With the weather warming up, it is time to start planning to get out and have fun. Nova Scotia is famous for its amazing beaches, picturesque towns and villages, wonderful trails, and tasty food for you to discover. Within one or two hours from Halifax are hundreds of adventures to have. So, spend a day away from the city and explore all Nova Scotia has to offer.
1. Peggy’s Cove
Peggy’s Cove is just over an hour’s drive from Halifax. It is best known for its ‘Iconic’ lighthouse and the surging waves that flow over the dangerous black rocks. If you get hungry, you can enjoy a delectable lobster roll and drink at Beales’ Bailiwick and have a gourmet ice cream in a freshly baked wafflecone at Dee Dee’s Ice Cream for dessert.
Just a few minutes down the road is the William E. deGarthe Memorial Provincial Park. Here you can see his sculpture called the “lasting monument to Nova Scotian fishermen” that he carved on the 30-metre (100-feet) long granite outcropping situated behind his house in Peggy’s Cove.
You can also visit the deGarthe Art Gallery that is connected to the deGarthe’s home, which displays 65 of William’s paintings and sculptures that his wife donated in 1993.
The colorful town of Lunenburg is just an hour’s drive from Halifax. The town of Lunenburg is one of three UNESCO World Heritage sites in Nova Scotia. It received this honour in 1995 because this beautiful town is steeped in German, British and maritime history. While you are visiting Lunenburg, you should take a tour onboard and/or set sail on the iconic Bluenose II, so you can have a true schooner experience. If you don’t have sea legs, then you should visit the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic, which is the huge iconic red building that sits on the Lunenburg waterfront to learn about Lunenburg and Nova Scotian history.
You can go shopping in Lunenburg’s downtown area that is replete with shops that carry sustainable fashion options, high-quality souvenirs, unique artisan products, and everything in between. When you get hungry there are many restaurants and cafes where you can enjoy a delicious meal or snack. If you are a wine lover, then a trip to either Petite Riviere Winery or Lunenburg County Winery would be ideal for you. The Petite Riviere Winery produces original grape wines, while Lunenburg County Winery is a fruit winery that is best known for their blueberry wines and other fruit-based wines.
3. McNab’s Island
You can gain access to McNab’s Island by a private boat, or by commercial water taxi and charter boat operators from Halifax, Dartmouth and Eastern Passage. Depending on pick-up and drop-off locations, the trip takes about 20-30 minutes from downtown Halifax or Dartmouth, and 10 minutes from Eastern Passage.
While you are there, you can learn about how the island played a major role in defending Halifax Harbour and is now a provincial park. This beautiful island is an excellent place for a wide range of activities. There are some beautiful beaches for swimming, along with many well-groomed trails for hiking. There are also ruins of old houses, along with Fort McNab and Fort Ives for history buffs to explore.
The picturesque town of Wolfville is only an hour’s drive from Halifax. One of the town’s main attractions is the K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre and Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens are the perfect spots to sit and relax. The architecture and interior design of the building are just stunning, and the gardens are just gorgeous, both inside and out. When you get hungry there are many restaurants and cafes to choose from, such as the Naked Crepe Bistro or the Rolled Oat Cafe, where you can get delicious dishes that have locally sourced ingredients.
You should also visit the Wolfville Farmer’s market where vintners, artisans, bakers and chefs gather on Saturday mornings year-round to sell their tasty homegrown wares. After the market is over, you can partake in an afternoon tea at the Blomidon Inn and enjoy the beautiful scenery of their Victorian Gardens.
5. Cape Split
Cape Split is located in Scots Bay in Kings County and is one of the most popular hiking trails in Nova Scotia. The trail will take you through the forest and to the cliffs overlooking the Bay of Fundy.
It can take you from 4 to 6 hours to complete the 14km return trail depending on how quickly you walk and how many stops you make. You should make sure to wear comfortable and sturdy footwear, and layer your clothing. Don’t forget to take along some water, snacks, and maybe a picnic.
Surfers, beachcombers, and sunbathers love Lawrencetown Beach Provincial Park. You can learn how to surf with East Coast Surf School, or just hit the waves on your own. You can also go beachcombing because the waves often wash up shells, beach wood, and sea glass.
The Heron’s Nest Tea Room is the perfect spot to take a break from the beach and waves. You can enjoy scrumptious seafood chowder, baked goods, and a warm drink. The views from the restaurant are absolutely amazing.
The town of Truro, also known as ‘The Hub of Nova Scotia’ is just an hour’s drive from Halifax. In the heart of Truro is the 400 acres large, Victoria Park. Victoria Park is home to an old growth forest, walking trails, and two sets of waterfalls.
If you visit on Saturday morning, the Truro Farmers Market is open. There are over 35 vendors offering a wide range of products, which include local produce, delectable baked goods, decorative crafts, handcrafted woodwork, specialty body products, N.S. wine, beer, and spirits, along with tasty food that you can enjoy onsite or take home with you. There is always live music and a kid’s corner at this popular farmer’s market.
The Colchester Historeum offers a unique look into the social and natural history of Colchester County. The Historeum has a collection of artifacts that start from the settling of Colchester County to the present day. They also have special seasonal exhibits that allow visitors to explore Nova Scotia’s history.
Coffee fans will love the Full Steam Coffee Company. Learn how coffee is roasted, and why fair trade products are important. You also get to try their different roasts side by side to help you find out what your favorite roast is. Full Stream Coffee is distributed across Nova Scotia, so you may have seen their coffee before.
