Less than an hour from Halifax, and an hour to the Annapolis Valley, a day trip to Chester, Nova Scotia makes for a great day out without too much driving. The town is known for its yacht club, lovely seaside scenes, and the Chester Playhouse.
On Nova Scotia’s South Shore, Chester is the lesser-known cousin of Mahone Bay and Lunenburg. Mahone Bay draws in the tourists with its trio of churches and cute shops, while Lunenburg is better known for the Bluenose tours and the rising foodie scene.
But we introverts don’t like crowds, so Chester makes a perfect alternative for a weekend when you aren’t feeling like fighting with everyone and their dog for a spot on a patio (not that patio fighting isn’t a great pastime!).
How to get to Chester
From the Annapolis Valley, take the 101 to Windsor, and then follow the 14 to Chester.
From Halifax, get on the 103 and power on through.
Where to eat: The Kiwi Cafe
Parking in Chester can be a bit challenging – I always aim for the spots just beside the yacht club on the water. From there, it’s a quick walk to the main street where you’ll find the well-loved Kiwi Cafe. Enjoy the all-day breakfast and enormous cookies with a speciality coffee on their patio. If it’s too busy to eat in, you can always take out and have a picnic on the waterfront.
The Sunroom Restaurant and Inn also looked excellent, but they are only open for dinner so plan accordingly!
Looking for more Nova Scotia road trips? Visit the Eastern Shore!
What to Do: Art and Boats
The Chester Art Centre has a variety of exhibits on display, as well as workshops and drop in classes. Spend an afternoon wandering the art, then visit the cute shops in town. If you have time, take the Tancook Island Ferry across Mahone Bay to visit the beaches on the island and see the views from the boat.
Graves Island Provincial Park
Only seven minutes from Chester is Graves Island Provincial Park, a camp ground and green space. The 3.2km hiking trail offers lovely views of the ocean and a much cooler spot to spend the afternoon than on the streets of Chester. Bring your bathing suit for a quick dip in the ocean before getting back on the trail.
The park was full of campers the day we went – mid July – but the hiking trails were deserted and we saw only a couple of other families. Much calmer than other provincial parks…as we shall see!
Though not technically in Chester (actually in Hubbards) Queensland Beach is another provincial park just 20 minutes from Graves Island. This is not a large beach, and is super popular with locals and tourists. The photos on the website are beautiful – white sand, a couple walking their dog… *chef’s kiss*.
But the day we were there… it was hot. Nova Scotia was experiencing a heat wave. And the entire city of Halifax decided Queensland Beach was where it’s at. An introvert’s small nightmare. But on a calmer day, it no doubt would have been lovely.
There is however lots of parking, and it wasn’t hard to get a spot. The beach has a lifeguard, and changerooms, so you can easily spend the day. The temperature dropped significantly too – we were there on a 30+ degree day but it was positively cool at Queensland. So if a more temperate climate is what you’re looking for, and you don’t mind other people being at your beach, this is a must. (To be clear- my barometer for what is too many people is any other people. There should be almost no one at a beach for me to be happy. So you can judge your own introvert preferences.)
Want to see more photos? Check out @its_RachelKaroline on Instagram
A day trip to Chester is an easy drive from both Halifax and the Valley. With great food, beautiful beaches, walking trails and cute shops you can do it all – and skip (most of) the crowds.