A Nova Scotia getaway with kids can be one of the most enriching ways to experience the maritime province. From getting close to nature to discovering living history, Nova Scotia has great ideas for family vacations that include something for everyone. Need help planning? Here are the Top Ten Things to do With Kids on a Nova Scotia vacation:
1). Upper Clements Park
Located just west of Annapolis Royal, Upper Clements Park is one of Atlantic Canada’s largest amusement parks. Take 20 rides and attractions, add in some live entertainment, and you have a whole lot of fun! From the highway, the first thing you’ll notice is their famous Tree Topper Roller Coaster, which brings visitors back to the Nova Scotia attraction year-after-year. If the weather is warm, the three-looped water slide is a great way to cool off. While the older kids play, the little ones can bounce and bump across the Kiddie Bumper Boat corral with their friends. Parents can hone their putting skills on Mini-golf Island that is appropriately shaped like the province of Nova Scotia!
2). Kejimkujik National Park & National Historic Site
Then head across the province via Highway 8 – to spend a few days & nights under the stars camping in Kejimkujik National Park. Any kid who loves the outdoors will sleep soundly after a great day of biking, fishing, kayaking and making new friends at the campfire on this outdoorsy Nova Scotia getaway.
3). Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic
Plan a day in Lunenburg, the birthplace of the world-famous Bluenose. It’s also the home of the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic. This popular Nova Scotia museum is filled with exhibits, displays and activities that commemorate Atlantic Canada’s fishing heritage. Kids will love the chance to get up close to starfish, sea urchins, crabs, scallops, rays, lobsters and other marine creatures in the museum’s popular viewing tank. Then they can try their hand at a model schooner launch, feeling the thrill of watching a vessel “slide down the ways”. From learning to tie knots and splices, to mending fishing nets with one of the “old salts” who fished the North Atlantic, the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic combines fun and learning for all ages.
4). Mahone Bay Classic Boat Festival
Mark the Mahone Bay Classic Boat Festival (formerly the Wooden Boat Festival), Canada’s largest classic boat festival on your calendar for July 31st – August 3rd. The main event is the Classic Boat Race but there is lots of fun for everyone on both land and water for those who plan a Nova Scotia getaway around this festival. The Fast and Furious Boat Building Challenge provides a chance for everyone to be involved in a good-natured contest of building and racing a boat, with limited time and materials. The X-Stream Cardboard Boat Race offers the same fun and excitement for the younger crowd. Old-time oxen boat launches, live bands, a parade, fireworks and more take place throughout this Nova Scotia festival, making it a weekend the whole family can enjoy.
5). Ross Farm Museum
Less than 40 minutes from Mahone Bay, Highway 12 will take your family on a trip back to the 1800s. Experience farm life from a bygone era at Ross Farm Museum, including the chance to see daily life as it was in a one-room schoolhouse, stave mill, and blacksmith and cooper shops. At this favourite living Nova Scotia museum, kids will love being able to pet the animals in the barns and fields, take an ox or horse-drawn wagon ride, make candles, spin wool, or enjoy the food made fresh at Rose Bank Cottage, the original home of the Ross family.
6). Discovery Centre
While in Halifax on your Nova Scotia family vacation, your little Einsteins will be enthralled as they see science come to life at the Discovery Centre. The Centre houses three floors of hands-on exhibits, where the emphasis is on informal learning through play and fun. Explore science and technology through exciting and interactive experiences. The Room for Small Wonders was designed with little ones in mind, where active play takes on a new life. Meanwhile, older kids can attend a summer camp like no other, with three exciting theme weeks: Incredible Inventors, Super Science Sleuths and Extreme Locomotion.
7). Halifax International Busker Festival
Plan a Nova Scotia getaway around the Halifax International Busker Festival, which runs from August 8th to the 17th and offers ten days of fun and excitement for the entire family. Featuring street performers from around the world — including dancers, comedians, magicians and many more — the one-kilometer long, outdoor Nova Scotia festival has something for everyone. Check out the children’s interactive village, clowns and face painters, and enjoy an ice cream as you stroll from one performance to another along the harbour front boardwalk.
8). Shubenacadie Provincial Wildlife Park
Approximately 40 minutes from Halifax, off Highway 102 in Stewiacke, explore nature on the wild side at the Shubenacadie Provincial Wildlife Park. The park is home to 33 species of mammals and 65 species of birds roaming free in their native habitats. The wildlife park is also the only place of its kind to see the famous Sable Island Horses. After a day of seeing the cougars, peacocks and many others, soak up some sun while you enjoy a family lunch at their 10 hectare picnic area. Kids will love the park’s nearby playground — one of the largest in the maritime province.
9). Fundy Geological Museum
The next stop on your family vacation is Parrsboro, the largest town on the Minas Basin shore and approximately one hour and 45 minutes from Stewiacke. There you can discover dinosaurs at the Fundy Geological Museum. Travel back to an ancient world and meet some of the creatures that lived there millions of years ago, including the world’s first reptiles, an ancestor of frogs, early dinosaurs, giant dragonflies and a sow-bug-like creature as long as a baseball bat. While visiting the Nova Scotia museum you can also look into their research lab and see lab technicians uncovering real dinosaur bones that are over 200 million years old.
10). Cape Breton Whale Watching
Finally, consider heading to Baddeck on Cape Breton Island. In addition to inventing the telephone, did you know Alexander Graham Bell was a kite-master? At the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site, kids can share Bell’s fascination with air by interacting with the numerous exhibits and participating in seasonal kite-making workshops. Cape Breton Island also offers visitors many opportunities for Nova Scotia whale watching. Several species of whales can be found in the waters off Nova Scotia, as well as dolphins, seals, sea turtles, and even sharks. Most whale watching companies offer two-hour whale watching trips in a variety of boats, from modern Zodiacs to traditional schooners. Regardless of how you ride the waves, you’ll never forget the incredible feeling of seeing a whale so close you could wave hello!
Home to the highest tides in the world, historic landmarks, sandy beaches and colourful harbour fronts, Nova Scotia is truly Canada’s Seacoast. Learn more about a Nova Scotia getaway and plan your visit by visiting novascotia.com.