give your testimony, and you often get yelled at. It is all quite fun. The kids will like it.

I will come back and tell you more about CB tomorrow. My husband is bugging me to come to bed. I can't tell you much about the rest of NS, but it seems you had lots of help there anyway. But I will tell you what else you should take in, where you should eat, and where you should sleep.

Be back tomorrow!

7. Re: Summer holiday 2014 -3 weeks in NS with 4 kids

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