31 Best Sights in The Eastern Shore and Northern Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia

Seafoam Lavender Company & Gardens

Fodor's choice

Wander among the rows of fragrant lavender at this gorgeous farm, then stop at their farm store to pick up all manner of lavender-infused items including tasty oatcakes, bath goodies and soaps, honey, skin care, and aromatherapy oils.

Seafoam Lavender Gardens and Farm Store

Fodor's choice

Wander the acres of fragrant lavender at this beautiful farm and pick up a range of homemade lavender products including tasty oatcakes, skin care products, soap, honey, and bath goodies at the farm store. 

Victoria Park

Fodor's choice

At 3,000 acres, this park on the edge of downtown has wooded hiking trails, a viewpoint, a winding stream, two waterfalls, public tennis courts, and an outdoor (heated) pool. Even if you're not staying in Truro, this park can be a good pit stop for car-weary travelers: kids especially will enjoy the pool, water spray park, picnic pavilion, and playground. Energetic visitors can climb the 175 steps of the Jacob's Ladder fitness staircase. The Railyard mountain biking park at the top of Victoria Park has 35-miles of cross-country trails, some with platforms, jumps, and other advanced features, as well as a skills track that's popular with kids and adults.

Recommended Fodor's Video

Advocate Harbour

This little fishing community is set on a Bay of Fundy natural harbor that loses all its water at low tide. A delightful coastal walk here follows the top of an Acadian dike that was built by settlers in the 1700s to reclaim farmland from the sea. Nearby is rocky Advocate Beach, which stretches for about 5 km (3 miles) east from Cape Chignecto and is noted for its monumental supply of tide-cast driftwood.

Age of Sail Heritage Museum

Exhibits spread out over several buildings trace the history of the Fundy region's shipbuilding and lumbering industries, and the museum has an archive and genealogical-research area. The main displays are in the restored 1854 Methodist church. The Wind and Wave Building is shaped to resemble an inverted half-model of a ship, and you can also view a blacksmith shop, a boathouse, and a lighthouse. Be sure to take a stroll on the boardwalk along the wharf. A cute café serves light meals—chowder, lobster rolls, sandwiches, and the like.

8334 Hwy. 209, Port Greville, NS, B0M 1T0, Canada
Sights Details
Rate Includes: C$5, Closed Nov.–Apr. and Tues. and Wed. May, June, Sept., and Oct.

Anne Murray Centre

The likable Springhill-born, part-Acadian pop singer spread her tiny wings and flew away to worldwide fame and fortune, but she still celebrates her roots—and her hometown pays tribute to her illustrious career—at this repository of costumes, gold records, photographs, and other artifacts. Diehard fans can record a (virtual) duet with Murray, providing instant bragging rights to having performed with a partner who has sold more than 55 million albums to date and received four Grammy and 31 Juno awards.

Balmoral Grist Mill

Built in 1874, this is one of the few water-powered mills still operating in Nova Scotia, now serving as the centerpiece of a small museum. You can observe milling demonstrations and walk the site's 1-km (½-mile) trail.

Bauer Theatre

During the school year, the Bauer is home to Theatre Antigonish, a nonprofit community company that presents classic and contemporary works. Its Green Room Lounge features improv comedy on certain Saturday nights, with admission by donation.

Cape Chignecto Provincial Park

Miles of untouched coastline, more than 10,000 acres of old-growth forest harboring deer, moose, and eagles, and a variety of unique geological features are preserved in Nova Scotia's largest provincial park. It's circumnavigated by a 51-km (31-mile) hiking trail along rugged cliffs that rise 600 feet above the bay, and there are other trails of varying lengths. Wilderness cabins and campsites are available.

Cape d'Or

The explorer Samuel de Champlain poetically, but inaccurately, named Cape d'Or—there's copper in these hills, not gold. The region was actively mined a century ago, and at nearby Horseshoe Cove you may still find nuggets of almost pure copper on the beach, along with amethysts and other semiprecious stones. Cape d'Or's hiking trails border the cliff edge above the Dory Rips, a turbulent meeting of currents from the Minas Basin and the Bay of Fundy punctuated by a fine lighthouse, which has a viewing deck with telescopes.

Cape d'Or, NS, Canada
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Lighthouse closed Nov.–mid-May

Cobequid Interpretive Centre

The geology, history, and culture of the Five Islands area are interpreted here with pictures, videos, and panels, and you can get a sweeping view of the countryside and the impressive tides from the World War II observation tower. Cobequid is home base for the Kenomee Hiking and Walking Trails, where hikers traverse varied landscapes ranging from forested valleys to coast and cliffs.

