Nova Scotia is a beautiful seaside escape. The people are hospitable and charming, and the landscape is stunning. My family recently returned from a week in Nova Scotia, and it was the perfect place for a summer getaway.
Tourism is a big industry in Nova Scotia, and there are lots of accommodations for every budget. We saw many small cottages, motels, and campsites along the way. B&B inns are plentiful throughout the province, and there are also several popular family resorts.
And then there’s the food.
Nova Scotians take great pride in their locally sourced cuisine. Seafood is a specialty, and it’s hard to find a menu that doesn’t feature a unique, affordable lobster dish. Fresh local produce is plentiful as well, so restaurants tend to include lots of Nova Scotia fruits and veggies this time of year. Craft beer is booming in Nova Scotia, and you can even find locally sourced, fruit-infused spirits.
Nova Scotia’s South Shore is a wonderful family travel destination. Healthy, local food is readily available, with farmers’ markets, restaurants, and hotels featuring the best of Nova Scotia’s bounty. I’m highlighting several stops along the south shore that you won’t want to miss if you’re looking for a great locavore experience.
This is a trip we never would have planned if it hadn’t been for the Nova Star. This new cruise ship makes it so easy to travel from the Boston area to Nova Scotia. The boat departs from Portland, Maine at 9:00 each night for the 10-hour trip, and it makes a return trip from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia each morning at 10:00.
I was initially unsure about starting our trip with an overnight on a ship, but I had nothing to worry about. The cabins sleep four, with comfy, pull-down beds for the kids. We slept well and enjoyed the buffet breakfast in the morning before arriving in Nova Scotia. It was an early morning, but we were able to hit the ground running when we arrived in Yarmouth. The breakfast buffet on the ship was fresh and hearty.
The first leg of our Nova Scotia drive was along the south shore from Yarmouth to Lunenburg. After the ship docks in Yarmouth, you may want to explore the town’s historic buildings and Forchu Lighthouse. If you’re looking for a bite to eat, head up the hill from the ferry to the Old World Bakery. They’re well regarded for their soups and sandwiches, but you really need to try a muffin. Their muffins include whole wheat flour, seasonal produce, and just enough sweetness. These are perfect for a light breakfast or snack.
Yarmouth also features a unique lobster dinner experience. Stanley Lobster serves the freshest lobster around. You pick out which lobster you want, and they cook it and serve it along with a salad, corn on the cob, and strawberry shortcake. They’re only open when the lobster fishing is good, so call ahead. The Red Shed Food Truck is another option in Yarmouth that includes local food on its menu.
There are several B&B’s in Yarmouth, but for family-friendly lodging, the Comfort Inn offers a great affordable option. This hotel was recently renovated, and it’s a five-minute drive from the ferry terminal. It’s located near a grocery store and pharmacy, which is convenient if you want to stock up on fresh fruit and other snacks before setting out. We enjoyed staying here the night before our trip home.
Shelburne is a beautiful seaside town with pretty architecture and an idyllic waterfront. We visited on a Saturday morning, the perfect time because the weekly farmers’ market was in full swing. Fresh greens and berries were available for sale, along with local artisan products and freshly baked organic bread. There was even local craft beer for sale, which my husband was happy to see.
A few blocks down from the market, you’ll find one of the most highly regarded locavore restaurants on the south shore. Charlotte Lane Cafe and Crafts features many local ingredients, including fresh seafood and produce. This restaurant was chosen as the Nova Scotia Restaurant Association’s best small restaurant. Charlotte Lane Cafe wasn’t open when we were in town, but we’d love to eat here another time.
White Point Beach Resort is a beautiful destination where generations of Nova Scotians have visited for vacation. The resort is flanked by the ocean on one side and a lake on the other. Paddleboats, canoes, and kayaks are available for resort guests to enjoy. The lodge, which houses the restaurant and pool, is clean, beautiful, and rustic. Guest rooms are spread out throughout several buildings, and for a longer visit many families choose to stay in their own cottages. Bunnies hop around the grounds, and children are invited to feed them.
Elliot’s Dining Room is the restaurant at the Lodge. It features some locally sourced menu items, including seafood from the nearby waters and fresh local produce. I had the best salad of our vacation for lunch here, chock full of more veggies than I could possibly list. The buffet dinner is a nice spread, and the children’s price is a bargain. The resort also offers special cooking experiences on the beach during some evenings.
Nova Scotia has the highest recycling rate in Canada, and the resort does its part with “White Point Green Theme” notices throughout the facilities. They remind guests to reuse towels, use energy efficient hand dryers, and recycle or compost whenever possible.
This pretty little town near Lunenburg reminded us of Ogunquit, Maine. The streets are lined with colorful shops, and a craft market took over a large common space on the day we visited. The serene bay is one of many beautiful harbors we enjoyed along this leg of our journey.
The Biscuit Eater Cafe and Books is a delicious locavore restaurant in Mahone Bay. We stopped here for lunch, and it was a wonderful meal. They have a beautiful outdoor patio for dining, and they offer a variety of salads, sandwiches, pizzas, and other dishes. Everything is made to order, so this is not the place to visit if you’re looking for fast food. I loved slowing down for this meal, and we were able to walk through the herb garden while we waited for our food.
Lunenburg is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and for good reason. This bright, beautiful little seaside town is beyond charming. The hilly streets are lined with inviting craft shops and novelty stores. We stayed at the Boscawen Inn, a majestic Queen Anne style mansion perched at the top of the hill. I struggled to find a family-friendly B&B for one night of our vacation, and this was the perfect spot. The big room at the top of the house has a queen bed plus two twin beds, and the view of Lunenburg and the harbor below is spectacular. We loved the simple, elegant breakfast at the Inn.
There are several good dining options in Lunenburg. We had a wonderful dinner at the casual Salt Shaker Deli. The Grand Banker Bar & Grill is an excellent option on the waterfront, and its menu specifies which items are locally sourced. For a delicious scone and an organic, fair trade cup of coffee, visit The Shop on the Corner to try Laughing Whale coffee. Higher end locavore restaurants include Rime, Lincoln Street Food, and Fleur de Sel. At Ironworks Distillery, you can sample locally made spirits that include produce from Nova Scotia.
If you visit Lunenburg, don’t miss the sunset sailboat cruise. This is the perfect way to view Lunenburg in all its colorful splendor, as well as the caves of Ovens Natural Park. My children enjoyed hoisting the sails and steering the boat. I loved learning about the history of Lunenburg and interacting with the crew on this relaxing evening ride.
To read about my previous real food travel adventures, click on the Travel tab at the top of this page.
Disclosure: Nova Scotia Tourism Agency hosted us on our trip to Nova Scotia and covered our travel expenses. All opinions expressed here are 100% my own.