Beyond Outside the Box
Originally this blog post was going to be about “outside the box” vacation ideas in Nova Scotia, but every path seemed to lead to these particular four themes. Nova Scotia has some predominant features and history that pop up no matter where you go – and so I got to thinking – it would be pretty out of the ordinary to plan an entire themed vacation, so why don’t I explore some ideas for just that, in our beautiful province? These activities are great on their own or part of a completely themed getaway! A fun family vacation idea, I think. Enjoy!
There is such a vast array of outdoor activities available in Nova Scotia that I had to narrow this down to a few really cool, fun and original ideas.
Tidal Bore Rafting is gaining more and more popularity amongst Nova Scotians and tourists alike. There are a few places to do it, including River Runners in Maitland, located at the mouth of the Shubenacadie River. Your thrilling tidal bore rafting adventure lasts for three and a half hours in a zodiac, where, as the website describes: “you board […] and anticipate the arrival of the Tidal Bore, which is the first wave of the incoming tidal surge. This bore may reach 1-10 feet in height depending on tidal and channel conditions. Our skilled guides ride the crest of this wave for approximately 1/2 mile up river”. River Runners’ basic package includes a delicious BBQ meal when you return from your excursion. Other tidal bore rafting companies include Tidal Bore Rafting Park & Cottages, and Shubenacadie River Adventure Tours .
Check out this tidal bore video posted by ridenovascotia.com: Tidal Bore Rafting in NS
A great outdoor activity and lesser known hobby amongst many Nova Scotians is rockhounding, that is, the collection of gems, minerals and stones along the coastline. According to rockhounding enthusiasts, and my source consists of an antique shop owner/rockhounder extraordinaire I once chatted with in Lunenburg, our province has unbelievable conditions for this activity because of volcanic activity during the Jurassic period and our constant tidal action. Check out this great Nova Scotia travel guide website for a list of areas and the equipment you need to rockhound. Wondering what you can do with these gems and how to identify them? You may want to read Rob the Rockhounder’s website or visit his shop while you’re here!
What better way to experience the great Nova Scotian outdoors than to jump in a sea kayak and get out on the ocean, as a family? There are several great companies offering these services now, and many are only a short drive away from downtown Halifax. Give East Coast Outfitters a call for a tour-guided, fun-filled day at sea followed by a BBQ on the wharf. Any experience level can enjoy these tours, as the guides will give you a quick run down on the paddling technique. Traveling as a couple? Check out the sunset tours.
Celtic Getaway on Cape Breton Island
The Celtic heritage is one of the most interesting heritages that continues to live on in Nova Scotia, in particular the speaking of the Gaelic language, which has even died out in parts of its native lands Ireland and Scotland. The Celtic culture is still very much celebrated in our province, and if you’re traveling here with the intention to learn a bit more – you don’t want to miss Celtic Colours International Festival, a massive yearly event in Cape Breton doing just that. This year the festival turns 15, and it’s a wonderful way to take in music, art, food and educational events, including Gaelic language workshops. While you’re in Cape Breton, make a point to stop at Highland Village Museum to learn about Scottish Gaelic and Celtic traditions, the museum itself is a beautiful property on a 43-acre piece of land in one of Nova Scotia’s most beautiful regions. Want to learn more? The Gaelic College offers full language courses, online programs and more.
Culinary Tour of Nova Scotia
A subject near and dear to my heart, the gastronomical adventures of Nova Scotia, is something that can be discovered year round and in so many different regions. However, we are talking about summer vacation, so I will run through what I consider the summer highlights. For a completely food and wine themed vacation in our beautiful province, let’s start in Cape Breton. Lobster is caught fresh daily through the summer here, and hitting up a traditional (fresh off the boat) lobster dinner is something that everyone, traveler or native Nova Scotian, should enjoy. While you’re checking out the scenery of the Cabot Trail, keep an eye out for community lobster dinner signs in church and fire halls – this is where you want to eat your freshly caught crustacean!
Moving south, across the causeway, once you get on the mainland you want to head to the pinnacle of Nova Scotia’s locally sourced food scene – the Annapolis Valley. Farmers markets galore (try Noggins farm store), wineries such as Grand Pré, Muir Murray, Blomidon Estate, Sainte Famille, sample cheese at Fox Hill Cheese House, stop by Sea Level Brewing for some craft beer, Just Us Coffee roastery for a tour and a delicious fair trade latté and in the quaint university town of Wolfville visit some great restaurants.
This is of course all on your way to the city of Halifax, where the restaurant scene is serious and the passion for use of local ingredients (most from that same valley) is rampant among Halifax chefs. There are too many excellent eateries to name, aside from our fabulous Seasons by Atlantica, so check out the Taste of Nova Scotia members yourself.
Once you’re finished in HRM, get on the old number three (Trunk 3) highway to head down the coast at a leisurely pace, and really take in the beautiful South Shore region. Stop in for seafood at your choice of beautiful seaside town: Hubbards, Chester, Lunenburg, Mahone Bay (try Trattoria della Nonna or Magnolia’s Grill), Liverpool, Shelburne. This is of course on your way to the bottom tip of the province – stop in Yarmouth for a fish fry at Rudder’s, and make your way to the Acadian Shore for some traditional rappie pie!
No matter your interests, there’s a themed vacation in Nova Scotia that you’re sure to enjoy. Get out and start planning!