3246 Hwy. 2, Economy, NS, B0M 1J0, Canada
Sights Details
Rate Includes: By donation, Mid-to-late June and Sept.–mid-Oct., daily 9–5; July and Aug., daily 9–6

Five Islands Provincial Park

On the shore of Minas Basin, the park has lofty sea cliffs, a beach for combing, trails for hiking, and mudflats for clam digging. Interpretive displays reveal the area's intriguing geology—semiprecious stones, Jurassic-period dinosaur bones, and fossils can all be found within the park's 1,500 acres. You can learn about geology and other topics, among them astronomy, rock hounding, and tidal-pool exploration, during complimentary programs offered during high season (check the website). Because the water recedes nearly a mile at ebb tide, you can walk on the ocean floor, though you'll have to run back mighty fast when the tide turns. That's precisely the goal of 2,000 or so participants in the Not Since Moses 10K Race ( www.notsincemoses.com), an early-August event of (almost) biblical proportions. Amenities: parking (free); showers; toilets. Best for: swimming; walking.

618 Bentley Rd., Hwy. 2, Five Islands, NS, B0M 1N0, Canada
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Free

Fundy Geological Museum

Not far from the Minas Basin, where some of the oldest dinosaur fossils in Canada have been found, this museum showcases 200-million-year-old specimens alongside other mineral, plant, and animal relics. The opportunity to peer into a working fossil lab and to see bright interactive exhibits (like the Bay of Fundy Time Machine) give this museum real kid appeal. On Friday and Saturday in July and August, the curator leads fascinating two- to four-hour field trips through the surrounding area, but you need your own transportation because most don't start at the museum.

Hector Heritage Quay

A 110-foot fully rigged replica of the Hector is moored here, and (although under renovations until 2023) you can go aboard to see how early immigrants traveled. The handsome post-and-beam interpretive center recounts the story of the first hardy pioneers (33 families plus 25 unmarried men) who arrived aboard the original vessel in 1773, and the flood of Scots who followed them. The site also has working blacksmith, rigger, and carpentry shops.

Joggins Fossil Centre

On the Glooscap Trail, 35 km (22 miles) southwest of Amherst and 70 km (43 miles) northeast of Cape Chignecto, Joggins is famous for Coal Age fossils that were embedded in sandstone, then uncovered through erosion caused by Fundy's surging tides. You can spy them outside, in the sea cliffs, or inside the center. Also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this striking museum has a large, well-curated collection of specimens dating back some 300 million years, along with interesting displays outlining the region's geological and archaeological history. The admission fee includes a half-hour guided beach tour; two-hour guided cliffs tours take place daily in peak months; and an in-depth four-hour tour occurs on certain weekends in June, July, and August. Reservations are essential for the two-hour and four-hour tours. Bear in mind that the beach is reached by a steep slope and staircase, over boulders and watercourses.

Jost Vineyards

The Jost winery produces wines from an astonishing number of varietals, consistently winning awards for its ice wine, a sweet affair made from grapes left on the vines until frost has "iced" them. You can taste wines year-round at the store here, roam the scenic vineyards, and enjoy a delicious lunch at the on-site Seagrape Café which specializes in fresh, local produce that compliments their wines perfectly.

Melmerby Beach Provincial Park

One of Nova Scotia's most popular beaches, Melmerby has a boardwalk, picnic tables, and some of the warmest water north of the Carolinas. Beaches straddle both the inner and outer edges of this horseshoe of land, the inner portion a glorious stretch of white sand. Swimming is safe here unless winds are high, when strong currents develop. The supervised area (in July and August) is clearly marked. Beware of poison ivy in the sand dunes and, between mid-July and early August, jellyfish in the water. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; parking (free); showers; toilets. Best for: swimming.

Minas Basin

The cliffs that rim the Minas Basin are washed by the world's highest tides twice daily: the result is a wealth of plant and animal fossils revealed in the rocks or carried down to the shore.

Nova Scotia Gem and Mineral Show

The combination of fossils and semiprecious stones makes Parrsboro a natural place to hold this long-established show (the first was in 1966) during the third weekend of August. In addition to dozens of exhibitors, the event includes themed demonstrations and geological field trips. Experts are on hand to identify any treasures you turn up.

Nova Scotia Museum of Industry

Your own job may be the last thing you want to think about while vacationing, but if you're curious about those the industrious locals have traditionally held, Stellarton, just 20 km (12 miles) from Pictou, is worth a detour for this museum that brings our industrial heritage to life with daily demonstrations in the machine shop, sawmill, and print shop. Like factory and mine workers of old, you can punch in with a time card and then get straight to work. Hands-on exhibits will show you how to hook a rag mat, print a bookmark, operate a steam engine, or pack chocolates into a moving box on an assembly line. Interactive computer exhibits explore multimedia as a tool of industry, and some 30,000 industrial artifacts are on display, including Canada's oldest steam locomotives. The kids' train gallery is a hit with very young children.

