Cape Breton almost feels like it is a world away from Nova Scotia and the rest of Canada. You can reconnect with nature at the parks, beaches, and forests, or spend time learning about the unique people who call this beautiful island home. You could easily spend the whole summer on the island and still have things left to see and experience. Here are the 25 ‘must do’ summer activities you should experience on this magical island.
1. Visit Cape Breton Highlands National Park
Cape Breton Highlands Park is a must visit for any trip to Cape Breton. The main attraction is the Cabot Trail, which will take you around the beautiful park and the spectacular coastline. There are viewpoints along the Cabot Trail where you can stop and take in the breathtaking views. There are also stops that let you connect with nature, so take a break on one of the gorgeous beaches around the park.
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2. Walk the Bog Trail
The Bog Trail is a part of the Cape Breton Highlands Provincial Park. Keep your feet dry by walking on the boardwalk as you explore the bog. From the trail, you can spot frogs, dragonflies, pitcher plants, and even giant moose. The trail is a 0.5km loop that is a fun nature walk and the signage helps you appreciate the fascinating plants growing in this unique setting.
3. Get Ice Cream at Neil’s Harbour Lighthouse – Neil’s Harbour
The Neil’s Harbour Lighthouse is also an ice cream parlour. Along with the lighthouse, there is also a warp around patio that overlooks the coastline. It is worth the detour to enjoy delicious ice cream along with a breathtaking view of the harbour.
4. Fortress of Louisbourg – Louisbourg
An exciting adventure is waiting for you at the Fortress of Louisbourg, where you can travel back in time to the 18th century at this living museum. During the summer, you can feel the ground shake when the cannons are being fired. You can also learn how to fire a replica musket or just spend the day exploring the fortress.
5. Baddeck Lobster Suppers – Baddeck
Enjoy all-you-can-eat chowder, mussels and dessert along with a main dish of lobster, salmon, strip-loin, and snow crab at the Baddeck Lobster Suppers. They also offer their dishes on their own if you are not feeling overly hungry. At the lobster suppers you can feast on fresh seafood without all the fuss of fancy fine-dining.
6. Cape Breton Miners Museum – Glace Bay
Learn what is was like to be a miner in the 1800’s to 1900’s at the Cape Breton Miners Museum. Along with the museum, there is also the Miners Village to visit and you can head underground with the mine tour. Only during the summer, you can attend a ‘Men of the Deeps’ concert.
7. Hike the Skyline Trail – Cape Breton Highlands National Park
The Skyline Trail has some of the best views of the Cabot Trail and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The hike can be challenging at times, but the views are definitely worth the effort. You can spot whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and it is common to spot moose and bears from the trail.
8. Whale Interpretive Centre – Pleasant Bay
Whales can be spotted around Cape Breton, and you can learn about this magically creatures at the Whale Interpretive Centre. This Interpretive Centre has various exhibits and interactive media presentations about the 16 species of whales that may be spotted in the waters around Cape Breton. You should also be sure to view the life size model of a pilot whale and the saltwater livestock tank.
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Do you love #Whales? 🐋 When you visit #CapeBretonIsland, and drive the #CabotTrail, stop into the Whale Interpretive Centre in Pleasant Bay. 🐳 This is a great educational opportunity for the family to learn all about whales. Enhance your whalewatching experiences by learning everything about whales. #NovaScotiatraveller #visitNovaScotia
9. See a Show at Savoy Theatre – Glace Bay
Enjoy a live show at a Victorian-style theatre. The Savory Theatre seats 761 people in its theatre. Along with live stage performances, they also have dinner theatre performances and host other events. Over 30,000 people attend performances at this theatre every year.
10. Cape Breton Lobster Adventure Tours – Baddeck
Head out to the open sea to spot seabirds and do some deep-sea fishing on one of the Cape Breton Lobster Adventure Tours. The deck of the boat is a great place to take photos and relax, while trying your hand at fishing. You can even feed the eagles.
11. Black Brook Beach – Cape Breton Highlands National Park
Relax on one of Cape Breton Highlands National Parks most popular beaches. Black Brook Beach has a gentle waterfall on one end of the beach, along with a picnic shelter with a wood stove you can use, some fire pits, and a playground. If you go to the beach at night, you will have a wonderful night sky experience because you can see millions of stars along with hearing the waves crashing on the beach and see shooting stars.
