King’s County is…well, it’s a bit confusing. It’s confusing because this is where you find the Annapolis Valley. Not in Annapolis County, but in King’s County. Ah well, someone had to draw the line somewhere. This also means that a visit to this county lets you enjoy all this incredible Valley has to offer, along with the New Minas Basin and Gaspereau. The outdoors comes in many forms in King’s County, and they’re all just waiting for your visit.
Take a Tidal Hike
If you’ve had fun at Kingsport Beach but want to have an adventure, hike 4km and you’ll find Medford Beach and its trail. This trail is fascinating, because for many hours of the day it just doesn’t exist—once again, the Bay of Fundy’s tides create a regularly changing landscape. When the tide is low, you can hike on the ocean floor and next to gorgeous sandstone formations for up to 4 hours, but watch the clock! Once the tide comes in you’ll get stuck, and there are ways off the beach but they’re not fun and you’re going to get muddy. So check the tides, make sure you have about 6 hours before the tide will rise, and experience the ocean floor when it’s nearly dry. Note: I did say nearly, make sure that you have shoes ready for some mud and wet.
Address: Highway 221, Kingsport Wharf gives you access
Visit A Sparkling Vineyard
Benjamin Bridge Vineyards is the perfect place to stop if you love sparkling wine. The terroir in Gaspereau is apparently remarkably similar to that of Champagne in France, so their grapes produce wine of equal quality. They have two options for tastings, one that lets you try several types, and one that lets you try several types with food (so you win either way). Benjamin Bridge also encourages you to explore the vineyard, taking a quick tour around the property to see the grapes growing into delicious wine. If you’ve got a love for wine and a free afternoon or evening, Benjamin Bridge is a stunning and relaxing place to enjoy some fancy, local bubbly.
Cost: 12$ per person for open tastings, 250$ per group for estate tasting. You’re also welcome to walk the property.
Address: 1966 White Rock Road, Gaspereau
Find All Your Golfing Needs
Golf is one of those hobbies that requires a lot of gear, so you may not have been able to bring your own clubs on your trip. Fear not, because at Berwick Height Golf Course their pro shop rents and sells everything from tees to clubs to clothing. They have eighteen holes to play with on beautiful greens surrounded by stately trees and pretty (and probably pretty annoying) water features. You can book a tee time whether you’re a member or not, and then finish the day at their restaurant, which features relaxed dining and good hearty food for golfers of all ages.
Address: 3060 Highway 221 Weston
Choose Your Own Adventure Trails
Black Rock Trails is a collection of trails along the eastern part of Annapolis Valley, and there’s something here for everyone. With the trails coded by colour on the map, you can take a short loop,take a hike down to the beach (watch the tides, you can only walk this during low tide), or just enjoy getting deep into the woods if you walk the whole thing. There’s lots to explore, so what are you waiting for?
Address: Trailhead—4404 Black Rock Road, Black Rock (it’s behind the Black Rock Culture & Recreation Center)
Blomidon Provincial Park
If you’ve been following along with the other county adventures, you’ll know that the Bay of Fundy plays a big role in the natural beauty of the area. Blomidon Provincial Park is a great place to enjoy it. There are high cliffs and high tides on the beach, plenty of different ecosystems, and a thousand places to take beautiful pictures. Camp out here and take a few days to enjoy the park in its entirety, because with the way the tides move here,you’ll have a new adventure and a new view every few hours.
Cost: Free to visit, camping costs depend on season
Address: 3138 Pereau Road, Canning, NS
Bike Down A Hill, 4X Style
Look, sometimes you just have to go fast, and if you’re not much of a runner, you go for a bike. Burgher Hill understands this well, and it has provided a 4X (4-cross) track down the hill. 4X is essentially mountain biking plus BMX racing, and this hill has it all, with bridges, jumps, rollers, and a rock garden. People of any age and experience are able to try different parts of the hill (you must wear a helmet at all times), so if you’ve got a daredevil or two on your hands, this is the place to go! If that’s not your speed, you can always enjoy the picnic area and watch the delightful chaos. And if you enjoy it in the summer, come back in the winter for sledding fun!
Address: 96 Main Street, Kentville
Hike to the Best View in the Bay (One of Them, At Least)
Blomidon provides great views, but if you want an unfettered view of the Bay and you’re willing to walk the distance, Cape Split is your destination. It’s a 16 KM hike from the trailhead out to the lookout, where you can see far out over Cobequid Bay and the Bay of Fundy. The view is well worth the hike according to most, so make a day of it!Also keep an eye out, because the Nova Scotian Government has purchased land around the trail and is planning on making more trails in the area.
Address: 999 Cape Split Road, Canning
Picnic Under the Pines
I love the concept of a picnic park, because its purpose is so clear and fun at the same time. It understands that sometimes you want to eat outside without having to do a major walkabout. Clairmont Provincial Park does just this; it’s a beautiful little park with lots of space for picnics and pine trees towering over you. This is very important in the summer, because the Annapolis Valley can get hot, and shade is a welcome respite if you haven’t had a chance to go swimming. Kick back, relax, and snack in the sun.
