When you want to get your fill of nature, Nova Scotia’s South Shoreis a great place to go. From really wild areas to oceanic vistas to green places amidst civilization, you truly have your pick of places. Whether you’re on your own, with buddies, or with kids, you’ll find your “must visits” on this list.
Bridgewater Skate Park
If you or someone with you love to skate, you’ve got to check out the Bridgewater Skate Park. It was opened in 2018 after many years of fundraising, brainstorming, and donations and it all paid off! It’s huge at 8,500 square feet, and it’s not just for skaters—bicycles and scooters can also be used. It’s a great community landmark and a great way to get some outdoor experience that gives kids a chance to go fast and play in a different kind of environment.
Address: 500 York Street, Bridgewater
Cape Sable Island
This is not the island with the horses, but it is the island with the drowned forest. When you go to the beach you’ll be able to see the forest at high tide…petrified trees from thousands of years ago. Cape Sable Island is also just a nice place to explore, and it’s perfect for bird watching. Best of all, it’s close to Halifax, so if you’re just trying to get away for a quick day trip, go and see the drowned trees!
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5 years ago if you told me I’d be living on cape island I’d think you were crazy. 7 months in… I sometimes miss the hustle & bustle of Halifax, but I’ve come to realize I live in the most beautiful spot/end of the province, and think everyday how lucky am I to be able to walk 5 min from home to this beautiful beach to walk our dog 🥰 🙌🏼 #thesimplethings #capesableisland #hopeidontgetanaccent
This Bridgewater trail is 8 km long that loops around and over the river. It’s partially wooded and partially close to town at the town centre. It’s a multi-use trail so if you want to bring bikes or ATVs that’s totally allowed. You can even ride horses!
Author’s Note: Part of this trail is quite close to a road that’s called “Harold Whynot Road”, and that makes me happy.
Address: See site for map
Chebogue Meadows Wilderness Trail
This trail isn’t particularly long at a 5.5 km loop, but as it’s only partly boardwalk it will feel like you’ve gotten into the wilderness. You’ll find both lake and woods views along the way, along with informative panels. If you want a quicker dose of nature than some of the longer trails offer, this is a great place to start.
Petite Riviere Vineyards
One of the few wineries in Nova Scotia that is known for producing great red wine.This is a French designed winery that has a large terrace overlooking their vineyard. The Vineyard now offers visitors the chance to buy picnic lunches from Wile’s Lake Farm Market to enjoy with their wine at the vineyard.
Address: 1300 Italy Cross Rd, Crousetown
Gaff Point Trail
If some people in your group want to go to the beach, while others want to hike, Gaff Point is a great compromise. The trail starts at Hirtles Beach, which is 3km long all on its own and it’s a big sandy beach, perfect for sunbathing and picnics (and depending on the time of year, swimming for the very cold-tolerant). The trail is a loop, and you can do it clockwise (which takes you by the coast), or you can do it counter clockwise (which takes you through the forest). Either way, it’s a 7.5km loop with some moderately difficult terrain. See what you feel like doing when you get there, and make sure to soak up the sun no matter what activity you choose!
Every island around Nova Scotia tells its own story and has its own role to play. Grave Island Provincial Park does have a nice 3.2 km trail, and you can sea kayak and bike around the island and nearby. But it’s main draw are its campgrounds. They have 95 sites, with about a third of them fully serviced, and you can do a walk-in site. Close to Lunenburg, Hubbards, Ross Farm, and more, this is a great place to make your base camp as you explore the South Shore.
Cost: Between 27$ and 36$ a night (note: prices may change depending on season and size of camping party)
Address: 230 Graves Island, East Chester
Hubbards Provincial Park
Great for day trips and camping alike, Hubbards is only 30 minutes outside of Halifax but it feels like a different planet. The beach is great with warmer-than-usual water, there are a few hiking trails, and of course you can camp out under the stars. If you like burgers and fries, the canteen is the place for you, but Hubbards has several great food options, including the world-famous Shore Club for lobster suppers. And if it rains, I highly recommend you check out the J.D. Shatford library, it’s great!
Cost: 3.00 for day visitors, between 38-45$ depending on site features
Phone: 902-857-9460 or toll free 1-855-858-9460
Address: Shore Club Road, Hubbards
This national park encloses a rugged area perfect for exploring. Another popular camping spot, it’s also a Dark Sky preserve, so staying to watch the stars is a must. There are plenty of trails to try that range from beginner to experience, you can also find beaches, and there’s abundant wildlife (just watch out for bears!)
