See Canada - Atlantic Provinces

Old Mar 1st, 2010, 07:19 AM
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See Canada - Atlantic Provinces

Hello Fodorites,

We are now planning the first round of our See Canada quest (had to cancel at the planning stage last summer – job changes, etc.).
We are a family of four – our kids are 15 and 13. We generally prefer unhurried vacations (certainly not one where we are busy ticking things off a list). From this vacation, our expectations are stunning scenery and lobster! Not particularly active in terms of hiking etc., but wouldn’t mind renting bikes one day and following an easy trail.
We have two weeks (mid August) and were originally planning to cover Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. As I am reading more about our destinations, it is fast becoming evident that this is way too much to cover in two weeks. Additionally, we were originally planning to fly into Halifax and rent a car from there – however, the additional cost associated with airfare and car rental is just not making sense to me. Hence, we have decided to drive from and back to Toronto – this naturally takes away two days from the beginning and two from the end of the trip. So now we are looking at Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia only, and leaving Newfoundland to another time for a dedicated trip.
It seems that it might be best to drive straight from Toronto to Quebec City (9 hours or so?) and spend the night there and then do a similar run to Moncton or St. John the next day. From there on, we spend about 6 days on NS and 4 in PEI.
First few questions would be:
1) Alternatives to the overnight in Quebec City - we will probably go Quebec City sometime on a long weekend anyway and in this trip it is not a destination, just a little rest to recharge and drive on.
2) Ditto for Moncton/St. John – if we could make the trip from Quebec City to Nova Scotia a bit more interesting and sample a bit of New Brunswick along the way, all the better. Plus we have to drive back this way as well, so I am keen to explore alternatives.
3) Nova Scotia – definitely want to spend a night (or two) at the base of (or along) Cabot Trail and Bay of Fundy, Peggy’s Cove. Would love to hear some suggestions.
4) Prince Edward Island –haven’t read much about PEI so far, but thought I’d ask the question here and explore any suggestions.

Look forward to your suggestions. Thanks!
ahmedhaff is offline  
Old Mar 4th, 2010, 07:00 PM
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If your itinerary allows the time, a complete loop of Cape Breton Island is incredible (stopping to hike). We watched in awe as a pod of whales entered the bay at Cape North (Meat Cove).
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Old Mar 8th, 2010, 10:12 AM
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We have driven from the general vicinity of Toronto to the East Coast a number of times and have found that Quebec City is a good halfway point. I haven't found many alternatives - sometimes we've grabbed a hotel/motel in one of the smaller towns enroute, but Quebec City offers lots of accommodation choices and something to do in the evening (many restaurants and perhaps a little preview of the famous Vieux Quebec "old city" district in advance of your future weekend stay). We have stayed in St. John also enroute and it's a pleasant little Harbour city, fine for an overnight. An alternative might be St. Andrews, a charming tourist resort town about 1 hour west of St. John where you can also view the Fundy Tides. There are more dramatic places for tide-viewing between St. John and Moncton (e.g. Alma and Hopewell Rocks) but ideally this is most dramatic when you can plan to see the contrast of low AND high tides, or if not possible - visit Hopewell Rocks during low tide.
You can even consider taking the Ferry from St. John across to Digby, Nova Scotia, and from there moseying over to Annapolis Royal and/or along the "Lighthouse Route" enroute to Halifax. This would allow you to save the Moncton/Hopewell Rocks viewing for something different on your drive back.
The Cabot Trail, especially through Cape Breton Highlands National Park is spectacular and I think Cape Breton is worth several nights stay (popular "bases" include Cheticamp, Ingonish, Baddeck). Halifax is a very nice small (compared to Toronto) city with a vibrant Harbour district offering shops, museums, restaurants, pubs and can serve as a base for daytrips. Peggy's Cove can be done as a day trip from Halifax - and in fact this outing could also include Lunenberg and/or Mahone Bay as you won't be spending anywhere near the whole day in the hamlet of Peggy's Cove. Alternatively to staying in Halifax, you might consider spending a night or two exploring further down this "Lighthouse Route".
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Old Mar 11th, 2010, 05:52 PM
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Thank you - I have been reading up as time allows and will be posting a draft intinerary for your comments soon.
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Old Mar 17th, 2010, 05:33 AM
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Hello again – here’s my first draft of the plan. Lot’s of gaps – hoping to fine tune it with your help:


Friday August 13: Leave work early, hit the road by 3 or 4 PM and drive to Montreal. I reckon it should be about 7 hours so will arrive late in Montreal. Any recommendations for overnight stay? Looking for a nice convenient location, where we will basically spend the night, have breakfast the next morning and drive on.


Saturday, August 14: Leave Montreal and drive to Quebec City for a lunch/stroll break. Drive to Edmundston in the afternoon. Looks like these will both be about 3 hours each of driving. Did see a couple of B&Bs close to Grand Falls, but no idea – I was thinking it might be an idea to stay in Edmundston itself. Would love to hear your recommendations.


Sunday, August 15: Drive to Moncton (5 hours?) and spend 2 nights there. At this point, I would like to basically try and relax a bit, take the kids to the water park etc. Need help in deciding where to stay, what else to do.


