Jul 062014

Road trip, food, wine… count me in! I love being behind the wheel heading down highways, new or familiar, and experiencing local food and wine along the way. So I was excited about a culinary trip in the South Shore and Bay of Fundy/Annapolis Valley regions of Nova Scotia to discover what’s local, fresh, and unique about the food and wine of this Canadian Maritime province.

"Traveling on a highway on a Nova Scotia road trip"

On the road in Nova Scotia

While there will be much more to come about this trip, including Nova Scotia’s fresh seafood and award-winning wineries, in future posts both here and on Dave’s Travel Corner, I wanted to give you a taste of my 5-day itinerary and list some of the must-see stops along the way. This will give you some hints of what’s to come about local food and wine specialties, history, culture, and nice people I met.

Start your engines! Time for a Nova Scotia road trip

Day 1 – Halifax to Lunenburg via Peggy’s Cove and Western Shore, 90 miles

After a lovely, but short, stay at the Westin Nova Scotian in the capital city of Halifax, my companions and I set off to Peggy’s Cove, less than an hour from Halifax.

Must see: Picturesque Peggy’s Cove lighthouse and harbor

You may have seen the lighthouse below in photos before. The Peggy’s Cove lighthouse is one of the most-photographed places in Canada. It might appear from the photo that I’m just about as tall as the lighthouse, but I assure you that’s not the case! Since this is a popular tourist attraction, we made a point to get there in the morning before most tourists arrive. Walk around on the rocks (watch your step!) for coastline vistas, and take a stroll along the road that winds down to the harbor to admire the picturesque boats and buildings. Chances are that you’ll also see a piper wearing a kilt in front of the lighthouse to complete the mood.

"Peggy's Cove lighthouse, village and a piper on the rocks"

Peggy’s Cove lighthouse, village and a piper on the rocks

Must visit: Swissair Flight 111 Memorial

As you’re leaving Peggy’s Cove, just a short drive away is the memorial pictured below honoring the victims of Swissair Flight 111 that went down here just a few miles off shore in 1998.

"Swiss Air Flight 111 Memorial, Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia"

Swiss Air Flight 111 Memorial

Indulge: Hand-made chocolates and pastries at the Back Door Bake Shop, Indian Harbour

Then it was time for snacks: we enjoyed delicious candies and pastries made by Kate Melvin at the Back Door Bake Shop (at Rhubarb Restaurant).  I can attest that the macaroons, chocolate chip cookies, and hand-made chocolates are absolutely delicious. We didn’t eat in Rhubarb Restaurant, but Chef Jon Geneau (shown below  left) is highly regarded in the area for his creative and seasonal dishes.

"Chef Jon Geneau at Back Door Bake Shop and Brian Allaway of Acadia Maple Products"

Top left: Chef Jon Geneau at Back Door Bake Shop, Right: Brian Allaway of Acadia Maple Products

Taste: Maple syrup at Acadian Maple Products

It’s all in the family at Acadian Maple Products. Brian Allaway (photo above on the right) first stumbled upon the idea to start producing syrup as a hobby using sap from trees in his backyard 20 years ago. The specialty at this family owned and operated business and retail shop is pure Nova Scotia maple syrup, but there are many other gourmet products, such as jams and preserves, made with fresh local ingredients.

Wine and dine: Atlantica Hotel & Marine Oak Island

"Chef Konrad at Atlantica Hotel & Marine Oak Island, Western Shore, Nova Scotia"

Chef Konrad at Atlantica Hotel & Marine Oak Island

The Atlantica Hotel and Marine Oak Island resort and restaurant has a great view overlooking Mahone Bay. Our delectable lunch was prepared for us in the kitchen of one of the resort’s villas by Chef Konrad and included a new eating experience for me — mussels! While there, we learned about the search for Captain Kidd’s treasure on nearby Oak Island. This has been going on for many years and the search continues.


Explore the town: Lunenburg Walking Tours

Shelah and Ashlee of Lunenburg Walking Tours showed us around some of this old rum-running town’s colorful and historic buildings. A ghost walk the next evening added a rather pleasantly eerie element to the town. There’s supposedly a resident ghost at the Mariner King Inn, the lovely place where we stayed for two nights. Can you see her looking out to sea from the top window of the building in the photo below (bottom right)? More later…..