12. Snorkel with Whales – Cheticamp
There are a lot of tours that will take you out to see whales from a boat, but why not get into the water with the whales? The Snorkel with Whales Tour allows you to get up close with whales in their natural habit. The whales will come to you as you float in the water. The most common whales to snorkel with are pilot whales because they are the friendliest whales who call the area home.
13. Big Spruce Brewing – Nyanza
Visit the only organic, on-farm craft brewery in Atlantic Canada. Big Spruce Brewing has a screened in tasting patio that has a gorgeous view of Nyanza Bay. They also feature a local food truck and live music on-site three nights a week. So, grab a flight of beer, take a seat on the patio with your friends and get ready for a fun time.
14. Hike the Lone Shieling Trail – Cape Breton Highlands National Park
The Lone Shieling Trail gets its name from the replica of a Scottish crofter’s hut that is found near the start of the trail. Along with learning why the hut is there, you should take the 15 minute hike. You can spot moose in the forest of 350 year old sugar maple trees. This is one of the most protected areas of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, so public access is restricted to only the trail.
15. Go Camping with Live Life in Tents – Margaree Forks
Live Life in Tents makes it easy to go camping where and when you want to. They offer rental equipment and can create customized camping adventures that meet your unique needs. Their unique services make them the ultimate one stop shop for outdoor adventures in Cape Breton!
16. Highland Village Museum – Iona
This is the best place to learn about the Gaelic culture and language. The High Village Museum will take you back in time to the 1830’s – 1900’s. The village allows you to take part in a traditional ceilidh, where you will surely become captivated by the spirit of the staff in their period costumes. There is always something happening around the museum that you can take part in.
17. Eileanan Brèagha Vineyards – River Denys
If you are a wine lover, you should be sure to visit Cape Breton’s first and only estate winery. Eileanan Brèagha Vineyards are located on a 200-acre former homestead on Mable Mountain. The vineyards have an amazing view of the Bras D’Or Lake. You can visit the tasting room to try the wines or to pick up a bottle to take with you.
18. Learn-to-Lobster Boil – Cheticamp
Enjoy fresh lobsters after you learn how to cook and crack on the beach at a Learn-to-Lobster Boil. You can make new friends, and share tunes and stories while you are cooking your lobsters. The sunset is even better with lobsters and the scent of salt water.
19. Galloping Cows Fine Foods – Port Hood
Galloping Cows Fine Foods is where you can find handcrafted preserves, jams, and jellies, along with maple syrup and sauces in fiddle shaped bottles. It is a wonderful place to visit, especially if you are looking for tasty souvenirs of your visit to Cape Breton.
20. Lunch Ceilidh at the Celtic Music Centre – Judique – June 3 – October 10, 2019
Experience the Lunch Ceilidh at the Celtic Music Centre offered at the Ceilidh Pub, which happens seven days a week from June until the middle of October. You can enjoy authentic live Celtic music while dining on some of Nova Scotia’s favorite dishes and tasty desserts.
21. KitchenFest – Cape Breton – June 28 to July 7, 2019
Enjoy this annual celebration of Cape Breton-based Gaelic music, and gain up-close-and personal insight into this distinct and vibrant living culture, bringing the kitchen-ceilidh feel to the forefront. The festival takes place at 35+ venues across the Island.
22. Dominion Beach Provincial Park – Dominion
Dominion Beach Provincial Park is home to 1.5kms of sandy beach that you can relax on or you can go swimming in the ocean. It is a popular beach during the summer because it is located only 5 km from Sydney. During low tide, there are sand bars for you to explore and beach comb on.
23. Ben Eoin Provincial Park – Bras D’Or Lakes
This small secluded park is an old farm near the hardwood forest. Much of the park is undeveloped and this contributes to regional biodiversity by providing habitat for uncommon plants. There is a look off with a view of the East Bay at the top of the hill in Ben Eoin Provincial Park. There are picnic tables at the edge of the fields, so you should pack a picnic lunch to enjoy at the park.
24. Drive the Cabot Trail
The Cabot Trail is world famous and is a ‘must drive’ at least once. This stretch of highway will take you up mountains and down into valleys. You can drive Cabot Trail in one day, but most people take their time and make many stops along the way. So, you should plan to spend several days on the trail to have a truly memorable experience.
25. Meat Cove Campground – Capstick
You should plan to camp at the most northern tip of Cape Breton at the Meat Cove Campground. There are 30 campsites that you can stay at, which come with a grill, fire pit and picnic table. There are also beautiful cabins for rent, if roughing it isn’t your thing. You can swim, kayak, hike the trails or just reconnect with nature at this beautiful location.