11 Best Things to Do in Nova Scotia in the Summer

Considering a summer getaway to Nova Scotia? Despite being the peak season, the summer months unlock a host of activities and destinations that the colder winter simply can’t offer. The combination of vibrant food scenes, rich history, and breathtaking scenery creates an unforgettable experience.

Like its southern cousin, New England, Nova Scotia has all the charm and attractiveness of the East Coast. But in the summer months we like to think its just a “wee bit better” – its a wee bit cooler, the crowds are a wee bit thinner and your dollar goes a wee bit farther.

Every corner of Nova Scotia has its own unique charm waiting to be discovered. As you plan your summer vacation, be sure to include some of our top picks for things to do in Nova Scotia in the summer on your itinerary.

Lobster
Seafood is abundant in Nova Scotia, no place in Nova Scotia more than 35 miles (56 km) from the sea

1. Eat the Freshest Seafood in Canada

Nova Scotia is famous for its seafood, especially lobster and scallops. Enjoy fresh catches at local restaurants and seafood shacks along the coast, offering everything from casual fish and chips to gourmet seafood dishes. Dining establishments like The Shore Club in Hubbards, known for its lobster suppers, and Salty’s in Halifax, celebrated for its seafood platters, provide exceptional culinary experiences. Many venues also offer beautiful waterfront views, enhancing the dining experience.

For the ultimate guide on the best places to eat lobster in Nova Scotia, visit our article.

The Shore Club, Hubbards

Nova Scotia is famous for its seafood, especially lobster and scallops. Enjoy fresh catches at local restaurants and seafood shacks along the coast, offering everything from casual fish and chips to gourmet seafood dishes. Dining establishments like The Shore Club in Hubbards, known for its lobster suppers, and Salty’s in Halifax, celebrated for its seafood platters, provide exceptional culinary experiences. Many venues also offer beautiful waterfront views, enhancing the dining experience.

Salty’s, Halifax

Salty’s in Halifax is celebrated for its delicious seafood platters and scenic waterfront views. This restaurant offers an exceptional culinary experience with its fresh lobster and scallops, making it a must-visit for seafood enthusiasts. Enjoy the vibrant atmosphere and the freshest catches while overlooking the picturesque harbor, making every meal at Salty’s memorable.

The Grand Banker Bar & Grill, Lunenburg

The Grand Banker Bar & Grill in Lunenburg is another top spot to enjoy Nova Scotia’s renowned seafood. Known for its fresh lobster and scallops, this restaurant combines a relaxed atmosphere with gourmet dining. Situated along the waterfront, The Grand Banker offers stunning views and a menu filled with locally sourced seafood dishes, providing a true taste of Nova Scotia’s maritime heritage.

Vineyard
The sunny Annapolis Valley attracted Acadian farmers 400 years ago, now it is abundant with vineyards

2. Get a Taste of Nova Scotia’s Grape Vines & Brews

Explore Nova Scotia’s burgeoning wine and craft beer scene. Tour vineyards in the Annapolis Valley, such as Bear River Vineyards and Benjamin Bridge, and sample local brews at craft breweries like Annapolis Brewing Company and Lunn’s Mill. These wineries and breweries often offer tastings, tours, and events that highlight the unique flavours of the region. The Annapolis Valley is particularly known for its Tidal Bay wines, which capture the essence of Nova Scotia’s terroir, making it a must-visit for wine enthusiasts.

Bear River Vineyards

Located in the picturesque Annapolis Valley, Bear River Vineyards is known for its beautiful hillside vineyard and exceptional wines. Its reputed to be the location where French grapes were fist introduced to North America around 1611. Visitors can enjoy guided tours of the vineyard and winery, learning about the wine-making process from vine to bottle. Tastings are a highlight, offering a chance to savour their award-winning wines, including the region’s renowned Tidal Bay. The vineyard’s serene setting makes it a perfect spot for a relaxing afternoon.

Benjamin Bridge

Benjamin Bridge is another standout vineyard in the Annapolis Valley, famous for its sparkling wines. The vineyard’s commitment to quality and innovation has earned it a stellar reputation. Visitors can partake in tastings that feature a variety of sparkling and still wines, each reflecting the unique terroir of Nova Scotia. The vineyard also hosts special events and tours, providing an immersive experience into the world of wine production.