Cost: 5.90 for adults daily pass, 5.00 for seniors daily, free for youths, 12$ for a family. Seasonal passes are 30.05 (adults), 25.04 (seniors), 60.20 (family), and free for youth.
Phone: 1-877-737-3783 (for camping)
Address: 3005 Kejimkujik National Park
These islands are a great place to explore, and there is a company that will help you do it. Cape LaHave Adventures provides tours of the islands and the surrounding waters, including kayaks and stand-up paddleboard (SUP). You can also camp on the islands and enjoy yoga in the mornings to get the full island experience. There are different times for the tours and different durations, so you’re sure to find one that suits your party.
Cost: Depends on activity, see website for options and price breakdowns
Address (office): 90 Bells Cove Road, Dublin Shore
Lunenburgis incredibly important to the history of Nova Scotia, not least because it’s the site where the Bluenose II was built. It’s a beautiful little town, literally out of a postcard (if you’re looking at Nova Scotia themed postcards, odds are there’ll be a few Lunenburg ones). There are a few cool museums, a nice trail that takes you through the town, and great restaurants and shops. If you want to go somewhere for peace and quiet but you don’t feel like camping, Lunenburg is a great option.
Cost: Various costs for the different museums, otherwise just the cost of getting there.
Phone: (902) 634-4410
Ah, Oak Island, an island with an eternal mystery: is there actually a treasure there, or has someone been trolling the world since the 1700s? It’s a pirate treasure story, so who knows; what we do know is that the story of people trying to find it is just as fascinating as the supposed treasure. The guided tour of the island takes about 2 hours and takes you past all the major landmarks (including, of course, the Money Pit). Make your own treasure out of memories as you explore the mysterious island.
Cost: 49.90 a ticket
Address: Oak Island
When my sister was very young, she asked to go see the chickens here, because “they’re not scary!” (this was right after a lion roared very loudly). It’s still one of my family’s favourite places to go, because they have an incredible variety of animals from all over the world, it’s well laid out so there isn’t too much walking involved, and it has a great gift shop. You’ll find everything from African Crested Porcupines to Zonkeys, get to see the big cats being fed, and just enjoy being around animals in a pretty zoo.
Cost: 9.50$ for adults, 5$ for students, 6.50 for seniors, 3.50 for kids 3-12, free for 2 and under
Address: 1007 Ward Road, Aylesford
The Ovens is a park that sticks in your mind for years; it’s genuinely one of the most haunting places I’ve ever been. There’s a stark beauty to the cliff trail that winds right above the sea caves, and the noise of the water rushing in and out is all you can hear. If you want to get closer to the caves, you can take a kayak tour, and if the kids aren’t finding it super thrilling there is a playground on the property. You can even camp out there if you want to wake up with the tides. I don’t think I can do it justice in words or even pictures: you need to see it in person to understand.
Cost: 10$ for adult day visitors, 5$ for children. 35$ a night for unserviced camp sites, 60$ a night for serviced camp sites, see website for cottage rates.
Address: 326 Ovens Road, Riverport
Peggy’s Cove is another postcard location, and like Lunenburg, it’s that way for a reason. It’s a beautiful cove, with buildings that look like they’re from another time, the gorgeous ocean views, and the iconic lighthouse. The trails are also great and provide another view of the area. But it’s more than just beauty—this place feels real in a way some historic places just can’t manage. You don’t even have to close your eyes to imagine being there a hundred years ago, just keep your eyes on the horizon and watch the boats come in. Whether you explore by land or by sea, Peggy’s Cove will let you step into the past, if only for an afternoon.
Cost: Free for walking and hiking, Various prices for renting sea equipment
Address: Lap map available for download on the site
This park is quite new, only established in 2017. Pijinusikaq is the Mi’kmaq name for the LaHave River, and it means “river of long joints/ river branches”. This park was dedicated by both the Mi’kmaq and the residents of Bridgewater, and sits right along the river it’s named for. It’s a lovely green space that almost feels like a promise, a promise to do better and be kinder to each other and to nature, no matter our differences.
Address: King Street, Bridgewater
Pirates have a long and storied history in Nova Scotia, and so do privateers (since a lot of the time they were just pirates with permission). Privateer Park doesn’t include much of the more violent parts of that history—in fact, it’s a nice, quiet park. There are gardens and walking paths, along with picnic tables, a playground, and you can canoe there. But the imagination runs wild in the fog, and I’m sure on a cold and foggy day it wouldn’t be too hard to close your eyes and picture those ships sailing under cover of darkness, ready to pick up rum and men to sail off to parts unknown.
