When I was a kid we used to go to the Maritimes every summer. Truthfully, it was a bit boring for me – travelling without siblings and holing up in a massive old house without electricity or plumbing. But in Nova Scotia, there are plenty of points of interest for both adults and kids, which I wish I saw more of when I was younger.
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Nova Scotia points of interest
Despite the lack of running water at our family cottage, I have nothing but fond memories of my summers in the Maritimes. Wanting my daughter to have the same lovely experiences I did, I had her join me in Nova Scotia while researching my book: 25 Places in Canada Every Family Should Visit.
We didn’t exactly recreate the vacations of my youth, but it was pretty similar: lots of lobster, sussing out authentic fishing villages and playing in the waves. It was all about road tripping through Nova Scotia and hitting the top Nova Scotia points of interest, which I think we nailed.
Our trip was about kicking back, exploring a very different part of the country and trying new things. I’m now a huge fan of fried clams (but I’d take a pass on clam strips). We learned Eve doesn’t mind boats so much and we’re both keen to find out if her paternal grandfather entered Canada through Pier 21 in Halifax (Canada’s Ellis Island). There are many things to do in Nova Scotia, but in this post, I dish on the not to miss experiences for families.
Tidal bore rafting
Tidal bore rafting was hands down, one of the highlights for both of us. We rode the eddies produced in the Bay of Fundy when the tide comes in with a company called River Runners. I’ve been whitewater rafting on some serious rivers before, but this experience took the cake.
After a zippy ride in a Zodiak boat to where the incoming tide is at it’s best, you’ll roll along with the eddie’s gentle waves before doing an about face and crashing directly into them. At first you’ll only get slightly wet and then it really comes on. And on, and on. Hard and fast, the waves pummel the boat and over your head.
It’s like being doused in chocolate milk and just as much fun.
Become a soldier at Halifax Citadel
Historical sites and kids don’t always mix, but when they fire real cannons as they do at Halifax Citadel, a National Historic Site, you know you’ve got a troop pleasing activity on your hands. Best is if your kids can take part in A Solider’s Life – a 90-minute program Parks Canada puts on.
After suiting up in uniform, kids learn foot drills, send coded flag messages, bang the drum and basically have a ball running around this National Historic Site. I bet they’ll enjoy it so much they won’t flinch when you float the idea of shipping them off to military school.
A Soldier’s Life programming is available daily during July and August. No reservations are required.
Visit Blomidon Provincial Park
Sometimes you just need to kick back and hit the beach, which we did at Blomidon Provincial Park. There are loads of beaches to choose from in Nova Scotia, but we particularly liked Blomidon’s proximity to the Annapolis Valley wine region.
This provincial park is less than a half hour drive from Wolfville and sports wide stretches of sand, camping facilities and hiking trails.
After getting our feet mucky from the sand, we washed them off in the waterfalls cascading down the dramatic red sandstone cliffs. How cool is that? Also of note, we visited on a sunny summer weekend and it was remarkably peaceful and crowd-free.
There are only two urban UNESCO sites in North America and Old Town Lunenburg (along with Quebec City) is one of them. Lunenburg is one of those postcard-pretty towns that tourists love to flock to and for good reason.
Home of the Bluenose and one of the oldest German settlements in Canada, you can easily while away several days exploring one of the best preserved in British Colonial towns in North America.
Get your bearings by first taking a Lunenburg Walking Tour before diving into the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic. (Kids love the touch tank at the Fisheries Musuem!)
For a local delicacy, try the cod tongues (or fried clams) at The South Shore Fish Shack. Enhance your dining experience by snagging a patio seat for prime views of Bluenose II. Amazing seafood, friendly locals, incredible things to do and see – that’s Lunenburg.
Best family resorts in Nova Scotia
To be fair, there are several excellent and affordable places for families to stay at in Nova Scotia. Up on the Northumberland Shore, Pictou Lodge Beach Resort is a perennial favourite. The beaches surrounding the property boast the warmest seawater in all of Atlantic Canada and you’re never far away from a lobster dinner.
If you can’t handle cuteness, do not stay at White Point Beach Resort. Hundreds of bunnies frolic freely around the property and the hotel even offers bags of bunny food, so you can get up close and personal.
Set along a sweep of white sand on the province’s southern shore, White Point is one of Atlantic Canada’s oldest seaside resorts. With families in mind, there’s robust children’s programming, plus meal plans you can choose to opt into or not. As for accommodation, families have several options including seafront cottages with wood burning fires.
Do you have a favourite vacation spot from when you were a child? Would you take your children back there?
Want to read more? I dish on the very best family attractions in Nova Scotia in my book: 25 Places in Canada Every Family Should Visit.
Fried Nova Scotia clams…….you have me drooling. I can’t read anymore right now. I’m homesick. Glad you had such a wonderful time in my home province.
Your home province?! Wow! Yes, those clams…. Oh those clams!
I really did! There’s so many fantastic points of interest and things to do in Nova Scotia!