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A Summer Excursion Through New Brunswick, PEI, & Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia LadywmThis article has some 2013 updates based on our fall of 2012 trip to New Brunswick.  All the links are current as of December 2021. COVID restrictions might make visiting difficult.

The picture to the left was taken on our farm in St. Croix Cove, Nova Scotia in 1973.  That is the Bay of Fundy in the distance.

We lived in the Maritimes for sixteen years and met some wonderful people who are still great friends.


Going to Canada is going to another country, and border crossings are pretty serious places these days. 

However, Canadians love Americans to come to Canada so assuming you have good identification and are just vacationing you'll be welcomed in Maritime Canada. 

You can find more information on going to Canada visit this Canadian government site.  Plan on taking your passport at a minimum and be prepared to provide so details of your trip.

On our last visit we straight up Interstate 95 (The Maine Turnpike) once we got into Maine.  It is easy to cross the border into Canada at Houlton, Me.  Passed on that experience, this is roughly the route that I would recommend from central North Carolina to Fredericton. Whether you go up I81 or I95 just depends on what the current traffic challenges are but I like the western route which avoids the Washington traffic parking lot that requires some planning to get through.

Once you get into New Brunswick, you can relax and slow down a little. You will be in a different country and you should take your time enjoying it.

The first place I would recommend visiting is King's Landing, a historical settlement similar to Williamsburg. 

You will find over 70 historic buildings, complete with artifacts, furniture, tools and equipment. The history is real, the stories you hear are true. Staff are thoroughly trained and immersed in the 19th century to provide you, the visitor, with an authentic visit to New Brunswick in the 1800s

If the weather is nice, spending a few hours walking around King's Landing is a great way to unwind after all the driving.  You'll switch over to Atlantic time once you get into New Brunswick.  So nine am Eastern Daylight Time becomes ten am Atlantic Daylight Time.

King's Landing's hours are from ten to five daily so you can spend a couple hours enjoying the site,  then  enjoy lunch at the "The King's Head Inn" and spend another couple of hours walking off lunch and head off to Fredericton.  Fredericton is the capital of New Brunswick and only twenty minutes south of King's Landing.

There is enough to do in Fredericton for a quiet evening.  This website will give you some thoughts on how to enjoy Fredericton.  You can continue to unwind and practice being a Canadian.   The next leg of journey which will take you to Charlottetown, PEI, is a relatively short one. With the new TransCanada Highway and the causeway, the trip according to my Google map should take just over three and one half hours.

Once you get to Charlottetown, get ready to shift down another gear and really start relaxing.  Prince Edward Island is a magical place.  You can stay in Charlottetown because nothing is very far away. Plan on spending at least a couple of days.  Take a day and go to some of the beautiful beaches and enjoy a Lobster church supper.

If you arrive July 3rd or later, you will be just in time for Canada's summer (which is now longer than the one day of damn poor sledding often cited by my neighbor Charlie) and with luck for a performance of the Anne of Green Gables musical or some other great theater at the Confederation Center.  After you are finished enjoying Prince Edward Island, the next stop on your journey should be Halifax, Nova Scotia.  The trip should take around four hours.

While Nova Scotia is full of historic sites, I still recommend staying in downtown Halifax and use it as your base of operations.  Halifax is a wonderful town to walk around and enjoy the great dining, wonderful people and the beautiful harbour. 

Make sure you visit the Halifax Public Gardens and the Halifax Citadel which is my favorite fort.  Depending on how much energy you have left after visiting Halifax, you can take another few days and visit  the "Cape Breton Highlands National Park" perhaps catching the "Fortress of Louisbourg" along the way.  Be warned that it adds a lot of driving and has been know to be fogged in for a few days, but the mountains coming right down to the sea can be spectacular.

You can take a couple of short cuts on the way out of Nova Scotia.  They all involve car ferries which take you either to Saint John, New Brunswick, Bar Harbor, Maine, or Portland, Maine.  I recommend driving down the Annapolis Valley as one last taste of Nova Scotia.  The Annapolis Valley is one of the most beautiful spots on earth in the summer.

You can view some pictures of the Annapolis Valley at this website

The shortcuts home all involve a little sea faring adventure, but people having been catching one of the ferries from Nova Scotia to New Brunswick or Maine for decades. My first ferry ride to Nova Scotia was over 50 years ago in 1970 when four of us, mostly college students decided to take an extended Thanksgiving vacation which included driving and camping around the Cabot Trail in freezing rain and sleet. There was no Internet in those days so we were surprised to learn that all the campgrounds close for the season well before November.

Good luck on your trip, I doubt that you will regret the driving. Once you get past the moose pastures of Maine, you will see a different world  Some spots have enough beauty to take your breath away. It is a little like going back to an earlier time so relaxing isn't very hard. Don't be surprised if you find some self-service fruit and vegetable stands along the way and lots of friendly people, great seafood, and wonderful places to enjoy the rich history of the area.

The best time to visit the Maritimes is the summer. Do not believe the locals that summer is defined as either July 1 or July 4.  However, do plan on taking a fleece jacket even in the summer.  It can be cool by the water when the fog rolls into town.

No place on the route that I have recommended is very far from the water. No place in Nova Scotia is more than 42 miles from the water.  Many of the roads cling to the shore. PEI is even closer to the water with no place more than 10 miles from the water. Even our farm in Tay Creek which was 20 miles north of Fredericton was only 86 miles from the Bay of Fundy. St. John, New Brunswick, which is on the Bay of Fundy is about 30 miles from the Nova Scotia shore of the Bay where we first lived in the village of St. Croix Cove which was settled in 1772.  We could see the lights of St. John from our kitchen table.
For more check out our book, A Taste of the Wild, Canada's Maritimes.

If you live in the Maritimes you might want to check out my post, Calling All Canadians, Especially from the Maritimes or my free online guide to visiting Emerald Isle, which is a much nicer beach than any of those closer-by Maine beaches that often seduce Canadians.

November 12, 2023

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