Bear River Nova Scotia Road Trip
Nova Scotia’s best-kept secrets include directions to Fred’s Hole, (a local swimming hole in Bear River) how to choose the perfect lobster and why Madonna eats Nova Scotia blueberries. Along the way you will discover the world’s highest tides, the smallest harbor, the best fish & chips, and why a honey crisp is called a Honey Crisp. We will lead you through Canada’s newest wine and food destination. Go berry picking and bring home the jelly! Apple, pumpkin, and berry u-picks are abundant in the valley and these fresh, local ingredients are found in restaurants throughout these shores.
Take the garden path at the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens and walk among the largest rose collection in the Maritimes. Get an insider’s tip on how to grow your own sustainable vegetable garden. Meet up with Samuel de Champlain and his hardy crew at the Port-Royal National Historic Site. Feel the thrill of riding the Bay of Fundy tides, the highest in the world, with biologist Tom Goodwin and learn to recognize the whales that feed here. We will tell you where to find the best boutique shopping this side of Blomidon and where the best hiking trails are located. These are secrets we all love to share!
GOOD TO KNOW: Claws or tails? What’s your favorite part of a lobster? Female lobsters have wider tales, while the males have larger claws. Here in Nova Scotia you can order your preference.
Discover a star, in Kejimkujik National Park’s Dark Sky Preserve.
Start with Domaine de Grand Pré, known for its Vintners Reserve label and its restaurant, Le Caveau named “One of 20 World’s Best Winery Restaurants” by Access magazine. Tidal Bay, an appellation wine will delight your palate and compliment the abundant fresh seafood found throughout the Bay of Fundy and Annapolis Valley. Just next door, is Muir Murray Winery offering nine varieties, a restaurant, and a commitment to wine education.
Grand-Pré National Historic Site
Grand-Pré National Historic Site is an Acadian landscape of marshland dykes, sweeping gardens, and a memorial church, all built on the site of the 17th and 18th-century Acadian settlement and the Deportation that were both immortalized in H.W. Longfellow’s epic poem Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie.
Gaspereau Vineyards is known for winemaker Gina Haverstock’s impressive red “Luci Kuhlmann” (a perfect choice for our Campfire Wines itinerary. L’Acadie Vineyards, also in the Gaspereau Valley and just “up the road” from Gaspereau Vineyards, specializes in a traditional sparkling wine and is Nova Scotia’s first organic winery.
Now that you know how to choose a lobster, head to Hall’s Harbour for a lobster dinner on the wharf! Mother Nature showcases the Bay of Fundy’s tides, the highest in the world, with a backdrop of cliffs and a local fishing community.
Elegant and charming Wolfville is home to Chef Michael Howell who is spreading the slow food movement throughout Nova Scotia. Admire the Acadian dykes that stretch between Wolfville, with the world’s smallest harbor and the Bay of Fundy with the world’s highest tides.
With so many wonderful foods and wines in abundance, the hardest part of your day will be deciding where to have dinner.
Get an introduction to the drama of cliffs and the highest tides in the world at Halls Harbour Wharf on Highway 359. Choose your lobster from Hall’s Harbour lobster pound and enjoy it al fresco on the wharf. Hidden just past the lobster pound, discover the Charles MacDonald fairy-tale like concrete cottages.
Fox Hill Cheese House
Follow Highway 358 through Arlington and just north of Canning stop along the roadside to enjoy the view from “the look off.” It is said on a clear day, you can see five counties of Nova Scotia. Further along, this route discover Fox Hill Cheese House, take a tour and have a taste of their delicious products like gelato, yogurt, and cheeses. They have just recently introduced milk in refillable glass bottles.
Now you are driving through the heart of the Annapolis Valley where there are opportunities to go apple, pumpkin and berry picking or, if you prefer, just stop at a market or roadside stand and enjoy the harvest. You will appreciate why a honey crisp apple is called a Honey Crisp.
Between the Bushes
A visit to Between the Bushes in Centreville will give you a hands-on opportunity to pick your own blueberries, or join them for lunch and enjoy the benefits of eating them! Scientists attribute many health benefits to blueberries. They are considered one of the top antioxidant fruits. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables promotes good health and no fruit ranks higher than blueberries. They were widely used by native North Americans who dried large quantities for the winter and early settlers used them for foods and medicines. Madonna is rumored to have them shipped directly from Nova Scotia.
Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens
Stop and smell the roses (the largest rose collection in the Maritimes) at the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens or step into la Maison Acadienne, built as it would have existed in 1671, the time period when Port Royal (later Annapolis Royal) was the center of Acadie. Discuss the merits of sustainable urban vegetable gardens and learn how to grow your own. Plan an evening in Annapolis Royal, dining at Nova Scotia’s smallest pub, or at the elegant Restaurant Compose overlooking the Avon River. Enjoy the sights and history (link to history page) of Annapolis Royal.
Annapolis Royal studios and boutiques
Catfish Moon and Lucky Rabbit Pottery are just two of the fantastic studios and boutiques that you will find in Annapolis Royal. Annapolis Royal, Bear River, and Digby are home to studios and boutiques that will charm and delight you, allowing you to see Nova Scotia through the eyes of our talented artists. Fort Anne National Historic Site proudly displays the 5.5-meter heritage tapestry and the Royal Charter of Nova Scotia. Meet up with Samuel de Champlain and his hardy crew at Port-Royal National Historic Site and join in North America’s first social club, the Order of Good Cheer.
Overnight: Annapolis Royal
You will want a hearty breakfast for this day of discovery! Bear River, lovingly referred to as “little Switzerland”, is home to the Annapolis Highland Vineyards and the Bear River Winery as well as a large artisan community. The tidal river and its stilted buildings are a photographer’s dream. This is where you will find Fred’s Hole, a local swimming spot just a few kilometers from downtown along River Road on your right, just past Thomas Road. Watch out for poison ivy.
Bear River First Nations Cultural and Heritage Centre
The Bear River First Nations Cultural and Heritage Centre offers a medicine trail and a holistic walk. Remember to check ahead to ensure a guide is available. The center highlights Mi’kmaq traditions and arts including skilfully crafted baskets. Bear River is home to Chief Greg McEwan whose baskets are featured at Flights of Fancy (one of our best art galleries).
Digby is where you will find the fishing fleet that brings you world-famous Digby scallops. Try them pan-fried, deep-fried or in one of the many scallop dishes offered throughout the Bay of Fundy. The Digby Pines’ Chef, Dale, has used Digby scallops to create Nova Scotia- style sushi with our Bay of Fundy dulse. You could call this island hopping, or say it’s about the journey and the destination when you spend your afternoon exploring the rich feeding grounds for minke, humpback and the rare right whale from a zodiac. Meet biologist Tom Goodwin of Ocean Explorations as you ride the highest tides in the world and learn to identify the whales that feed here.