Hail to the Queens—well, Queens County. Nestled beside several counties, Queens holds a special place in southern Nova Scotia. They’ve got a bunch of parks, a few trails, and some uniquely beautiful spots to enjoy. When you’re in Queens County, every day is a chance for a new outdoor adventure.
Go to the Beach Park
Going to the beach as a family is a great way to spend a summer day. Beach Meadows Municipal Beach is only a 10-minute drive from Liverpool, and it’s a perfect place to go. Not only does it have a kilometre of gorgeous white sand, it’s accessible so everyone can enjoy. There’s also a picnic area and a playground away from the beach, so you can seek out some shade and less-sandy fun.
Address: Highway 3, 10 minutes east of Liverpool
Camp in Bear Falls
If your vacation is going to focus on exploring the outdoors, why not stay in it? Bear Falls Wilderness is a campsite that prides itself on being welcoming and eco-friendly. They have one cottage, and the rest of the park is campsites—some along the river, some deeper into the woods. The river itself is good for swimming and boating, particularly if you want to enjoy the rapids downstream! They offer several recreation options, including volleyball, washer toss, and croquet, so you can find lots of vacation fun just outside your tent!
Visit the Fishing Picnic Park
Whether you plan to catch your lunch, or you’ve brought sandwiches, fishing days always include a break to eat. If you’re looking to fish, Ponhook Lake is a great option, because you can go right across the street to Cameron’s Brook Park to eat. Cameron’s Brook is a small park next to the brook that serves as a rest stop for travellers weary of the road (or fishermen ready to take a break). It’s a lovely spot to take a break, however long your break might be (and listen, sunrise to sunset is a break on vacation).
Address: 7900 Highway 8, South Brookfield
Find the Tropics in Nova Scotia
If you’re staying near Port Mouton, you need to check out Carters Beach. Several people have noted that with its white sand crescent beaches—three in total—it looks like a tropical beach. The water is clear, and you’ll get decent waves, but be ready for some not-so-tropical cold water. Don’t be alarmed by the cars—there’s not a ton of parking space, so it looks like the beach may be crowded when it’s not. Visitors suggest parking a little way away and then walking to this lovely beach.
Address: Carters Beach Road, Port Mouton
Visit a Riverside Park
One of the larger population centres in Queen’s County, Liverpool has many beautiful outdoor spaces even within the town’s limits. One such park is Centennial Park on the Mersey River. There’s a playground and walking paths to explore, as well as gardens and picnic tables to enjoy. This park is close to several other destinations on this list and many other landmarks in Liverpool, so it’s a great place to stop for a meal or to enjoy a low-energy day by the river.
Address: 38 Henry Hensey Drive, Liverpool
See the Island of Many Lighthouses
Despite the morbid sounding name, Coffin Island isn’t an island of graves—in fact, it was named for Peleg Coffin, a grantee of Liverpool back in the day. The island has an interesting history of lighthouses—the first was one of the oldest in Nova Scotia and was technologically advanced for the day, but then it was struck by lightning and burned down in 1913 (which I guess is one way for a lighthouse to provide light). The second lighthouse was replaced in 2006 due to shore erosion. If you want to go out to the island you can via boat, but you can also see the island and lighthouse from Fort Lighthouse Park (see below).
Cost: Cost to get to the lighthouse
Address: Liverpool Bay
Find the Garden of Statues
When you go to Cosby’s Garden Centre, some of the most fascinating things you’ll see there aren’t plants at all—in fact, they’re made of concrete! Local sculptor Ivan Higgins has filled the Sculpture Garden with several of his creations, including the ‘Mystic Warrior’ fountain and the ‘Enchanting Castle’. You’ll find beautiful flowers and stunning statues creating a picture together, perfect for inspiring your own outdoor designs; maybe you’ll find some flowers to take home!
Cost: Depends on if you buy anything!
Address: 4122 Sandy Cove Road, Brooklyn
Walk in Dwight’s Footsteps
If you saw my article about Lunenburg County, you might remember that there were several trails in that county that connected to each other. The Dwight Crouse Memorial Trail actually connects Queens to Lunenburg, as its east end connects to the Bull Run Trail. It’s a 70-inch-wide trail—not sure why they wouldn’t just say it’s almost six feet wide, but maybe 70 is someone’s favourite number. Dwight Crouse was once the president of the Queens Rails to Trails association and worked with Ducks Unlimited, so I’m sure he’d be delighted by the beautiful trail named in his honour, and even happier that people can come and enjoy it.