Annapolis Brewing Company

For craft beer lovers, Annapolis Brewing Company in Annapolis Royal is a must-visit. This brewery combines local ingredients with innovative brewing techniques to create a diverse range of beers. Visitors can enjoy tours of the brewery, learning about the brewing process and the stories behind each brew. The taproom offers a cozy setting to sample their latest creations, from hoppy IPAs to rich stouts, making it a great spot to unwind and enjoy the local brew scene.

Lunn’s Mill Beer Company

Lunn’s Mill Beer Company, located in Lawrencetown, is another gem in Nova Scotia’s craft beer landscape. Known for its community-focused approach and diverse beer offerings, Lunn’s Mill provides a welcoming atmosphere for visitors. The brewery offers tastings and tours that delve into the craftsmanship behind their beers. With a spacious taproom and frequent events, it’s a perfect place to experience the local beer culture and enjoy a pint with friends.

Fort Anne arch
Fort Anne is the oldest existing fort in Canada (1629)

3. Learn About History & Art in Nova Scotia

Explore Nova Scotia’s vibrant art scene and rich history to gain a deeper understanding of the area’s culture. Nova Scotia was known as French Acadia before 1710 and its former capital of Annapolis Royal was settled before either Jamestown or Plymouth. Nova Scotia was invited to become the 14th state during the American Revolution, but declined and remained loyal to King George.

Delve into history at the meticulously reconstructed 18th-century Fortress of Louisbourg, offering immersive reenactments and guided tours. Don’t miss Fort Anne, Canada’s oldest National Historic Site, located next to the vibrant town of Annapolis Royal. Visit the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, which showcases works from both local and international artists. The Acadia University Art Gallery features historic and contemporary art, including pieces by Alex Colville.

Fortress of Louisbourg

Delve into history at the meticulously reconstructed 18th-century Fortress of Louisbourg. This site offers immersive historical reenactments and guided tours, allowing visitors to experience life in a French fortress during the 1700s. The fortress provides a vivid portrayal of the past, making history come alive.

Fort Anne National Historic Site

Don’t miss Fort Anne, Canada’s oldest National Historic Site, located next to the vibrant town of Annapolis Royal. This 400 year-old site offers a rich exploration of Nova Scotia’s colonial history with its well-preserved grounds and informative exhibits. Fort Anne’s strategic location and historical significance provide a fascinating glimpse into North America’s past.

Art Gallery of Nova Scotia

Explore Nova Scotia’s vibrant art scene at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. This gallery showcases an extensive collection of works from both local and international artists, offering a diverse range of styles and mediums. Special exhibits and permanent collections highlight the cultural richness and artistic talent found within the province.

Acadia University Art Gallery

Visit the Acadia University Art Gallery to see a blend of historic and contemporary art, including works by renowned artist Alex Colville. This gallery provides insight into the evolution of art in Nova Scotia and features various exhibitions that celebrate both historical perspectives and modern innovations.

Annapolis Royal, is an East coast hub of art galleries and studios, offering delightful experience for art enthusiasts and casual visitors alike. This charming town is home to a vibrant arts community, with numerous galleries showcasing a diverse range of works from local artists. Many local studios open their doors to the public, allowing visitors to watch artists at work and purchase unique, handcrafted pieces. See our guide to Annapolis Royal’s art galleries and studios.

Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens
The Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens walk visitors through 400 years of gardening

4. Walk the Heritage Museums & Gardens

Explore the province’s rich history and beautiful gardens. Visit the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens, the Halifax Public Gardens, and the many museums that showcase Nova Scotia’s cultural and historical heritage. The Halifax Public Gardens, with its Victorian-era landscaping, offers a serene retreat in the heart of the city. Meanwhile, the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens provide a picturesque setting with a diverse collection of flora and historic structures, making it a perfect spot for leisurely strolls and learning about local history.

Fun Fact: Annapolis Royal has a longer than any other European settlement in North America north of Florida. For a complete list on the the top historic sites in Annapolis Royal, see our article.

Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens

Explore the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens, a picturesque setting featuring a diverse collection of flora and historic structures. These gardens offer a perfect spot for leisurely strolls and provide an educational experience about local horticultural practices and history. Enjoy themed gardens, including a Victorian garden, rose garden, and an Acadian house garden, making it a delightful visit for nature and history enthusiasts alike.

Halifax Public Gardens

Visit the Halifax Public Gardens, a serene retreat in the heart of the city. This Victorian-era landscaped garden showcases beautiful flower beds, fountains, and tree-lined paths, offering a tranquil escape from the urban hustle. Enjoy the carefully maintained botanical displays and seasonal plantings that highlight the beauty of Nova Scotia’s flora throughout the year.

Port Royal National Historic Site

Discover the rich history of early European settlement in North America at Port Royal National Historic Site. This site features a reconstructed 17th-century French habitation, offering a fascinating glimpse into the lives of the region’s early settlers. Guided tours and interactive exhibits provide an immersive experience, making it an essential visit for those interested in the early history of Nova Scotia and Canada.

Cape Forchu
The reward for the drive to the remote Cape Forchu Lighthouse are the some of the best views on the East Coast

5. Capture the Beauty of Nova Scotia Lighthouses

Although New England has a population over 15 times that of Nova Scotia, its northern neighbour boasts a larger coastline. With over 160 lighthouses dotting its shores, Nova Scotia offers plenty of opportunities to photograph these iconic structures. Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse is a must-visit, but don’t miss out on lesser-known gems like Cape Forchu and Port Bickerton. These lighthouses not only serve as beautiful photo backdrops but also offer insight into the maritime history of the region. Many lighthouses, like the one at Cape d’Or, are located in stunning natural settings that are ideal for picnics and leisurely walks.

Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse

Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse is a convenient drive from Halifax. This picturesque lighthouse stands on wave-washed granite rocks and welcomes over 700,000 visitors per year. Its location in a quaint fishing village adds to its charm, making it a perfect spot for photography and picking up souvenirs.

Cape Forchu Lighthouse

Don’t miss out on lesser-known gems like Cape Forchu. This lighthouse, located near Yarmouth, offers stunning panoramic views of the rugged coastline and the Atlantic Ocean. Visitors can explore the surrounding trails, enjoy a picnic, and learn about the history of the lighthouse through interpretive displays. Cape Forchu is an excellent spot for both scenic beauty and historical insight.

Port Bickerton Lighthouse

Port Bickerton Lighthouse is another treasure worth visiting. Situated on Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore, this lighthouse is part of an interpretive centre that tells the story of the province’s lighthouse keepers and maritime heritage. The natural setting around Port Bickerton is ideal for leisurely walks, providing a serene backdrop for photography and relaxation. This lighthouse exemplifies the blend of beauty and history that Nova Scotia’s lighthouses offer.

Harvest Moon Trail
The scenic Harvest Moon Rail Trail stretches from historic Annapolis Royal to the Grand Pré UNESCO World Heritage Site

6. Take a Nova Scotia Bike Tour or Scenic Drive

The Annapolis Valley Route takes you through the breadbasket of Nova Scotia and also the location of its prime wine-making area. When French settlers arrived in 1605, this is where called home. Other scenic drives like the South Shore Route and the Eastern Shore Route offer equally spectacular views and opportunities to stop at quaint fishing villages, artisan shops, and historic sites, making every trip an unforgettable journey.

Annapolis Valley Route

The Annapolis Valley Route, also known as the Evangeline Trail, offers a delightful journey through Nova Scotia’s most historic, fertile and picturesque regions. Renowned for its vineyards, orchards, and charming towns, this route provides lush landscapes and stunning coastal vistas. As you travel, you’ll encounter beautiful farmlands, the historic town and former Nova Scotia capital of Annapolis Royal, as well as numerous wineries offering tours and tastings. This scenic drive also includes stops at local farmers’ markets, historic sites, and quaint villages, making it a rich and diverse travel experience. For bike enthusiasts, be sure to try the Annapolis Valley’s Harvest Moon Rail Trail. The trail stretches about 60 miles from the quaint former capital of Nova Scotia, Annapolis Royal, to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Grand Pré.

