Our family had one week to see all of the attractions around Halifax, Nova Scotia — and still get some relaxing time too! We actually feel we succeeded in this goal, so I thought I would share our itinerary in case it might be helpful to you and your family.
Picking a Home Base
We didn’t want to stay in Halifax itself because we wanted the quiet and natural surroundings that one often can’t find in the city. Plus, cities can be expensive. Instead, we chose a small fishing village called Hubbards Cove as our home base. As I often do, I found a cottage for our vacation via an online property rental site. I was a little disappointed with our rental, so unfortunately I can’t recommend it to you. However, Hubbards itself is just so lovely and many other accommodation options exist, including cottage rentals at Hubbards Cove Inn, which I toured and was impressed by the modern amenities and sheer convenience in the space it offered a family.
Day One: Hubbards Cove
After a two-day road trip to arrive to Hubbards Cove, we welcomed a day to simply enjoy our new home base. There are ten gorgeous beaches in the area, all within a few minutes drive. Our family’s absolute favorite beach in the bunch was Queensland Beach because it was a beautiful long beach with warm water (well, warm for Nova Scotia!) that was crystal clear and fresh.
Hubbards Cove has a good-sized grocery store that provided all we needed for breakfast and a picnic lunch, and for a good expresso coffee, we stopped into the Trellis Cafe right on Main Street. For dinner, one must (must!) go the The Shore Club, which is open from Wednesday through to Sunday for dinner (4 pm to 8pm). Extremely welcoming and family-friendly, this restaurant is a throw-back to another era where lobster suppers are served with live bands.
Day Two: Peggy’s Cove
Home to one of the most recognizable lighthouses in the world, Peggy’s Cove is a small, wind swept-fishing village that is regularly swarmed by tourists. Despite this, I still recommend that you come and take in the beauty of this picturesque little place. Pack a picnic and then enjoy the view and the Atlantic ocean spray from the comfort of the sun-warmed, granite rocks that surround the Peggy’s Point Lighthouse.
Arrive before noon or after 4pm to avoid the masses and you can enjoy a free guided walking tour from the visitor information center that will fill you in on the history of this little community, first founded in 1811. It is also worth stopping in to pay respects at the Swissair Flight 111 Memorial, just one kilometer down the road at The Whalesback.
Day Three: Artist Studios
The area in and around Hubbards is filled with artists who come to live in this inspiring part of the world. In July, there is a “Celebrate Art” festival — a 10-day celebration of art that allows visitors to tour the home studios and commercial galleries in the area.
We particularly enjoyed our visit to the home studio of Gillian Murdoch at Boutiliers Point, who offered us cold ice tea and a leisurely look at her pottery, as well as that of Century Home B&B and Gallery in Blandford, where Mieke Martin’s pottery studio and garden and adjoining garden are so idyllic that you will be tempted to run off and move out East yourself! For coffee or lunch break, stop into one of the many quaint seaside villages on the route.
Day Four: Halifax
The city of Halifax itself is not to be missed. We chose to spend our day meandering along the Halifax Waterfront Boardwalk. Impeccably well-planned, the Boardwalk includes a mix of museums, cool condo living, restaurants (the casual dining area of Salty’s was fabulous), children’s play structures, shops filled with local wares, and even a beach volley court. On Saturdays, the place is alive with buskers, food vendors, and activities. Also not to be missed is at the far end of the boardwalk is the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21.
Day Five: Lunenburg
I have yet to meet someone who didn’t enjoy the town of Lunenburg! This was not our first visit, and hopefully it won’t be our last either. Recognized by the World Heritage Committee with a UNESCO designation, one of Lunenburg’s greatest appeals is its architecture. Houses, business, and churches from the 1700s and early 1800s — in brightly painted colors — are still in use today.
Half of our group headed off for a couple of hours to the marina to visit the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic and the Talls Ships, while the other half took off to visit the interesting boutiques. (Can you guess which group I was in? I could have spent an entire day admiring the quirky homemade wares at Dots & Loops!)
Day Six: The Bay of Fundy
The Bay of Fundy, with the highest tides in the world, is the longest of all the day trips from Hubbards, but we definitely didn’t want to miss it. The drive is about 1.5 hours, but needs to be timed according to the tidal times. Ideally, you want to arrive before the tide starts to come in so you can experience the dramatic differences of before and after. We decided upon Evangeline Beach, kicked off our shoes and enjoyed exploring the mud flats. (Caution: the red mud is very messy! Bring a large container of water and a towel for cleaning your feet afterwards.) Once the tide came in, we enjoyed the view and the most massive ice cream cones I have ever seen for $1.50 from the beach-side shop.
On the way back from Evangeline Beach, history buffs will want to stop into Grand-Pre, which was one of the largest Acadian settlements and the site of a mass deportation in 1755. The grounds are free to visit, but there is a fee to enter the small museum within the visitor center. At the parking lot furthest away from the visitor center, you’ll find picnic benches sitting perfectly under enormous trees for a family break.