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NS 2014 road trip - itinerary suggestions/comments?

Ottawa
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NS 2014 road trip - itinerary suggestions/comments?

Hi everyone,

We're in the process of planning a 15 night trip to Nova Scotia (incl CB) and PEI next summer (late June/early July). We're flying to Halifax to maximize our time down east and will be renting a car of course. We don't hike but wouldn't be against doing a scenic walk or two. Our main interests are sightseeing (I love taking pictures), eating seafood (esp. lobster) and just generally enjoying the people and the culture. This is what we've come up with so far, any comments or suggestions on where to stop, what to see or where to eat are welcome!

Day 1 - land in Halifax mid morning, drive to Guysborough along the coast. We'll be staying at Seawind Landing

Day 2 - drive to Baddeck

Day 3 - Baddeck to Dingwall

Day 4 - to Pleasant Bay early for the morning whale watch. After the whale watch head to Glenora Distillery for the tour and to stay the night

Day 5 - drive to Pictou and take the ferry to PEI where we'll stay for 4 nights

Day 9 - PEI to the Pictou/NewGlasgow area where we'll hopefully meet up with some friends who live in the area

Day 10 - drive to Wolfville, do a winery tour

Day 11 - drive to Digby

Day 12 - drive to East Ferry for a whale watch, overnight in Digby again

Day 13 - drive to Lunenburg,either along the coast or through the interior, depending on how we feel about driving at that point?? Do the Ironworks distillery tour, hopefully see the Bluenose if she's up and running by then...

Day 14 & 15 - dowtown Halifax, take the ferry to Dartmouth and just generally relax. Maybe the Alexander Keith's tour??

Day 16 - fly home

We're covering a lot of territory, but we never really have too many long days of driving...

Thanks in advance!

Ottawa
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1. Re: NS 2014 road trip - itinerary suggestions/comments?

Okay, so now I'm thinking we'll skip Dingwall, head straight from Baddeck to PB for the whale watch then spend the night in Cheticamp. Backtrack in the morning to do the Skyline Trail (is it easily walkable??) and go from there to Glenora.

Looking forward to your thoughts and comments!

Thanks

Nova Scotia
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2. Re: NS 2014 road trip - itinerary suggestions/comments?

Your plan sounds good. This old lady found the Skyline Trail easy and very worthwhile.

Ottawa
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3. Re: NS 2014 road trip - itinerary suggestions/comments?

Thanks maryann-ns. How is Skyline for people a little leery of heights? Is there a lot of room between the trail and the cliff?

Marietta, Georgia
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4. Re: NS 2014 road trip - itinerary suggestions/comments?

The Skyline trail is very easy. My husband and I did the trail. He went all the way to the end, I didn't. I don't have good balance, If there had been hand rails, I am sure I would have gone further, I also don't like heights so not sure how much further I would have gone. The wood platforms at the end of the trail are pretty wide and long if I remember right. You could start going down the platforms slowly and if you start to feel uncomfortable, you could turn around and head back.

New England
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5. Re: NS 2014 road trip - itinerary suggestions/comments?

I agree with calliecatsmom about the Skyline. The trail itself is very easy and the platforms are in wonderful condition but I found that I felt uncomfortable with the height issue the further down the deck levels I got (I think there were 6 levels if I recall correctly). I do really wish they had at least one handrail on one side. I did turn around and stayed at an upper level platform. My DH went all the way to the end as well. The views are great no matter what platform level you are on.

Rather than backtracking to the skyline, why not spend the night in Dingwall or Pleasant Bay. I personally found Cheticamp a bit commercial and overrated. I LOVED Dingwall. We stayed at the Markland and Log room #15 had the most comfortable king bed..the most comfy in our entire 30 day trip! The views are gorgeous and it is not that far from Pleasant Bay.

There is a wonderful short hike called Whites Point in White's Point Village. You would love it for photography, just stunning. If you go, park up a small hill just beyond Two Tittles B&B . By the way, after seeing the beautiful setting for Two Tittles, I would stay there in the future. Photography ops abound!

Have fun planning! We are planning a week long trip to PEI for next July :)

Edited: 8:24 pm, September 02, 2013
Ottawa
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6. Re: NS 2014 road trip - itinerary suggestions/comments?