If you prefer beer over coffee, head over to the Authentic Seacoast Brewing Co. The pub deck is open during the summer where you can try various craft brews, enjoy fish ‘n chips and the breathtaking view of the harbor. The Brewery offers daily distillery and brewery tours at 2:00 pm during the summer months as well as tastings in the spectacular light-filled tasting room.
You can relax and beach comb on the lovely Port Shoreham Beach.
Take a 15 minute boat ride from the visitor centre of Canso Islands National Historic Site from Canso waterfront for a trek across windswept shores that showcase remains of an 18th century fishing settlement and the ruins of a battle-ravaged earthen fort.
9. Greenwood & Kingston
Greenwood has a strong Canadian Military history, and the Greenwood Military Aviation Museum displays it proudly. There are full-size aircraft on display outside the museum. In the museum are hundreds of models, uniforms, squadron displays, photos, books and more.
You can hike to Crystal Falls from McMaster Mill Historic Park. McMaster Mill Park is a hidden gem of a trail, where you can learn about the history of the area by stopping interpretive signs.
If you get hungry during your day trip to Kingston and Greenwood, you can go to the Green Elephant Café for a delicious breakfast, brunch or lunch. They cater to almost every type of eaters from keto to gluten-free to regular meals. If you go on a Sunday, you should definitely try their ‘Sunday morning egg’s benny’ that the locals rave about. They also offer take out, delicious baked goods, and awesome specialty coffee.
10. Shubenacadie & Stewiackee
If you have driven by Stewiackee, you may have spotted the giant mastodon on the cliff overlooking the highway. This is a part of Mastodon Ridge. The visitor information centre has information about the mastodon and Stewiacke. There is a children’s play area, an art gallery, and an 18-hole mini-golf course for visitors to enjoy.
The Shubenacadie Wildlife Park is a great spot to take the whole family. The park is 40 hectares, so the animals have room to relax and explore. There is a petting zoo with special feed in the dispensers, so you can feed your favorite animals.
You can combine this as a weekend trip to Truro and Colchester County.
This is one of the furthest locations on this list because it is a two and a half hour drive from Halifax, but it is definitely worth the trip. If you are a culture fan, there is a lot for you to do and see at the Osprey Art Centre, the Buchanan Gallery, and the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre. You can get a delicious, reasonably priced meals at The Ship’s Galley Pub and Eatery. It is famous for it’ s seafood chowder that is made fresh for each bowl. They also make great burgers and have delicious local beer.
While you are there, you should head out to Roseway Beach to enjoy the beautiful white sand and the waves. You can savour an icecream, go shell and rock hunting, and take pictures of the Sandy Point Lighthouse. If you want to get out on the ocean, there are local sea kayaking lessons and rental shops that can help you get started.
Within 2 hours from Halifax and located in Pictou County is the lovely Rushton’s Beach, or head twenty minutes west to the Blue Sea Beach known for the warm saltwater and uncrowded beach.
You can also explore the Balmoral Grist Mill. The mill was built in 1874 and is a great spot to enjoy a picnic or just relax under the nearby trees. (Outdoor Things to Do During Summer in Truro and Colchester County)
If you are a wine lover, make sure to stop at the Jost Winery. Take a tour of the winery and try their wine. Ice wines are available to try for $5, while the regular wines are free to try. If you are looking for something sweeter, head to Sugar Moon Farm for delicious pancakes, locally made sausage and fresh maple syrup.
13. Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site
This gorgeous National Park and Historic Site is the perfect place to get away from it all. “Keji” is known for its lush forests, island-dotted lakes, and winding rivers. Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site is one park that is divided into two areas. The main park is 168km from Halifax, and Kejimkujik Seaside which is about 100 km southeast of the main park on the coastline near Port Joli.
There are hiking trails that will take you through the forest or take a guided canoeing or kayaking tour to explore the park. You can take a dip at one of the four unsupervised beaches in Keji. So, you should be sure to take along food and water with you when you visit Keji.
14. Duncan’s Cove Nature Reserve
A short 20 minute drive away from Halifax is one of Nova Scotia’s best coastal hiking trails. When you look out over the Atlantic Ocean, you may spot coastal birds, sun-bathing seals, and even whales. The area is a sensitive nature reserve, so please stay on the paths and leave your dogs at home. The trail is rugged, so it is great if you are looking for a challenge. There are 2 lighthouses visible from the trail. Depending on how fast you walk the 8km trail can take anywhere from 3 to 5 hours to complete.
If you get hungry after your hike, take a short 2 km drive to Mishoo’s Takeout, where you can get some of the best, fresh fish and chips in Nova Scotia because the batter is so light. If fish is not your favorite, Mishoo’s also makes a good pizza.
15. York Redoubt National Historic Site
A hidden gem just outside of Halifax and overlooking Halifax Harbour is York Redoubt. It was designated a National Historic Site in 1962. You should wear comfortable shoes and be ready for a hike when you head to York Redoubt. The site has tunnels and a World War II command post to that you can explore. The interpretive panels cover the history of this 200 year old fortification. Many of the walls are now covered in graffiti, even though the site is fenced off during the night and when staff is not there.
The closest place to the Redoubt for a great meal is the Pavia Gallery ~ Espresso Bar & Cafe on Herring Cove Road, which is just a short 3.7km drive from the Redoubt. They offer delicious soups, wraps, desserts, local wine, along with full-flavoured coffee. There is also an ice cream stand on the property.