Nova Scotia’s 9 unique ports-of call offer a variety of unique and exciting shore experiences. Here are examples of some of the wonderful excursions that visitors can take part in during their visit.
Halifax Citadel National Historic Site
The Halifax Citadel is a 19th century star-shaped naval fort sitting in the middle of downtown Halifax. Only minutes from the port, visitors can explore the Citadel’s living history museum, where the 78th Highland Regiment still fires the noon cannon, daily. Become a soldier for a day, or take in a Highlander Experience as the costumed animators make history come to life amidst the musket galleries, earthen ramparts, garrison cells and more in this magnificent British fort.
The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21
The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 celebrates the Canadian immigration experience. Here, tribute is paid to the 1.5 million immigrants, war brides, displaced people, evacuee children and Canadian military personnel who passed through this famous building between 1928 and 1971. The restored and preserved Pier 21 serves as a monument to the stories of the people who helped build our nation, including the tale of the first contact between our European forefathers and the native North Americans.
Peggy’s Cove is set along the rocky shores of the Atlantic Ocean on Nova Scotia’s South Shore and is noted as one of Nova Scotia’s most breathtaking and famous landmarks. Perched atop massive granite rocks, the iconic red and white lighthouse is a photographer’s dream and most often, the first destination for those new to Halifax. Those who visit will explore the tiny, authentic fishing village, dine on fresh seafood and be awed by its relaxed atmosphere and stunning natural beauty.
Wine Tasting in the Annapolis Valley
Visitors can enjoy a leisurely day experiencing the wineries of Nova Scotia and the beauty of the Annapolis Valley. With a climate and soil that favours unique and distinctive grape varietals, Nova Scotia is now producing several of Canada’s award winning wines. Take a tour with a local sommelier and explore the wineries in the region including Luckett Vineyards, Gaspereau Vineyards, and Grand Pré Winery. It’s an experience as unique as the wineries themselves and sure to make anyone fall in love with Nova Scotia wines!
Visit Destination Halifax for more information about Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Highland Village Museum/An Clachan Gàidhealach
The living history museum and cultural centre of the Highland Village Museum in Iona welcomes guests throughout the year. Here they’ll explore North America’s Scottish roots in this picturesque 43-acre hillside village that overlooks the world-renowned, Bras d’Or Lake. It’s a destination that celebrates the Gaelic experience in Nova Scotia and brings the rich Scottish history to life with costumed animators, period buildings, artifacts and even farm animals.
Cape Breton Miners' Museum
The Cape Breton Miners Museum pays tribute to the region’s long and rich coal mining history. Visitors will hear stories directly from the miners and their families. Learn about the resource that helped build the great nation that is Canada. Go deep, deep underground for a tour of the Ocean Deeps Colliery and learn firsthand what it was like to work in the mines from actual retired coal miners who guide visitors through the subterranean maze that they worked in for many years. It’s an experience unlike any other.
Fort Petrie Military Museum
During the second World War, Sydney Harbour was a key strategic port against a German invasion and acted as the assembly point for convoys to England. The Fort Petrie Military Museum honours this military history that helped to win the war. The museum boasts a 13-acre site, two stories of underground fortifications, WWII gun emplacements and the observation post museum.
Sounds of Cape Breton
Cape Breton Island has a unique, irresistible musical sound and scene. Influenced by Scottish, Irish and Acadian traditions, this musical experience will introduce your passengers to professional local entertainers as they sing, step dance and of course, play the fiddle in a traditional Gaelic social gathering called a ceilidh.
Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site
The Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site chronicles the milestones of the man who invented the telephone and so much more. His relationship with Helen Keller brought in the Braille language, he oversaw the construction of the “Silver Dart”, Canada’s first powered flight machine, and he also built an airplane on water (known today as a hydrofoil) – the HD-4. Today, visitors can see a life-size replica of this famous boat as well as many more models, replicas, photo displays and artifacts.
Sailing on the Bras d’Or Lake
Where the Cape Breton Highlands meet the lowlands, this massive inland sea offers some of the finest boating in North America. The unique tidal waters create a rich ecosystem home to a wide variety of wildlife, including the majestic bald eagle, osprey, foxes, and white-tailed deer. It’s a birder’s and nature lover’s paradise just waiting to be discovered.
