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Advice on NB/NS trip

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We are planning our first trip to Nova Scotia in the third week of July (7-8 days). We will appreciate any feedback regarding the itinerary, thing to see/do, places to stay, anything. We are interested in both nature (hiking, rock hounding, beach walking) and city life (historical places, museums, shops, concerts), and we are traveling with two kids (8 y.o and 6 m.o).

The plan is to drive from New Hampshire though Maine and New Brunswick and return via The Cat ferry to Bar Harbor.

Day1: Drive from New Hampshire to St John, NB.

Q: After Bangor, ME, what road to take to St John, NB? I understand that Rt.1 is scenic and Rt.9 is fast(er), any other choices/advice?

Day 2: Expore the city of St John and Fundy shore. Spend the night in Moncton.

Q: What's a must-do in and/or near St John? Fundy Trail? Fundy National Park?

Q: Any reasons to stop in Fredericton instead of St John?

Day 3: We would like to go to some scenic beach with warm water (we have a lot of scenic beaches with cold water down here). This is optional. We would love to go to PEI, but this is probably unrealistic. Next time.

Q: Any particulary good beaches near Moncton. NB or Amherst, NS? If it's not comparable to PEI, we will skip the beach.

Day 4: Our son is determined to do rock hounding - Parrsboro.

Q: In order to find the most beautiful ametysts etc. should we hire a guide, or just explore ourselfs? Can someone recommend a good guide/tour operator? Or good mineral sites?

Q: Any recommendations for a family-style place to stay in or near Parrsboro? Will we have to go to Truro?

Days 5-6: Halifax.

Q: Does it make sense to spend the night before ferry in some other town (Annapolis Royal? Wolfwille?)

Day 7: Drive to Yarmouth and take 13:00 ferry to Bar Harbor.

Day 8: Acadia National Park. Relax.

Day 9: Back to work.

Thanks in advance for all feedback!

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