Fall is just around the corner, and Nova Scotians will shift from going to the beach to going to the parks. There are beautiful places to see, great food to eat, and lots of stuff to do that’s less than 3 hours away from Halifax.
My personal fall day trip tips: bring gloves in your purse or jacket pockets, bring water in a reusable bottle for easy refills, and wear shoes that can deal with everything from asphalt to mud. If you do all that, you’ll stay comfortable on any adventure!
Shubenacadie Provincial Wildlife Park [48 minutes from Halifax]
This is one of my favourite day trips to do in the fall, because anyone with the slightest interest in animals will have a good time. The animals in the park tend to be more active in cooler weather, so you’re more likely to catch glimpses of animals like wolves and bears now than in the height of summer. It’s a well-designed park that lets you ramble as you please to see all the animals that Nova Scotia has to offer (and a few from away, like peacocks). Set amongst the trees, enjoy the fall colours while you enjoy the wildlife.
Address: 149 Creighton Road Shubenacadie
Historic Gardens [2 hours 4 minutes from Halifax]
The Historic Gardens in Annapolis Royal hold both past and present within their borders. There are hundreds of years of history from the plants to the materials, as well as modern displays to help you start your own urban garden. Explore their autumn plants, walk the paths to see the creative planting arrangements, and enjoy being at peace among human-crafted natural beauty.
Address: 441 St. George Street, Annapolis Royal
Nova Scotia is famous for seafood, and the culinary trails created by Taste of Nova Scotia help you experience so much of it. Grab a passport from the site and set out on a search for either chowder or lobster-based dishes (depending on your preference). It’s a great reason to go for a long drive, eat some great food, and explore new places. Since the locations of the Chowder Trail and the Lobster Trail are scattered around the province, you can pick the scenic route to wherever you want to go and enjoy a beautiful fall drive.
Daniels U-Pick [50 minutes from Halifax]
Ah, U-Picks, fun in the summer and fall. Daniels U-Pick is open from August to November, so it’s really a fall-focused u-pick, which is fun. Come and get apples, pears, and plums, along with occasional pumpkin picking. Refresh yourself with apple cider at the end of your picking, and even buy a bottle or two to bring home and enjoy.
Address: 4499 Highway 14, Windsor
Trenton Park [1 hour 44 minutes from Halifax]
If you want to visit a park with a lot of different ways to exercise, Trenton Park is a good choice. They have plenty of hiking trails, a couple of walking trails (they’re flatter), and even a 6.5km mountain bike trail. If you want to take a seat, you can hang out in the picnic area or head over to one of the 3 man-made ponds to fish for trout. It’s a big park perfect for a family outing.
Address: 119 Park Road, Trenton
Bear River [2 hours 30 minutes from Halifax]
There are several villages in Nova Scotia, and each has their own special atmosphere. Bear River appears to inspire creativity of all kinds in its residents. From wine to painting to pottery and beyond, Bear River’s artisan community creates incredible beauty all year round. Come and explore the studios and galleries amongst the fall colours and who knows? Your creative spirit might be inspired too.
Kejimkujik [2 hours from Halifax]
Ah, Kejimkujik. This national park is famous for having hiking opportunities for all levels of experience, rivers to explore, and chances to learn about Mi’kmaq culture. You can spend a day enjoying the park before heading home, or if you’ve got thick sleeping blankets, why not turn this day trip into a night trip? If you do choose to stay, don’t go to bed too early. If it’s a clear night, this Dark Sky Preserve will show you a spectacular view of the fall constellations.
Address: 3005 Kejimkujik Main Parkway
The Gorge [1 hour 15 minutes from Halifax]
If you want to get your blood pumping, the Gorge is the woodland park for you! Open year-round, you can enjoy walking, hiking, biking, and mountain biking all through the Gorge. And hey, if it snows early (it’s happened, I’ve seen snow as early as October), no worries! Grab your cross-country skis or snowshoes and set off for a snowy fall adventure.