Address: Brooklyn, Queens
Bring Your Dog to the Beach
If you’ve got a four-legged friend with you, Eagle Head Beach is a great place for a beach walk for you and your dog. It’s a quieter beach with limited parking, so make sure to come early. It’s a wide white sand beach with fairly calm surf and lots of room to play fetch. Humans can come sans doggo to swim or beach walk, just be ready to make new furry friends!
Address: Haughn’s Road, Off Route 3
Step into History by the Lighthouse
As I mentioned above, Fort Point Lighthouse Park is a great place to see Coffin Island. The history of this park stretches back centuries; in fact, this is where deMonts and Chamberlain landed all the way back in 1604. The park has interpretive panels to explore that history, and they also offer guided tours, which include visiting the park’s own lighthouse. They’ve also got a tearoom with local Nova Scotian food and a gift shop, so you can enjoy a day full of local flavour inside and out.
Cost: Depends on what you get at the gift shop!
Address: 21 Fort Lane, Liverpool
Phone: 9002-354-5741 or 1-800-655-5741
Boat At the Park
Mersey River is a beautiful feature of Queens County, and there are several parks where you can go to enjoy riverside nature. At Garika Park, you can do a bit more—you can actually launch a boat at this park. Whether you’re renting or you’ve brought your own water vehicle, you can launch at Garika and enjoy this part of the Mersey River. Have a picnic when you’ve explored the river to your heart’s content, and don’t worry about having to use the bathroom, since there’s a Shell gas station a 3-minute walk away.
Address: 314 Highway 8, Milton
Hunts Point Beach is popular among locals and visitors alike, mostly because it’s a wonderful place for swimming as it’s sheltered in the cove. It’s also near a restaurant with ice cream, which is always a plus. You’ll also be able to see the Hunt’s Point Wharf at one end of the beach, where lobster fishing boats come in and out with the tides. It’s an awesome place for a family beach day on the white sands.
Address: Highway 3, 5-7 minutes west of Liverpool
Sleep Under the Stars
Ah, Kejimkujik National Park, or Keji (keh-gee) as some people call it. This national park has something for everyone: walking paths, backcountry hiking, kayaking, camping, abundant wildlife, and a chance to explore the history of the Mi’kmaq people in the area. At night, you can enjoy spectacular views of the stars at this Dark Sky preserve, right before you tuck yourself into your sleeping bag and enjoy a night in the wilderness.
Address: 1188 St Catherine’s River Road, Port Joli
Phone: 902-682-2772 (May to October) or 902-682-2770 (January to May)
Ponder the Pond
The ponds of Nova Scotia are often overlooked, which I guess makes sense since they can be quite small. It’s important to celebrate them when you find them, and Meadow Pond Park does this admirably. Just outside of Liverpool, Meadow Pond has picnic tables by the pond as well as a viewing platform, perfect if you want to paint or take pictures, or simply enjoy this moment in nature. And if you sit there long enough, you’ll see fish using the fish ladder up and out of the pond.
Address: 33 White Point Road, Liverpool
Pretty in Pines Park
If you want to see something pretty, you should visit Pine Grove Park. This park has wide walking paths about 2 km long that will take you through the white pines and past beautiful gardens. With a mix of native flowers and planted magnolias, azaleas and so much more, you’ll be at peace before you even get to the lookout picnic site, overlooking Mersey River. You’re also likely to see some ducks, since Ducks Unlimited have protected Pine Grove as a duck breeding area—keep your eyes open for nests and stay away from the babies, because the mamas will not be impressed.
Walk the Rocky Shore
Granite Village has a beautiful park called Port L’Hébert, which is close to Thomas Raddall Park (see below), and Liverpool. This coastal park has a unique aesthetic, even for Nova Scotia. The 2.1 km trail winds in a loop through hardwoods and boulders out to the coast. You’re also likely to see some birds overhead, since it’s also close to a migratory bird sanctuary.
Address: 11183 Highway 103, Granite Village
Pirates at the Park
Privateers were essentially government-sanctioned pirates, so Privateer Park could also be called “Legal Pirate Park”, but I guess that name isn’t as cool. It’s right beside the water, just down the street from Centennial Park in fact, but it’s much bigger. There’s a playground and walking trails to burn off some steam, and lots of places for a picnic. Keep an eye out for buried treasure, and (more likely) for events that might be going on in the park, especially around Talk Like A Pirate Day!