"Colorful buildings and Mariner King Inn, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia"

Colorful buildings of Lunenburg, Mariner King Inn (bottom right, top left)

Imbibe: Ironworks Distillery

Pierre Guevremont and Lynne MacKay, have been crafting spirits — vodka, rum and brandy — in this old blacksmith’s shop since 2009. Our tastings were made even better with our “spirited” conversation with the proprietors. By the way, Ironworks Apple Brandy was a key ingredient in my own cocktail creation, the Nova Scotia Surprise.

"Pierre Guevremont and Lynne MacKay of Ironworks Distillery, Lunenburg"

Pierre Guevremont and Lynne MacKay of Ironworks Distillery, Lunenburg

Dine: Rime Restaurant

A filling and delicious dinner at the newly opened Rime Restaurant by Chef Jeffrey MacNeil followed by a stroll around the quiet town at night was the perfect ending to a great day.

Day 2 – From the land to the sea in Lunenburg

Sail: Harbor boat tour

"On the Lunenburg Whale Watching Tours boat on Lunenburg Harbour with Walter and Kevin"

Walter and Kevin; Behind the wheel on the whale watching boat

Ahoy, mate! Don’t worry, I had my hands on the wheel for only a short time and was expertly supervised by Walter Flower, the owner and captain of Lunenburg Whale Watching Tours. It was not yet high season for seeing whales (the water was still too cold), but we got a wonderful tour of Lunenburg Harbor heading out to sea.

"View of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia as we set sail on Lunenburg Harbour"

View of Lunenburg as we set sail in the harbour

Drive: Side trip to Blue Rocks from Lunenburg

It was highly recommended that we take a 6-mile side trip to the village of Blue Rocks from Lunenburg. This picturesque location is worthy of much more time that we had to spend on this picture-perfect day, but I was happy to get a glimpse and explore a bit. I loved the charming structures.

"Buildings with character -- typical of Blue Rocks, Nova Scotia"

A lovely scene in picturesque Blue Rocks

Learn: Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic

From our knowledgeable museum guide Nancy, we learned about the fishing heritage of the Canadian Atlantic coast at the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic.  It’s located in a building that was once a fish processing plant and has three floors filled with artifacts and displays.

"Shucking scallops, raw scallop, Fisheries Museum, Old Fish Factory restaurant, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia"

Shucking scallops, raw scallop, Fisheries Museum, Old Fish Factory restaurant

Be brave: Eat a raw scallop out of the just-shucked shell

Just outside of the museum in a shed on the wharf, Alex showed us how to shuck a scallop, although I declined to try it. However, I did accept a piece of the raw scallop and popped it into my mouth and chewed. It was better than I expected, but I still prefer my scallops grilled.

Wine and dine: Old Fish Factory Restaurant

On the 2nd floor of the museum building is the Old Fish Factory Restaurant & Ice House Bar where we had a plentiful dinner of lobster, scallops, mussels, oysters and more.

Day 3 – Lunenburg to Wolfville via Hall’s Harbour, 95 miles

I’ll have more to share about Lunenburg, but for now, let’s get on the road again! Leaving Lunenburg, we drove north through forests and the farmland of the Annapolis Valley to Hall’s Harbour located on the Bay of Fundy, which has the world’s highest tides making it one of the greatest natural wonders in the world.

Must see: The tidal bore of the Bay of Fundy

Each day 160 billion tons of water flows in and out of the bay. That’s more than the combined flow of all the world’s rivers and one of the reasons this was a finalist for the new 7 wonders of the world! The time between a high tide and a low tide is, on average, 6 hours and 13 minutes. Although we couldn’t stay for that long, you can see below the effect on the wharf while we had lunch. The tide rises as much as an inch a minute to the 40 foot high tide mark on the wharf when it comes back in.

