Michael Holtz of SmartFlyer has a secret he shares with his loyal clients, and now with AFAR’s readers as well. At the height of summer, when Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard are overwhelmed with visitors and New Yorkers outnumber lobstermen in the fishing villages of Maine, there’s a part of the world where you can still walk along dramatic seaside cliffs and sleep in gray weathered seaside inns without the crowds. Here you can find peaceful serenity, natural wonders and intriguing cultural and historic sites.
With nonstop flights from Boston, New York, and Philadelphia (and connecting flights from other US cities), Nova Scotia’s capital city of Halifax is a convenient starting point for your Atlantic Canada adventure. It’s been a gateway for many arriving in Canada since its founding in 1749, a history you’ll discover at Pier 21, the Canadian Museum of Immigration as well as the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. Grab some lunch at the Halifax Farmers’ Market before stopping at Alexander Keith’s Nova Scotia Brewery, where you can sample the craft beers at one of Canada’s oldest breweries. Your hotel, the Westin Nova Scotian, has an enviable location, near both the waterfront and the elegant South End of the city, where beautiful Victorian buildings have been meticulously restored. After touring the neighborhood, head to Spring Garden Road lined with shops and restaurants.
Bay of Fundy
While Halifax was founded in 1749, French settlers had already arrived nearly 150 years earlier and were among the first settlers in North America to cultivate grapes for wine. That tradition continues in the Annapolis Valley, with its scenic farms overlooking the Bay of Fundy. Among the wineries open to visitors are the Luckett Vineyards and the L’Acadie Vineyards. In the afternoon, continue on to the Grand-Pré National Historic Site. Long the site of an Acadian settlement, this was also where the infamous expulsion of the Acadians began in 1755, an event that is most familiar to many because of Evangeline, the epic poem by the American writer Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. You’ll spend the night at the Tattingstone Inn in Wolfville, a small town where a number of Victorian homes have been converted to inns and B&Bs.
Halls Harbour and Annapolis
A half-hour drive this morning will take you to the Halls Harbour, a prime area to observe the remarkable tides of the Bay of Fundy. The tides here transform the landscape with the water level rising—or falling—by around 40 feet every six hours. From there you will head southwest along the bay to Annapolis Royal. The settlement was founded 15 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock and its long history comes to life at the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens and Fort Anne National Historic Site. Return to the present day and continue on to Digby, where you’ll embark on a three-hour crossing of the Bay of Fundy aboard the Fundy Rose as evening descends. Upon arriving in Canada’s only official bilingual province, New Brunswick, make your way to the charming village of St. Andrews by-the-Sea, which was settled by Loyalists more than a century ago, and has been attracting visitors from the eastern seaboard ever since.