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Hit the Road


There’s a lot to see and do in Halifax, but on a glorious summer day, it’s hard to beat the allure of a road trip. Whatever your taste, you’ll find an attractive destination near Halifax

By: Trevor J. Adams


About a 45-minute drive west of Halifax on Route 333, you’ll come to the historic fishing village of Peggy’s Cove. Ramble amongst the homes, fish sheds, and small local businesses, and you’ll see fishermen preparing for their next excursion on the wild North Atlantic, just as their ancestors have for generations. Perched on the rocks above the ocean is the village’s iconic lighthouse, one of the most-photographed sites in Nova Scotia. Here you’ll also find The Sou’wester, a friendly family restaurant that has been serving boiled lobster, seafood chowder, and fish and chips for five decades. (The home-style gingerbread is a local favourite).

Photo: Tammy Fancy

Continue west on scenic Route 3 for about 130 kilometres, and you’ll make your way through the picturesque seaside villages of Chester and Mahone Bay. Your final destination on this itinerary is Lunenburg. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the town is noted for its distinct historic architecture, and large assortment of world-class restaurants, galleries, and boutiques. It’s also the home port of the Bluenose II schooner, which graces the Canadian dime. While here, be sure to visit the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic. Meet retired fishermen and learn about the East Coast’s fishing heritage from a plethora of exhibitions and artifacts.


Photo: HRM


Nova Scotia’s wild and rugged Eastern Shore is the perfect destination for hikers, kayakers, and beach lovers. About an hour’s drive east of the city on Highway 107, you’ll come to Clam Harbour Beach. This giant sandy beach is a local favourite, offering spectacular ocean vistas, good (albeit a bit chilly) swimming conditions, and balmy ocean breezes. On August 12, it hosts the Clam Harbour Sand Castle Competition.

Also in this area, you’ll find Memory Lane Heritage Village in nearby Lake Charles. This living-history village re-creates life in a 1940s-era rural Nova Scotian village, with several carefully restored buildings and expert guides and interpreters. It hosts special events throughout the summer, including the Atlantic Canada Harmonica Festival on August 11. And while you’re there, try a traditional meal in the cookhouse.


Photo: Trevor J. Adams


Heading northwest from Halifax on scenic Route 1 will lead you to the fecund Annapolis Valley. It’s known as “the breadbasket of Nova Scotia” and you’ll see why, with lush farms, orchards, and vineyards everywhere you look. En route, take a short detour into Ashdale and you’ll discover the charming little Meander River Farm craft brewery. It’s a great place to discover unique Nova Scotian beers and other farm products. (Phone ahead, hours vary).

Back on track to the Valley, you’ll next come to the Avondale Sky Winery & Restaurant in Windsor. Located in a restored church, this little gem of a spot offers a variety of wines, with tasty food pairings in the restaurant. Also in Windsor, you’ll discover the Schoolhouse Brewery, another small spot serving local (English-style) brews.

As you continue, keep an eye out for the many markets and produce stands (often a simple table at the end of a farm’s driveway) selling seasonal local produce. And history buffs will want to make a stop at Grand-Pré National Historic Site to learn about Nova Scotia’s early Acadian settlers.

The next major town you’ll come to is Wolfville. Just before you hit the downtown, you’ll come to Luckett Vineyards, one of the many wineries in this region. There’s a wine bar on site, and it hosts special events throughout the season. Also in Wolfville is Paddy’s Pub, a neighbourhood favourite brewpub serving house-made beers and hearty pub food.

There are many more wineries, breweries, and restaurants to explore in this region. If you decide to stay longer, drop by a visitor-info centre for a free guidebook.


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



Google Chooses Three Canadian Sites as World Wonders


Google counts Ottawa

As part of its new World Wonders Project, Google has chosen three Canadian heritage sites to share the spotlight with Versailles, the ancient temples of Kyoto in Japan and Yellowstone National Park in the U.S. as some of the top heritage sites around the globe worth seeing—virtually, at least. (more…)

Sledding Hill Lavender Syrup, Nova Scotia

By Kat Tancock

Based out of Bear River, in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley, Sledding Hill is a small farm that grows market produce, vegetable starts and ornamental plants. But it’s with their packaged products that owners Martin McGurk and Gordon Tingley, originally from Vancouver, get most creative. Their catalogue includes lavender and chili-lemon sugars, jellies and simple syrups, as well as lavender pepper, a mixture of black peppercorns, ground lavender florets and citrus peel.

The lavender simple syrup is a hit down in Lunenburg, where you can buy it at Ironworks Distillery and sample it in the subtly floral lavender martini at Fleur de Sel, one of Atlantic Canada’s best restaurants and a Gold Medal Plates gold award winner. (more…)

3 Easy Fall Day Trips from Halifax

By Candice Walsh

One of the joys of travelling Nova Scotia is the ease of getting around the province by car. When Halifax starts feeling a little too close for comfort, you can hightail it out of there with a moment’s notice. You don’t even need to go overnight—just go.


Homegrown Spirits at Ironworks Distillery, Nova Socia

By Kat Tancock

The picturesque town of Lunenburg, NS, is about an hour’s drive south of Halifax and a popular destination for visitors to Atlantic Canada due to its rich German and maritime history and relaxed seaside vibe.

While touring this UNESCO World Heritage Site, designated as a National Historic District by the Canadian government, stop in at the Blacksmith’s Shop on Kempt Street, right near the water, for a visit to Ironworks Distillery, the province’s first micro-distillery. Founded in 2009, it offers tastings and purchases of its spirits, made based on local ingredients.

On our visit, we sampled the apple vodka (it goes down smooth and has a true apple flavour) and blueberry liqueur: like all their fruit liqueurs, it’s made with less sugar so the taste of the fruit shines through. (It goes very well on ice cream, and we’re envisioning a Nova Scotian variation on the Kir Royale.) Apple brandy is also popular, and there’s also a rum from Newfoundland molasses (albeit from imported sugarcane, of course). If you’re flying home, make sure to ask for bubble wrap to keep the bottles protected in your checked luggage.

Ironworks Distillery
2 Kempt Street, Lunenburg, NS