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10 reasons why Nova Scotia could be your family’s biggest adventure yet

Last updated 14th March 2024

A Nova Scotia family vacation should be on everyone’s list this year. It’s the land of adventure and packed with incredible experiences. Phenomenal starts here.


Cape Split, Nova Scotia

Why Nova Scotia could be your next big family adventure

Nova Scotia is home to fewer than a million people, so don’t come looking for crowds. And don’t mistake it for an island either, it’s actually a peninsula with a very long and lovely coastline.

Perfect family road trip territory it couldn’t be easier to drive around. Although great places to stay and things to see give you plenty of reasons to stop and stare along the way.

The food here is famously good too, particularly the seafood: you can eat fresh lobster 10 months of the year. And not only does it have beautiful beaches and legendary landmarks, it’s also the province for Cape Breton Island and a big share of the Bay of Fundy.

Up for an easy adventure? Take a look at 10 only in Nova Scotia experiences, we promise you’ll be sold on the idea by number three.

Hiking the Skyline Trail, Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Hiking the Skyline Trail, Cape Breton

A Nova Scotia family vacation lets you hike the Skyline Trail

The Skyline Trail is one of the world’s most photographed, another Nova Scotia icon and very doable with kids. Look forward to spectacular views of the Gulf of St. Lawrence as the grand prize for all your legwork. And don’t be surprised to spot deer or moose along the way.

  • The Skyline is just one of 26 hiking trails, including part of the legendary Cabot Trail, which run through Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Most are family-friendly, but they’re all well-marked and graded in order of difficulty so you know what to expect before stride out.

Explore Cape Breton Highlands National Park in Nova Scotia


Tidal bore rafting on a Nova Scotia family vacation

Try world famous tidal bore rafting only in Nova Scotia

Always looking for new thrills? Nova Scotia is very much the place for those. But even here nothing out-thrills the sheer exhilaration of tidal bore rafting on the Shubenacadie River.

The Bay of Fundy is known for the world’s highest recorded tides. Twice a day they rise and fall between 3.5 and 16m and a massive flood of water pours into the Shubenacadie. When the waters collide, the river’s transformed into a bold rafters’ paradise of wild rapids, waves and boisterous swells. Do you dare? Of course you do. But if you’re not sure, recce other intrepid rafters from the viewing platform – that’s a lot of fun too.

Speaking of fun. Don’t miss a post-rafting mud slide. Wear your oldest things and remember to bring a change of clothes. This might be as intentionally dirty as you’ve ever let kids get, and they’ll love every second.

See more water fun for families in Nova Scotia

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Combine stargazing and camping on a Nova Scotia family vacation

Have stargazing adventures on your Nova Scotia family vacation

The Acadian Skies and Mi’kmaq Lands in Nova Scotia were the first Starlight Tourism Destinations certified by the UNESCO-backed Starlight Foundation. So if kids are up for after-dark adventures, this is where to find them.

You can go gazing on guided hikes and bike rides under huge, star-filled skies, spend the night in a Sky Bubble or even just camp out and stare into space for as long as you like.

  • Try the Nocturnal Sky Theatre Experience at The Deep Sky Observatory in Tusket. Kids will love stargazing from the comfort of anti-gravity chairs (cosy blankets provided). They’ll learn how to navigate the night sky like true explorers. And if that’s not wonderful enough, they can see constellations up close through a powerful outdoor telescope.
  • A Dark Sky Preserve since 2010, Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site is one of the world’s top spots for stargazing. Light pollution here is kept to an absolute minimum so night skies are vividly clear. Then just add the fun of camping at one of the park’s many family campsites.

Find more activities on a Nova Scotia family vacation

louisbourg-cape-breton Louisbourg

Louisbourg Lighthouse, Cape Breton

Map your own road trips all over Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia’s stunning coast is also naturally mapped out for family road trips. In fact you could drive the perimeter of the province and barely heading inland at all. Of course, on vacation with kids you might want something less ambitious. So create your own route. Even a day’s driving is great fun and from exploring the coast of Cape Breton Island to cove hopping along the Bay of Fundy, the possibilities are practically limitless.

