Nova Scotia is unique in that there are so many attractions and activities within a thirty-minute drive and even more if you want to head up to Cape Breton. There are 52 mentioned here but this is out of hundreds that abound.
1. Whale Watching: From Brier Island on the Bay of Fundy to Cape Breton there dozens are whale watching excursions that observe almost every species of northern whale.
2. Peggy’s Cove: The famed lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove has been a Nova Scotia icon for over a century.
3. Halifax Citadel: One of the oldest British fortresses still standing in North America. Re-enactors represent the 78th Highlander Regiment and life in the 1800’s.
4. Lunenburg: Home of the famed Bluenose schooner and UNESCO World Heritage site featuring homes from the time of King George III. Great seafood and museums.
5. Cabot Trail: Alexander Graham Bell thought that this mountain-to-sea highway traveled through the most beautiful scenery in the world.
6. Fundy Tidal Bore Rafting: Since the Bay of Fundy has the highest tides in the world the returning waters push a large front wave propelling rafts on a surf of whitewater.
7. Alexander Graham Bell Museum in Baddeck. Bell summered for over 30 years here and invented many items including the hydrofoil. The museum is one-of-a-kind.
8. Anne Murray Centre in Springhill: The Snowbird singer was born and raised in Springhill and there are hundreds of artifacts and testimonials including one from Elvis.
9. Halifax Public Gardens: Oldest Victorian gardens in existence.
10. Alexander Keiths Brewery: See where Mr. Keith brewed his famous India pale ale.
11. Maritime Museum of the Atlantic: Exhibits – original RMS Titanic, World War II and Halifax Explosion artifacts.
12. Titanic Graves: Faiview and Mount Olivet Cemeteries – a sobering tour.
13. Pier 21: “Canada’s Ellis Island” has many exhibits from 100 years of immigration.
14. Harbour Hopper Tours: Take an historic tour of the harbour in an amphibian craft.
15. Point Pleasant Park: Last bit of British soil in continental North America – a beautiful walk.
16. Bluenose II: This schooner was undefeated in the sailing races that came before the America’s Cup. It is usually moored in Lunenburg but travels to Halifax too.
17. Black Cultural Centre: Black history began in Nova Scotia at almost the same time as European history.
18. St. Paul’s Anglican Church: One of the last great wooden churches.
19. HMCS Sackville: The last of the World War II corvettes and actual sub-killer.
20. Quaker Whaler House: This Dartmouth whaling abode was built in 1786.
21. Province House: The symbol of independence for Nova Scotia was built in Charles Dickens time and the author, himself, visited it.
22. Gathering of the Eagles: Every February in Sheffield, Nova Scotia hundreds of bald eagles swarm in to feast on chicken carcasses thrown out by farmers. It is a birdwatcher’s dream.
23. Grou Tyme Acadian Festival: Every September artist and musicians celebrate the French ancestry of Nova Scotia.
24. Buskers Festival: For two weeks in August buskers from around the world gather in Halifax.
25. Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo: For 10 days in July there is a celebration of military marching bands, highland pipe bands as well as performers from around the world. This is one of the largest of its kind anywhere.
26. Grand-Pré National Historic Site: This park and museum is to commemorate the French culture that was brought to an abrupt halt when, in the late 1750’s, the British expelled the Acadians. A statue of H.W. Longfellow’s Evangeline keeps watch at the entrance.
27. Fortress Louisburg National Historic Site: This is a huge reconstructed fort in the manner of the original that protected King Louis IV’s entrance to Canada – complete with re-enactors.
28. Museum of Natural History: See Nova Scotia from a different angle – great exhibits.
29. Art Gallery of Nova Scotia: Art from the Group of Seven to folk art is shown here.
30. Historic Properties- Halifax: This is a great place to walk through historic buildings from the time of the early 1800’s and find fine shopping and dining.
31. Noon Gun – Halifax Citadel: At 12 noon every day (including Christmas) re-enactors charge a cannon on the Halifax Citadel and ignite the charge.
