South Shore and Annapolis Valley

We’ve compiled the best of the best in South Shore and Annapolis Valley - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. Black Loyalist Heritage Site


    When Shelburne's population exploded after the Revolutionary War, Black Loyalists were relegated to land 7 km (4½ miles) northwest of town. The community they created—Birchtown, named for the British general who oversaw their evacuation from New York—became the biggest free settlement of African Americans in the world. Birchtown's virtually forgotten story was told in Lawrence Hill's award-winning novel The Book of Negroes, adapted for a CBC TV miniseries in 2015 and filmed locally, and its founders are now honored at this site, which includes a national historic monument, a 1½-km (1-mile) interpretive trail, and the modern Heritage Centre that features a multimedia presentation, archaeological relics, and a genealogical research facility (some of the docents there are descendants of the Black Loyalists).

    119 Old Birchtown Rd., Shelburne, Nova Scotia, B0T 1W0, Canada

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Monument and trail free; museum C$10, Heritage Centre closed weekends mid-Oct.–late May
  • 2. Domaine de Grand Pré

    With award-winning vintages and sigh-inducing Fundy views, a stop at Domaine de Grand Pré is doubly pleasing. Vineyard tours and tastings are offered twice daily, at 11 am and 4 pm; reservations are not required (but call ahead to confirm they are happening on any given day). They take about 45 minutes, but you'll likely want to linger on the picturesque 10-acre property, so plan to have a meal at Le Caveau Restaurant or sip a glass of wine under the pergola. Live Music under the Vines events take place on certain evenings in July and August, weather permitting, and other events are detailed on the website.

    11611 Hwy. 1, Wolfville, Nova Scotia, BOP 1M0, Canada

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: No tours mid-Oct.–mid-May
  • 3. Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic

    Flanked by sailing ships and painted a brilliant red, this museum on the Lunenburg waterfront strikes a dazzling pose. An aquarium features 14 tanks with native species and tidal touch tanks, and there are themed films in the Ice House Theatre, daily activities, and three floors of displays about shipbuilding, whaling, and other maritime endeavors. Demonstrations cover topics such as sail-making, boatbuilding, and dory launching, and dockside you can visit a restored 1938 saltbank schooner and a 1962 steel-hulled trawler. The Bluenose II, the province's sailing ambassador, is also based here. Built in 1963, it's a faithful replica of the original Bluenose, the Lunenburg-built schooner prominent during the 1920s and 1930s as the North Atlantic fleet's fastest vessel, which sank in 1946 after striking a reef.

    68 Bluenose Dr., Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, B0J 2C0, Canada

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: C$12, Closed Oct.–mid-June
  • 4. Kejimkujik National Park

    You'll have to veer inland to see this 381-square-km (147-square-mile) national park, which is about halfway between the Atlantic and Fundy coasts. The Mi'Kmaq used these gentle waterways for thousands of years, a fact made plain by the ancient petroglyphs carved into rocks along the shore. You can explore "Keji" on your own or take a guided interpretive hike—perhaps spying beavers, owls, loons, white-tailed deer, and other wildlife along the way. Guided paddles and children's programs are also available in summer, and leaf peepers can see the deciduous forests blaze with color in autumn. Designated a Dark Sky Preserve by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, the park conducts nighttime programs for stargazers.

    Kejimkujik Main Pkwy., Maitland Bridge, Nova Scotia, B0T 1B0, Canada
    902-682–2772-seasonal visitor center

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: C$6
  • 5. Port Royal National Historic Site

    Downriver from Annapolis Royal is this reconstruction of Sieur de Monts and Samuel de Champlain's fur-trading post. The French set up shop here in 1605—two years before the English established Jamestown—making this the first permanent European settlement north of Florida. Port Royal also set other New World records, claiming the first tended crops, the first staged play, the first social club, and the first water mill. Unfortunately, it didn't have the first fire department: the original fortress burned down within a decade. At this suitably weathered replica, which is ringed by a log palisade, you're free to poke around the forge, inspect the trading post, pull up a chair at the dining table, or simply watch costumed interpreters perform traditional tasks in the courtyard. The heritage of the Mi'Kmaq people, who assisted the early settlers, can be explored in a wigwam.

    Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, B0S 1A0, Canada

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: C$4, Closed early Oct.–mid-May
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  • 6. Acadia University Art Gallery

    Temporary exhibitions here are devoted to established and up-and-coming artists, and there's a permanent collection strong on maritime and Inuit art, works on paper, and works by women artists. It amounts to more than 3,000 works, though not all are on display.

    10 Highland Ave. at Main St., Wolfville, Nova Scotia, B4P 2R6, Canada

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Closed Mon.
  • 7. Admiral Digby Museum

    The town, county, and this museum are named for Britain's Rear Admiral Robert Digby, who during the American Revolution helped evacuate Loyalists to Nova Scotia following the British surrender of New York City. You can learn a little bit about the admiral and a fair amount about Digby County history viewing the artifacts, paintings, and maps displayed here.

    95 Montague Row, Digby, Nova Scotia, B0V 1A0, Canada

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: By donation, Closed Sun.
  • 8. Annapolis Royal Farmers' and Traders' Market

    On Saturday morning from 8 to 1 mid-May through mid-October and also on Wednesday from 10 to 2 in July and August, the best place in Annapolis Royal to stock up on picnic supplies is the farmers' market, which sets up on lower St. George Street across from the King's Theatre. Expect artisanal bread, cured meats, homemade sweets, and preserves, plus fresh Annapolis Valley produce. Local artisans attend, too, and there's live entertainment. Most vendors accept cash only.

    Lower St. George St., Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, B0S 1A0, Canada
  • 9. Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens

    Like everything else in this town, the plants here are a blast from the past—17 heritage-theme acres represent different eras and include a glorious Victorian garden, a knot garden, a typical Acadian house garden, and a 2,000-bush rose collection with about 250 varieties. The main season is May through October, but the gardens are accessible year-round, although they are not maintained November through April.

    441 St. George St., Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, B0S 1A0, Canada

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: C$15, Closed Oct. to May.
  • 10. Archelaus Smith Museum

    This museum, named for an early settler from New England, is worth a visit. It recaptures late-1700s life with household items such as quilts and toys, plus fishing gear and information about shipwrecks and sea captains.

    915 Hwy. 330, Cape Sable Island, Nova Scotia, B0W 2G0, Canada

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Late June–late Aug., Mon.–Sat. 10–4:30, Sun. 1:30–4:30, Closed late Aug.–early July
  • 11. Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (Western Branch)

    This is the gallery's satellite location. As with the flagship in Halifax, this one is housed in a heritage building and has a broad mandate, yet it's at its best when showcasing the works of regional artists. The branch exhibits art from the main gallery's permanent collection and mounts temporary shows of folk art and other disciplines. Family Sunday and children's workshops occasionally take place. If you plan to visit both branches, keep your receipt—it will give you a reduction on the second admission fee.

    341 Main St., Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, B5A 1E7, Canada

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: C$6
  • 12. Barrington Woolen Mill

    Built in the 1800s, with a heyday around the turn of the 20th century, this historic water-driven mill provided the raw material for woolen clothing. It was eventually preserved as a museum in the late 1960s, and today visitors can view the interior and learn about the process.

    Barrington, Nova Scotia, B0W 1E0, Canada
    902-637–2185-Cape Sable Historical Society

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Closed Oct.–May
  • 13. Big and Little Tancook Islands

    Out in Mahone Bay, 8 km (5 miles) out from Chester, these scenic islands have trails for hiking and biking, and provide great bird-watching and photography opportunities. There are sandy beaches, too, one of which is great for fossil hunting. Reflecting its part-German heritage, Big Tancook claims to have the best sauerkraut in Nova Scotia. The ferry from Chester runs four times daily Monday through Thursday, six times on Friday, and twice daily on weekends. The 50-minute ride costs C$7 round-trip (cash only).

