The best family activities to do in Nova Scotia, Canada

Peggy of the Cove is (dare I say) more fun for kids than Peggy’s Cove

Nova Scotia attractions

You know those vacations where after a night feasting on fresh lobster, you awake to the sound of the pounding surf, before venturing out to brave the waves of the steely grey Atlantic? When you’re surrounded by so much history, you’re just not sure how to take it all in, so you opt to step back in time and enlist your children in military adventure at a new world fort? No? Consider skedaddling over to Nova Scotia, where action and adventure await. Here are 5 top Nova Scotia attractions you won’t want to miss .

White Point Beach Resort

So many bunnies at White Point Beach Resort

City bike tour of Halifax

You’re likely going to land in Halifax and this pretty port city rich in history and culture is a worthy stop for several days. Get your bearings by gliding past historic monuments and leafy green parks on an I Heart Bikes tour. We opted for the city tour that showcases the best of Halifax within two hours. Our guide spun us around the Halifax Harbour pointing out the best fish and chippy and other local tips to make your stay more interesting. Cruise by the Titanic House, historic forts in Point Pleasant Park and meander your way into the inner city, where a swish new library butts up against the historic university. You can rent bikes without a tour, too! 

I heart bikes tour halifax

Bikes for all sizes on this tour

You may be famished afterwards, so be sure to stop by the Halifax Farmer’s Market located on the Waterfront right by the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21. It claims to be the longest continuously running market in North America (as does the Saint John New Brunswick City Market). It’s open everyday of the week and is a fab spot for a bit, plus to pick up local souvenirs.

twisted street lights

You’ll cruise past lots of cool public art and will learn their meaning.

Tours at Halifax Citadel

You can’t miss the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site. Standing imposingly atop of hill, this majestic fort has overlooked the harbour since 1856. While it’s cool to suss out the Citadel’s star-shaped architecture, it’s even better to immerse your kids into life as a Red Coat (that’s a British solider, yo). During A Solider’s Life, kids are transported back to 1869, where they’ll be taught the skills needed to defend this strategic port. Kids learn some fancy foot drills, hammer out a diddy a field drum and raise the flag to send a coded message, all while getting an in-depth tour of the Citadel.

A Soldier's life

History is not a snoozer here.

Surfing close to Halifax, Nova Scotia

About a half hour’s drive from Halifax lies Lawrencetown Beach, home to some of the best surfing in North America. (And if you don’t surf, this lifeguard patrolled beach is tops for swimming, too.) There are plenty of surf schools to choose from, but we went with East Coast Surf School because when you have the opportunity to be taught by an Olympian, you take it. Olympic snowboarder Sarah Conrad taught Eve and I how to ride the waves (and more importantly, how to fall off our board properly). I won’t lie to you, the ocean here is colder than what you’ll find in say, California (about 17°C/63°F), but with the complimentary wetsuit, it felt surprisingly warm. The lesson included the surfboard rental for the day, which makes up for them not offering a children’s rate.

surfing in Canada

The east coast of Nova Scotia is a capital spot to learn how to surf (Photo credit: Wally Hayes)

Motorcycle Sidecar Tour in Nova Scotia

Not many parents would let their children hop on a motorcycle, but when they’re safely stowed away in a sidecar, well that’s another story. Breezy tours with Bluenose Sidecar Tours take tots older than five (and their parents) around the city and Southern Shore. We opted for the Lighthouse Route which stops at the infamous Peggy’s Cove. It was beautiful and all, but Peggy’s Cove wasn’t the best part. Eating at a local’s favourite fish shack, meeting a true Maritime character (Ivan Fraser from Peggy of the Cove Gallery in Glen Margaret) and stopping by less touristy, but equally stunning bays along the way made this tour a must do!

motorcycle sidecar tour

Tidal Bore Rafting in the Bay of Fundy

Don’t go on this adventure unless you really like to have fun. Over 100 billion tonnes of seawater surges in and out of the Bay of Fundy with each tide cycle, producing some of the highest tides in the world. There’s no better way to experience these tides then by riding them, so when the tide’s in hit up River Runners for a serious adrenaline rush. At first your raft goes head on gently with the waves and then the intensity really ramps up.

tidal bore rafting

Again and again the chocolate-coloured waves crash into your craft and often over your head. It might feel like you’re on an episode of Cold Water Cowboys. You’ll get completely soaked and will love every minute of it. After the topsy turvy wavey action, you’re encouraged to jump off the boat and take a swim. Yes that’s right, swimming in chocolate milk. In your clothes. In full rain gear. And don’t forget the rubber boots. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

Have you ever visited Nova Scotia? What are your favourite activities to do there?