Our Nova Scotia road trip Part 2: markets, darn good coffee and more

Did you catch Part 1 of our summer road trip? I shared our favorite eats, views and trails.

We kept up a rigorous pace for our family road trip to Nova Scotia, but it never felt overwhelming for a couple of reasons:

  • the province is quite small, so even our bigger driving days meant only a couple hours in the van.
  • there are no mega metropolises outside of Halifax to navigate through, only clearly marked small towns and villages and so we traveled the 2600 kilometers without getting lost. Success!
  • we took plenty of breaks…I was forever requesting a roadside stop to take photos, and we made time along the way for local markets, antique shops and, of course, good coffee.

More on that last subject after the jump, along with my remaining six highlights from our trip.

Lunenburg frontageLunenburg wharf. Sigh.

What was our  crazy itinerary? Here it is in a nutshell:

  • Montreal > Halifax (1.5 hr flight).
  • Halifax > Amherst (for a short detour to PEI).
  • Pictou > Antigonish > Cheticamp.
  • Pleasant Bay > Ingonish >Baddeck > Louisbourg.
  • Sydney > Truro > Peggy’s Cove.
  • Halifax > Mahone Bay > Lunenburg.
  • Broad Cove > Kejimkujik National Park > Annapolis Royal > Digby.
  • Bear River > Wolfville > Halifax.
  • And many, many stops along the way!

color of lunenburg, nsColors of Lunenburg.

7. Halifax

To be perfectly honest, I put away my big camera and just enjoyed Halifax. I also needed two hands free for all the fantastic food we chased down around the city, oh, and for holding small hands in mine as we walked the bustling streets.

In his travel journal, Noah penned our full day in Halifax as his ‘Best Day’. Perhaps it had something to do with riding (and driving!) Theodore the Tugboat, maybe a bacon cheeseburger at Brooklyn Warehouse, or maybe the afternoon swim in the hotel pool.

Theodore the Tugboat in Halifax, NS

Other highlights?  Fish tacos on Murphy’s the Cable Wharf. The brilliant concept of Lost Cod (we had two T’s made). Viewing Halifax from the Citadel and feeling our bodies shake at the roar of the cannon firing. Sipping the acclaimed Nova 7, slurping oysters, and sampling more seafood at the town’s newest hot restaurant Edna (it was full of chefs – that’s always a clue) with Kathy of Eat Halifax. Poking around antique shops in the Hydrostone District. Getting caught in the rain at the Public Gardens and not caring a whit.

Halifax, big props to you. We will be back.

8. Peggy’s Cove

Foggy Peggy's Cove

If I learned anything while in Nova Scotia it is that the weather can change in a matter of minutes: “Don’t like the weather? Wait five minutes” is how the saying goes.

When we drove into Peggy’s Cove, the lighthouse was completely socked in with fog and a misty rain was falling softly. By the time we had tumbled out of the van and collected our belongings, the fog had lifted and there was nothing but blue skies as far as one could see over the ocean. Marvelous.

Peggy's Cove

This charming little town stole our hearts. Amazingly, it remains quaint and un-touristy despite the buses that roll up to the lighthouse full of gawkers. Thanks to the recommendations of locals on Twitter, we found our coffee fix at Espresso on Deck (Update: now since closed and has become a boutique) just down the hill from the visitor’s center.

9. Farmer’s Markets

They take their support of local business to a whole new level in Nova Scotia. There was standing room only at the Halifax Seaport Market on Saturday morning.

We were fortunate to have our stay in Lunenburg coincide with their weekly farmers market. I’ve seen quite a few local markets in my time, but the more I think about it, this one topped them all.

Farmers Market: Lunenburg, NS

Lunenburg Market flowers

Lunenbur Farmers Market

This gorgeous produce was at the Hutten Family Farm stand, which apparently sells out every Thursday. I can see why. Okra in Canada? That’s different!

10. Gooood Coffee

Laughing Whale Coffee

I need not have feared sourcing great coffee on our road trip, as we were happy to find the local coffee scene is alive and well in Nova Scotia with roasters all over the island.

Here are some of our favorite cups of joe:

Coffee for twoBreakfast at Two if By Sea.

11. Annapolis Valley

I may or may not have made tentative house swapping plans for next summer with Breanne of This Vintage Moment, who lives in Wolfville, basically the heart of the gastronomical center of all of Nova Scotia.

We dashed into Gasperau Vinyards (and fell for their highly drinkable rose), sampled cheese and gelato (but not together) at Fox Hill Cheese House, and sipped lattes at the local roastery, Just Us! But all that was merely a tantalizing sampling off all the region has to offer.

