There are lots of places to see and things to do in Nova Scotia. As a guide, here are tips for travelers seeking Nova Scotia cottage rentals
or other attractions within the province (you can check out even more at the Perfect Places Vacation Rentals blog
Halifax Metro Area
Capital and largest city of the province, Halifax mixes its maritime history with the bustle of a modern-day urban environment. You can cruise along Halifax
Harbour or walk the length of it and see a display of tall ships interspersed with a number of maritime museums. You can watch the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo at the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site
or be entertained at the International Busker Festival.
If you’re more of a landlubber, you can hit the art galleries, boutiques, theaters, and museums of downtown Halifax, or take in a live music show at any of the pubs in town. If you take a smartphone with you when you travel, you can download an app to provide you with information on Halifax places and events.
Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore runs from the outskirts of Halifax north to Canso. Visitors can stop anywhere along the Marine Drive that connects Halifax with the Canso Causeway to view stretches of rugged Atlantic coastline or to enjoy any of the activities available on its beaches. The provincial beaches at Lawrencetown and Martinique are famous for their surfing, with an assortment of schools to help the novice hang five or ten alongside more experienced surfers, who can compete in Lawrencetown’s September Storm Classic. For those who prefer to show off their construction skills instead of their surfing skills, the Clam Harbour Beach Sand Castle Competition lets them pit their silica structures against those of other competitors.
The Eastern Shore also offers two living history villages, Sherbrooke Village and Memory Lane Heritage Village. If music festivals strike a chord with you, attend the Stan Rogers Folk Festival in Canso, which offers a mix of blues, bluegrass, Celtic, country, and rock with the folk music its namesake was noted for.
Cape Breton Island
Nova Scotia cottage rentals on Cape Breton Island provide access to some of the greatest natural scenery the province has to offer. Such vistas as the Highlands Mountains, the Bras d’Or Lakes in the island’s center, and the Margaree River Valley are available on the island four scenic trails: the Cabot Trail, the Ceilidh Trail, the Bras d’Or Scenic Drive, and the Fleur-de-lis/Marconi/Sydney Trails.
If drinking in the scenic views isn’t enough, you can drink in the island’s Celtic heritage at Iona’s Highland Village, where you can learn to pronounce the names on the signs that dot the island, as well as crafts, tales, and songs. Ceilidhs (“KAY-lees”) throughout the summer and the International Celtic Colours Festival in the fall further extend the Celtic culture. You can also visit the Fortress of Louisbourg and Alexander Graham Bell Historic Sites if you prefer to imbibe in military or scientific history.
Landing place of the first Scotsmen to settle in Nova Scotia, the Northumberland Shore region honors the people the province was named for at the Antigonish Highland Games and the Hector Festival, each featuring traditional Scottish dress, activities, and music. If the skirl of bagpipes grates on your ears, you may prefer the New Glasgow Riverfront Jubilee or the Pictou Lobster Carnival.
The Northumberland Shore also holds the distinction of having more warm-water ocean beaches than anywhere else in Nova Scotia or the other maritime provinces. You can experience other outdoor vistas by kayaking in Antigonish Harbor, going birding on the Wallace Bay Wildlife Trail, or going for the complete range of farmland, beach fronts, and salt marshes the region has to offer by traveling the length of the Sunrise Trail from Amherst to Auld’s Cove.
Bay of Fundy and Annapolis Valley
The fjord-like Bay of Fundy features the greatest tides anywhere on planet Earth, swelling up to 54 feet (16.5 meters). This high/low tide cycle has created dramatic seascapes along Nova Scotia’s west coast, which can be seen close-up by hiking or kayaking along the water’s edge. The wave cycle also creates a tidal bore with rapids that can be rafted like those of a whitewater river. The Bay of Fundy also abounds in marine mammals, including whales, porpoises, dolphins, and seals, as well as hosting a variety of bird life. The bay has long been a home to a variety of sea life; at low tide, you can examine the Joggins Fossil Cliffs UNESCO World Heritage Site, which features fossils that date back 350 million years.
The Annapolis Valley was the home of Nova Scotia’s earliest residents, the Mi’kmaq Indians, and was where explorer Samuel de Champlain brought the first colonists from France, the Acadians, to settle. Historic sites such as the Grand Pre-National and those at Port-Royal and Fort Anne tell their story. A statue of Evangeline, heroine of Longfellow’s poem, can be found at Grand Pre-National, while the Glooscap Trail that runs from Windsor to Amherst tells the story of the legendary Mi’kmaq shaman said to have mastered the Bay of Fundy’s tides and created the nearby Five Islands.
Yarmouth and Acadian Shores
Choosing a Nova Scotia cottage rental on the southwestern-most tip of the peninsula puts you in the Yarmouth and Acadian Shores region, whose Evangeline and Lighthouse Trails link this region to the adjacent Bay of Fundy/Annapolis Valley and South Shore regions. As the region’s name implies, it is steeped in Acadian culture, as evidenced by the village of Pubnico, which boasts a history and genealogy museum and an annual Acadian culture festival. The region also boasts both the massive Cape Forchu Lighstation in Yarmouth, the venerable Argyle Township Courthouse in Tusket, and St. Mary’s Church, the largest church in North America made of wood.
The South Shore region is dotted with over 20 lighthouses, the most famous being the granite stone lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove, with the Fort Point Lighthouse in LaHave another popular photo op. The South Shore was also a frequent target of American privateers near the end of the Revolutionary War; Liverpool’s Privateer Days re-enacts these battles for tourists fascinated with pirate lore. Other festivals include Shelburne’s Whirligig and Weathervane Festival and Mahone Bay’s Great Scarecrow Festival and Antique Fair.
Nova Scotia cottage rentals are available in each of the province’s regions. When choosing the right rental for you, consider the activities you enjoy and which region offers the most of those activities closest to where you want to be.