By Ron Stern | Global Gumshoe
The long, narrow province of Nova Scotia is oriented east-west alongside mainland Canada. With Halifax as your starting and ending point, it’s possible to drive the coastal roads of southwestern Nova Scotia in a circle and, on the way, sample some of the best cuisine and historical sites that this province has to offer.
Begin your tour in Halifax itself, and start by taking a Segway tour of the famous boardwalk, which lines about 3 kilometers of the harbor. There are plenty of attractions to be viewed here, and even a casino if you want to try your luck.
If you’re hungry, consider checking out the seafood restaurant McKelvies, just a block from Lower Water Street. The interior has a wonderful ambience which will contribute to your enjoyment of a variety of fish dishes or lobster.
From Halifax, drive south to Peggy’s Cove. One of the first landmarks you’ll see is the Peggy’s Cove lighthouse. Be careful walking around to getting photos, as people have been swept off the rocks on occasion. Photographers will want to get some shots of the colorful harbor with its boats and fishing huts.
South to Lunenburg
From Peggy’s Cove, continue south along the “Lighthouse Route” to the village of Tantallon. If you like maple syrup and all the goodies that are made with that ingredient, stop in at Acadian Maple Products, a family-owned business that has been creating products featuring their locally sourced syrup for over 30 years.
As you head toward the picturesque village of Mahone Bay, consider stopping in at the White Sails Bakery & Deli for a cinnamon bun or some of their smoked meats.
Visitors along the coast often make a point of dining at Mateus Bistro in Mahone Bay for lunch, as the chef learned his craft at the Le Cordon Bleu Paris Cooking School. Be sure to try the seafood chowder.
Lunenburg was selected as a UNESCO World Heritage site because of the historical importance of its British Colonial Old Town, full of unique architecture.
The Ironworks Distillery located in a converted maritime blacksmith shop is where you can sample their vodka made with locally sourced apples as well as their rum and liqueurs. Then stroll by the harbor for a chance to see the Bluenose II, which is a replica of the original racing schooner of that name. You’ll have to plan ahead, as this maritime ambassador shifts from port to port during the sailing season from July to September.
Lunenburg to Shelburne
The small town of Shelburne expanded greatly during the American War of Independence as Loyalists fled here from the Colonies. After you’ve toured the historic landmarks, stop in at Charlotte Lane Café for lunch or dinner, and then find a room for the night at Cooper’s Inn.
Shelburne to Digby
On your way along Highway 103 toward Digby, divert to Ste-Anne-du-Ruisseau and take a tour of the Eel Lake Oyster Farm. This will give you an opportunity to taste the famous “Ruisseau” oysters for which they are known.
Next on your route will be Yarmouth and the Acadian Shores. This is another town full of history – not of Americans who were loyal to the British crown but of the Acadians, descendants of some of the first French settlers in the region.
For good food and great scenery of St. Mary’s Bay, La Cuisine Robicheau features some tasty Acadian cuisine like fresh haddock with lobster sauce, mashed potatoes and peas.
Another notable Acadian dish, Rappie Pie, can be found at Evelina’s. You’ll plunge your fork through a golden brown crust into a chicken, beef or clam filling, mixed with delicious potatoes.
If you like golf, spend the night at the Digby Pines Golf Resort & Spa. Digby Bay is famous for its scallops, so make sure those are on your dinner menu!
Digby to Wolfville
Along the route to Wolfville, you can pick out your own lobsters for lunch or dinner at the Hall’s Harbor Lobster Pound.
Fort Anne, a star fort in Annapolis Royal, was once the capital of Nova Scotia until it was replaced by Halifax in 1749.
The town of Wolfville has plenty of bars, restaurants and shops but it is also known for being in the heart of Nova Scotia’s “wine country.”
Benjamin Bridges and Luckett Vineyards are two of the best known wineries in this area, but there are several. If you want to phone home inexpensively, visit Luckett Vineyards, as there’s an English phone box prominently placed so visitors can make a toll free call to anywhere in Canada or the United States’ Lower 48.
Wolfville also boasts the Blomidon Inn, formerly the mansion of a shipping magnate, now a delightful bed & breakfast.
Return to Halifax
It’s about an hour’s drive from Wolfville northeast across the province to Halifax, where you can catch a plane for home.