We will be back, if only to tour the Benjamin Bridge winery, home of our favorite sip of the trip: the Nova 7 sparking wine.

12. Goooood Sleeps

Lastly…a few have asked about our accommodations, so I’ll make mention of them. They ranged from the pull-out sofa in my sister’s spare room to your average Best Western to the sprawling Inverary Resort in Baddeck.

How many of you know that a good night’s rest is ohsoessential for the making of one happy family on a road trip? We were thankful for every place we laid our head, but a few places made us feel extra special.

Cozy fireplace at Digby Pines ResortRelaxing at Digby Pines.

  • Digby Pines Resort and Spa gave us a cottage with a fire already laid. Since we traveled most of our trip with my sister, Danny’s brother and their 3 dogs, it was lovely to have a ‘common room’ to stay up late and chit-chat in together. The guys also packed in a full round of golf in the morning. Fore! PS. Room service rocks and so does Digby’s Canadian Eh! Burger with smoked bacon, not that I would know anything about that.
  • We loved the cosy Inverary Resort in Baddeck for many reasons. My sister and I made good use of the hot tub after the kids went to bed and the next morning, the boys got their sillies out on the large playground.
  • The Point of View Suites hosted us for their very authentic Beggar’s Banquet, which was heaps of fun and even more heaps of good food. We dressed up for the occasion, too.
  • Lunenburg Arms Hotel had great views, bright clean rooms, and enough space for us to spread out and get really comfortable.
  • Chocolate Lake Best Western had a terrific view of the lake and had the aforementioned indoor pool that the kids and Danny made use of. The place was very family-friendly – and served breakfast as of 6:30. Thank goodness, as this mama needed her early coffee fix.

Disclaimer: This post was partially sponsored by the Nova Scotia Tourism Board. Yep, they helped us get around the province and made terrific suggestions for our itinerary. I am grateful for their partnership in helping our family explore this amazing province and bring our experiences to you.

Farmer’s markets, good coffee or the Halifax harbour? What would draw you to visit Nova Scotia?

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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  1. So gorgeous, Aimee! My family often vacationed in Canada when I was growing up, but always the western provinces, since it was very easy to drive up from Montana. I would absolutely love to explore the eastern provinces more though.

  2. I’m absolutely loving these posts, and am TOTALLY stealing some of these ideas. Thanks for putting all the time into this!! xo

  3. You’ve encouraged us to try this road trip next year (after doing a road trip in the eastern US coast this summer for two weeks). Question: I saw a dog in one of your pictures. Did you take one along? How dog-friendly did you find the town/hotels/restaurants? Thanks for taking us along on your beautiful journey.

    • Good question. We car pooled with my sister who has three pups. Most places we stayed in were pet friendly and indeed the province in general is VERY welcoming of pets.

  4. Gorgeous! The pictures really tell such a story. What did you shoot your pictures with?
    Nova Scotia reminds me a bit of Ireland, but without flying across the pond!

  5. I love your travel posts Aimee! The pictures are so gorgeous!

  6. What fantastic reviews and links you are doing! My husband is from British Columbia and we’re right on the US border (he works in Canada) in Blaine, WA, while we await my immigration. We can’t wait to explore all of Canada, and these are great ideas for when we’re able to visit the Western part of Canada. I love all your photos!
    Sarah M

  7. I began following you on Instagram as you were in the midst of traveling and loved all your pictures, especially PEI (one of my dream destinations!) Thank you for your amazing pictures! Do you feel that this trip could be accomplished on a lower budget? Camping, etc? We live all the way in NC, so this trip would cost a pretty penny just getting up there. Any advice would be appreciated!

    • Hi Amy,

      We found the Maritimes to be very affordable. More than once Danny and I exclaimed over menu prices or entrance fees to museums. (Like a family pass was $12 for some attractions. What?!) There was camping ALL over the province, in fact, I thought that once our youngest was a little bit older, that would be SO fun. It’s certainly drivable from NC, just pack a big cooler! We had a small one, and I would freeze the ice pack every night in the hotel. We would stock up on normal snacks at the grocery store or markets – yogurt, carrots, berries and the like – and that kept us from being tempted to stop at every taco or ice cream stand. Sometimes. 😉

  8. LOVE all the food and I seriously adore a GOOD cup of coffee. It’s the best!!

  9. Love the colorful pictures of the fruit stands!!

  10. So fantastic! I’m head-over-heels in love with this trip!!! Thanks so much for sharing:)

  11. Juli vrotney says

    love all the photos….if I had the money…we would visit….sounds like a great place to visit or live. Glad you had so much fun.