Ottawa House-by-the-Sea Museum

Although fossils have become Parrsboro's claim to fame, this harbor town was also a major shipping and shipbuilding port, and its history is chronicled here. The house, which overlooks the Bay of Fundy, is the only surviving building from a 1700s settlement. It was later the summer home of Sir Charles Tupper (1821–1915), a former premier of Nova Scotia and briefly the prime minister of Canada. Those with roots in Nova Scotia can research their ancestors in the genealogical archives. Occasional special events might include music, afternoon teas, or model railroads.

1155 Whitehall Rd., Parrsboro, NS, B0M 1S0, Canada
Sights Details
Rate Includes: By donation, Closed Tues. and Weds. Closed Oct.–mid-May

Partridge Island

Semiprecious stones such as amethyst, quartz, and stilbite can be found at Partridge Island, 1 km (½ mile) offshore and connected to the mainland by an isthmus. The 1½-km (1-mile) Partridge Island Trail can be followed from the beach up to a lookout tower on the high point.

Off Whitehall Rd., Parrsboro, NS, Canada

Port Bickerton Lighthouse Beach Park

Hiking trails and a boardwalk lead to a sandy beach here, but the park's main attractions are its two lighthouses, which share the lofty bluff above. One is still working; the other, built in the early 1920s, houses the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Interpretive Centre, which recounts the history, lore, and vital importance of the province's lights. Amenities: none. Best for: swimming, surfing. 

640 Lighthouse Rd., Port Bickerton, NS, B0J 1A0, Canada
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Entry to lighthouse site C$3, Lighthouse Interpretive Center closed Oct.–June

River Breeze Farm

For up-close appreciation of local produce, this farm has pick-your-own strawberry and raspberry fields in summer and Atlantic Canada's largest corn maze in the fall. The place turns decidedly scary from late September to Halloween, when "Fear Farm" is haunted by gruesome characters (real live actors) in the maze and a haunted house.

Sherbrooke Village

Most visitors come to Sherbrooke to see this living-history museum, set within the contemporary town. It contains more than two dozen restored buildings (including an operating water-powered sawmill) that re-create life during the town's heyday. Between 1860 and 1914, this was a prime shipbuilding, lumbering, and gold-rush center. These days, costumed interpreters and artisans recapture the bustle by demonstrating blacksmithing, weaving, wood turning, soap making, and similar skills. Special events, such as old-fashioned Christmas and courthouse concerts, are held throughout the year.

Springhill Miners Museum

The site of several tragedies, the Springhill coalfield gained international attention in 1958 when an earthquake created a "bump" that trapped mine workers underground (75 of them died), but today at this museum you can descend into a mine under safer circumstances. Some of the guides are retired miners who provide firsthand accounts of their working days. Children under five are not admitted.

StFX Art Gallery

St. Francis Xavier University's campus art gallery mounts a dozen exhibits of mostly contemporary works each year and hosts talks with regional and other artists.

Tantramar Marshes

Spanning the Nova Scotia–New Brunswick border and covering more than 20,000 acres, the Tantramar Marshes stretch from Amherst up to Sackville and are alive with incredible birdlife and other wildlife. The name comes from the French tintamarre (meaning din or hubbub) because of the racket made by vast flocks of wildfowl. The Tantramar is a migratory route for hundreds of thousands of birds and a breeding ground for more than 100 species.

Tatamagouche Heritage Centre

Creamery Square is the hub of activity in Tatamagouche, and this waterfront heritage center on the square has gathered together several museums that were previously dotted around town. Located in a former dairy facility, the center appropriately includes the Creamery Museum, with butter-making equipment and related displays. The Sunrise Trail Museum traces Tatamagouche's Mi'Kmaq, Acadian, French, and Scottish roots through interactive displays. The Anna Swan Museum relates the story of local giantess Anna Swan (1846–88), who grew to the height of 7 feet 11½ inches. Finally, the Brule Fossil Centre preserves 290-million-year-old fossil tracks that were discovered nearby in 1994. Demonstrations on boatbuilding and butter making are regularly staged. This is also the site of a Saturday-morning farmers' market from February through December.

That Dutchman's Cheese Farm

Known for his Gouda and other delicious cheeses that are found on menus across Nova Scotia, you can visit the Dutch-style farmhouse of "That Dutchman" to sample his cheeses or buy Dutch candy and clogs, and wander the beautiful gardens that double as a petting zoo. There's a large duck pond, baby goats to feed, angus cows, donkeys, and miniature potbellied pigs along the trail through gardens.