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Summer explorations

By Trevor J. Adams

Whether you’re soaring above it all, watching history come alive, or sampling a fine wine, Halifax is perfectly located for day-trip adventures


Photo: NS Tourism Agency

Discover Nova Scotian wines in the Annapolis Valley. Photo: NS Tourism Agency

Over the last few years, Nova Scotia has become Canada’s hottest new wine destination. Vintners around the province are producing outstanding wines in a variety of styles, to international acclaim. Conveniently, you’ll find several of those wineries in the Annapolis Valley, about a 90-minute drive northwest of Halifax. The friendly wineries, many in spectacular natural settings, include Avondale Sky, Benjamin Bridge, Gaspereau, L’Acadie, Blomidon Estates, Grand Pré and many others. Recently, the province’s wineries joined forces to launch “Tidal Bay,” Nova Scotia’s first wine appellation. A crisp, aromatic white wine, it pairs perfectly with fresh Atlantic seafood. To use the Tidal Bay designation, a wine must be made from specific grape varieties (all Nova Scotian grown), follow a strict set of standards and be approved every year by an independent blind tasting panel. Pro-tip: Leave the car behind and book a tour with a company like Grape Escapes or Ambassatours Gray Line.  winesofnovascotia.ca


Photo: NS Tourism Agency

Explore the past at Memory Lane Heritage Village. Photo: NS Tourism Agency

A 50-minute drive east of Halifax on Highway 7, the Memory Lane Heritage Village brings Nova Scotia’s past to life, re-creating a typical 1940s Nova Scotian fishing village. The 17 restored buildings include a mill, barn, mine, general store, church and homestead. History buffs will love the Archives Research Centre (but book an appointment in advance). The village hosts special events throughout the year; take in the sounds of the Atlantic Canada Harmonica Festival on August 15. There are lessons for beginners, masterclasses, concerts and more. www.heritagevillage.ca


Race the waves on the Shubenacadie River. Photo: NS Tourism Agency

Race the waves on the Shubenacadie River. Photo: NS Tourism Agency

With each cycle of the tides, the mighty waters of the Bay of Fundy surge back into the Shubenacadie River, offering a unique opportunity to go tidal-bore rafting. Few areas in the world are blessed with the high tides necessary to offer this unique adventure. Numerous companies take daily tours from the Shubenacadie and Maitland areas (a 45- to 60-minute drive north of Halifax). On high-powered Zodiac boats, you’ll race out to meet the rushing waves and crest over them, splash around and experience the power of nature firsthand. Pro-tip: Plan your visit around the full moon for the highest tides and wildest ride. www.novascotia.com


Peggy’s Cove lighthouse is a must-see for visitors. Photo: NS Tourism Agency

Peggy’s Cove lighthouse is a must-see for visitors. Photo: NS Tourism Agency

Explore Nova Scotia as few do with a helicopter tour from Vision Air Services. Narrated tours will zoom you to the Bay of Fundy, Peggy’s Cove or the Eastern Shore. Custom itineraries available. Or you can waft along at a slower pace with East Coast Balloon Adventures, departing from the heart of the Annapolis Valley (usually near New Minas, a 75-minute drive northwest of Halifax on Highway 101). Flying daily (when conditions permit) at dawn and dusk, the hot-air balloon soars as high as 610 metres above the ground, usually travelling three to 20 kilometres, depending on winds. The ride costs $275 per passenger, with the balloon carrying four passengers plus the pilot. www.eastcoastballoonadventures.com

Drive about 45 minutes west of Halifax on Route 333, and you’ll find one of Nova Scotia’s most-photographed sites: the iconic lighthouse, perched on the rocks above the Atlantic in the fishing village of Peggy’s Cove. In fair or foul weather, this is a must-see destination. There’s lots of space to clamber around the shore and take in the ocean’s beauty, but stay well clear of waves and slippery rocks. After you putter around the working fishing village, visiting shops and galleries, enjoy a slice of the signature gingerbread at the Sou’wester restaurant.


Historic Lunenburg is renowned for its distinctive and well preserved historic buildings. Photo: NS Tourism Agency

Historic Lunenburg is renowned for its distinctive and well preserved historic buildings. Photo: NS Tourism Agency

Continuing west, the Lighthouse Route wends its way to the picturesque village of Lunenburg, an hour’s drive on Highway 103. This historic community with its lovingly maintained architecture is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Great dining abounds, including the Old Fish Factory Restaurant and the Knot Pub. See Nova Scotia’s world-class sailing ambassador, the Bluenose II. Lunenburg is the iconic schooner’s home port and after extensive renovations, the vessel is again open to the public. On the waterfront, the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic tells how life on the sea shaped generations of Maritimers. museum.gov.ns.ca/fma



Winieries and Distilleries across Canada

Wine Region Photo: Canadian Tourism Commission

Italy and France are usually the first two countries that come to mind when wine regions are mentioned. But Canada has quite a few wineries and distilleries that boast some competition and enhance your stay in the country.  Here are a few of our favourites across the nation. (more…)