Family Camping in Nova Scotia

A list of the best spots for family camping in Nova Scotia, including local attractions, top beaches and good eats.

In the two years leading up to our move from Quebec to Nova Scotia, I was an armchair explorer of my future province. Due to circumstances that were beyond our control, it took a while to make the transition, and every day I yearned to be on the coast.

From my laptop, I traveled the Lighthouse Route, memorized provincial parks and bookmarked future trails to explore. I scoped out campgrounds and read their message boards on Trip Advisor.

Eventually, I did find myself on the other side of the Montreal to Halifax journey. I booked those campsites, frequented those cafés and traversed more coastal trails than I ever dreamed existed. It was worth the wait – and I was so glad I had done my research. Our first summer as Maritimers was a complete dream.

I say all that because I know many of you are stuck in your own province or state or country right now. Past travel feels like something from another lifetime – and future travel? Well, this is why we have to keep dreaming big.

Today’s post is for all of you dreamers. For those of you who message me and say ‘I can’t wait to visit Atlantic Canada!’ Specifically you adventurous bunch who have big plans for family camping in Nova Scotia. The major borders may be closed for now, but there is always next year.

Six of the Best Spots for Family Camping in Nova Scotia

Start your armchair dreaming now – today’s post highlights our favourite spots for family camping in Nova Scotia (so far).

You’ll notice that nearly all of these are provincial campgrounds. I have nothing against private…only many of them don’t take reservations and I am huge planner. When I’m camping with kids, I like to have the security of a reservation.

Please leave me your questions in the comments – I’d love to continue the discussion.

Wading in the warm waters near Blomidon

1. Blomidon Provincial Park

Best Of: Sea cliffs rising from the Bay of Fundy, while the world’s highest tides lap at their base. Sprawling, spacious campground. From here, explore Cape Split and Baxters Harbour.

Fuel up: Wolfville Farmers’ Market or Canning Valu Foods.

Escape to: Lightfoot & Wolfville winery and open air restaurant for relaxing over a bottle of rosé. The Noodle Guy for casual dining and take-out.

Snacks and bubbles at Lightfoot & Wolfville

2. Rissers Beach Provincial Park

Best of: Endless beach play and some of the warmest water in Nova Scotia. We book an ocean view site at Little Rissers and basically never want to leave. Based here, you can explore Crescent Beach and Bush Island Provincial Park.

Fuel up: LaHave Bakery

Escape to: Ploughman’s Lunch & Dairy Bar

Dinner prep at Little Rissers
The Ploughman’s Lunch
Freshly baked goods at LaHave Bakery

3. Thomas Raddall Provincial Park

Best of: Large, scenic campsites, plenty of hiking trails and the beach all to yourself. The potential to see and hear the wild seals from your oceanview campsite. Base yourselves here to explore the incredible Kejimkujik National Park Seaside.

Fuel Up: The Port Grocer

Escape to: The Quarterdeck

The breathtaking beauty of Thomas Raddall and surrounding beaches

4. Broad Cove Campground

Best of: Excellent, clean facilities in a huge campsite. Base camp for exploring Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

Fuel up: Neil’s Harbour Co-Op

Escape to: The Periwinkle Cafe

Sunrise at Broad Cove, Cape Breton
Crab & Egg Breakfast Sandwich at The Periwinkle Café

5. Meat Cove Campground

Best of: View, Views, Views! The most northern tip of Cape Breton delivers a wild, edge-of-the-world experience balanced out with excellent services and a divine beach.

Fuel up: Central Co-Op, Saint Margaret’s Village

Escape to: Meat Cove Chowder Hut (closed Thursdays)

Special note: Perhaps this spot is best for family campers with slightly older kids (say age 6+). It is RIGHT on the edge of the cliff. Also, the road in to the campground has a wildness all of its own. Consider yourself warned.

View from our campsite at Meat Cove
Meat Cove Chowder Hut has ocean views for days.