Thank you both so much! Will give Skyline a try then, we'll see how far we get :) I was looking at Dingwall, but I'm trying to squeeze in a Pleasant Bay whale watch as well so we'll probably be backtracking at some point. I'm not seeing anything in the PB area that interests me. Will have to google Two Tittles

Ontario, Canada
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7. Re: NS 2014 road trip - itinerary suggestions/comments?

The Maritime Museum Of The Atlantic was a very interesting stop for us. If you are into artifacts and history like that, then I would suggest you add it to your itinerary. Peggy's Cove is also a beautiful sight. Hope this helps. Have a safe trip!

Vancouver, Canada
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8. Re: NS 2014 road trip - itinerary suggestions/comments?

Yes, Peggy's Cove is a must see, and it's not too far of a drive from Halifax. The ferry to Dartmouth is just a walk-on and only about 10 minutes across. If your going to travel around Dartmouth, check out John's Lunch - voted the best fish & chips in Canada. Other than that and getting a good picture of the Halifax skyline, there isn't much else to do in Dartmouth.

London, United...
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9. Re: NS 2014 road trip - itinerary suggestions/comments?

Sorry if this is not comletely on-message, but it may help you or others who are thinking of visiting Nova Scotia.

Trip to Nova Scotia Canada, 2013

This is a quick recap of our family trip (parents and 2 children – 15 and 12), which may help someone else plan a journey or deciding whether to go. We are Londoners, who normally do trips in Europe with some activities (walking, kayaking) rather than lots of museums, and my daughter got talking to someone from the Canada Tourist Bureau at a travel show, so that was how we got interested.

Nova Scotia (NS) is very beautiful, and we saw many great views while driving. We essentially almost circumnavigated the area in only 12 days, which was too ambitious. My new resolution is always to spend at least 3 nights in a place, rather than 2, as everywhere pretty much was worth at least 2 full days. But then we would not have seen so much…..

So, to let you know the outline, we had 3 nights in Lunnenburg (fairly close to Halifax), which was very pretty and generally interesting as a historic harbour. The sea kayaking nearby was expensive but excellent, and much enjoyed (the weather helped). There were lots of restaurants, and we ate fairly well but not brilliantly. We stayed in an Inn on the main street, so we could go walking around the town very easily, and it was a good start to the holiday. The museum of fishing was also much enjoyed, but be certain that you visit the boats tied up on the quay there, which my husband somehow missed. The views are really lovely, and we had a good time.

Then one night with an outfit called Hinterland Adventures, which was a real high point. It was just a taster of Canadian canoeing on lakes, one solitary night out, but flying over meant we had no camping or canoeing gear, so the public park Keji was not really going to work for us. We were the only people out, the food was good, the experience of paddling was fun, and our appetites were whetted (although my daughter did not enjoy the rain in the morning much). That was near Yarmouth so we had to drive right across the western end of NS to get there – lots and lots of trees and not much else.

Then we moved on to Annapolis Royal, which looked like a large town on the map but in fact is a small place, with an interesting historic fort (you can scramble around it) and an OK farmers market. The thing we needed to adjust to was that the distances are very large, the towns are very small and the pleasures simple. So just wandering around and seeing things was relaxing, but perhaps not very exciting. I think that Annapolis Royal was fine to visit, but the children were fairly underwhelmed. The views from the fort are good, and the German Bakery gave us a simple but very good meal one night. As I said, the pleasures were fairly low key. We also had a hike (what we might call a good walk) over on the north coast of NS, about 40 mins drive away. Walking is not easy in Canada – we had not properly thought about that before going. In the UK there a loads of walks in every direction. In Canada, there is more ‘private’ land and pretty impenetrable forest, so if you ask for a walk you are directed to a ‘hike’, which might be a good drive away, and be beautiful and well sign-posted and probably a ‘circuit’ with shorter and longer options. So you tend to find lots of other people on the hike as well. It’s hardly finding your own way. I gather that many Canadians have their own personal ‘camps’ which are huts on their own land, so I suppose that they don’t expect things to be public and accessible in the same way.