Address: 1405 Highway 1, Kingston
Enjoy the Falls
When you go on a hike to a waterfall, it’s important to have lots of ways to enjoy it. Crystal Falls Trail provides just that—there’s a loop above the falls, you can cross a bridge that will show you the falls head on, or you can go further down closer to the base. It’s a pleasant trail year-round, but the summer provides yet another way to enjoy the falls—you can jump from them into the pools below. The trail is roughly 3.7 km and can be steep in some parts, so look for a walking stick along the way (or bring your own!)
Address: Directions are here
Play Golf with Frisbees
Most people have thrown a frisbee in their lives; some have even played Ultimate Frisbee. Most people know how golf works, even if they’ve never played it. But how many people have combined the two? New Minas has created a Disc Golf course at Lockhart & Ryan Park. The aim of the game is to throw discs into baskets, and there are different weights (like different kinds of gold clubs). It’s free for everyone to enjoy, and between throwing the discs (and then going to pick them up after you’ve missed them, which will happen, no judgement) and walking between the holes, it’s a great workout for everyone involved.
Cost: Free, you can borrow discs from the rec centre
Address: Lockhart & Ryan Park
Go Tubing Along
Sometimes you don’t want to go fast, but you still feel like moving. And on hot days, the only way you want to move involves water in some way. If these sound familiar, allow me to introduce you to tubing on the Gaspereau River! You can float down the river in your very own tube, and while the river will carry you along it’s not whitewater by any means. Chill out with family and friends as you float along, and hey, if it gets too hot you can always instigate a splash war!
Cost: Approximately 3$ per tube
Address: Gaspereau River
Hike or Bike the Gorge
The Gorge sounds intimidating, bringing to mind deep chasms and difficult terrain, but that’s not what it’s all about (not all gorges are spooky!). It’s a 64.5-acre woodland space filled with trails. Some trails are best suited for mountain biking, while others are perfect for walking and hiking. There’s a bike repair station at the trailhead, and a skills park so you can practice your best bike moves before you head off. I guess this is a place where you can really gorge yourself on nature (the puns will never stop).
Address: 53 Gladys Porter Drive
Step into the Acadian Past
If you’re at all interested in Acadian history, you’ve got to check out Grand Pré. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site that preserves the memory of Acadian life before, during, and after le grand derangement, or the deportation. Take a tour of the site, wander the landscape, and eat Fring Frang, an Acadian dish I will not describe because it’s hilarious and you should hear it firsthand. Make sure to visit the statue of Evangeline, and let her know that Gabriel never stopped looking for her, and that she will see him again.
Cost: $7.90 for adults, seniors $6.60
Address: 2205 Grand Pré Road, Grand Pré
Phone: 902-542-1691 or 1-866-542-3631
Visit a Beach Fit for a King
This is a pleasant little beach that has King in the name, which is how you know it has to be in King’s County. Kingsport Beach is on the Minas Basin, so you’ll be able to explore the ocean floor or swim, depending on what tide it is. There are races against the tide, so that’s something to watch sometimes. You’re also welcome to bring a water vehicle of some type if you want to explore beyond the shore, and apparently the fishing’s good here too!
Cost: Free, need to buy a pass if you want to boat
Address: NS-221 Canning
By George, What A Great Lake to Swim In!
Swimming in Nova Scotia isn’t restricted to the ocean, of course, and lakes like Lake George provide a great deal of watery fun without salt. Only 16 km south of Berwick, you’ll find the sandy beaches perfect for picnics in between bouts of swimming. You’re also welcome to bring canoes and kayaks, and as a nice touch part of the water is roped off for just swimming, so boaters don’t have any collisions (which is great because that spoils the day really fast). Enjoy the peace and quiet and cool off on hot days at a lake designed to make sure everyone has a wonderful time. They even have changerooms so you don’t have to change in the back of the car, which is uncomfortable and annoying.
Address: 125 North River Road, Lake George
Ride the Magic Wine Bus
Now this isn’t the Magic School Bus, but it’s got its own charms. The Magic Winery Bus takes you on a tour of five different vineyards in and around Wolfville in a double decker bus that’s painted beautifully. You get at least an hour at each vineyard at to explore and taste, and you can stay longer if you want, as buses will come every hour to take you on to the next destination. Round up the 19+ members of your party and hop on the bus for great company, great vineyard tours, and great wine.
Address: Leaves from 11 Willow Avenue, Wolfville
Find Memories of a Mill
McMaster Mill Park is the former home of…well, the McMaster Mill. The trails that wind through the park are mainly loops and are all contained to an acre of land. There’s plenty to explore, from the remnants of the mill itself to views of the gorge below (not the same gorge as above, please exercise caution). It’s a pretty park to wander, but if you want to do something more specific, check out the link below. The McMaster Mill Adventure was designed with families in mind, but a lot of the activities look super fun, and I’m in my twenties, so take that for what it’s worth. Whatever you decide, take the time to make memories in the McMaster Mill Park.