Address: 53 Gladys Porter Drive, Kentville
Oaklawn Farm Zoo [1 hour 30 minutes]
You might wonder why there are two large wildlife parks in Nova Scotia, but it’s simple: Shubenacadie focuses on native animals (except the peacocks), while Oaklawn Farm Zoo is home to creatures from all over the world. There’s less walking involved at this park, so it’s a bit better for young kiddos or if there are mobility issues to be considered. Come near the end of the day, and you’ll be treated to a view of the big cats being fed their supper!
Address: 997 Ward Road, Aylesford NS
Lockhart & Ryan Memorial Park [1 hour 9 minutes from Halifax]
This is a fascinating park, because you can do almost any activity you can think of. There’s the usual fare, of course: soccer fields, a ball field, playgrounds, and a trail system. Lockhart & Ryan is also home to more unusual park activities: beach volleyball, a splash pad, and an 18-hole disc golf course. Yes, disc golf, because why not practice your Frisbee skills!
Address: 943 Commercial Street, New Minas
Joggins Fossil Cliffs [2 hours 21 minutes from Halifax]
The geological history of Nova Scotia is fascinating, and you can learn all about it at Joggins Fossil Cliffs. Through their museum and their tours, you’ll learn all about this rocky region and look for pretty, cool, or pretty cool rocks to bring home. And if you’re very lucky, you might be able to add to the museum’s collection by finding a fossil.
Cost: 10$ for a tour
Address: 100 Main Street, Joggins
Amherst Point Bird Sanctuary [2 hours 11 minutes from Halifax]
Fall is an interesting time for birdwatching, and one great place to go to enjoy that is the Amherst Point Bird Sanctuary. This is a protected area of one thousand hectares, and 228 species of birds have been identified here/ Walk the gorgeous 2.5km trail around the lake and through a variety of trees. Keep your eyes peeled, your binoculars ready, and your feet dry.
Address: Southampton Road, Amherst Point
Admiral Lake Loop [42 minutes from Halifax]
The Admiral Lake Loop takes you…well, in a loop around the lake. It’s a backcountry hike of 10.3 km that treats you to beautiful lake views and look offs, as well as great opportunities to enjoy the fall colours. It’s a challenging hike not too far away, so it’s a great chance to start ramping up your hike difficulty. Make sure to bring something for picture taking, you never know what you might see!
Address: 7886-7900 Nova Scotia Trunk 7
Keppoch Mountain [2 hours 12 minutes from Halifax]
Keppoch Mountain in Antigonish County is well worth the two-hour drive from Halifax. They’ve got downhill tracks for both biking and mountain biking at a variety of levels, and regular trails for walking and hiking. There’s also a boulder climbing area, a lake for swimming (might be too cold after September), and a disc golf course (just like in New Minas). It’s a mountain where the sky and your imagination are the only limits for a beautiful outdoor adventure.
Address: 193 Keppoch Road, Beaver Meadow
Long Lake Provincial Park [15 minutes from downtown Halifax]
You can leave this park at sunset and make it back to downtown Halifax before the sun drops below the horizon. Long Lake Provincial Park has trails from beginner to backcountry, lake activities from sunbathing to boating, and acres upon acres of wildlife to explore. If you come when the leaves start to turn, you’ll get to enjoy all these activities against a backdrop of fall colours.
Address: At the intersection of Cowie Hill Road and Dunbrack Street
McNabs Island [In the Halifax Harbour]
McNabs Island looks like a cloud on the edge of Halifax Harbour that’s home to dozens of flora and fauna species, some unique to the island. In the fall, the island’s colours come to life, making it a beautiful place to explore. There are remnants of buildings, some nice trails for walking and biking, and when night comes you can camp if you wish. It’s easy to catch a boat to the island, and there are tours of the island if you want some directions to your wandering.
The BLT Trail [official trailhead is 20 minutes from Halifax]
One of the rails-to-trails trails of Nova Scotia, the Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea Trail is a wonderful place to walk or bike in the fall. The trail crosses through the communities mentioned above, but a lot of it goes through forest and next to lakes. It’s a great place to get exercise due to the quiet (while also being close to communities for bathroom access), and the changing leaves frame the trail beautifully.