Tuesday August 17: Drive to Charlottetown. Spend 3 nights – still reading up on this bit (don’t really have to stay in Charlottetown – in fact I’d prefer staying on a beach somewhere)


Friday, August 20: Drive to Baddeck. Stay for two nights.


Sunday, August 22: Drive to Igonish: Stay for two nights.


Tuesday, August 24: Drive to Chetticamp. Spend two nights.


Thursday, August 26: Drive to Amherst. One night.


Friday, August 27: Back the same route, one night in Edmundston and Montreal each.


I still have a lot of reading to finish on PEI and NS and will then be able to add color to the plan. Meanwhile, I would be grateful if you could comment on the plan so far in terms of practicality, balance time to explore vs. time spent driving etc. And would love to hear recommendations on places to stay at each point.




Also, I am skipping Bay of Fundy – is that a good idea? Or is it workable to include it. Thanks again.
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Old Mar 17th, 2010, 06:30 AM
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We drove from Quebec - Alma to see the tides (we're from NY, so Nova Scotia was too much for this trip), anyway, we stayed outside of Grand Falls at a really nice inn with a German restaurant for the night, I think it was more interesting than GF and would recommend this. We also stopped for lunch in one of the Reves towns at this amazing spa (all French speaking) along the St. Lawrence River, which I'd love to go back to one day.

But I digress, I believe the place in GF is called the Lakeside Inn, found it on the NB tourist site, it's about 8 km outside of town, they also had cabins to rent. Plenty of room for the kids to run around.

Sounds like a nice trip!
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Old Mar 17th, 2010, 06:34 AM
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Sorry, this is the town where we stopped for lunch, we followed the River back West from Rivière du Loup, before we headed South toward GF.
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Old Mar 17th, 2010, 02:09 PM
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I've only stayed in downtown Montreal and it sounds like you won't have much time to explore. However if you decide to stay downtown there are of course lots of hotels but one suggestion is the Embassy Suites - right on the edge of "Old Montreal", 2 room suites with lots of space for a family, buffet breakfast included.

I have only had pit stops in Edmundston. It is a fairly small town. Fredericton is considerably larger (though not a "big" city) with more amenities although about an extra hour drive I'm guessing. Others may have suggestions for nice accommodations outside of these towns.

Try to fit in the Bay of Fundy while in Moncton, as the tides in this region are a highlight of the area. These can be viewed at Hopewell Rocks which is very close to Moncton(although it's most dramatic if you can compare the high to low tides. If you can't visit Hopewell twice to do this, select low tide to go).

>Friday, August 20: Drive to Baddeck. Stay for two nights.
>Sunday, August 22: Drive to Igonish: Stay for two nights.
>Tuesday, August 24: Drive to Chetticamp. Spend two nights.

Hmm - an opinion only: Baddeck, Ingonish and Cheticamp are each about one hour to 1 1/2 hours apart. Often travellers select one or 2 of these to use as bases for exploring the island as the sites and attractions are spread around (i.e. you're unlikely to want to spend 2 full days right in any of these towns - you'll be wanting to explore the surrounding areas). I could see using Baddeck as a base to day-trip the south end of the island e.g. Louisbourg and the Ceilidh Trail, and Ingonish or Cheticamp as a base to day-trip the north end e.g. Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Otherwise, perhaps a clockwise or counter clockwise tour, 1 night in each of several locations, sightseeing in between as you go, with maybe an extra night in Baddeck to day-trip Louisbourg (which is way off route). I'm just visualizing 2 nights in each of these 3 towns as leading to some overlap in your day-tripping excursions. But you may well have specific reasons and plans that I'm not visualizing.
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Old Mar 17th, 2010, 08:54 PM
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Having a quick look at your 2nd itinerary, I believe you could take off a couple of days in Cape Breton and take this time to explore the Bay of Fundy either on the way to or back from Cape Breton, including St. Andrews, Saint John (reversing falls, NB Museum), Fundy National Park, Cape Enrage (lighthouse and rappelling down the seaside cliffs, if you and your kids are adventurous), The Hopewell Rocks (the latter, which would be the most spectacular Fundy sight, could also be done from Moncton if you don't have time to do the entire Fundy drive). For beach time aim at the Northumberland Strait beaches (Shediac, Cap-Pelé, all easily accessible from Moncton) for warmer waters.

If you plan to overnight only in Montreal in Quebec and be on your way quickly, I would not bother getting into the downtown areas, but would pick a place to stay outside the city.
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Old Mar 18th, 2010, 07:16 PM
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Yuck, WHAT?


You're spending "Two nights in Moncton" AND "skipping the Bay of Fundy" ??

At the very least, drive down to Hopewell Cape at LOW tide!!!

(FYI with tides being what they are, you can already plot high and low tides for any time and place in the foreseeable future)

http://www.lau.chs-shc.gc.ca/cgi-bin...gion=5&zone=30


Click on Hopewell Cape for starters. Err on the side of having the tide tables for at least 3 or 4 different spots around the Bay printed for the ENTIRE window of your trip. Have this single sheet of paper WITH YOU, perhaps in the glove box, for easy reference. (sometimes it's easier to double back when reversing course than it is to find something to do for 6 hours between high and low tide)
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