South Shore Route

The South Shore Route, also known as the Lighthouse Route, offers equally spectacular views along Nova Scotia’s South Shore, with plenty of opportunities to stop at quaint fishing villages, artisan shops, and historic sites. This scenic drive takes you past iconic lighthouses like Peggy’s Cove, where you can capture stunning photographs and learn about the maritime history. The route also features charming towns like Lunenburg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its colourful buildings and vibrant culture.

Eastern Shore Route

The Eastern Shore Route, also known as the Marine Drive, is another scenic drive that showcases the beauty of Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore. This route provides stunning coastal vistas and the chance to explore lesser-known gems like the peaceful Taylor Head Provincial Park and the historic Sherbrooke Village. Along the way, you can visit secluded beaches, enjoy fresh seafood at local eateries, and discover the region’s rich cultural heritage, making every trip an unforgettable journey.

Kejimkujik National Park
Kejimkujik wears four crowns: National Park, National Historic Site, UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve & International Dark Sky Preserve

7. Play Outdoors at Nova Scotia Parks & Golf Courses

Nova Scotia boasts numerous parks and golf courses for outdoor enthusiasts. Cape Breton Highlands National Park offers hiking and camping. Parks such as Kejimkujik National Park and Historic Site offer canoeing, kayaking, and wildlife spotting. Golfers can enjoy a round at stunning courses like Fort View Gold Course, where the blend of challenging holes and scenic beauty make for an exceptional golfing experience.

Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Nova Scotia boasts numerous parks and golf courses for outdoor enthusiasts, with Cape Breton Highlands National Park being a standout. This park offers a wide range of hiking trails that traverse through lush forests, along dramatic coastal cliffs, and across highland plateaus. In addition to hiking, visitors can enjoy camping in picturesque sites that provide an immersive natural experience. The park is renowned for its stunning views of the Cabot Trail, making it a must-visit for nature lovers and adventure seekers.

Kejimkujik National Park and Historic Site

Another gem for outdoor enthusiasts is Kejimkujik National Park and Historic Site. It has four crowns to wear as it is: a National Park, a National Historic Site, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve and an International Dark Sky Preserve. This may be unique in North America. “Keji” as it is affectionately known by many locals, is ideal for those who enjoy water activities, offering excellent opportunities for canoeing and kayaking on serene lakes and rivers. The park is also a haven for wildlife spotting, with diverse species of birds and mammals. Additionally, Kejimkujik is rich in cultural history, featuring ancient Mi’kmaq petroglyphs and heritage sites that provide a glimpse into the area’s indigenous heritage.

Fort View Golf Course

Golfers can enjoy a round at the stunning Fort View Golf Course. This course is known for its blend of challenging holes and scenic beauty, making for an exceptional golfing experience. The course’s layout incorporates natural landscapes, including rolling hills and water features, providing both a test of skill and a feast for the eyes. Whether you’re a seasoned golfer or a casual player, Fort View Golf Course offers a relaxing and enjoyable way to experience Nova Scotia’s outdoor charm.

Whales and dolphins
Whale watching on Nova Scotia's Bay of Fundy, home of the world's highest tides

8. Whale Watching Tours on the Bay of Fundy

Excellent Things to Do in Nova Scotia in the Summer include joining a whale watching tour. The Bay of Fundy and the Atlantic coast are prime spots to see humpbacks, minkes, and even the occasional great white shark. These tours offer thrilling encounters with marine wildlife and the opportunity to learn about their natural habitats and behaviours. Companies like Brier Island Whale and Petit Passage Whale Watch provide guided tours that are both educational and exhilarating, ensuring unforgettable experiences on the water.

Se our full article on the best whale watching tours on the Bay of Fundy.

Brier Island Whale and Seabird Cruises

Excellent things to do in Nova Scotia in the summer include joining a whale watching tour with Brier Island Whale and Seabird Cruises. Located at the Bay of Fundy, this tour is renowned for sightings of humpback and minke whales, as well as a variety of seabirds. The experienced guides provide educational insights into the marine life and their habitats, ensuring a thrilling and informative adventure on the water.