32. Cape Blomidon: This area of the Annapolis Valley juts out into the Bay of Fundy for a fantastic hike along the cliffs.
33. Joggins Fossil Cliffs: The exposed rocks show one of the most fabulous displays of fossilized plant life and small reptiles in North America.
34. Cape Forchu Lighthouse: Located in the southernmost city of Yarmouth this working lighthouse contains a tea room and museum.
35. Springhill Miner’s Museum: Go down a real coal mine.
36. Shubenacadie Canal: Hike or take a guided canoe trip from the Atlantic Ocean to the Bay of Fundy along an old barge route.
37. Lobster Suppers: In the summer in almost every part of Nova Scotia there are lobster boils put on by churches and other organizations to raise money for charities.
38. Mahone Bay: This quaint seaside town is the home of famous pewter shops, quilting establishments, great restaurants and colonial history.
39. Kejimkujik National Park: In many areas of the country one would have to travel many hours to get to a wilderness area. “Kejie” is only two hours away from Halifax.
40. Hydrostone Village: After the Halifax Explosion of 1917 a devastated area was rebuilt with concrete blocks and these residences exist today in a unique subdivision.
41. St. George’s Anglican Church: Built by the Duke of York in Halifax in 1801 this round church was almost destroyed by fire in 1994. Painstakingly rebuilt it has now retained its former glory.
42. Fall Leaves Tour: Many tourists flock to Cape Breton to begin their “autumn leaf tour” and follow the leaves turning color all the way south to Virginia.
43. Liverpool Privateer Days: Beginning on the weekend around July 1st of every year the town of Liverpool has a festival in praise of the “legalized pirates” that harassed the United States’ ships during the revolutionary War and the War of 1812. Pirates, red-coats and privateers abound!
44. Sea Kayaking: With its thousands of islands Nova Scotia is a sea kayaker’s dream.
45. Biking: Many outfitters are available to lead bicycle tours of Nova Scotia.
46. Golf: There are dozens of fine 9 and 18 hole golf courses with many spectacular ocean vistas.
47. Annapolis Royal: The first sustained European settlements in North America were at Annopolis Royal. The French village has been rebuilt and the British Fort Anne restored.
48. Baddeck: On Cape Breton’s Bas D’Or Lakes – ad inland sea – Baddeck is the launch point for the Cabot Trail. In addition it is a sailing and golf paradise.
49. Eastern Shore: This is one of the most scenic ocean drives in the province and leads from Dartmouth up to Canso, taking in Liscombe Falls and the rebuilt settlement of Sherbrooke Village.
50. Shearwater Air Museum: Shearwater features a history of aircraft that guarded the continent from submarines in two world wars. The museum has rebuilt displays including a Fairey Swordfish, the torpedo plane that stopped the Bismarck.
51. Cape Breton Highlands National Park: This famed hiking area is known for moose, bald eagles and osprey.
52. Sandy Beaches: There are over 100 sandy beaches in Nova Scotia with the ones on Northumberland Strait having the warmest water north of North Carolina.
If you are looking for more reasons to visit Nova Scotia, check out fellow travel blogger, Rob Taylor’s post on his favorite 30 things to do in Nova Scotia and his podcast episode on the Bay of Fundy and Nova Scotia Lighthouse Route.
There are many more attractions and reason to visit Nova Scotia. These can be explored by coming here and sampling these first 52! For more Nova Scotia information be sure to visit traveltonovascotia.com.
Alexa Meisler is the editorial director of 52 Perfect Days. Born in Paris, France she has since lived in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon. She currently resides in San Diego with her husband and son where they enjoy exploring California and Mexico.
Travel has always been a part of her life; traveling to such places as Morocco, Tangiers and Spain as a young child as well as taking many road trips to Mexico with her grandparents as a young girl. Since then, she has traveled abroad to locations such as Russia, Taiwan and throughout Europe.
Prior to working at 52 Perfect Days she was a freelance travel writer; focusing on family and women’s adventure experiences.