Address: 94 Henry Hensey Drive
The Association’s Trail
The Queens Rails to Trails Association takes care of all the trails in Queens County, so it makes sense that there’s a trail named after them. The Queens Rails to Trails is 34 km long and connects the Summerville Beach Provincial Park (see below) and then continues on to Shelburne County’s Woodland Multiuse trail. The Queens Rails to Trails trail heads through the forest and along the coast, ready to welcome everyone from walkers to off-highway vehicles to horse riders.
Address: Port Mouton
Come to the Cultural Centre
The Rossignol Cultural Centre is made up of multiple museums. There’s a wildlife museum that has a stuffed giraffe, the Outhouse Museum is fun, and the Guide Sports, Hunting, Fishing, and Mi’kmaq museum does exactly what it says on the tin. There’s also plenty to see on the outdoor grounds, with teepees, a blockhouse, and a replica of Maud Lewis’ house. It’s a great place inside and out, perfect for learning all about the history of Liverpool and the people who’ve lived in the area.
Cost: 5$ for adults, 4$ for seniors, 3$ for students, free for kids under 6
Address: 205 Church Street, Liverpool
Swimming for the Small
Enjoying the beach can be tricky if there aren’t strong swimmers in your group. If that’s the case for you, Summerville Beach Provincial Park has the solution! This beach is 1 kilometre long with shallow water, so you can enjoy the water with even the tiniest of tiny people. They’ve got washrooms, change rooms, and picnic tables, so you can make a real beach day out of it.
Address: Highway 3, Summerville Centre
Have a Ten-Miles Picnic
Picnic parks are a great way to enjoy the outdoors, and Queens County has Ten Mile Lake Provincial Park on offer. The park’s right on the shore, so you can take a swim in the lake before or after your picnic lunch. You can also bring a boat to enjoy the lake further, especially for sport fishing. Hang out under the pines and hemlock and enjoy a lakeside picnic.
Address: 3933 Highway 8 Middlefield
Explore the Writer’s Park
Thomas Raddall Provincial Park is a huge place to enjoy the coastal wilderness of Nova Scotia. Named for a famous writer (his books are great, you should check one out while you’re here), the park has over 11 km of hiking trails. There’s also several secluded beaches, campsites, and historical landmarks. If you’re camping at the park, there’s also plenty of cool places nearby, including Fort Lighthouse Park (see above), and four (yes four) migratory seabird sanctuaries, so if you’re a birder you’ll get plenty of chances to see your favourites.
Cost: 27$ for camping
Address: 529 Raddall Park Road, East Port l’Hébert
Phone: 902-683-2664 or 902-354-3462 or 888-5544-3434
Wear Earplugs to the Lighthouse
If you’re heading to Western Head Lighthouse, make sure that you’ve got earplugs on a foggy day. The lighthouse is a weather station, an unmanned light, and a dutiful foghorn, which is very loud. The lighthouse is surrounded by fields on one side and rocks leading out to the water on the other, which makes it a beautiful place for pictures regardless of the weather. It’s right on the edge of Liverpool Bay, close to Fort Point Lighthouse Park—they’re lighthouse neighbours, just around the corner.
Address: 159 Lighthouse Road, Western Head
See the White Point Bunnies
White Point Beach Resort is a well-known destination in Atlantic Canada. From the bunnies to the golf course, everything at White Point comes together to create an aesthetic of casual outdoor beauty and providing a great place to stay. You can use the facilities if you buy a day pass, but the real experience comes if you stay, when you can enjoy the beach, the trails, canoes and kayaks, outdoor scavenger hunts, and so much more. This is a particularly great place to come as a family; there’s so many activities for kids that there’s something for everyone to enjoy regardless of weather.
Cost: Depends on what you’re doing there—look at site to plan your visit
Address: 75 White Point Beach Resort Road, White Point
Why Not Indeed?
If you’re going to Kejimkujik as a beginner, the park might feel overwhelming. Never fear—Whynot Adventure is here to help! They’ve got rentals for everything from camping to paddle boarding, as well as shuttles to pick you up and bring you back to your starting point. If you want more guidance, they can do that too—they’ve got everything from quick tours to multiple-day canoeing adventures through the park and beyond.
Cost: Depends on activity
Address: 1507 Main Park Way, Kejimkujik National Park
By: Adrienne Colborne