"Bay of Fundy tide phenomenon Hall's Harbour - Top: boat in the water Bottom: Same boat 2 hours later as tide recedes "

Hall’s Harbour – Top: boat in the water Bottom: Same boat a short time later as tide recedes

Eat: Fresh lobster at Hall’s Harbour Lobster Pound

"Sharla Cameron of Hall's Harbour Lobster Pound grabbing a lobster from the tank to prepare for lunch"

Hall’s Harbour Lobster Pound General Manager, Sharla Cameron and my soon-to-be lunch lobster

Recently voted the “best lobster in Nova Scotia” according EastLink TV customers, Hall’s Harbour Lobster Pound is the place for lobster lovers who can order up their live lobster choice by size right from the tank.

Enjoy the view: The Look Off

Keep a look out for the Look Off as you travel near Canning from Hall’s Harbour. We might have missed the pull over spot if one of my companions hadn’t been there once before. It’s a great vista point for beautiful pastoral views of the Annapolis Valley and bay from above.

"View of the Annapolis Valley and Bay of Fundy from the Look Off near Canning, Nova Scotia"

View of the Annapolis Valley and Bay of Fundy from the Look Off

Taste: Sample the wines at Blomidon Estate Winery

Blomidon Estate Winery was a convenient and enjoyable stop for us as we continued on from the Look Off to Wolfville. It’s in a lovely location with a view of the Minas Basin, an inlet of the Bay of Fundy.

"Blomidon Estate Winery and the Minas Basin, an inlet of the Bay of Fundy"

Blomidon Estate Winery and the Minas Basin


Our base for the next two nights was the cozy Gingerbread House B&B in Wolfville, in the heart of Nova Scotia wine country. The inn is very convenient for visiting several of the wineries in the area.

Wine and dine: Domaine de Grand Pré and Le Caveau Restaurant

"Hanspeter Stutz at Domaine de Grand Pré, Nova Scotia"

Hanspeter Stutz at Domaine de Grand Pré

Wine tasting and a vineyard tour at Domaine de Grand Pré was followed by a fantastic dinner prepared by Chef Jason Lynch in the estate’s Le Caveau restaurant. Hanspeter Stutz, a Swiss businessman bought this property, the oldest farm winery in Atlantic Canada, in 1993 and reopened it as winery in 2000.  The tasting room and restaurant have a distinctive European ambiance.

Day 4 – Around Wolfville and the Gaspereau Valley

Explore: Landscape of Grand Pré UNESCO World Heritage Site

In 2012, the community of Grand Pré was officially designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a beautiful place with great significance in the history of the Acadians who settled the land in the 1680s and were later forced to leave.

"Landscape of Grand Pré UNESCO World Heritage Site, Nova Scotia"

Landscape of Grand Pré UNESCO World Heritage Site

Wine, dine and make a phone call: Luckett Vineyards

Could there be a better way to spend an afternoon than lunch outside at a vineyard overlooking the Gaspereau Valley, bay and bluffs beyond? This was after a personal tour of vineyards, orchard, and winery by owner Pete Luckett. Pete makes you feel right at home at Luckett Vineyards, and extends the hospitality by offering everyone the opportunity to make a phone call anywhere in North America in the old English phone box in the middle of the orchard.

"Pete Luckett of Luckett Vineyards and the English phone box"

Pete Luckett and the phone box at Luckett Vineyards

Stop: Smell the roses (and herbs) and have a boozy pop at Tangled Garden

Enjoy a walk at Tangled Garden and sample jams and other treats made from fresh herbs and other locally-sourced fresh fruits by Beverly McClare. The boozy pop is a tasty low-alcohol popsicle for adults.

"Beers at The Port Pub and jars and boozy pop at Tangled Garden"

Beers at The Port Pub and jars and boozy pop at Tangled Garden

Eat and drink: Fish and chips and a beer flight at The Port Pub

Before dinner at the Port Pub in Port Williams (nearby Wolfville), we got a tour of the adjacent Sea Level Brewing Company owned by Randy Lawrence. A brewmaster for 20 years, Randy was the first person in Atlantic Canada to produce micro brews. Although wine is typically my adult beverage of choice, a beer flight was the perfect accompaniment to my tasty fish and chips at the pub.

Taste: Sample wines at Gaspereau Vineyards

Before leaving Halifax on the road trip, I had my first taste of Nova Scotia’s very own appellation, Tidal Bay, produced by winemaker Gina Haverstock of Gaspereau Vineyards. So I made it a point to visit the winery when I was in the area.