Gaelic College of Celtic Arts & Crafts
Situated in the heart of Cape Breton Island, the Gaelic College of Celtic Arts and Crafts, the only one of its kind in North America, was founded in 1938 as a school devoted to the study and preservation of the Gaelic language, arts and culture. Students of all ages and abilities from around the world come here to take courses and keep Gaelic alive in Canada. World-class instructors offer programs in traditional Scottish disciplines including Gaelic language and song, music, dance and crafts. The tranquil setting, the camaraderie, the wide range of study and other activities await all those who study at or just visit the Gaelic College.
Cape Breton Highlands National Park
Located on Chéticamp’s doorstep, Cape Breton Highlands National Park – one of Nova Scotia’s largest protected areas - is truly a nature lover’s paradise. Whether driving the world famous Cabot Trail and experiencing the spectacular highlands and rugged coastlines, or hiking through Acadian forest, diverse bogs, and arctic taiga, a trip to the Park is guaranteed to provide visitors with a sense of adventure. The Park is also home to a unique array of wildlife, so come prepared for some unforgettable encounters.
Close encounters with Whales
Few activities delight visitors to Chéticamp as much as the experience of getting up close and personal with majestic whales. Knowledgeable operators take visitors out in either quick, maneuverable zodiacs or larger vessels for breathtaking tours in search of not only whales, but also seals, eagles, seabirds, and other exciting marine life. For the more adventurous, snorkeling with whales is also an option. Imagine the thrill of slipping quietly into the water and floating as a pod of curious pilot whales approaches – a unique experience that you are sure to remember for a lifetime.
Les Trois Pignons Cultural Centre
This one-stop information and cultural centre offers visitors a special view into Acadian culture, traditions, and the fascinating history of Chéticamp. Les Trois Pignons is also home to a museum that showcases hundreds of antiques and exhibits reflecting life during the settlement of Chéticamp, as well as Chéticamp’s world-renowned hooked rugs - beautiful tapestries distinguished by their intricate designs, attractive colours, and the impressive craftsmanship required for their production.
Traditional Cape Breton Fiddle
With no shortage of musical talent coming out of this fishing village, you are going to want to make sure to take in a live performance while in Chéticamp. Take an opportunity to listen to world class fiddlers perform contemporary music as well as traditional French songs that have been passed down through generations since medieval times. With one of the largest repertoires anywhere, it's no wonder the village's slogan is 'Chéticamp, always singing’.
Bear River First Nation Heritage and Cultural Centre
Bear River First Nation is one of thirteen First Nation communities in Nova Scotia. According to both archaeology and oral tradition, the ancestors of the people of the Bear River First Nation have lived in Nova Scotia since the beginning of time. The Cultural Centre enhances understanding of the Mi’kmaq heritage through interactive programs, exhibits and experiences. See artifacts that date back as far as 4,000 years and be sure to visit the village of Bear River with its riverside buildings resting on stilts.
Port-Royal National Historic Site of Canada
Founded by French explorer Samuel de Champlain in 1605, Port-Royal was Canada’s first permanent European settlement. During the winter of 1607, Champlain organized the Ordre de Bon Temps (the Order of Good Cheer), the first social club in North America. Reconstructed by the federal government of Canada as a National Historic Site in 1938, Port-Royal features costumed interpreters and period demonstrations that capture the look and feel of the original 17th century Habitation. Visitors can also take in the panoramic view of the Annapolis River and Basin, a true sight to behold.
Famous Digby Scallops
Digby, known as Canada’s Scallop Capital, is home to the world’s largest inshore scallop fleet. Harvested from the world-famous Bay of Fundy, Digby scallops are praised for being plump, sweet and like no other scallop in the world. Sautéed in butter or breaded and deep fried, these one-of-a-kind scallops go perfectly with an award winning Nova Scotia white wine to make for a meal that any visitor won’t soon forget.
Have a Blast at Louisbourg: Be a Cannoneer in Training
How many of us have had the chance to fire a cannon? Better yet, a cannon identical to the ones that defended Louisbourg in the 18th century? You now have the opportunity to do just this every day of July and August at the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site. Thirty minutes and you will know enough of the French colonial artillery science to fire an impressive cannon that can send a cannonball two kilometres away!
A Taste of History – 18th Century Chocolate
Trade links with the West Indies, France and New England made it possible for this luxurious item to be enjoyed by those who could afford it. Judged as a necessity for the colony, chocolate was believed to fortify and aid digestion. Fortunately for today’s visitors, Louisbourg’s chocolate culture is alive and well. Visitors can meet merchants importing chocolate, speak to a servant preparing hot chocolate for her mistress, or personally experience the taste of this historic chocolate in one of the many period restaurants. If your passengers have a taste for history, then they will love this memorable and tasty experience.