6. Five Islands Provincial Park

Best of: Scenic Day Hikes (pdf maps) and breathtaking views from nearly every campsite. We loved what we saw of Colchester County and can’t wait to explore more soon. From here explore Thomas Cove Coastal Reserve and much more.

Fuel up: Davis General Store & Fish Market ~ Get your Digby scallops, local clams and fresh strawberries here. The store is also well-stocked with anything you might need as far as grocery or camping.

View from Red Head Trail in Five Islands Provincial Park

Escape to: Rising Tide Bakery & Two Islands Brewery – is there any better combination than a brewery and a bakery?

Make an excursion to Wild Caraway Restaurant & Café (take-out available)

BONUS: Favourite Day Camping Spots around Nova Scotia:

These locations have all you need: incredible views, washrooms, picnic tables and plenty of space to let the kids run free.

  • Smugglers Cove
  • Bayswater Beach Provincial Park
  • Sandhills Provincial Park
  • Long Lake
  • Rainbow Haven Beach
  • Cabots Landing Provincial Park
  • Martinique Beach Provincial Park
  • Kejimkujik National Park Seaside
  • Hirtle’s Beach/Gaff Point
  • Five Islands Lighthouse Park
  • Thomas Cove Trail (no washrooms or picnic tables)

ALL images by the incomparable Tim and Angela Chin (they shot my cookbooks, remember!) I’m lucky enough to have best friends who are also supremely talented photographers, not to mention, kind and generous camping enthusiasts.

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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Comments

  1. So lovely!! Pinned this for later, and sent it to my husband. I’ve always wanted to visit the east of Canada!

    • Sarah – yay! It’s a hidden gem that so many Canadians have never experienced.

      • Doris Betts says

        Many life long Nova Scotians have not camped nor have they even bern to all of these areas of the province you describe, myself included. It’s always so interesting to learn what others who are not from here appreciate about our province. The Atlantic provinces as a whole are filled with nature’s beauty. We are very fortunate to have it all in our backyards. Thanks for sharing your favourite spots. I have saved them for future travel reference!

  2. Deborah Cotorceanu says

    Gorgeous post, as always. We are so fortunate to live in such an amazing spot. Come to our part of Cape Breton! Battery Provincial Park in St Peter’s is a great spot. Lighthouse. Forts. History. The Atlantic Ocean and the Bras d’Or Lakes. The Bras d’Or Lakes Inn has a lovely restaurant. Listen to live music at MacBouch. You can take a drive to nearby Isle Madame, have a picnic at Pondville Beach Provincial Park or lunch at The Groundswell, kayak in the protected coves, and visit the Isle Madame Historical Society/Le Noir Forge and learn about the history of the Bourque family in River Bourgeois and L’Ardoise. Up the road is the Celtic Music Interpetive Centre in Judique for more great music and Ceilidhs. Check out Grá (“earth to table”) in Ross Ferry. We have it all!

    • Thanks for all these suggestions, Deborah! We intend to explore every corner of Nova Scotia, that’s for sure!

    • I am from Isle Madame originally and I am happy to be heading there in a week. Check out la Goélette à Pépé cafe in Arichat for a delicious lunch, coffee, baked treat and learn the family histories of the island. Check out the Marina on Arichat Harbour, the 4th deepest harbour in the world. Explore the Notre Dame de l’Assomption cathedral, home of the first StFX university in the 1800s. Walk the eco trail along the coast in Boudreauville. Do some mackerel jigging off the wharf at the Cape Auget lighthouse. Get some fresh lobster or snow crab from Samson Enterprises to boil. Take your bikes on the many island trails. Launch a canoe on Grand Lake. Stay at the beautifully renovated Clairestone Inn or rent one of Robin’s fully equipped cottages on the harbour or at the Fisherman’s Cottage air bnb in the nearby Acadian village of Petit de Grat where you have your own wharf to enjoy as well as kayaks to explore the quiet harbour in your backyard. And enjoy some of the friendliest people you will ever meet!

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