Day 5 – Wolfville to Halifax via Newport Landing, 70 miles

Is it really the last day? That means one thing —-

Indulge: Pie at Evangeline Inn and Motel Café

Before heading out of Wolfville, we decided a post-breakfast treat was required so we stopped at Evangeline Inn and Motel Cafe for coconut crème and rhubarb pies. I’ve also heard that the butterscotch pie is fantastic here, but alas, one can only eat so much pie in the morning.

Wine and dine: Avondale Sky Winery

"Looking through the old church window and beautiful vineyard of Avondale Sky Winery , Nova Scotia"

Looking through the old church window and beautiful vineyard of Avondale Sky Winery

With glasses of wine in hand, we took a tour of Avondale Sky Winery vineyards with owner Lorraine Vassalo. She told us about how she and Stewart Creaser were first inspired to start the winery and how an old church from 26 miles away was moved via road and ferry to the property. The tour was followed by a tasty lunch prepared for us by Chef Dave Smart of Front and Central Restaurant in Wolfville.

So with full stomachs and smiles on our faces, it was time to head back to Halifax for a final night, passing by towns like Windsor, birthplace of ice hockey, and taking in the rural scenery of this scenic part of Nova Scotia.

Plan: Another trip to Nova Scotia

I’m feeling a bit nostalgic as I’ve been writing this. It was a full and thoroughly enjoyable Nova Scotia road trip and this itinerary worked very well, but it would be nice to spend more time in the area. There are certainly other vineyards to visit, restaurants to try, more history to learn, and I’m sure more men in kilts.


Have I teased you enough? Do you want to know more about the people, places, food and wine of Nova Scotia? Stay tuned!

Thanks to Nova Scotia Tourism Agency and Taste of Nova Scotia for making this culinary road trip possible.

  58 Responses to “One for the Road: My 5 Day Nova Scotia Road Trip”

  1. Your road trip looks like a yummy one indeed! All that wine, lobster and scallops got me “salivating” for Nova Scotia!

  2. Interesting… a very beautiful trip 🙂

  3. Great post! I have amazing memories from this place: my first lobster ever, longest road drive and first whale watching. I truly love Nova Scotia! I experienced there amazing hospitality and was delighted about the landscape. Just like your trip: I confirm this is one of the most beautiful places in Canada! Thanks for reminding me.

    • Nova Scotia included several “firsts” for me, too. I’ll be sharing some of those soon.

  4. Catherine,
    I have never been to Nova Scotia, but your post had me salivating over the lobster and scallops. As a history buff all the sites were impressive. My favorite aspect though was the colorful cottages or houses that you experienced in Lunenburg. I think I may have to take a road trip next summer now to this area. Great post young lady!

    • Thanks, Mike. Lunenburg is such a pretty town and so interesting. I took a ton of pics, so will be posting more in the future.

  5. I visited in May/June and managed some of those places, but travelled north to Pictou, loved reading about your experiences, sounds like you had as much fun as I did. Latest post on Pictou Lodge http://farmersgirl.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/crab-cakes-by-ocean-at-pictou-lodge.html

    • On my way to read about Pictou Lodge! I hope to get to Nova Scotia and head up that way, too.

  6. Wow, well this is my kind of trip, a food exploration and eating raw scallops, why not….I’m drooling thinking about all that amazing seafood!

  7. You brought back memories of a road trip we took to Nova Scotia decades ago. We took the ferry from Bar Harbor to Yarmouth and went along the east coast to Cape Breton where we rented a cottage for a week and then went to Halifax and the ferry from Digby NS to St. John New Brunswick. We LOVED NS and would love to go back some day.

    • Ferry service just started up between Portland, Maine and Yarmouth, NS. Apparently, it had stopped for quite a few years and really hurt the economy of the folks in that area.

  8. Amazing, Cathy. I love your trips. You draw so much from these moments.

    • Thanks, Christopher. Glad that I can convey that in my posts — the things that really make the trip for me.

  9. What a great trip and I loved the way you mapped it!

    • Thanks. And if you look at the full map of Nova Scotia, you see what a small area we actually covered. I hope there’ll be more Nova Scotia road trips in my future to cover more of the province.

