I asked folks in the Canada forum for advice while I was planning my trip - below is my trip report, pasted from that thread. I hope it helps someone as they plan their own trip.
We enjoyed Niagara Falls in Ontario. Maid of the Mist was awesome and we went early in the morning and lines weren't too long. I don't know how you can spend multiple days in Niagara - we were pretty much done within a few hours. But it was definitely worth the stop. We stayed at the Sterling, which is a new Days Inn property - and it was super nice, with a fireplace and complimentary breakfast in bed.
Montreal was really cool as well. I liked seeing Old Montreal, St. Joseph's Oratory, the Biodome, and walking around the downtown area where there is great shopping. There are a lot of dance clubs as well, if you're into that sort of thing.
Our time in Saint John and Moncton (New Brunswick) was also pretty cool. We just wanted to see the Bay of Fundy tides, and Cape Enrage was really neat. It was closed so you couldn't drive down the path towards the building by the lighthouse, so we just parked outside the gate and walked down all the way to the lighthouse. We saw what were either loons or dolphins in the water...which was exciting...and we also went down another pathway all the way to the shoreline where we laughed and skipped rocks (shale?) on the water, feeling like there was nobody else in the world. Then after following the coastline North towards Moncton, we saw Hopewell Cape and the Flowerpot Rocks. It was also after hours and closed, so we just parked and hiked down there anyway. It was fantastic with no one else around - and the tide was high (definitely take the time, as everyone has suggested, to map out the time tables...I believe there are 6 hours and 14 minutes between low and high tides). So we took a ton of pictures, and then marked the tide level with rocks - and then spent the night in Moncton before driving back to Hopewell Cape the next day to see what things looked like at low tide. It's pretty crazy, with an average of 30 feet of difference in where the waterline was at high tide. Very, very cool. We took a ton of pictures, and it was fun learning about how the tides and topography contribute to the phenomenon.
Then we drove to PEI, and spent the night in the Lighthouse Room at the West Point Lighthouse (which is kind of near O'Leary). It was a bit hard to find, and we had to ask people because our GPS was clueless. My gf loves lighthouse, and so this was a major highlight - to be able to stay in one. I had a great dinner and breakfast there as well. I'd highly recommend it to others, especially if you love lighthouses.
By the way, people should know that you have to pay a toll of like $44 or something when you leave PEI. I was like, what the heck. How do people afford to leave the island and then come back - if they work in New Brunswick? This kind of forces residents to stay on the island, I guess, and support businesses there. I'd love it if someone would explain this to me.
We then drove through Green Gables, and then checked out the lighthouse in Charlottetown, and then drove to Georgetown, where we had a wonderful night's stay at the Georgetown Historic Inn. We met Perry Gotell (owner of Tranquility Cove Adventures) at the wharf in the evening, and he said that the weather was looking horrible the next day - and we were scheduled to go lobstering with him the next morning. I was like, we can probably handle it, and so let's just pray and see what it looks like in the morning. At 4am, we were at the docks, and it was raining, and windy, but we told Perry we wanted to go out with him since he was going out. And so we did. It was absolutely mad and absolutely wonderful.
Perry and Jerry (his shipmate) said it was the worst weather day of the season, and it was crazy that we were out there. It eventually started to pour, and the wind and seas knocked us around a bit - but my gf and I had so much fun learning about lobstering and participating in the hands-on activities of those who do this for a living. I only got pinched once! It was painful but I'm glad for the story We didn't get seasick as we took some Gravol - I recommend others do that as well. We caught hundreds of pounds of lobster and crab, and I just want to say that I love experiential trips like this - and yes they are exhausting and difficult but sooooo worth it in my opinion. Perry was fabulous, I recommend him and his trip to everyone who might be considering it.
We then drove to Lunenburg and stayed at Greybeard's - our hosts Bob and Rosanna were warm and very helpful, and made the most delicious exotic breakfasts. From this spot, we checked out Blue Rocks, Peggy's Cove (which I think was the most beautiful place I visited on this trip - I loved the gigantic smooth boulders around the lighthouse, on which you could run and jump and explore), Mahone Bay, the chowder at Seaside Shanty in Chester Basin, and the Ovens. I will say that I didn't love the Ovens...it was somewhat cool, but not spectacular. Plus, it's private land and you have to pay a nominal fee, like 7 dollars a person. The cost isn't a big deal, it's just that I expected more from the sights. The Ovens was probably my least favorite thing on this trip, but I don't regret going, because people talk about it as something you should see if you're in the area.
Then we traveled to Balancing Rock in the Digby/Tiverton area. It's kind of crazy finding this place. You just drive from Digby on one road, and then another road, for a really long time, and eventually find around a corner that there is this small port, with a ship that takes you across the bay (it's like a 5 minute boat ride that costs 5 dollars), and you drive onto the boat, it takes you across, and then you drive off the boat. And then you make a left, and drive in that direction for maybe five minutes, and then you see a tiny sign for Balancing Rock on the left. And you park, and walk for about 20 minutes in the woods along a pathway (which includes steps) and then you find it. I thought it was pretty sweet. It was definitely worth going to.
Then we spent a couple of days at Milford House in South Milford, which is kind of close to Annapolis Royal. I loved having a lakeside cabin here, it was so tranquil, and we could buy groceries and store them in the fridge, and make our own dinners with their stove/range/oven/microwave...and we went canoeing at midnight under a spectacular starry sky...and we slept well. When we needed the Internet, we just drove over to the main lodge and hung out there for an hour, and then went back to our cabin. Eventually, they should install wireless routers across the premises, but it's no big deal because usually you shouldn't be working if you're at a lakeside cabin in the middle of beautiful Nova Scotia
After this, we drove north to Mabou and stayed at Clayton's Farm and B&B. Isaac, the owner, was kind and nice and really cool. We ran around with his 30 or so cows in his picturesque cow fields, and hung out with the bulls in his barn, and had a grand old time. We hit up the Red Shoe Pub for a ceilidh (which, by the way for those of you who are familiar with Scottish ceilidhs - does NOT mean dancing, but only Celtic music). The dinner there was delicious, and the music was fun. The next day, we hiked Fair Alistair's Mountain Trail near the Mabou Mines and the Wharf - it was about 4 miles round trip), and then went to a raucous square dance that evening at the West Mabou Inn. If you are in this area on a Saturday night, go to this dance - we had such a great time, and were complete sweaty messes when it was over. Our faces hurt from smiling so much while throwing each other around. I loved (LOVED) it.
We didn't do the Cabot Trail drive because frankly, throughout the course of this trip, I had seen my share of seaside villages and shorelines and mountains and hills and water. I didn't want to start valuing it less by seeing too many. I would have probably seen a moose on that drive - which is the only thing that didn't happen on my trip that I wanted to happen - but, I was okay with that. I will see a moose at some point in my life I will check out Newfoundland at some point too. That said, I think we made the absolute most out of this adventure! It was pretty perfect. I don't think it could have gone any better, in all honesty. Thank you SOOOOO MUCH to everyone who advised me accordingly. I took all of your input to heart, and that's what made the trip such a success. We really feel blessed and grateful. Thanks again.
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- 4 RoadTrip Toronto- PEI
- 5 Nova Scotia Cabot Trail- Which hikes to consider?
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Trip Report - New Brunswick, PEI, Nova Scotia