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Portland to Nova Scotia

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Kansas City
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Portland to Nova Scotia

We are a family of 3, two adults and a 3 year old. We have planned a 2 week vacation flying into Portland in late June and flying back home on the 7th of July.

Our hope was to arrive in Portland and make a trip up to Nova Scotia to enjoy the beautiful landscape and have a good peaceful time. We are unsure of our route, things that are must see's, the best way to get over to NS, and what to do when we arrive.

Any ideas on route, things to see, places to visit, ways to cross the water to the island, etc. would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for your time and help.

Bar Harbor, Maine
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1. Re: Portland to Nova Scotia

First, Nova Scotia is a peninsula and not an island. Second, there is no longer a ferry from anywhere in Maine to Nova Scotia. Quite seriously you best bet to see Nova Scotia, which is a truly stunning province of Canada, would be to fly to Halifax.

If you are determined to fly into Portland, then you will face at least a six hour drive (not counting any border delays at Calais) to St. John, New Brunswick, where there is a ferry which will take you to Digby, Nova Scotia. If you would like to drive the whole way, it is about eight to nine hours from Portland to Amherst, Nova Scotia, in the very northern part of the province. That would be taking the most direct route and not a coastal route through Maine.

If you choose to drive and take your time, you could spend your first night near Acadia National Park, which is quite scenic itself. It's about a three hour drive from Portland to Bar Harbor, if you stay on the interstate and cut down to the coast from Bangor. From Bar Harbor you could take route one to the New Brunswick border, about three hours. You could then drive a few hours further and spend a night near Fundy National Park. The next day's drive would take you into Nova Scotia.

Central Maine
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2. Re: Portland to Nova Scotia

It's a long drive from Portland to the New Brunswick-Nova Scotia border as bommiemaev points out... Taking the Saint John-Digby ferry can save time, but may or may not be useful depending on where in Nova Scotia you plan to visit after you get there.... Nova Scotia itself is larger than most folks think it is -- an eight hour drive (not counting stops) from Sydney on Cape Breton in the north to Yarmouth in the south... with some great places to see in between. We spent two full weeks there on our honeymoon many, many years ago and still didn't see everything.

Coastal Maine or Nova Scotia could each be a two-week trip by itself -- but if you really want to combine them, maybe something like the following would work --

Day 1: Portland to Bar Harbor -- I-95 to Bangor, US 1A to Ellsworth, Rt 3 to Bar Harbor

Day 2: Acadia National Park, second night in Bar Harbor

Day 3: Bar Harbor to Saint John, New Brunswick

Day 4: Ferry Saint John to Digby Nova Scotia, drive to Yarmouth

Day 5: Yarmouth to Halifax

Day 6: Touring Halifax

Day 7: Halifax to Antigonish or Port Hawksbury via Atlantic shore

Day 8: Port Hawksbury to Baddeck

Day 9: Baddeck to Inverness via Cabot Trail

Day 10: Inverness to New Glasgow or Truro

Day 11: Truro to Saint John, New Brunswick

Day 12: Saint John New Brunswick to Bangor ME

Day 13: Bangor to Portland

Day 14: Portland area touring and fly home

Central Maine
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3. Re: Portland to Nova Scotia

You probably could get some good advice on the Nova Scotia portion of your trip by putting a question or two on Trip Advisor's Nova Scotia Forum.... Scroll up to your question on the top of this page....just above it you'll see Forums-MaineForums-Portland Forums.... click on Forums and it will open a drop-down list that includes Canada Forum... click on it and you're on your way... Some very helpful Nova Scotia folks do a great job with their Forum and know their Province better than most of us in the U.S..

Lunenburg, Canada
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for Saint John, Foz do Iguacu, Iguazu National Park
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4. Re: Portland to Nova Scotia

Hi KC!

A three-year-old! That sounds like a challenge!

We travel frequently from Nova Scotia to Portland, with no children to be sure. From Portland to Halifax, with no dawdling along the way, will take a minimum of 9 driving hours. Add stops for one thing or another, including passport control to enter Canada, and also you lose one hour because you have to turn your watches ahead when you enter the Atlantic Time zone. It's four-lane divided highway built to Interstate standards all the way to Halifax, if you need to get here quick.

Of course, you've got two weeks, return, to do this, so you can proceed in a leisurely way.

In Maine, you have three choices:

- the Interstate all the way

- following the I-95 corridor to Bangor, then ME-9 east to Calais. We're of the view that Route 9 between Bangor and Calais is an unusually scenic way, through remote regions of hills, streams and blueberry fields, but also very fast, with a posted speed of 55 mph (which nearly everyone exceeds) most of the way.

- US-1, the Ocean Highway. The name is a misnomer for much of the way: the Maine coast is deeply indented, so Route 1 only hops from head to head of the long inlets. There are numerous by-ways running down to the seaside towns, but they're bound to be cul-de-sacs, requiring you to backtrack. If I had to pick two of these that stand head and shoulders above the others, they would be Bar Harbor (and Acadia National Park) and Boothbay Harbor, in that order.

Crossing into Canada, you could take I-95, the freeway; or cross the international border at Calais to join NB-1, or take the bridge at Lubec, ME to Campobello Island, FDR's famous summer place, then take two car ferries to the New Brunswick mainland. Currently, I-95 is fastest (because of construction on NB-1 building a new freeway between Calais and St. John, NB) and the ferry route is the most scenic. Check the internet for times of the ferries to and from Deer Island, NB.

In New Brunswick, some spots that might catch your interest include:

- St. Andrews, an old resort town 15 miles east of the border

- Fundy Trail Parkway, a 7-mile stretch of coastal cliffs 35 miles east of St. John

- Fundy National Park, not nearly as grand as Acadia National Park, between St. John and Moncton

- Hopewell Rocks, the famous Fundy islets that look like ordinary islands at high tide, but when the tide goes out, more than 50 feet here, they turn out to be like huge flower pots standing on stone stems. You can walk on the sea floor at low tide.

In Nova Scotia, taking the freeway to Halifax, kids love (as do adults) Shubenacadie Wildlife Park, about 5 miles from Exit 11 off NS-102. It's a large zoo featuring just Nova Scotia animals, instead of the usual lions tigers and kangaroos.

If you have time (and two weeks should be plenty) visit Prince Edward Island, easily the most quaint corner of North America. Take the car ferry from Pictou, Nova Scotia to PEI (1 hr 15 minutes), then return by Confederation bridge, at 9 miles long one of the grandest in the world.

There's so much more I could add. Don't hesitate to ask if you have more questions.



5. Re: Portland to Nova Scotia

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