  10. It looks as though I need a return trip to Nova Scotia! I was in Lunenburg several years ago but it must have been prior to the opening of Ironworks Distillery. I’d love to return and try that apple brandy and enjoy a beer flight at Sea Level Brewing. Foodie road trip!

    • Lunenburg is probably one of those towns where much has changed while staying the same. The town is totally charming and interesting even as it has new businesses like the distillery and some great new restaurants, too.

  11. Nothing like hitting the road! We rented cars on this trip in Sweden, Finland, and Estonia, and saw so much. Not surprising those three countries top my list. We hope to explore Nova Scotia some day soon. Thanks for the highlights.

  12. I haven’t yet traveled to Nova Scotia, but this looks like an ideal roadtrip with picture perfect weather.

  13. You were right in our daughter’s backyard when you were at Luckett’s! You can see her place from the winery. Last fall we walked from her place up to Luckett’s. It is such a pretty view from there.

    Our daughter also worked at the Port Pub for several years as she worked her way through college. Again we had dinner there last fall and it was delicious as usual.

    It’s such a shame that you don’t have time to explore more of Nova Scotia it is a beautiful province and has wonderful, friendly people but we are happy that you got to see at least some of it.


    • What a great location your daughter is in. Loved that area and had a great time at Luckett’s. Have you met Pete? I know that there’s much more to see of Nova Scotia — hope I’ll get chances to go back.

  14. There are definitely a few food stops I missed on my Nova Scotia tour last summer that I wish I’d made. The first house I ever owned was just up from Hall’s Harbour but when we lived there there wasn’t a lobster pound. I visited last year and the place brought back many good memories.

    It sure looks like you had a great trip – but a busy one too.

    • How cool to have lived in that area for a while. Must have been a pretty quiet and peaceful place, I would think.

  15. I’m bookmarking this one Cathy because this is an area we’d love to explore by car. Maybe in the fall when the colors are glorious! I’m all about the chocolate tasting, but I’ll have to leave the shellfish to Abi as too much of that bounty would land me in the local hospital… allergic to shellfish don’t ya know?! Photos are lovely and definitely capture the beauty of the area!

    • I’ll bet it’s awesome there in the fall. I’d like to do a drive then, too. Abi will be in heaven with the seafood there. Enjoy!

    • Highly recommend NS in the fall – mid October, around Canadian Thanksgiving, and head up to Cape Breton Island to drive the Cabot Trail and attend the Celtic Colours festival – you won’t regret it!! We did it last year and it was flippin phenomenal

  16. […] tuned for my Nova Scotia Joy Ride of 2014. Thanks to Nova Scotia Tourism Agency for making my Halifax highlights experience possible. For […]

  17. It’s a good itinerary. I was born in Nova Scotia, and I went to law school in Halifax. I used to boast that I only drank beer in 200-year-old stone buildings. I had a choice of five such pubs. The best was (and still is) Henry House.

    The best time to visit Nova Scotia is obviously the summer–but when is the summer? There is very little Springtime, and you almost go from a lingering Winter directly into Summer with an explosion of lupine flowers. The warmest month is actually September. It’s like an extended Indian Summer. Then in the first week of October you have a Vermont-like blaze of red leaves.

    • One of the other comments was about going there in the autumn — that would be an amazing time there. I saw Henry House when I was in Halifax — I should have stopped in!

  18. Nova Scotia looks like a place where you might want to spend a lot more time just absorbing all the beauty around you (and working your way through sampling some of the delicious food your described!) Your pictures are beautiful and I loved taking a road trip with you!

  19. My husband and I really enjoyed your car trip through an area of Canada that we want to go too. Thanks for the details of what to enjoy in each area.

  20. Wow it looks awesome! I love that boozy pop and love that picture of you taking control of a boat! Must’ve been a fun trip. Not been in a road trip in a long time and you are seriously making me crave!

    • The boozy pop was really a surprise. It had fresh mint in it, which I loved — so refreshing.

  21. Lovely pics of your tour which made me recall a similar trip I made last year. It’s gorgeous part of a stunning country.

  22. We love this part of Canada, though there’s still much we haven’t seen of Nova Scotia, I see. Good reasons to return.