    Chester, Nova Scotia, Canada
    902-275–7885-ferry information
  • 14. Cape Forchu Lighthouse

    Cape Forchu

    It isn't the South Shore's most photogenic lighthouse—the one at Peggy's Cove wins that award—but this one scores points for its dramatic vistas and the dearth of other camera-clutching tourists. Erected in 1962 on the site of an earlier lighthouse, the concrete structure rises 75 feet above the entrance to Yarmouth Harbour. The adjacent keeper's quarters house a small museum with interactive exhibits, a fully equipped light-keeper's workshop, a restaurant serving seafood and local craft brews, and a gift shop. 

    1856 Cape Forchu Rd., off Hwy. 304, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, B5A 4A7, Canada

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: CA$6.75 to climb the lighthouse, Closed Oct. to May.
  • 15. Church Point Lighthouse and Le Petit Bois

    A faithful replica of the former lighthouse and keeper's quarters not only offers incredible views and information panels, it's also staffed by a marine biology interpreter, who is a mine of information about the ecology of the offshore waters and the history of the lighthouse. The local university carries out bird-banding, tracking, and nesting projects here. Informative tours along the beach and guided nighttime walks are also available (the latter booked through the Visitor Information Centre). Encircling the lighthouse and its hinterland, Le Petit Bois trail network threads through woodland, marshland, and along coastal paths.

    150 Lighthouse Rd., Pointe de l'Église, Nova Scotia, Canada

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Sept.–June
  • 16. DesBrisay Museum

    Artifacts dating back to the mid-19th century, including rare photographs of local shops, factories, and shipyards, are among the holdings of this museum of Lunenburg County history. There's also a folk-art gallery, a First Nations gallery, and the Kidology Korner, with toys and games from pre-technology days. Walking trails wind from behind the museum building through nearby parkland.

    130 Jubilee Rd., Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, B4V 2W9, Canada

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free., Closed Sun. and Mon.
  • 17. Firefighters' Museum of Nova Scotia

    A good rainy-day destination, this museum recounts the history of firefighting in the province through photographs, uniforms, and other artifacts, including vintage hose wagons, ladder trucks, and an 1863 Amoskeag Steamer. Kids will especially enjoy this spot—after checking out the toy engines, they can don a fire helmet and take the wheel of a 1933 Bickle Pumper.

    451 Main St., Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, B5A 1G9, Canada

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: C$5
  • 18. Fort Anne National Historic Site

    Gazing over the grassy knolls, it's hard to believe that this fort qualifies as the "most attacked spot in Canadian history" or that those knolls are actually nearly 400-year-old earthwork ramparts built up, in part, with rubble and blood. First fortified in 1629, the site preserves what is left of the fourth military edifice to be erected here, an early-18th-century gunpowder magazine and officers' quarters. The latter now houses a small museum, and anyone who believes a picture is worth 1,000 words should be sure to see the massive Heritage Tapestry displayed inside. Its four meticulously detailed panels depict four centuries of local history and as many local cultures. Special events at the fort include reenactments and Mi'Kmaq cultural presentations. 

    323 St. George St., Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, B0S 1A0, Canada

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: C$4, Closed early Oct.–mid-May
  • 19. Fort Edward National Historic Site

    Despite a devastating fire in 1897, some evidence of Windsor's earliest days remains at Fort Edward, which, dating from 1750, is the oldest blockhouse in Canada.

    67 Fort Edward St., Windsor, Nova Scotia, B0N 2T0, Canada
    902-798–2639-July and Aug.

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Closed Sun., Mon., and early Sept.–mid-June
  • 20. Fort Point Lighthouse Park

    This is one of Canada's oldest surviving lighthouses, located on the site where Samuel de Champlain and Sieur de Monts landed in 1604. Inside, the Port of the Privateers exhibit recounts the lighthouse's decades of stalwart service, from its completion in 1855 until 1989, when operations ceased. Even if the lighthouse isn't open when you arrive, there are interpretive signs outside, and the views of Liverpool Harbour from the park are splendid.

    21 Fort Point La., Liverpool, Nova Scotia, B0T 1K0, Canada

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Closed early Oct.–mid-May

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