  12. Ohhh this is a dream trip of mine! I hope I can re-create it someday. 🙂 So, so lovely.

  13. Ahhhh….I’m always up for darn good coffee & farmers markets!

  14. can I come next time!! Looks amazing

  15. I’m making note of those coffee shops to try, we’ve only been to a couple of them and that’s pretty high on our list of travel as well.

    So lovely to have shared a latte and conversation with you. XO

    • They are lifesavers, as you probably well know. We stopped twice at the one in Sydney. It’s across from a nice park where the kids could run around, as they like to do. 😉

  16. Gorgeous photos, Aimee!! I have always wanted to visit Nova Scotia-thanks for the wonderful recommendations! 🙂

  17. Your trip sounds amazing! I am curious thought – did you and your sister marry brothers?

  18. Your trip sounds amazing! I am curious though – did you and your sister marry brothers?

  19. Beautiful photos, Aimee! I enjoyed reading all about your trip. My favorite photo is of Noah. No wonder it was his favorite day with that tugboat drive/ride. So cute! So glad you could make it and that you plan to return. Thanks for sharing with your readers! xo

  20. Ashley | Spoonful of Flavor says

    Looks like you have a great time. I love the fresh flowers!

  21. Jenny @ The Brunette Baker says

    Fabulous post Aimee! It’s crazy how sometimes the best playgrounds are only a few hours from one’s own backyard. Your photos and thorough descriptions make it almost impossible not to visit. Wonderfully written! XO

  22. Another Amy says

    Thank you so much for these posts! We are doing a very similar road trip (almost the same stops but reverse order) leaving from Ottawa on Saturday. It’s great to have some current ideas of what we should be checking out.

  23. Aimee, I really enjoyed following your travels on instagram. These pictures and posts take the cake. Now I have it in my heart to one day visit Canada and its maritime provinces. I’m pinning Peggy’s Cove. Just beautiful!

  24. Would you say this is a kid friendly trip? I
    would love to do this but not sure how much fun it would be for kids. My girls would be 5 and 9. Thx

  25. Smithf271 says

    Very nice! dbffckkcga

  26. Hi Aimee,
    How long did this trip take you?

    Thanks so much!

  27. Amiee I enjoyed reading your post on Nova Scotia. I was curious what month you traveled in and if you would some suggestions to our Nova Scotia trip planned in July. I had posted looking for suggestions on Tripadvisory and have gotten mixed reviews that we are trying to see to much to fast and that we should slow down a little. Which brings me to another reason I enjoyed your post because it sounds that you and your family also went from town to town each day. So I’ve listed our plimanary itinerary for any suggestions.
    My mom and I have a trip planned July 7-17. We will be flying into Halifax on the 7th and staying there over night. We get into Halifax around noon so once we pick up our rental car we are planning to go check in to our hotel and then go and check out Peggy’s Cove & the if time alows that even to walk along the waterfront in Halifax.
    The next morning we are going to Lunenberg & are planning on doing the walking tour and then having lunch. We then will drive to Digby where we will be staying night 2. Any suggestions in Digby?
    Day 3 & 4 drive into New Brunswick and where we are staying near the Hopewell Rocks for 2 nights. So we will see either high or low tide when we arrive. The next day we are going to drive to Fundy Nat. Park and then back to the hotel for the night.
    Day 5 drive over to PEI & we are going to do a 4.5 hour island tour and will stay the night.
    Day 6 take the ferry back over to Nova Scotia and stay the night in Pictu.
    Day 7,8 &9 drive over to Cape Britton and stay in Cheticamp for the night. Drive on the Cabot trail and stay the night in St. Ann’s. Next morning go to the Fortress of Louisbourg and then spend the evening and we also have reservations for the Beggars dinner and will stay the night. (While in CB we wanted to do a whale watching so after reading you post maybe we will go with the one you recommend)
    Day 10 spend more time in area if we will necessary and drive back over to Novia Scotia and stay the night back in Halifax.
    Day 11 fly out.
    Sorry this is so long but also thank you for taking the time to read it.

  28. Aimee,
    Did you plan ahead with hotel reservations or did you wing it? Just wondering if you could just go wherever and find a room without any problem. Planning to go in July this year. Thanks so much. Will be happy if out trip is half as good as yours was. You make it sound so great.

    • Hi Kevin,
      We planned ahead with reservations, which I strongly recommend for ANY travel in the Maritimes. It is still so remote and while accommodations do exist, they are few and far between. Also, these provinces are gaining popularity and July is peak season for tourism. They will sell out. Every single place.

      Enjoy your time!!

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