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3.5 days in Nova Scotia

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My wife and I will arrive in Halifax airport this Friday, July 1, at 10 pm. Leaving from Halifax on Tuesday at 4:45 pm. So we will have 3,5 days in Nova Scotia.
What will be the best itinerary for these days? We want to drive around, hike, see nature, picturesque towns... may be some kayaking, maybe some whale watching but it is not a must.
From reading other posts I understood that we can go either north to Cape Breton or south but I have nothing on which to base the decision. What would be the ideal itinerary for each direction?

Does it make sense to drive from the airport to Halifax? By the time we get a car it will already be 11 pm. Is Halifax itself is worth visiting?

Also, are there any special considerations for 4 of July weekend? Should I expect any problems finding accomodation?

Thank you

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