Address: 94 Henry Hensey Drive, Liverpool
Nova Scotia is famous for its beaches, but some aren’t as well known to people who come from away. Locals will recognize Risser’s Beach as a great 1.5 km long beach with hiking trails in the inland marshes and camp sites. The beach is close to Bridgewater, so if you’re staying around there this is perfect for a day trip. The beach is supervised in July and August and it’s a great place to look for seashells, so check it out!
Cost: 27-36 nightly depending on season and camp site.
Address: 5366 Highway 331 Crescent Beach
Nova Scotia, of course, is a peninsula. But it has a peninsular of its own, called Second Peninsula Provincial Park. It’s lovingly called a picnic park, because it’s set up with tables and big grassy areas to accommodate any kind of picnic. Once you’ve eaten, you can always go for a walk under the spruce and fir trees, or head down to the Cobble beach. It’s very close to Lunenburg, so it makes a good outing if you’re staying there, and the view is really lovely. Pack up a picnic (don’t forget the utensils or a way to drink the fluids you bring, long story), and head out to a park that is all about picnics.
Address: 781 Second Peninsula Road, Second Peninsula
South Shore Boat Tours
When you’re next to the ocean all the time, the urge to be out on it can be overwhelming. But if you’re not a strong swimmer (or if it’s too cold to swim, which is often), and you don’t have your own boat, the next idea is to take a boat tour. South Shore Boat Tours is located in Mahone Bay, and they do tours around the Mahone Bay Islands and even out to Oak Island. You’ll see gorgeous waves, incredible sunsets if you go for the sunset cruise, and you just might see some puffins too!
Address: 683 Main Street, Mahone Bay
Thomas Raddall Park
Thomas Raddall is a famous Nova Scotian—my favourite reason is that he was a writer, I enjoy his books. The park named for him overlooks Port Joli Harbour, and it’s right across the way from Kejimkujik. It’s a big park with plenty of places to explore: three beaches, 11km of trails, camp sites, and seabird sanctuaries nearby. It’ll give you a great chance for a long day in nature. Maybe you’ll even write a book about it!
Cost: 27$ a night
Phone: 902-683-2664, 1-888-544-3434
Address: 529 Raddall Park Road, East Port l’Hébert
The Tobeatic Wilderness is a designated UNESCO Biosphere that stretches over 5 counties to protect local biodiversity. It’s largely untouched wilderness in order to protect habitats, but there are places that you can go as people. Trout Lodge is one of those places; you can stay her and participate in various activities like forest bathing and hiking. You’ll find this quiet escape in the middle of the wilderness beautiful, especially since it’s a Starlight Reserve so you can enjoy natural beauty day and night.
Cost: Varies by length of stay and package options
Address: Driving directions at this link
Tusket Islands Tour
The Tusket Islands tour is a popular way to explore these islands. Run by the LeBlanc brothers, the tour will teach you about the history of the islands while providing fresh seafood chowder on the island, allowing you to haul a real lobster trap, and you get live entertainment as you return from your chowder meal to the mainland. This tour has great reviews and has been running for several years now, and it’s great for the whole family. If you want, you can even rent the boat for a private charter, either for cruising or for deep sea fishing. Make new friends, enjoy great food, and have fun on the water!
Cost: 87$ per adult, 55$ for youth under 18, and kids under 5 come for free. It’s 115$ per person for a fishing charter, minimum of 4 people.
Address: Wedgeport Nova Scotia
White Point Beach
White Point Beach Resort is a well-known and well-loved gem of Nova Scotian hospitality. Even if you just want to visit for the day instead of staying there, it’s well worth it. The surfing is great, you can rent a canoe or a kayak, and you just might get a glimpse of Piping Plovers, as part of the beach is a sanctuary for these adorable birds. If you’re on a family vacation I’d highly recommend staying here (my family’s done it a bunch over the years), as they’ve got even more activities for guests of all ages. It’s also a great base if you want to explore the South Shore on day trips, as it’s reasonably close to several places on this list.
Cost: 95$ gives you full access to all of White Point Recreation facilities if you’re visiting for a day; if you’re staying at the resort, night rates vary depending on season and packages.
Phone: 1-800-565-5068 or 902-354-2711
Address: 75 White Point Beach Resort Road, White Point