Get more road trip inspiration from Nova Scotia experts


Horse riding, Cliffs of Fundy Geopark

Go horse riding at Cliffs of Fundy UNESCO Global Geopark

Often called a ‘geological wonderland’, Cliffs of Fundy UNESCO Global Geopark more than lives up to that promise. A 300 million year old evolution is described across the landscape and it’s also home to Canada’s oldest dinosaur fossils. And as well as ancient Mi’kmaw legends woven through the park’s history, the highest tides in the world rise and fall below immense, soaring cliffs.

UNESCO designated, the park contains 40 astonishing geosites, as well as hiking trails, community museums, lighthouses and beautiful beaches. Families can take kayaking tours, walk for miles, play on the coast and even go horse riding on the sea bed.

Yes, it’s another one for the ‘only in Nova Scotia’ list: exploring the ocean-floor on horseback. Tours take in everything from prehistoric dinosaur fossils to very much alive tidal creatures. They’re an amazing way to see the spectacular Bay of Fundy.  Experienced local guides take the lead and no previous equestrian experience is necessary.

Visit the Cliffs of Fundy UNESCO Global Geopark in Nova Scotia


Spot whales on your Nova Scotia family vacation

Spot up to seven species of whales in the Bay of Fundy

However you explore the coast, make time for the Bay of Fundy. Not only does it have the world’s broadest tidal range, it’s a summer haven for up to seven species of whale, including the rare North American right whale. Take your pick of excellent whale watching cruises, they’re captivating experiences even for younger kids. Older ones might be up for closer encounters, happily Nova Scotia also leads the field for thrilling Zodiac whale watching tours.

See what whale watching looks like in Nova Scotia

Sunrise at Lawrencetown Beach, Eastern Shore

Lawrencetown Beach, Eastern Shore

Add sunny summer beaches to your Nova Scotia family vacation

As a peninsula, Nova Scotia has an extraordinary coastline and hundreds of beautiful beaches. You can even rent seaside holiday cottages and have a private stretch of sand all to yourself. However, if you don’t mind sharing the shore, several great family beaches come with excellent facilities and many are supervised in July and August.

  • Long and sandy Inverness Beach is next to Cabot Cape Breton. The warm, shallow waters here are great for families with younger kids.
  • Another beach with seemingly limitless sands, Melmerby also has warm waters and it’s only 20 minutes’ drive from New Glasgow.
  • Visit Mavillette Beach near Yarmouth for the phenomenal sand flats, birdwatching platforms and more balmy sea temperatures.
  • For lively atmosphere, head to Queensland Beach just west of Halifax. The whiter than white sands are very popular with families and it gets busy in summer, so go early.

See what family beach vacations look like in Nova Scotia


Baddeck, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

Paddle the Nova Scotia coast with local guides

Guided kayaking tours are another exciting way to explore the coast, delve into the nooks and crannies where cars don’t go and learn about Nova Scotia from a local perspective. There are all sorts of tours on offer during the summer months ranging from one hour paddles to kayak and camping expeditions on LaHave Islands.

Find out where’s good to paddle with kids in Nova Scotia


Rum Runners Trail, Nova Scotia

Bike easy going trails on a Nova Scotia family vacation

You’ll find multi-use trails where you can bike or hike all over Nova Scotia, some even repurposed from old railway lines running through amazing landscapes. So if you want a look at the countryside or coast you can’t see from a car, hire a bike or lace up your boots and pick a trail.

  • Point Pleasant Park has an astonishing 24 miles of trails and is no distance at all from Downtown Halifax.
  • Truro’s Victoria Park also has an extensive trail network and a Mountain Bike Park for a little added fun.
  • Celtic Shores Coastal Trail runs for 57 miles between Port Hastings and Inverness and comes with spectacular sea views.

Check out cycling trails for your Nova Scotia family vacation

Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site, Bay of Fundy & Annapolis Valley2 Nova Scotia family holidays

Paddling, Kejimkujik National Park

Explore Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site

If you’re on vacation with older kids, take them exploring in Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site. Another great hiking area, it’s where you’ll find day-trails under five miles long: just the right amount of challenge to bring out the adventurer in younger children.

  • Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site is also the park for backcountry trails. They’re not to be taken lightly as most demand at least four days of your vacation and some stamina. But as far as unforgettable only in Nova Scotia experiences go, this gets serious bragging rights back home.

Explore Nova Scotia’s two incredible National Parks