To learn more about the specialty tours and programs being offered at the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site, please click here.
Old Town Lunenburg UNESCO World Heritage Site
Old Town Lunenburg is the best surviving example of a planned British colonial settlement in North America. Established in 1753, it retains the original layout and overall appearance, based on a rectangular grid pattern drawn up in the home country. The inhabitants have worked hard to safeguard the town’s identity throughout the centuries by preserving the historic wooden architecture of the houses and public buildings. Many of these buildings date from as far back as the 18th century and are an excellent example of a sustained vernacular architectural tradition.
Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic
The breathtaking Lunenburg waterfront is home to the world-class Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic. This large museum showcases a fleet of floating vessels at the wharves, an extensive aquarium and a large exhibit complex that offers something for everyone, from local crafts and culture to boats and local history. Visitors can learn about rum running, whales and August Gales. Meet lobsters, flounder, cod and more in the aquarium. Have a yarn with “old salts” and learn more about Canada’s most famous schooner, the Bluenose. Walk the docks, visit the wharf-side vessels and refresh in the salt air as you take in one of the best maritime moments in the world.
Shopping in Mahone Bay
Pretty as a postcard, Mahone Bay is a short, scenic journey from Lunenburg. Situated on a bay of more than 100 islands, this picturesque town is rich with history, culture and 19th century architecture. For those seeking original and interesting treasures to take home, Mahone Bay is a shopping destination not to be missed. Main Street hosts an assortment of art galleries and gift shops that feature the funky folk art and original crafts that the area’s artists are known for. Visitors will also find antique shops, unique specialty stores and delightful markets from one end of this town to the other, all within easy walking distance.
Hector Heritage Quay
The Hector Heritage Quay offers those who visit a true and honest reconstruction of the beautiful ship, Hector. This vessel landed in Pictou, the Birthplace of New Scotland, in 1773. At the Hector Heritage Quay Interpretative Centre, visitors can learn all about the historical voyage that brought Scottish culture to our shores, watch a blacksmith and carpenter ply their trade, chat with the resident artist and tour the rigging and gift shop.
Museum of Industry
Relive the industrial revolution at the second largest museum in Atlantic Canada - The Nova Scotia Museum of Industry, in Stellarton. The size of seven hockey rinks with over 37,000 artifacts, this impressive provincial museum is a quick, scenic ride from the Port of Pictou. Guests will time travel from the Industrial Age to the Computer Age in this interactive museum. Visitors can then take a stroll through Stellarton, where interpretive panels in a lovely park depict the coal mining story of this unique town.
Experience this charming and picturesque town with Victorian architecture, a beautiful riverfront setting and a special heartbeat and character. Step back in time with an historic walking tour, hear the story of the growth of New Glasgow from its early years as a shipbuilding centre and view magnificent heritage art on display in the historic town hall. Unique cafes, shops, restaurants, art galleries, beautiful walking trails, a heritage museum, garden and a weekly farmers' market offer a chance to savour the flavours of New Glasgow.
Historic Dock Street
Take a walking tour of the restored Historic Dock Street in this seaport town for a unique experience. In addition to art galleries, antique stores, gift shops, a yacht club and public marina, Historic Dock Street is renowned for the variety of Museums that line it. From the Ross-Thomson House, with the oldest restored store in North America, to the Dory Shop, where the art of dory-making is demonstrated every day during the summer, to the Muir-Cox Shipyard, where the time honoured craft of wooden boat building is still practiced, there is so much to see and do on Historic Dock Street in Shelburne.
Black Loyalist Heritage Site
The Black Loyalist Heritage Site, located in Birchtown, shares the story of the Black Loyalists – some of the earliest Black settlers in Nova Scotia. In the late 18th century, Birchtown was the largest free Black community in British North America and it was the centre of the Black Loyalist experience and its founding represented a turning point in the history of persons of African descent in Canada. Today, visitors can visit the museum commemorating the Black Loyalists and trace their heritage through the names in the Book of Negroes, a document containing the names of all Black Loyalists who escaped to Canada.
Canoe the Tobeatic Wilderness
The best way to discover the Tobeatic Wilderness area is by canoe. Visitors will enjoy a nature-guided paddle into this wilderness where they’ll bask in the raw, untouched nature that surrounds them. They’ll explore dozens of remote lakes, rivers, streams and old portages that link them. Many of these are traditional canoe routes that had been known for centuries to the Mi’kmaq people.