Fly high, get the blues or travel in time—Nova Scotia’s best, within a short drive of Halifax.
There is no shortage of things to do in Halifax this summer, but if wanderlust strikes you, you’ll also discover many fantastic finds within day-tripping distance of Halifax.
HAVE THE BLUES?
From August 9 to 11, the Truro Raceway and Exhibition Grounds in Bible Hill (a one-hour drive north of Halifax on Highway 102) hosts the Dutch Mason Blues Festival. The festival is named for deceased Halifax blues legend Dutch Mason, the man B.B. King calls “the Prime Minister of the Blues.” This year’s performers include the Blues Brothers, Guitar Shorty, Lucky Peterson, Shirley King, Powder Blues and James Cotton. In addition to the smokin’ music, the festival features a BBQ competition, a custom motorcycle show, vendors galore and more.
You’ve never seen Nova Scotia like this. East Coast Balloon Adventures depart 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 $250 per passenger, with the balloon carrying four passengers plus the pilot.
A 50-minute drive east of Halifax on Highway 7, the Memory Lane Heritage Village is a “living history” museum, re-creating life in a typical 1940s Nova Scotian fishing village. There are 17 restored buildings on site, including a mill, barn, mine, general store, church and homestead. Enjoy a hearty lunch at the traditional camp Cookhouse restaurant. 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 17.
You’ll know it when you see it: 45 minutes west of Halifax on Route 333 is the fishing village of Peggy’s Cove. Perched on the rocks above the crashing Atlantic waves, its iconic lighthouse is the province’s most-photographed site. There’s lots of space to clamber around the shore and take in the ocean’s beauty, just take care to avoid the 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.
FOLLOW THE LIGHT
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, Large Marge’s Diner and the Knot Pub. See Nova Scotia’s sailing ambassador, the Bluenose II, being rebuilt in her homeport. On the waterfront, the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic tells how life on the sea shaped generations of Maritimers.
RIDE THE WAVE
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. Numerous companies offer daily tours from the Shubenacadie and Maitland areas (a 45- to 60-minute drive north of Halifax on Highway 102). On high-powered Zodiac boats, you’ll race out to meet the rushing waves, splash around and experience the power of nature firsthand. www.novascotia.com
A 45- to 60-minute drive north of Halifax on Highway 101, you’ll find some of Nova Scotia’s most celebrated wineries. In the last decade, the province’s wine industry has exploded, with local wineries winning accolades worldwide. Here are two local favourites: on the Avon Peninsula, bracketed by the Avon and St. Croix rivers, the Avon Sky Winery has quickly emerged as one of the country’s best, winning multiple awards: most recently, two silvers and a bronze at the Finger Lakes International Wine Championship. At the western end of the Annapolis Valley in Grand Pré, Domaine de Grand Pré is the province’s oldest operating winery, and home to the elegant
La Caveau restaurant. winesofnovascotia.ca