Address: Rocknotch Road, Kingston
Spend the Day at the Park
Provincial and Natural Parks are great, they truly are. But sometimes, especially with kids, going out into even tamer wilderness can be daunting. Luckily, Nova Scotia is also home to lots of great playgrounds and parks, and Kentville’s Memorial Park is a standout example. This park has everything: five ball fields, four soccer fields, a skate park, a playbox, a splash pad, basketball courts, and even a pool! Take a day and tour around the park, trying out whatever suits your fancy. Everyone enjoys the outdoors at their own pace, and sometimes you just want to play in the sun and have fun; Memorial Park is happy to help.
Address: 125 Park Street, Kentville
Search for Ducks at Miner’s Marsh
Another Ducks Unlimited property, the Miner’s Marsh sits on the edge of the Cornwallis River. With ponds and trails to explore, the Marsh is accessible to everyone, including those with limited mobility. It’s a very popular spot for birdwatching (especially ducks), and the signage will help you identify other wildlife in the area. And if you get tired of exploring, satisfy your curiosity with the Adventure outlined at the link below, made by the same people who made the McMaster Mill Park’s Adventure.
Address: Barklay Street, Kentville
U-Pick the Berries, then U-Eat them!
My Country Magic is a wonderful place to go if you love to pick your own produce. I say produce because while this was once called Blueberry Acres, the property now offers all kinds of U-Picks, like raspberries, strawberries, potatoes, onions, and more. Come down when your favourites are in season and get ready to spend some time in the sun choosing your very own food, picking only the best (of course), and daydream about what you’ll make with it all. Personally I love making blueberry crisp, but this summer I’m going to get all the berries and make a bumbleberry crisp!
Cost: 2.55 per pound of blueberries, 3.50 per pint of raspberries
Address: 1225 Middle Dyke Road, Centerville
Visit the A to Z Zoo
Oaklawn Farm Zoo is a must-stop, because how on earth could you miss seeing lions, tigers, and…well, no bears, but they have a zonkey, oh my! This zoo is home to dozens of species and is designed to have maximum viewing with minimal walking, perfect for a family outing. They’ve got a great gift shop and canteen too, so you’re sure to have a long and pleasant day seeing real animals and then buying their stuffed counterparts while you munch on hot dogs. If you go later in the day you’re likely to see the big cats getting fed (which is always a cool show), and if you’re up for more adventure, take the route my family did and go to the next entry on the list!
Cost: 9.50 for adults, 6.50 for seniors, 5.00 for students, 3.50 for children 3-12
Address: After Exit 16 of Highway 101, see blue signs
Drive in to the Drive-In Theatre
One of the first times that my family went to the Oaklawn Farm Zoo, we saw the animals, had supper, and then we went to the Valley Drive-in Theatre. It’s pretty close by, so as long as everyone is game it makes for a great end to the day. Even if you’re just going to the Drive-In, it’s a great evening experience. There’s a field close by where you can run around before the movie (it’s recommended to get there fairly early to get good parking), and they’ve got snacks and drinks galore. Check out the listings, and if there’s something you’ve been wanting to see, why not watch it under the stars?
Cost: 28$ carload, 20$ couple, 12$ single
Address: 5934 Highway #1 Cambridge NS
Get a Full Body Fitness Park Experience
At the Stronach Park and Fitness Trail in Kingston, you can do more than hike the trail. As you walk and/or run the trail, you’ll find several ‘fitness stops’ along the way. They’ve got chin-up bars, a chain wall, monkey bars, and a couple other stops I’ll leave for you to discover. None of it’s mandatory, of course, but it makes it more of an adventure down the trail to see what you’re going to do next, and it breaks up your regularly scheduled walk and/or run. The rest of Stronach Park is also well worth exploring, but my recommendation is to start out on the 700m Fitness Trail. Changing up your routine can be invigorating!
Address: Bridge Street, Kingston
Visit a Labyrinth of Flowers
The Tangled Garden was designed by Beverly, and over thirty years has grown to be a gorgeous garden with labyrinths of garden paths, classic garden rooms, and actual labyrinths! You’ll find natural beauty of all kinds here; you can even see the Bay of Fundy from some parts. You can wander alone, or you can take a tour with Beverly herself and enjoy the tea room afterwards. Come see why this is one of six Canadian gardens included in “The Gardener’s Garden”, a collection of gardens all over the world.
Cost: 8$ for self-directed tour, 50$ for a personalized tour and tea
Address: 11827 Highway 1, Grand Pre
Walk with Valley Ghosts
If your interests in history tend more towards the dark and spooky side of things, the Valley Ghost Walks are perfect for you! Jerome the Gravekeeper will take you on a tour through the supernatural history of various places in the Valley (depends on the night), and you may just run into some friends of his. Despite it being spooky, it’s still family friendly, so as long as everyone’s okay with getting a bit scared, this could be a unique and fun family outing! And if everyone ends up sleeping in the same room afterwards, well…isn’t togetherness part of family vacations? Sweet dreams!
Cost: 20$ for adults, seniors and students 16$
Address: Meet at the Main Street Station (note: subject to change)