Petit Passage Whale Watch

Another prime spot for whale watching is with Petit Passage Whale Watch, situated along the scenic Bay of Fundy. This tour offers encounters with humpbacks, minkes, and the occasional great white shark. The knowledgeable crew ensures that each trip is both exhilarating and educational, providing a deep understanding of the marine ecosystem and the behaviours of the whales observed.

Mariner Cruises Whale and Seabird Tours

Mariner Cruises Whale and Seabird Tours, operating on the Bay of Fundy, provides an unforgettable experience with opportunities to see majestic whales and diverse seabirds. The tour combines the thrill of close encounters with marine wildlife and comprehensive information about their natural habitats. This makes for an exceptional and memorable summer activity in Nova Scotia.

Kings Theatre
King's Theatre in historic Annapolis Royal is only a few steps from the sea

9. See a Live Performance in Nova Scotia

Enjoy the local entertainment scene by attending a live performance. Venues like the Neptune Theatre in Halifax offer a range of shows from musicals to contemporary plays. The Highland Arts Theatre in Sydney and the King’s Theatre in Annapolis Royal are other excellent venues for live performances, including music, theater, and dance. These cultural hubs provide a vibrant nightlife and a chance to experience Nova Scotia’s artistic talent.

Neptune Theatre, Halifax

Enjoy the local entertainment scene by catching a show at the historic Neptune Theatre in Halifax. This renowned venue offers a diverse range of performances, from captivating musicals to contemporary plays, providing a rich cultural experience. As one of the oldest professional theatres in Atlantic Canada, Neptune Theatre is a cornerstone of Halifax’s vibrant arts community.

Highland Arts Theatre, Sydney

Experience live performances at the Highland Arts Theatre in Sydney. This venue hosts a variety of shows, including music, theater, and dance, showcasing local and international talent. The theater’s commitment to producing high-quality performances makes it a key player in Nova Scotia’s cultural landscape.

King’s Theatre, Annapolis Royal

Visit the King’s Theatre in Annapolis Royal for an eclectic mix of live performances. From theatrical productions to musical concerts and dance shows, this historic venue offers a lively arts scene. The theatre’s intimate setting and diverse programming make it a beloved cultural hub in the community.

Brier Island
Brier Island is rugged, remote, and one of the most beautiful places on Earth

10. Take a Day Trip to Brier Island

Brier Island is a hidden gem known for its rich biodiversity and scenic beauty. Perfect for hiking, birdwatching, and whale watching, it offers a tranquil escape with stunning coastal views and abundant wildlife. About 100 miles due east of Acadia National Park,  the island is a critical stopover for migrating birds and a prime location for spotting rare plant species. Whale watching tours from Brier Island are particularly popular, providing close encounters with humpback, minke, and right whales, making the island a nature lover’s paradise.

 

View out front door, showing seaside
Bailey House, Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia - "Canada's Most Historic Inn"

11. Choose the Bailey House Inn for Your Nova Scotia Summer Lodging

Stay at the historic Bailey House Inn in Annapolis Royal for a charming and comfortable base during your summer adventures. It is Canada’s Most Historic Inn and was built in 1770, with roots as far back as 1629. This beautifully restored inn offers a perfect blend of historic charm and modern amenities, with easy access to all the attractions Nova Scotia has to offer. The inn’s prime location on the waterfront provides stunning views of the Annapolis Basin, and its welcoming hospitality ensures a memorable stay. Enjoy gourmet breakfasts, relaxing gardens, and elegantly appointed rooms as you explore the region’s highlights.

With its unique blend of culinary delights, historical richness, and stunning landscapes, Nova Scotia promises an unparalleled summer experience. Whether you’re exploring quaint coastal villages, indulging in fresh seafood, or taking in the majestic views, this East Coast gem offers endless opportunities for adventure and relaxation. Make the most of your summer getaway by immersing yourself in the diverse attractions Nova Scotia has to offer, ensuring memories that will last a lifetime.
Logo Transparent Simple

Bailey House Inn
150 Saint George Street,
Annapolis Royal, NS B0S 1A0

RYA-2023-24-04111104470229963-150
2024 Bailey House Inn

 •  150 Saint George Street, Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia

Logo Transparent Simple

RYA-2023-24-04111104470229963-150