Help a Reader Travel: Nova Scotia

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Welcome to another post of helping a reader travel!

This weekly post is to help readers get travel advice from thousand of Deals We Like blog readers. Thus far, we’ve been able to help other readers travel to a many domestic and international destinations. Check out recent destinations and comment on suggestions here.

I was in the midst of a series covering different cities in Germany, but I received an urgent request from a reader about upcoming plans to Nova Scotia. I’ll be back to covering Germany next week, not to worry!

Here is an email from reader Sara asking for help for Nova Scotia:

“We are looking to go to Nova Scotia this summer and we’re looking for some suggestions.  Right now, our plan is to fly into Halifax, NS and then make our way down to Yarmouth, NS over the course of a week. We will then take a ferry out of Yarmouth to Portland, ME and then spend a week in Maine (a place we know and love).  What are some not to be missed places we should be sure to see in Nova Scotia?  Should we take the Northern Route (101) or the Southern Route (103) or is it worth zig zagging through? Thanks so much for the suggestions!”

If you’ve ever been to Nova Scotia and have any recommendations, let’s help out reader Sara by commenting below.

Also, if you have any upcoming travel where you need some help, feel free to email me at to be a featured “Help a Reader Travel” Monday special. Thanks!


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  1. I grew up in Nova Scotia and actually worked for tourism Nova Scotia in college.

    In general I prefer the Southern route, some highlights:

    – Peggy’s Cove
    – Lunenburg
    – Chester

    If you go the 101:

    – Wolfville
    – The Annapolis Valley has some great wineries (
    – Digby


    I wouldn’t zig-zag, I think you may have enough time to drive the entire coastal route (101 & 103), prob 8 hours of total driving time.

    Halifax is great, lots of fun things to do bars, restaurants, great seafood. Very walkable.

    To avoid: I know you can’t avoid it per se, but I wouldn’t spend much time in Yarmouth.

  2. I second Peggy’s Cove. Possibly the most beautiful lighthouse I have ever seen (I’ve been in all 50 states). The Bay of Fundy (Fundy National Park) is neat if you’re in the area. Time your visit when the tide is out – it rises 50 feet – so you can walk on the floor of the bay. (Don’t linger when the water is coming in! It comes really fast.) Cape Breton is also nice, but skip it if you’re short on time. I recall Novia Scotia as being cool. You’ll need a jacket at night.

  3. Halifax is very nice. I recommend the Halifax Farmers’ Market. I really like Cape Breton, but it is the wrong direction if you are heading to the Yarmouth ferry. I think Cape Breton by itself justifies a week. Things to see there include the Cabot trail, the Louisbourg fortress, the Glenora distillery, and above all the music.

  4. Cape Breton can be a very new and different cultural experience. We stopped at MacLeod’s Inverness Beach Village, right on the Gulf of St. Lawrence, for a musical event called “Hands Dancing Wednesday Night,” an evening of traditional songs in French, Gaelic and English.

    About half of the audience were local, from in and around this small (less than 2000 people) community. Two women, Alice Freeman and Jasmine Jones, and a man, Leo Aucoin, sat at the front of one of the two rooms of the Miners’ Museum Annex. The Annex was mostly watercolors and seemed to have nothing to do with miners. They each sang about three songs, Leo, in a striking deep voice in French. Each song was introduced with a little history–how the singer had acquired it, some-thing of where it came from, who wrote it (in some cases the singer)–many going back generations, or centuries, from Scotland, Ireland, and France.

    One of the more modern songs concerned a description of what happened when a plane went down during WWII. Lots of aircraft flew over Nova Scotia on the way to England, lots went down, and when that happened, the people would go out and collect all of the parts of the plane they could possibly retrieve. The song concerned a plane that went down in shallow water, from which nearly everything was salvaged except the fuselage, which is still on the sea floor inhabited by hundreds of eels. Alice explained that they didn’t have to do this anymore after the Americans got in, because there was plenty of money for airplanes. I thought of the drama of each of these events–the young pilot, did he survive and how? the divers in the dark water, locating the craft, pulling things out, and transporting them back for eventual re-use in the distant, tenuously held struggle.

    One of the more ancient songs concerned “bundling.” As Alice explained it, it was so cold in Scottish homes that it was acceptable for people to court in bed. Of course, there was a mattress between the people, but “heaven knows what that could lead to.” Another was about a Northumberland girl (“the fairest flower of Northumberland”), 15 years old, who fell in love with a Scotsman who had been taken prisoner by her father’s army. She freed him and aided in his es-cape, having been promised she would be his lady in Scotland. But the Scotsman already had a wife and ungratefully sent her back to Northumberland, pregnant. Her father took her back, “the fairest flower of Northumberland,” a great testimony to his love for her; withstanding her political betrayal and unacceptable pregnancy.

    Then they asked for members of the audience to “give us a song,” and many did. They alternated between themselves and with members of the audience and ended with tea, cookies and conversation. This group sings twice during the summer and once in the winter, and is one of what must be hundreds of such groups on Bretan Cape. It’s hard to understand so much talent and so much motivation is such a small community. Overall about ten people stood, and sang without any instrumental accompaniment. And they sang things of importance to them from the deep past–then to have this replicated in dozens of communities across the Cape. Amazing,

  5. Bob,

    Thank you for that wonderful story. I go to Cape Breton nearly every year, but usually in October for Celtic Colours, so I have missed the particular festival you visited. Cape Breton is a very special place and the people are amazing.


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