OnTree [55 minutes from Halifax]
Before the snow falls, you might think that Ski Martock has nothing to offer. This was once true, but now there’s OnTree Park! OnTree is a climbing and obstacle course park, designed for everyone from kids to experienced climbers and zipliners. The fact that it’s a ski hill adds an interesting dimension to the park’s design, and with it being open until November, you can enjoy the courses, obstacles, zip lines, and so much more all fall long amidst autumn coloured trees.
Address: 370 Ski Martock Road, Windsor
Burntcoat Head Park [1 hour 15 minutes from Halifax]
The Bay of Fundy is a natural marvel—it’s one of the 7 natural wonders of North America thanks to its insane tides. You can experience the Bay of Fundy in Burncoat Head Park, where trails will give you stunning views of the Bay at any time of the day. Check the tide times, and you’ll find the times when you can actually walk on the ocean floor at the park, sometimes for kilometres. There are sometimes tours of the area, so keep an eye out if you want to integrate that into your day trip.
Address: 45 Faulkner Lane, Noel
Riverbreeze Farm [1 hour 7 minutes from Halifax]
Do you like corn mazes? Do you like picking pumpkins? Do you like potentially being scared out of your space boots at night by a murderous family in the cornfield? Even if you only like one of those, you should check out Riverbreeze farm. It’s one of the better-known corn mazes (and spooky corn mazes) in Nova Scotia, and has much more to offer. Depending on their plans, you may also find kangaroos, pig races, and a giant rocking chair to enjoy.
Address: 660 Onslow Road, Truro
The Oval [Within Halifax]
The Oval is one of the best things to happen in Halifax in the last couple of decades. In the winter, the Oval is a skating rink, but in the fall it’s simply an oval of concrete, perfect for biking, rollerblading, or whatever you can dream up. The Oval is part of the Halifax Common (or the Commons as everyone I’ve ever spoken to calls it), so if you’re done with biking you can play at the playground, kick a ball around, or just have a picnic and enjoy the park.
Address: 5816 Cogswell Street
Dakeyne Sunflower Maze (for September) [53 minutes from Halifax]
This maze is September-specific, but that’s simply because it’s made of sunflowers, and that’s as late as they grow. The Dakeyne Farm is a beautiful place to visit, but its point of pride is definitely the sunflower maze. Cheerful and beautiful, the maze criss-crosses 5 acres of sunflowers, giving you a great and beautiful walk.
Address: 1137 Highway 1, Mount Denson
Blomidon Lookoff [1 hour 21 minutes from Halifax]
The Blomidon Lookoff Provincial Park is beautiful for a lot of reasons, and it’s well worth a visit in the fall. If you love fall colours though, you’ve got to check out the lookout part of the park. You can see five counties from this lookoff, all across the Annapolis Valley, and get a glimpse of the Bay of Fundy too. Come ready for pictures (or painting/sketching, if you’re so inclined), as the view of farmlands, forests, and Fundy in full autumnal glory is truly inspirational.
Address: 3374 Highway 358, Arlington
Hatfield Farm [28 minutes from Halifax]
Hatfield Farm is so close to Halifax that you could make it the first destination on your day trip. On the other hand, there’s so many things to do there you could make multiple day trips. From pony rides to paintball to ice cream to a petting pen, a day at this farm is sure to be a great time. Keep your eye on their website to see what else might be in store for this fall.
Cost: For events
Address: 1840 Hammonds Plains Road, Hammonds Plains
Phone: 902-835-5676 or 1-877-835-5676
Ross Farm [1 hour 4 minutes from Halifax]
A very different sort of farm, Ross Farm Museum is a ‘living heritage’ farm. When you visit this museum, you’ll see demonstrations of traditional farming techniques and activities, from taking care of the heritage animals to barrel making. Step back in time to see the way farms once ran, and even participate in some of the activities, like milking a cow. Make sure to visit the gift shop before you leave to bring a piece of Nova Scotian farming heritage home with you.
Address: 4568 Highway #12, New Ross
By: Adrienne Colborne