We’re exactly halfway through our Canada 150 series. If you haven’t checked out our other blogs, take a look. If you haven’t checked out the provinces, including beautiful Nova Scotia, it’s time to book!
Provincial foods: Lobster, Rappie Pie, Quahogs
Provincial drink: Alexander Keith’s Pale Ale
Capital city: Halifax
Major airport: YHZ, Halifax Stanfield International Airport
National Parks: Kejimkujik National Park & Cape Breton Highlands National Park
Famous Nova Scotians: Ellen Page, Sidney Crosby, Alex Coville, Leslie Feist, Anne Murray, Sarah McLachlan, Trailer Park Boys
Population: 943,000 (about 3% of Canada’s population)
Area: 55,283 km²
A Wee Bit About Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia is “Canada’s Ocean Playground,” as its vehicle plates boast and a visit there proves.
The furthest you’ll ever be from the ocean there is 56 km, about an hour’s drive.
The province juts out as a peninsula on the Atlantic seabord. Its coastal location conjures idyllic thoughts of gleaming white lighthouses, mouthwatering seafood and majestic waves crashing on rugged shorelines.
Or, perhaps you think of bright, young minds in pursuit of higher education. Nova Scotia is home to ten universities — a staggering number for a province that has less than a million people.
Speaking of students and staggering… you’ll find a vibrant pub and bar scene here. Even when Nova Scotia tourism reaches a low in colder months, watering holes are easily filled by attendees of Dalhousie, Acadia, Saint Mary’s and more– and that’s just in Halifax. (In fact, some Canuck lore has it that Haligonians–Halifax residents–enjoy the most bars per capita than anywhere in Canada, but that distinction belongs to St. John’s, Newfoundland.)
The pubs are also filled with the jubilant sounds of Nova Scotia’s musical culture. Its beloved folk music has not strayed much from its Celtic roots, particularly on Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island. In fact, Nova Scotia folk music is more alive today than in many parts of Scotland, fromwhere it primarily originated.
Nova Scotia’s award-winning Sloan promises you won’t be ‘Underwhelmed’ by a visit to their homeland.
Although best known for its lively fiddles and folk, other genres blend harmoniously into the cultural fabric. Nova Scotia has a symphony orchestra, unusual for a tiny province, and its contributions to modern music are big, reflective of the people’s love for all music.
The welcoming nature of Nova Scotians could be traced to its variety of cultural influences: the French Acadians, British and Irish, and to a lesser degree, its African heritage. The indigenous Mi’kmaq Nation thankfully remains a local presence, in spite of colonial repression and hardship.
Along with neighbouring provinces New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia makes up Canada’s Maritime region. If you haven’t visited it, we strongly recommend it!
Top 10 Nova Scotia Tourist Attractions
There is no shortage of fun things to do in Nova Scotia.
Since it’s Canada’s 150th birthday, now is the perfect time to be a tourist in our beautiful, vast country. Find flights to Halifax, or perhaps a Nova Scotia road trip. If cruising floats your boat, Halifax is a popular port for Atlantic cruises, welcoming 200,000 cruise ship passengers annually. Whichever way you choose to get there, you’ll have plenty to see when you arrive.
Here are our top ten Nova Scotia tourist attractions:
- Maritime Museum of the Atlantic – Leisurely walk around the Halifax waterfront, featuring free live music events over the summer, and pop in to discover Nova Scotia’s rich maritime heritage.
- Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse – this iconic lighthouse is a must, if only to show (or show off to!) your Instagram followers you’re in Nova Scotia.
- Bluenose II – this famous schooner is immortalized on our Canadian 10-cent coin. Located in Lunenburg, this is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
- Fort Anne – The first National Historic Site declared by Canada, this was the Mi’kmaq peoples homeland. The fort was the scene of 13 attacks by various colonial settlers over these prized banks.
- Africville Museum – standing where the African Nova Scotian community once thrived, the museum is housed in a replica of Africville’s beloved church, built in the 1860s and destroyed 100 years later when the people were displaced by industrial expansion in Halifax Harbour.
- Citadel Hill – another National Historic Site, it’s safe to say if it weren’t for this bastion, also called Fort George, Halifax would not be the city it is today.
- Cape Breton Island – Lace up your comfy shoes and hike the historic Cabot Trail on this stunning must-see island, as well as historic Louisbourg and some of Nova Scotia’s best whale watching.
- Bay of Fundy – marvel at the highest tides on Earth, Cape Split and the rarest whales in the world.
- Lobster & Music – like a wine pairing, Nova Scotia’s famous menu item and musical offerings go perfectly together and round out an unforgettable trip here.
- Acadian Skies & Mi’kmaq Lands Starlight Reserve – Admire what Samuel de Champlain’s night sky looked like when he explored the area in 1604. This pristine wilderness is protected from light pollution, offering a dazzling visual display of celestial beauty.
Nova Scotia Tourism
The Nova Scotia summer is short, so inhabitants and tourists alike take advantage of the agreeable weather, with plenty of events happening June to September. Nova Scotia tourism peaks in August, attracting adults and kids with its family-friendly activities, as well as couples seeking a romantic escape.
Many enjoyable outdoor opportunities include dolphin and whale-watching, golf, sailing, zip-lining, cycling and hiking scenic wilderness trails, in both national parks (which offer free entry during Canada’s 150th birthday year) and provincial. Nova Scotia is also veined with numerous rivers and streams, so fishing, canoeing, kayaking and other water sports aren’t neessarily bound to the ocean.
One of the biggest summer events, in scale and draw, is the annual Nova Scotia Tattoo. If you have an inkling for inking, don’t be disappointed, we’re talking about a military performance! This entertaining, large-scale production showcases dance, orchestras and theatrics. It reflects the renowned Edinburgh Military Tattoo, inspired by the province’s pronounced Scottish heritage.
Speaking of Scottish and pronounce… the charming East Coast accents differ from other parts of Canada, despite the pervading consensus that Canadians have a uniform accent. The distinct linguistic traits were influenced by the area’s early settlers from Scotland (Nova Scotia is Latin for “new Scotland.”) The French-speaking Acadians, who fled to Louisiana, pressured by British sovereignty, also left their mark on the Nova Scotia language.
Did some words in the facts above make you scratch your head? Like, what the heck is rappie pie and a quagog? The former is an Acadian dish, similar to a shepherd’s pie; but traditionally with mushier potatoes and chicken, clams or game meat. The latter, besides having a cute name, is a small, hard-shelled clam. Which brings us to…
Nova Scotia Food & Drink
Did you know that the province is the world’s largest exporter of lobster?
People from around the world claw their way to Nova Scotia’s restaurants, some as casual as a picnic bench on the beach, serving up succulent lobster and the freshest seafood.
To wash the mouthwatering goodness down, there are plenty of options to quench your thirst, from Nova Scotia craft breweries, wineries and distilleries.
We outlined Nova Scotia’s many natural and cultural activities, but for foodies, there are edible, er, incredible, tours to sink your teeth into. Consider culinary getaways to dine on locally foraged delicacies, paired with Nova Scotia wines, or guided tours of Annapolis Valley vineyards, one of Canada’s most fertile fruit growing regions. If you prefer hops to grapes, the popular Alexander Keith’s brewery tour in Halifax is a fun way to spend an afternoon.
From ocean to table, land to glass, a trip to Nova Scotia is a delectable feast for the senses.
It’s not too late to plan your East Coast summer getaway! We highly recommend you talk to a Flight Centre Airfare Expert today. Book online, call us at 1 877 967 5302, or visit us at a store near you.
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