Nova Scotia: South Shore + Annapolis Valley

Nova Scotia is a gorgeous province throughout. From the warmer waters and tidal bores of Digby to the lush vineyards of the Annapolis Valley to the gorgeous craggy coastline of Cape Breton, you really can’t go wrong. My heart belongs on the South Shore, running south of Halifax along the coast. If you are thinking of a trip there, here are some of my favourite spots!


Lunenburg is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for steep narrow streets, colourful wooden houses, and a history dating back to the late 1600s. It’s the home of the tall ship, Bluenose II, which is available to tour (for free) when it’s in town. (You can see it from the deck of our cottage.)

Located about an hour from Halifax, Lunenburg is also a vibrant creative centre with three independent bookstores for a town of 2,300 people, the acclaimed Lunenburg Academy of Music Performance (LAMP) that hosts internationally acclaimed musicians, the Folk Harbour Festival, Paint Sea on Site, and a number of galleries. And they have a good ghost walk and lots of excellent shops carrying locally made goods. Winning!

And the food! So good. All of that creativity has drawn some great chefs to town for the summer months.

Fleur de Sel is a gorgeous restaurant. It’s won a fistful of awards and the lobster and scallops are both wonderful, as is the dessert cheese plate.

The Beach Pea is a new restaurant with amazing seafood. The scallops are divine.

The South Shore Fish Shack has the best fish and chips in town and offers a great view of the harbour.

The Grand Banker makes a divine acadian stew and has a great craft beer menu.

Risser’s Social House has a big patio and is your best shot for dining when the town is busy. They make a competent scallop

We are big fans of the Salt Shaker Deli (you may have seen them on You Gotta Eat Here.) They have an amazing seafood pizza covered in scallops. Yum!

My kids like The Dockside and it has good grilled scallops and a great patio too. And locals love The Knot, which is open all year (they have a great fish and chips too.)

Mahone Bay

Mahone Bay is a charming town filled with cute shops and good restaurants. You must visit My Home Bay, which has the most fabulous selection of home goods and sell East Coast Lifestyle gear too. 

Oh My Cod has terrific seafood. We often eat at The Biscuit Eater, which is a book store and restaurant that serves a fabulous breakfast and lunch (their biscuits are terrific.) You can eat outside or in the pretty tea room.

Rissers Beach

Nova Scotia has a number of gorgeous beaches. Now, keep in mind, it’s not Aruba and the water is not bathtub temperature ever. But by early August, it’s quite swimmable. Rissers is the best swimming beach in the Lunenburg area. There are other beaches that are lovely to walk or look for shells but for beach days, Rissers is king. There are good waves, lots of nice sand, lifeguards, and a decent changing area. The canteen does not seem to be open this year but you can stop in Petite Riviere at the Petite General Store on your way home for ice cream.


Peggy’s Cove

Peggy’s Cove, known for it’s amazing light house, is spectacular but very busy. I like it first thing in the morning before the tour busses arrive. While there, try the gingerbread cake at the Sou”wester. Yum!



Hubbards is a pretty beach town along the Lighthouse route. It’s known for it’s lobster suppers at the Shore Club and Queenland Beach, which is one of the most popular beaches in the province. Trellis Cafe has a fabulous Haddock sandwich that is so fresh. The antique shop next door – Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard– is fabulous.

The Ovens

The Ovens is a park owned by the Chapin Family that is open to the public in the summer. It’s a beautiful hiking spot and you can pan for gold. The have good fish and chips for lunch, with a fabulous view of the ocean. And in the evenings, they have fabulous concerts since pretty much everyone involved in this place is musical.

If you are there when the Eastern Star passes, they will whistle a salute.

South Shore Farmer’s Markets

If you have rented a house on the south shore, you don’t want to miss the many farmer’s markets throughout the summer. Lunenburg’s Thursday morning market is one of the best and you can buy provisions for the week.

Don’t miss Paterson Higgins’s biscuits!


Vegan donuts from Schoolhouse Gluten Free Gourmet


If you like Nantucket, you’ll like Chester. It has a fabulous yachting community, beautiful homes with classic coastal gardens, and good restaurants. If you are there when the wooden schooners are at The Rope Loft for breakfast, you are in for a treat. They are gorgeous boats. Also, The Rope Loft makes a chowder that requires a knife and fork. Amazing!

Check out the town pool that overlooks the harbour too. You can swim for free.

Annapolis Valley

If you are looking for a lovely day trip, the Annapolis Valley is just over an hour away. Wolfville is a charming university town and the vineyards are lovely. Luckett’s is my favourite and the views are spectacular, with the ocean in the distance. The Black Cab and Rosetta are fabulous wines and the chowder is wonderful. The views are some of the prettiest I’ve seen anywhere.

Whether you are looking for a romantic weekend away or a family vacation, the south shore is a pretty place to visit. Who knows, you just might fall in love with the place and buy a cottage. The area is filled with people from away who make this their summer home.



  1. Thanks so much for this, I’ve bookmarked it for the next time we go to Nova Scotia. After university and college my husband worked for the phone company (MT&T I think it was then) and his ‘beat’ was that stretch; he especially liked Mahone Bay. I believe he used to go and check the telephone poles or something like that. An aunt and uncle had a piece of land at Chester, with cabins. One of the cabins was named “Uncle Jim’s Cabin” after my husband’s dad; his family would stay there when visiting on home leave from Europe and Africa. I believe the cousins sold the land when their parents died. I’m sure they made a pretty penny!


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