Then we did a long drive across NS to get to Cape Breton. We avoided the Northumberland Shore, which I feel was probably a mistake. I had tried to escape the summer ‘crowds’, but I suspect that they are not too bad and the Northumberland Shore has pretty warm water and more attractions (e.g. wineries, restaurants) which we slightly struggled to find elsewhere. We spent two nights in Mabou, which was very beautiful, but the same problem with walking/hiking – it required a drive, and there was warning of Poison Ivy near the coast, which we took to heart and so went away from the coast and up a very unmarked hike, struggling up a hill. It was probably the best walk of the holiday, but of course the trees made the views very limited. The beach at Inverness was very nice, with a fairly warm sea (slightly warmer than Cornwall in the UK) and good waves, and a good lobster roll available at the beach café.

Finally, we drove through the Cape Breton national park – very beautiful but not much different or markedly better than many drives I’ve had through Scotland or Wales. But the whale watching was good. I would advise anyone to spend two days in the park – then you can do whale watching, hiking and stop to enjoy the views. We were too rushed (I blame the tour organiser – that would be me in this case). If I went back, I would definitely spend a night or probably two around the north of the park.

Finally, my children begged to spend a night somewhere with a lift (elevator), and so we had a night in Sydney which was a good contrast (despite an over-priced and slow Italian Restaurant), in order to spend the following day at Fort Louisburg. That is definitely worth a visit – a very large reconstruction of the main French base in Canada at the time of Louis XIV, rebuilt after it was destroyed by the British (ahem…). The place has been excellently done, and is easily a whole day of wandering around; it is on a lovely peninsular, and you park in the huge car parks and are then taken by bus to the fort. Lots of people in period costume, who stayed admirably in character.

Finally, we had a very nice last two days on Tor Bay, in the lovely Sea Wind Landings at Tor Bay. This was perhaps what I was expecting more of – a very friendly Inn, on a tiny peninsular, beautiful views, humming birds, sea kayaks and a guide on site, bikes to hire, and a very relaxed vibe. Then we drove down the whole length of the Eastern Shore and spent a few hours in Halifax (best bet – just go down the harbour, which is touristy but nice, and have a meal while enjoying the views, although my husband and son enjoyed a brief trip to the fort). Canada Air was excellent for the flights, but expensive, and Halifax Airport was small and efficient. It is a fairly short flight over, which helps.

So all in all, it was a fairly successful holiday, with too much driving and probably mistakenly missing the Northumberland Shore. The canoeing and kayaking were high points, the history and forts were surprisingly interesting to a Brit (it is not a period we get much information on, and of course in Canada it is very well explained, particularly about the bits where the British didn’t necessarily behave well), and the views are lovely. It is remote and somewhat unspoilt, but for some reason (hunting? destruction of habitat?) the bird life was much less rich than we expected, but with some astounding large birds. The reservations I have come partly from being too ambitious about covering the ground, the price and somewhat low quality of the food (not terrible, but never really good), the exchange rates (not in our favour at the moment) and that terrible North American architecture (you get surprisingly depressed about such modern and banal housing and shopping malls). Roads were slow but normally fine, the people were very nice and welcoming on the whole (one notable exception), and in August the weather was mostly very good and the bugs were not really a problem. If I knew then what I know now, I would still go, but would try to rent a house on the Northumberland Shore for a week (you could explore quite a lot from there, and cook better food yourself, and go to the beach), then spend 4/5 nights on Cape Breton and still visit Tor Bay. But am I planning to go a second time? No, I have other places I want to see. Perhaps even the far coast of Canada. But I’m glad we went. With teenage children, they were quite happy sitting in the back of the car reading and chilling out, not being required to engage with their parents too much!

Nova Scotia
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10. Re: NS 2014 road trip - itinerary suggestions/comments?

Hi londonerfamily! What an impressive first post on Trip Advisor.

Thanks so much for posting this informative trip report. some of your comments are interesting. You saw a lot but you agree you should have slowed down. The temptation to see 'everything' is huge. Renting a cottage on the Northumberland Strait (where I live) would have slowed the pace and allowed a deeper glimpse of our way of life. But you would not have seen as many other things.

It is too bad you were disappointed with our restaurants. This is where a bit of research should have helped. We have some great places to eat which feature fresh, local food. For example, the best restaurants in Halifax (in my opinion) are not right on the waterfront and do not have a great view. If you go a street or two away there are much better choices.

Missing the two ships which are part of the Fisheries Museum in Lunenburg is a shame, as they really make our fishing history and methods come alive. On the other hand, you seem to have had the full experience at Louisbourg.

This report will be added to our list of trip reports so others can benefit from your experience and comments.