  23. This looks like an amazing trip! If you leave still wanting more, you did it right! Thanks for sharing!

  24. What a great trip Catherine. I’ve been to Peggy’s Cove and Lunenburg, but not the rest of your itinerary. I’d love to get back to Nova Scotia. I’m looking forward to your upcoming posts.

    • I see that I’m not the only person get bitten by the Nova Scotia bug — the one that makes you want to visit again once you’ve gotten a glimpse.

  25. You certainly fit quite a bit into a relatively short trip, Cathy! I enjoyed following along on social media while you were in Nova Scotia and was so pleased that you were enjoying your time there. We have lots more of beautiful Canada for you to see too!

  26. Oh, we loved Nova Scotia – such a beautiful place! The Bay of Fundy is amazing and my husband got some of the best photos he has ever taken at Peggy’s Cove. Need to plan another trip there and see what we missed!

  27. Looks like you had a fantastic time! Great trip, guys!

  28. Love Nova Scotia – so glad you made it there! We missed Lunenburg and, from the looks of your beautiful photo, it’s our kind of place! And don’t get me started on the mussels, uh, YUM! -Veronica

  29. SO many thoughts running through my head as I read this! Like, I still have this unnatural obsession with Canada’s Maritimes, which stems from childhood; FRESH MUSSELS; looks like I’d love Lunenberg; I do love scallops but don’t know I could eat a raw one; beer and bagpipes – yes please! I look forward to reading more!

  30. Nova scotia looks so charming, safe, and peaceful – the exact type of place I’d like to visit. I never rent cars when I travel except in Hawaii and Vermont, but this looks like a place I could drive in. Thanks for sharing!

  31. Oh what memories you stirred up with this post. We used to drive out the Nova Scotia every Summer/Fall when we lived in Ottawa. Thanks for sharing.

  32. […] tuned for my Nova Scotia Joy Ride of 2014. Thanks to Nova Scotia Tourism Agency for making my Halifax highlights experience […]

  33. Whoa, can someone please explain to me whey I’ve never been to Nova Scotia?! I love road trips, lighthouses, cute little towns, and – well – wine. Thanks Cathy for this addition to my bucket list!

  34. My kind of trip, Cathy, all five senses were engaged to the fullest. I’m sure you’re already planning a more leisurely trip.

  35. It’s about time someone started to spill the secrets of my home province … move over Western Canada, the East wants in! 🙂

  36. […] very much about Nova Scotia food and wine prior to my visit which made the prospect of my culinary road trip all the more exciting. I was eager to broaden my horizons with new seafood experiences and discover […]

  37. […]   One for the Road: My 5 Day Nova Scotia Road Trip […]

  38. […] know very much about Nova Scotia food and wine prior to my visit which made the prospect of my culinary road trip all the more exciting. I was eager to broaden my horizons with new seafood experiences and discover […]

  39. Not only is Nova Scotia incredibly picturesque, it looks like it is also a sea-foodie’s dream! I don’t know that I could hold out until day 4 for that lobster though. Lobster is one of my favorites!

  40. […] out more about my Nova Scotia road trip of 2014. Thanks to Nova Scotia Tourism Agency for making my Halifax highlights experience […]

  41. […] my Nova Scotia road trip in June, I had the pleasure of staying at the Mariner King Inn in Lunenburg. There was much I liked […]

  42. […] Traveling with Sweeney war dagegen nur fünf Tage unterwegs, und zwar in einer Gegend, die wir auch sehr gern noch bereisen möchten – Nova Scotia. Die Beschreibung der Tour und Fotos verstärken diesen Wunsch noch: One for the Road – 5 Day Nova Scotia Road Trip. […]

  43. Loved this. Will be checking out Halifax for a day, next week, as part of a cruise from Boston to Montreal. Don’t like to do the ship excursions so might explore on our own, with your info. Thx…and happy I discovered your site.

  44. How brave of you to try a raw scallop! I must admit I do love them, but I’ve never tried one raw… I have enjoyed the Fisheries Museum many times though. Lunenburg is so beautiful!
    I’ve been all around Nova Scotia (my personal favourite place is Brier Island! Highly recommended) but I haven’t done a wine tour like you did. Perhaps I should make plans for next summer already…

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