Nova Scotia’s Hidden Gem: Hants County Day Trip
Nova Scotia has become an absolutely hotbed for tourists and now it’s mid-July they are everywhere! You can always hit up the top spots – Wolfville, Lunenburg, the wineries, Halifax’s waterfront – but sometimes a day away from the crowds is exactly what’s needed.
About an hour’s drive from Halifax you’ll find Hants County, a sleepy, under-appreciated part of Nova Scotia and as a result, very low on tourists. A secret, hidden gem! Nearly empty campsites, roads free of traffic, and you won’t have to edit out any extra people from your Instagram photos.
If you’re based in Halifax, start the day at Smiley’s Provincial Park and Campground for a 1.5km easy forest walk. Drive all the way through the park, and leave your car near the showers adjacent to the campsites. The entrance to the trail is clearly marked, but once in the woods the signage gets a bit more sparse. Try following the orange squares or take a different fork in the road to reach the Upper Trail. The whole system should only take about half an hour, so no need to rush or worry about getting lost!
From Smiley’s, get back on the road for the 15 minute drive to Avondale Sky Winery. The church where tastings are held was transported across the Bay of Fundy by ferry to its current home in Avondale. Check out their lunch menu and take home a souvenir from their shop. Avondale Sky is only open Wednesday through Sunday!
A quick turn from the winery and you’ll find yourself on the Avon River at the Heritage Society. Watch the tides come in and see the rare tidal bore – a wave created when the rising tide meets a river or bay and goes against the current. The Heritage Society museum is open by donation Wednesday-Sunday in the summer months. Grab a coffee at their cafe, hike the Avondale trail system nearby, and take in the sea air at the little lighthouse.
Check out the Heritage Society website for a complete list of their many family-friendly events, many of them free!
Before getting back on the highway, stop in at the Bread Gallery in Brooklyn for local art and grab some lunch and baked goods for the road. Or, check out the Tidal Bore Market for ice cream and local crafts to take home.
For one last stop, follow Trunk 14 to Windsor, Nova Scotia. This small community boasts an historic downtown core, and a number of restaurants and bars. Stop first at the Fort Edward National Historic Site, to learn a bit of Acadian history, and then head downtown for a coffee or a snack at Gerrish & Gray Cafe. This modern cafe/bar serves sandwiches, baked goods, and cool drinks on their tidy patio.
If you’re in Windsor on a Saturday, check out the farmers’ market, or you can hop back on the 101 directly to Halifax.
Want to add on? Check out Wolfville for cafes, shops, and the Magic Winery Bus Tour, Grand Pre for more Acadian history, or Hantsport for small town charm.
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