Nova Scotia has incredible cities and shores.
Can you imagine endless sandy beaches, the smell of salt air, and some of the friendliest people in Canada? This is Nova Scotia, home of celebrated writers, musicians, artists, and more universities per capita than the rest of the country. While the province of Nova Scotia is a popular travel destination for thousands of visitors each year, for me it was home. I grew up on Cape Breton Island and, while I don’t get back very frequently these days, I’m still eager to share my five favourite things I love about Nova Scotia (oh, and also a few drawbacks as well).
1.) Route 366.
My very best advice to anyone driving to Nova Scotia is to choose secondary road Route 366 in lieu of the regular highway. In my opinion, this striking coastal drive, hugging the north shore of Cumberland and Colchester County, is the finest in the province. Favourite stops of mine include the Tidnish ice cream barns, Amherst Shores Provincial Park, Seagull Pewter, Jost Vineyards, Raven Art Gallery in Tatamagouche, MacDonald’s Cove Preservation Site and so many more! Route 366 is an essential stop for me during each and every trip to Nova Scotia.
This energetic waterfront city is home to some fantastic pubs and restaurants, superb historic sites such as Pier 21 and the Citadel, and unique treats like the observatory at St. Mary’s University and the Tall Ships Festival. If you have a chance to visit Halifax, I recommend taking in a play at the Neptune Theatre, following a self-guided walking tour of the downtown core, dropping by the Nova Scotia Art Gallery, and visiting the beautiful architecture at Province House.
Endless universities and colleges, several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and multiple languages, such as Mi’kmaq, Acadian French, and Gaelic, add to the rich cultural fabric of Nova Scotia. Celtic music can be heard on every radio station and Cape Breton Island is home to over a dozen world famous authors. Art, culture, music, dance, literature, folklore, and history fans will fall in love with Nova Scotia!
The beaches of Nova Scotia are among the best in the country, with endless expanses of fine, soft sand and warm waters. Naturally, they are perfect in the summer and there's nothing like a dip in the balmy Atlantic Ocean, but that doesn't mean you cannot enjoy them year round. There's nothing I love more than the proverbial "long walk on the beach" in fall, winter, and spring. In fact, the only season I don't love is jellyfish season!
Nova Scotia’s charming lighthouses are famous across Canada and the tiny village of Peggy’s Cove is a prime example of their beauty and grace. Unfortunately, the future of these delightful structures is in danger, as they have been decommissioned by the federal government and will likely fall into ruin and disrepair unless individually adopted by a charity group or individual. If you want to help preserve these iconic buildings, the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society can help.
And now for the 3 things I like the least about Nova Scotia...
1.) Transportation costs:
While cheap flights to Halifax are abundant, regional flights to Sydney and elsewhere are very expensive. Ferries are equally extravagant. We've never experienced the Saint John to Digby ferry due to the high cost, but we did splurge on year and took the now-defunct CAT ferry from Portland, Maine to Yarmouth Nova Scotia and paid hundreds and hundreds of dollars for the privilege.
The definition of forever has to be driving from Yarmouth to Sydney. This seemingly tiny province is ridiculously long! We have spent dozens of misguided hours on what we thought were coastal or scenic drives, only to be just puttering along in the non-descript woodland of the province.
3.) Crazy family members. You know who you are!
As always, I welcome and encourage your feedback. Have you been to Nova Scotia before? What is your favourite place in the province?
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