Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Canada (
-   -   Cape Breton suggestions (

ggin Jun 16th, 2007 10:51 AM

Cape Breton suggestions
My family will be vacationing in Nova Scotia at the end of June and first week of July. We would like to visit Cape Breton for 2 days, any suggestions as to which town to stay in? We would like to take a whale or birding tour. Any suggestions for restaurants?

Retired_teacher Jun 17th, 2007 04:26 AM

Allowing for only two days on Cape Breton, I'd recommend staying in Baddeck. This location will give you access to the Cabot Trail should you chose to explore Cape Breton Highlands NP (very scenic...highly recommended). The other 'must do' IMHO is the Fortress at Louisbourg. Amazing restoration of a French fortification that is ongoing, but then <i>I love history</i>.

The Canadian govenment owns and operates three 'Signature Resort Properties' in Nova Scotia, the Keltic Lodge being located near Ingonish. If you decide to drive the Cabot Trail, allow time to stop there for lunch/dinner. From your other post, I'm assuming that you already have a copy of the Doers &amp; Dreamers Guide. If it does not include listings for birding &amp; whale watching tours, call their toll free number and make inquiries for a specific area. Enjoy your time in NS, can't wait to return again someday....

wliwl Jun 17th, 2007 05:29 AM

Last time we were at Keltic Lodge (a LONG time ago) they required jackets for men in the dining room. Since we were in the area for the outdoorsy offerings, that seemed kind of dumb. I wonder if they still do that?

Retired_teacher Jun 17th, 2007 08:08 AM

Okay, so maybe you'll want to do lunch there.... It's a lovely facility near the entrance to CBHNP, but pricey!

ggin Jun 18th, 2007 07:11 AM

Thanks for the suggestions, we will stay in Baddeck. I saw information in the NS guide about the Fortress at Louisbourg but had not planned to stop, now we will! We will try to check out the Keltic Lodge for lunch. We will be traveling to Cape Breton from the Liverpool area ( beyond Halifax)leaving (hopefully) early in the morning. Would it be reasonable to drive along Marine drive to Port Hawkesbury then drive along the Fleur-de-lis trail to Louisbourg, see the fortress then on to Baddeck to spend the night? That would leave 1 day to see the Cape Breton trail and spend the night in Baddeck. We don't have to be in Halifax until the following evening. Any suggetions? Thanks.

Retired_teacher Jun 18th, 2007 09:18 AM

&quot;Would it be reasonable to drive along Marine drive to Port Hawkesbury then drive along the Fleur-de-lis trail to Louisbourg, see the fortress then on to Baddeck to spend the night?&quot; In a word, NO! I know that I've slowed down a bit since I retired 5 years ago, but you're really trying to book two full days worth of activities into one. Skip Louisbourg this trip and go directly to Baddeck which will still make for a full day. If you haven't already experienced Peggy's Cove or Lunenburg during your visit last year, allow time to stop at one of these quaint seafaring towns after you leave Liverpool. You might also consider stopping at Sherbrooke Village which might work for a lunch stop? Louisbourgh requires a minimum of a full day to appreciate just as Colonial Williamsburg would in the US... You would be very frustrated trying to get your money's worth out of the admission cost and just wouldn't have time to do it justice. Instead, put the Fortress on your 'someday list' and stop there on your way to the Sydney ferry to Newfoundland.... for it you enjoy NS, you must visit 'The Rock'!

Be sure to allow enough time along the Cabot Trail to drive all the way up to Meat Cove... Hopefully you'll be driving an SUV, but then again, one can take a rental car anywhere, LOL! The only thing to be aware of is that there are few options for gas or meals along the northern tip of the peninsula, so plan ahead. The views from the elevations as the mountains drop down into the sea are breathtaking.... enjoy!

sandys Jun 18th, 2007 04:01 PM

I've heard mixed comments about the road to meat cove. I believe that it's a dirt or gravel road. How long does it take to drive it, and is it worth the tradeoff of time spent on park trails? (We'll be in a full-size rental car.)

wliwl Jun 19th, 2007 03:28 AM

I would just add, be sure to get out of the car on Cape Breton!

I saw so many people who were trapped on tour buses, RVs, etc and I felt they missed the experience. I remember overhearing one person (from a tour bus group) in a restaurant say that it wasn't as great as they expected. Well, if all you do is drive through, what do you expect?!

There are some hiking trails, and if you are capable, I'd highly encourage you to check them out.

ltt Jun 19th, 2007 06:38 AM

wow, you are really trying to push it. if you think you may be returning to the area some day, i'd consider saving cape breton for another time. it really deserves more time then you are allowing. driving around nova scotia is slow in many places.
to give you some idea of time - i was staying in baddeck, left early in the morning and went to the Fortress Louisbourg. Then drove to Port Hawskbury where I spent the night. That was a reasonable day. I think I only spent about 4 hours at the Fortress. Many people recommend a full day but 4 hours was enough for me.
regarding meat cove - if you have plenty of time, i'd say it's worth the drive. on a short schedule, i think there are plenty of other places i'd go. when you get to the top there is a camping area and signs saying only campers allowed so you can't really walk around or go sit on the cliff to enjoy it.

klam_chowder Jun 19th, 2007 08:18 AM

I agree with retired_teacher re: the fortress.

I (and DH) DON'T love history and spent the full day there, and had to be herded off the property at closing time. We didn't get out to do some of the walks the guide had mentioned.

When you go, be sure to take the Park Guide tour, included in the entrance fee. Our Guide had been doing it for many years and was excellent in conjuring up what it would be like to live there at the time. It put the whole place in perspective. If we had not taken that tour, we definitely would not have appreciated the historical reconstruction.


ggin Jun 21st, 2007 04:42 AM

Thanks for all the advice, we will add another day to our trip to the area and hopefully we will have time to see Louisbourg. Thanks

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 04:09 PM.